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-   -   For those who have taught young children (<5 years old)... (https://www.bikeforums.net/recreational-family/1024581-those-who-have-taught-young-children-5-years-old.html)

joejack951 08-12-15 11:50 AM

For those who have taught young children (<5 years old)...
 
My son (a few months shy of 4 years old) just started riding his bike with the pedals on this past week. A very exciting development after almost 2 years of no pedals (balance bike then real bike without the pedals). Being a cyclist myself, I sometimes cringe at some of things he does and often feel like I want to give him some advice which likely will fall on deaf ears, as he's as stubborn as me if not worse!

So, in your experience, have you had any success teaching a young child to:

1. keep their inside pedal up when turning? He loves tight turns and with his new-found speed he is really leaning the bike over. Already had a few pedal strikes but no falls, yet.
2. brake gently? He can use his front hand brake OK thanks to practice with it pre-pedals but tends to lock up his rear wheel whenever he tries the coaster brake.
3. get moving by pushing off on a pedal rather than lots of feet kicking? His time on a balance bike has certainly gotten him used to the latter method of gaining momentum so this may be a tough habit to break, and many adults don't even get moving on a bike the right way. The coaster brake isn't helping here either as he can't place the pedal easily. I'd rather not rebuild his rear wheel with a freewheel and rear hand brake but I would go to that length if others have had success.
4. (add your own)

Looking forward to lots of happy miles in the coming years whether he learns this stuff from me or on his own.

JonathanGennick 08-12-15 01:33 PM

Don't sweat the details. And kids tend to be concrete thinkers. Telling a kid that he's risking a pedal strike doesn't mean much until the pedal strike happens. Kids don't reason forward very well about what they've not yet experienced.

Maybe suggest holding his feet level when cornering. That's what I suggest to new mountain-bikers (who are usually somewhat older than four).

Skids are fun and easy with coaster brakes. I wouldn't even worry about those. Let the kid skid.

On placing the pedal on a coaster brake bike, yes, I see that problem all the time. One young neighbor always seems to stop with the pedals vertical, and we live on a slight hill. He sometimes gives up and just walks back up.

Honestly, I don't sweat the details too awfully much. It's all good if the kid is riding and smiling. The rest comes with time and experience.

Enjoy those happy miles!


Originally Posted by joejack951 (Post 18069252)
My son (a few months shy of 4 years old) just started riding his bike with the pedals on this past week. A very exciting development after almost 2 years of no pedals (balance bike then real bike without the pedals). Being a cyclist myself, I sometimes cringe at some of things he does and often feel like I want to give him some advice which likely will fall on deaf ears, as he's as stubborn as me if not worse!

So, in your experience, have you had any success teaching a young child to:

1. keep their inside pedal up when turning? He loves tight turns and with his new-found speed he is really leaning the bike over. Already had a few pedal strikes but no falls, yet.
2. brake gently? He can use his front hand brake OK thanks to practice with it pre-pedals but tends to lock up his rear wheel whenever he tries the coaster brake.
3. get moving by pushing off on a pedal rather than lots of feet kicking? His time on a balance bike has certainly gotten him used to the latter method of gaining momentum so this may be a tough habit to break, and many adults don't even get moving on a bike the right way. The coaster brake isn't helping here either as he can't place the pedal easily. I'd rather not rebuild his rear wheel with a freewheel and rear hand brake but I would go to that length if others have had success.
4. (add your own)

Looking forward to lots of happy miles in the coming years whether he learns this stuff from me or on his own.


Darth Lefty 08-12-15 04:19 PM

I don't know which parent taught it to me: I learned to stand facing the bike with the pedal forward, put my weight on the pedal and launch the bike with it, then throw the other leg over once moving. I can do them together pretty fluidly. I don't think about it. It's pretty much like pushing a kick scooter from the wrong side.

It never occurred to me I was doing anything improper until I read disdainful screeds on the Internet calling it the "Cowboy Mount" and it still doesn't feel improper enough to not do.

joejack951 08-13-15 08:37 AM


Originally Posted by JonathanGennick (Post 18069647)
Don't sweat the details. And kids tend to be concrete thinkers. Telling a kid that he's risking a pedal strike doesn't mean much until the pedal strike happens. Kids don't reason forward very well about what they've not yet experienced.

Maybe suggest holding his feet level when cornering. That's what I suggest to new mountain-bikers (who are usually somewhat older than four).

We worked on simply not pedaling through corners yesterday. I demonstrated and he seemed to get it, at first. Then went right back to old habits :-) I'll let him pop himself off the bike a few more times and then remind him about not pedaling. We live at the end of a street (not a cul de sac) on a very slight downgrade and he's been making that u-turn at full speed while pedaling, hence the pedal strikes


Originally Posted by JonathanGennick (Post 18069647)
Skids are fun and easy with coaster brakes. I wouldn't even worry about those. Let the kid skid.

Yeah, I'll let that one go and just buy a few replacement rear tires.


Originally Posted by JonathanGennick (Post 18069647)
On placing the pedal on a coaster brake bike, yes, I see that problem all the time. One young neighbor always seems to stop with the pedals vertical, and we live on a slight hill. He sometimes gives up and just walks back up.

Honestly, I don't sweat the details too awfully much. It's all good if the kid is riding and smiling. The rest comes with time and experience.

Enjoy those happy miles!

He's getting better at quickly getting his feet onto the pedals. He used to need a little downgrade to get started smoothly but he's managing on that same ever so slight upgrade now, with some furious feet kicking. I won't worry about this one either and likely wait until I get him riding with a full height saddle (where needs to come off it to stop) before I bother with starting technique.

He's definitely riding and smiling. I had to drag him inside for dinner yesterday. Thanks for the reply!

joejack951 08-13-15 08:39 AM


Originally Posted by Darth Lefty (Post 18070100)
I don't know which parent taught it to me: I learned to stand facing the bike with the pedal forward, put my weight on the pedal and launch the bike with it, then throw the other leg over once moving. I can do them together pretty fluidly. I don't think about it. It's pretty much like pushing a kick scooter from the wrong side.

It never occurred to me I was doing anything improper until I read disdainful screeds on the Internet calling it the "Cowboy Mount" and it still doesn't feel improper enough to not do.

I've seen quite a few people do that and never thought much of it. Aside from some extra lateral stress on your wheels, it seems like a perfectly fine method (and I doubt that lateral stress is any worse than a full bore sprint applies). I've been meaning to practice some quick mount and dismount technique (just for the heck of it) and the 'Cowboy Mount' seems like a good segway into the flying CX mount.

JonathanGennick 08-13-15 09:01 AM


Originally Posted by joejack951 (Post 18071733)
I've seen quite a few people do that and never thought much of it. Aside from some extra lateral stress on your wheels, it seems like a perfectly fine method (and I doubt that lateral stress is any worse than a full bore sprint applies). I've been meaning to practice some quick mount and dismount technique (just for the heck of it) and the 'Cowboy Mount' seems like a good segway into the flying CX mount.

I cowboy mount all the time. Sometimes I coast in that position when I'm moving the bike around the yard or just a short distance. Not really worried about stress to the frame. Small price to pay for the fun.

flyjimmy 08-14-15 04:49 PM

Just show him how to put the pedals in the 3 and 9 position when coasting. It will help him leverage the brake and help with pedal strikes.
Coasters brakes are better for kids then handbrakes. My son started when he turned 3. I don't think he would have had the hand strength to efficiently stop. Plus you can skid out with coasters.

Velo Dog 08-15-15 07:28 PM

The way I taught my kids, one at 4 and one at 7, was by taking the pedals off a bmx bike, setting the seat so they could put their feet on the ground and putting them on a GENTLE hill on paved playground, where there was no danger of traffic. I gave them a little push and let them coast down. They'd both ridden scooters, so they had a little technique. When they could make it down the hill, 75 feet or so, I had them do S turns, then turn at the bottom. When they could do that, I put the pedals back on as footrests. Took one about two hours to be riding donuts, the other a couple of days.

Re the "Cowboy Mount" and possible damage...give me a break. That's like worrying that hanging the bike by the front wheel will damage it--it just doesn't happen. I weigh 240 pounds, and I have bikes I've mounted that way for 25 years and ridden thousands of miles. No problems ever.

joejack951 08-17-15 06:54 AM


Originally Posted by flyjimmy (Post 18076154)
Just show him how to put the pedals in the 3 and 9 position when coasting. It will help him leverage the brake and help with pedal strikes.

That's good advice and probably easier to understand for a 3 year old then 'keep the inside pedal up'. We're working on riding on the 'right side' of the road which is confusing enough.


Originally Posted by flyjimmy (Post 18076154)
Coasters brakes are better for kids then handbrakes. My son started when he turned 3. I don't think he would have had the hand strength to efficiently stop. Plus you can skid out with coasters.

His handbrake is either extra powerful (mini v-brake with extra small lever) or he has pretty strong hands as he can stop on a dime with just that brake.

joejack951 08-17-15 07:01 AM


Originally Posted by Velo Dog (Post 18078839)
The way I taught my kids, one at 4 and one at 7, was by taking the pedals off a bmx bike, setting the seat so they could put their feet on the ground and putting them on a GENTLE hill on paved playground, where there was no danger of traffic. I gave them a little push and let them coast down. They'd both ridden scooters, so they had a little technique. When they could make it down the hill, 75 feet or so, I had them do S turns, then turn at the bottom. When they could do that, I put the pedals back on as footrests. Took one about two hours to be riding donuts, the other a couple of days.

He basically taught himself how to ride but after a decent amount of time on a bike with no pedals. Once he decided that *he* wanted to pedal, he had it down in a few minutes. The balance part was easy for him at that point so all he had to do was coordinate his feet.


Originally Posted by Velo Dog (Post 18078839)
Re the "Cowboy Mount" and possible damage...give me a break. That's like worrying that hanging the bike by the front wheel will damage it--it just doesn't happen. I weigh 240 pounds, and I have bikes I've mounted that way for 25 years and ridden thousands of miles. No problems ever.

A former coworker on the larger side taco'ed a rear wheel on his old Schwinn doing a cowboy-style dismount which is the only reason I even consider it slightly hard on wheels. I have no idea what the spoke tension was like on that wheel and it could have been on the verge of collapse prior to that stunt.

Regardless, my son is quickly becoming proficient at getting moving on his bike without any extra input from me. When he gets it right and his feet land properly on the pedals, I've seen him put both feet on the pedals at dead stop and, in the brief period while he manages to balance standing still, he'll get pedaling. Typically he's still pushing off with his feet a bit but all signs point to him figuring out good starting technique on his own.

flyjimmy 08-17-15 07:38 AM


Originally Posted by joejack951 (Post 18081975)
That's good advice and probably easier to understand for a 3 year old then 'keep the inside pedal up'. We're working on riding on the 'right side' of the road which is confusing enough.



His handbrake is either extra powerful (mini v-brake with extra small lever) or he has pretty strong hands as he can stop on a dime with just that brake.


I try not to come off as a know it all. Sometimes it hard on line. If you found
handbrakes that he can use efficiently than I think thats great.


By the way isn't great that they can ride without training wheels? We were able to go to so many places like canal trails that would have been impossible with training wheels.

joejack951 08-17-15 01:13 PM


Originally Posted by flyjimmy (Post 18082075)
I try not to come off as a know it all. Sometimes it hard on line. If you found
handbrakes that he can use efficiently than I think thats great.

Hats off to Islabikes and their CNOC 14. I had little to do with the design other than buying it!


Originally Posted by flyjimmy (Post 18082075)
By the way isn't great that they can ride without training wheels? We were able to go to so many places like canal trails that would have been impossible with training wheels.

For us, it's not so much that we can go new places as much as the distance we can now cover with the higher efficiency of pedaling versus kicking himself along. We went 2+ miles twice (Friday night and Sunday afternoon), distances he simply wouldn't have covered without the pedals. That he's riding without training wheels is a great satisfaction for me (and him) and will surely be useful as we branch out terrain-wise. He already loves riding up and down curbs (something I imagine would be quite difficult or dangerous with training wheels) and through any bit of dirt he can find so I'm thinking I have a future MTB'er.


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