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How did you teach your kid to ride?

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How did you teach your kid to ride?

Old 04-02-06, 12:58 AM
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How did you teach your kid to ride?

And what age?
Did you use training wheels -- or is it better without them?
Did you practice on lawn, dirt, or cement?
Did you run along with your kid, or give them a shove and hope for the best?
What size bike did you start with?

But please, not any of those depressing stories about "My kid hopped on and rode the first time"

We've got a nice bike for my 6 year old girl. 20" inch I think. She's been riding on the back of the trail-a-bike, so has some idea about pedaling ... but maybe not enough. Against my better judgment, I removed the training wheels (she was inspired by an episode on children's television, I think).

Seems like I can't quite communicate the need to take control of the wheel and provide power.

Thanks!
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Old 04-02-06, 01:29 AM
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You just throw them in the deep end!

You just throw them in the deep end!
Oh wait, that's for swimming.

As for bicycling, what worked for you? Every kid I know started with training wheels. I see parents with a pole attached to the bike walking behind, maybe that would help?
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Old 04-02-06, 05:11 AM
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I took the training wheels and cranks off of my daughters bike when she was 4 so she could use it like a hobby horse and when she had learned to balance I stuck the cranks back on and off she went like a pro.
My son had been using a two wheeled scooter for a long time so he learned to balance on that and he got it right first time with the training wheel off of the bike. My oldest son took the longest though, we took him to the park and had him roll down a slight slope to help him along but it did take longer.
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Old 04-02-06, 05:34 AM
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1. Take off pedals and make sure she can put her feet on the ground
2. Find gentle slope which leads on to flat surface (if it varies in steepness along the slope, even better)
3. Let her find her balance as she rolls down the slope
4. As she gains in confidence, start her further up the slope or move her to steeper part of slope
5. As she keeps her balance better, try to get her to steer round a couple of small obstacles (stones, drinks cans whatever) Get her to try using brakes as well
6. When she can do this, put pedals back on and away she goes
7. Really start worrying.
8 You may then find that the gear (one speed?) is a little high for her to start on - if so, get LBS to put on a larger rear sprocket
9. If you have to push her sometimes (maybe to get started - see 8 above), don't hold the bike, just place your hand on her back. If you hold the bike, you may not be quite pushing her in the direction she is going
10. Dad, can we go out for a ride? Please, please, please, pl....ea....se

The reasoning behind this tried and trusted method is that it gives a child just one thing to concentrate on - balancing. Consider how hard you found it when learning to drive - clutch, gears, steering, using mirror, watching trafic in front of you, looking out for road signs, etc.

We use this at our Kids Saturday Bike Club. It takes between 5 and 20 minutes before they get that reeaaally big grin on their faces Taught two last week

Good luck
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Old 04-02-06, 06:48 AM
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Put the kid on a suitably sized bike.

Push.

Let go.

Pick kid up.

Repeat.

It worked, he learned to ride. Now he rides all over the place.
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Old 04-02-06, 10:43 PM
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Here is what worked for us...

I used a big beach towel and tied it around their chest, with the big knot in the back.

You can then grab the big knot and walk/jog along side easily (easier then holding the saddle anyway). Also, I think the child feels more secure since you hold on to their torso with the towel.

We practiced on the streets with me holding onto them. When they felt comfortable, we went to a nearby park that had a long, gently sloping grassed area. Starting at the top, we made a few runs down the slope, increasing speed each time. Pretty soon, they were going down the hill by themselves. (If they needed to bail, they bailed onto the grass...few ever bailed!)

The biggest challenge was to keep them pedalling. They'd start to totter and forget to pedal and over they'd go! "KEEP PEDALLING!" I'd be shouting!

The towel and the hill tricks work great.

Good Luck!

Last edited by overholtzer; 05-12-06 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 04-03-06, 05:57 AM
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My father taught me how to ride on a grown up bike. He told me that as long as I was pedaling I would not fall. So he held me from the saddle and jogged behind me, letting me go for a few seconds at a time. We would say "off!" .... and "on" when he would let go or grab the saddle.
The gear was really large for my strength, but actually I think that that worked in my advantage..
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Old 04-03-06, 07:23 AM
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+1 on the towel. I taught my oldest and my neighbors kid that way. If you can't get the knot to work, just grab the ends of the towel and jog beside them. Took about 10 - 15 minutes.

The caveat with all of these techniques is that the kid has to be ready to learn to ride. That means they have to want to ride, they have to be able to consciously steer the bike and they should be able to balance the bike without their current aids (feet or training wheels). You'll know they are balancing when you consistently see them travel some distance and time without using the aids. They may even complain occasionally about the training wheels by saying they can't turn so well. When this happens they are usually wanting to turn but they can't lean like they want to because the training wheels are keeping them upright. Of course you should not have that issue with the no-cranks and feet only option.
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Old 04-03-06, 07:43 AM
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My nefew was a babyseat commuter from early on on the back of his mum's bike.
When it came time for his two wheeler he took off like a shot with nary a wobble.
It would appear that the early years experiencing the 'balance' firsthand on the back of the bike ingrained it in him. It was quite a sight.
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Old 04-08-06, 06:06 PM
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* Make sure the bike has hand brakes, not back-pedaling coaster brakes. Install hand brakes if the bike didn't come with them.

1. Earlier the age the better, before they get too embarassed to be seen trying to learn to ride.

2. Explain the physics, and the fact that you have to steer into the direction of the fall. My mom never explained this to me, and I had no idea what to do for a very long time.

3. Take the pedals off so both her feet can touch the ground, but not so low that her heels are touching the ground.

4. To to a very gentle grass slope, push her down, and get her used to balancing. Don't bother running with her. It's pointless and doesn't really help. Since her feet are touching the ground, she shouldn't need you anyway.

5. Provide encouragement & treats. Shouldn't take more than a couple of sessions.
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Old 04-11-06, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by CommuterRun
Put the kid on a suitably sized bike.

Push.

Let go.

Pick kid up.

Repeat.

It worked, he learned to ride. Now he rides all over the place.
Do it over the lawn...
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Old 04-11-06, 08:57 AM
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My youngest didn't learn to ride until late but when she did learn I basically used the method atbman described. Now she's a cycling nut.
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Old 04-11-06, 01:15 PM
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I droped the seat , rempved the pedles and had her scotter up and down the street, I droped my MTB Seat and did the same to show her how it worked. I keep encouraging her to try to keep her feet up longer. I used cracks in the pavement as a guide. Than when I noticed that she was just running out of speed not having balance problems. Thats when we got the pedles on and gave it a try. she was up and running in about 2 hrs. When I came in to get Mom she thought she had taken a digger, needless to say Mom was very pleasently surprised.
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Old 04-11-06, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by atbman
1. Take off pedals and make sure she can put her feet on the ground
2. Find gentle slope which leads on to flat surface (if it varies in steepness along the slope, even better)
3. Let her find her balance as she rolls down the slope
4. As she gains in confidence, start her further up the slope or move her to steeper part of slope
5. As she keeps her balance better, try to get her to steer round a couple of small obstacles (stones, drinks cans whatever) Get her to try using brakes as well
6. When she can do this, put pedals back on and away she goes
7. Really start worrying.
8 You may then find that the gear (one speed?) is a little high for her to start on - if so, get LBS to put on a larger rear sprocket
9. If you have to push her sometimes (maybe to get started - see 8 above), don't hold the bike, just place your hand on her back. If you hold the bike, you may not be quite pushing her in the direction she is going
10. Dad, can we go out for a ride? Please, please, please, pl....ea....se

The reasoning behind this tried and trusted method is that it gives a child just one thing to concentrate on - balancing. Consider how hard you found it when learning to drive - clutch, gears, steering, using mirror, watching trafic in front of you, looking out for road signs, etc.

We use this at our Kids Saturday Bike Club. It takes between 5 and 20 minutes before they get that reeaaally big grin on their faces Taught two last week

Good luck
I totally agree with this approach. I did the training wheels with my son but I always felt the sequence of learning was backward. The balancing should be the first thing learned. If I had to do it again, I would follow the instructions lsited by atbman
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Old 04-12-06, 06:49 PM
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My daughter was 6 and my son was 4 and they both learned the very same day, within a few minutes of each other. Both had 14 inch wheel bikes with training wheels. I read somewhere to find the smallest bike you can. We borrowed a little black bike from friends that had something like ten inch wheels. One of those tiny little clown bikes would be even better. The reason is that the kid feels more confident and in control on a small bike. I tried running up and down the 3ft wide sidewalk with them. I had my leather dress-belt looped under their arms and I was holding it in the back (I recall my mother teaching me this way).

After awhile I was completely winded and they were not getting it. Then I stumbled onto a solution. Near our house is a large black-top parking lot that was empty because it was Saturday. I took them there and they were both riding in minutes. The reason is because they didnt have to worry about steering, only balancing and pedaling. In the wide-open parking lot they could ride in any direction and focus on momentum and balance. I still used the belt-under-the-arms method, that and an occasional good shove to give them some forward momentum. Within half an hour they were riding around the block on the narrow sidewalk with no problem on there own larger bikes.

Last edited by brian__t; 04-12-06 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 04-16-06, 05:43 AM
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My daughter is 8 .. still can't. She likes being on the tag-along and can't get the balance thing down. That's the only way she will be out on the road for a while (main road is very busy) anyway.
Lately she has been using a scooter and balancing well so I think it is time try again. I do agree with atban and brian__t had a good point too (large parking lot).
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Old 04-16-06, 08:27 AM
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Here's what worked for me.

I told my youngest daughter that while I pushed, she needed to keep turning those pedels to keep her speed up since it would be easier to keep herself balanced if she was moving fast. I shoved her around the yard for a bit with my hand on the seat (so she couldn't tell if I was pushing). When I let go she went about 70 feet before turning around to look for me. The next time I told her when I let go and told her to keep pedeling, which she did, and in less than 15 minutes she was riding around the house and then charging down the street. She was about 4 or 5 years old and really wanted to learn.

Her older sister, on the other hand, never really gave a rip and even though I taught her how while she was young, she wouldn't try to ride unless I was beside her. She must have been 8 before she finally started riding on her own and probably hasn't been on a bike in 5 years (she's almost 20 now). I think she wanted to know how to ride just because her friends knew how, but she didn't care enough to get good at it.
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Old 04-18-06, 12:26 AM
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I hear scooters are great for teaching a kid to balance before they start biking.
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Old 05-08-06, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by the beef
I hear scooters are great for teaching a kid to balance before they start biking.
The scooter thing worked well. She is riding on her own now .. yay!
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Old 05-08-06, 03:58 PM
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There are 3 keys to learning to ride a two-wheeler: 1. Balance; 2. Pedaling; 3: Steering; oops, and oh yeah 4. Stopping

What age? Started when my son was 6 and he caught on at age 7.

Did you use training wheels -- or is it better without them? Training wheels were useful for teaching him to pedal, but balance is the most important part of learning to ride a 2 wheeler in my opinion.

Did you practice on lawn, dirt, or cement? Our back yard (lawn/dirt) has a hill. I took the pedals off, lowered the seat all the way, and had him go down the hill repeatedly picking his feet up as long as he felt he could. Eventually, he learned to balance and ride all the way down with his feet off the ground. This was a nice method because I didn't need to run behind him holding the seat.

Did you run along with your kid, or give them a shove and hope for the best? Closer to the latter, but see above. Once he learned to balance, I would push him to get him started and sometimes run along with him holding him until he was up to speed, but that didn't last long.

What size bike did you start with? 16 inch. I think he would've had an easier time learning on a 20" because it fit him better. Mentally (he's really cautious), the 16" probably helped him because it looked easier to him. He has a 20" now and rides much easier than he did with the 16". He's still 7 years old.



Seems like I can't quite communicate the need to take control of the wheel and provide power. She may not be ready yet. There will come a day when you see a dramatic change and it will finally click for her. My 7 year old still hasn't mastered steering, but is still improving. My younger son will be 6 in a few weeks. He's interested in learning to ride two wheels, but he can't coast down the hill for more than 10 feet without crashing. I think the key as a parent is to be patient and encouraging.
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Old 05-10-06, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by atbman
1. Take off pedals and make sure she can put her feet on the ground
2. Find gentle slope which leads on to flat surface (if it varies in steepness along the slope, even better)
3. Let her find her balance as she rolls down the slope
4. As she gains in confidence, start her further up the slope or move her to steeper part of slope
5. As she keeps her balance better, try to get her to steer round a couple of small obstacles (stones, drinks cans whatever) Get her to try using brakes as well
6. When she can do this, put pedals back on and away she goes
7. Really start worrying.
8 You may then find that the gear (one speed?) is a little high for her to start on - if so, get LBS to put on a larger rear sprocket
9. If you have to push her sometimes (maybe to get started - see 8 above), don't hold the bike, just place your hand on her back. If you hold the bike, you may not be quite pushing her in the direction she is going
10. Dad, can we go out for a ride? Please, please, please, pl....ea....se

The reasoning behind this tried and trusted method is that it gives a child just one thing to concentrate on - balancing. Consider how hard you found it when learning to drive - clutch, gears, steering, using mirror, watching trafic in front of you, looking out for road signs, etc.

We use this at our Kids Saturday Bike Club. It takes between 5 and 20 minutes before they get that reeaaally big grin on their faces Taught two last week

Good luck
What he said.
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Old 05-18-06, 08:22 PM
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Can we make this a sticky?
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Old 05-18-06, 09:57 PM
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+1 to all the advice before this. However, I have something to add that is a great! With my last kid ( I taught my other kids with many of the aformentioned advice) I took him to a baseball diamond in the neighborhood. The pitchers mound has a nice and short slope to get the feel of balance in motion. The great thing about this is the space and smooth surface. The kids who start on sidewalks and driveways freak out about the narrow path they think they have to stay on. THis eliminates that fear and they are better at focussing on the important beginner stuff like balance and braking, and turning. THis worked like a charm and I hope to teach any other kid I get to teach.
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Old 05-26-06, 08:28 PM
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Boy am I glad I finally peeked in this part of BF. I've tried 4 different summers, this will be the 5th, with my now 9 year old daughter. She just doesn't have a natural feel for it. (Her little sister on the other hand is gonna be a whiz.) But reading the methods suggested here gives me some confidence that we can make it happen. I think the no pedal scoot method will appeal to her. Three day weekend, here we come!
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Old 05-29-06, 06:37 PM
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Here we are on Monday evening after working on it a little each day this weekend and sure enough, today she ASKED to put on the pedals and really rode on her own!
Saturday didn't go so well, she was tired and it was hot. But she tried. Sunday she said "I wanna go biking" so we went at dusk and rolled her up and down a gently sloping empty parking lot. She started to get it. Then this evening we went again and she was doing better and better every run. Eventually gliding straight for a good 30 yards or more. We even got her to do some gentle turns back and forth.
Then she asked for the pedals, so at first we just pushed her off and told her to rest her feet on them. She did that and did great gliding like before. Then she tried turning the pedals a bit, just fine with that too. Then finally I told her to put one foot on and gently push off to start, I gave her a little push as well and away she rode under her own power!! Woohoo! A little more practice and I won't even need to help. Thanks to atbman and all others with similar advice, it worked great!

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