PDA

View Full Version : How do you teach your kid to ride a bike?



oldbikechick
04-27-2013, 08:44 PM
Hello-

My daughter is about to turn seven and still hasn't learned to ride without training wheels. It's putting a serious cramp in the visions of family biking I have in my head. Does anyone have any tips? We did the NPS learn to bike program, but taking the pedals off and learning to glide hasn't worked well for her since she gets scared if she gets going fast enough to balance. I do have a sneaking suspicion that maybe her bike is too big for her, so I'm interested in any views on the size of the bike too. More than one bike shop has assured me that the bike is the right size, but out on the trail, when I see a little kid pedaling around confidently on a bike, it always looks like a much smaller bike than what she has. I appreciate any advice.

Thanks!

ShawnoftheDread
04-27-2013, 09:40 PM
Raise the training wheels a little at a time every week or so. But don't tell her.

KLizotte
04-27-2013, 09:55 PM
Perhaps she just needs more time with the training wheels. They don't really slow her down I presume. If the bike is a bit too big then that could definitely cause handling issues. I recently had to sell a bike that I had just bought because it was too big (only 1.5" too long along the top tube but it had a big impact on safely handling the bike). Eventually she won't like being the only "big" kid riding with training wheels and will ask to take them off. Shawn's suggestion may work very well too.

mstone
04-28-2013, 07:41 AM
I've always done the ol' "run along while holding the seat". As you noted, balance requires a certain speed, and that just takes confidence. If you can reassure them that you'll be right there to catch them, they can be more willing to try.

Or you can try the even older approach of just giving them a push down a hill, but I think that's frowned on these days.

baiskeli
04-28-2013, 01:47 PM
Knee, elbow and wrist pads can make for more confidence, especially after a fall.

But take a close look at the bike. I learned in my kid's "Lose the Training Wheels" program for kids with disabilities that alot of kid's bikes are built like "trick" bikes these days, with a bottom bracket that's too high, making it less stable and harder to get going on the pedals from a stopped position while balancing. A new bike could be in order. Also get the seat height just right. Too low and it's hard to pedal right (too low is the most common mistake). Too high and it could be harder to get started and feels scary to a new rider.

eminva
04-28-2013, 03:12 PM
Hello --

The bike might be too big; we had that problem with my son and IMO it set him back a year in learning to ride (he outgrew his bike just when he was about to get it and the bike shop sold us a replacement that was way too big).

When you took off the pedals, did you also lower the seat so that she can sit on the seat and put both feet flat on the ground? That's a no-no for us grownups, but it is a good way to start so she can always put her feet down to stop if she gets nervous gliding.

Find a level place to practice gliding so she doesn't feel out of control. I know that's hard -- what looks level when we are walking about always seems to have a slight tilt when you've got a nervous beginner on your hands.

When she can glide safely, put one pedal back on and teach her to push off and take the first pedal stroke -- she'll be so busy concentrating on that, she won't have time to get nervous about gliding.

Good luck!

Liz

P.S. I forgot: I think REI has kids learn to ride classes -- you might try that, too?

P.P.S. There is no magic age or time frame; don't get discouraged if you see younger kids who've got it. She'll get there!

ebubar
04-28-2013, 04:40 PM
Raise the training wheels a little at a time every week or so. But don't tell her.

I think this is how I actually learned, albeit without the parents raising the wheels.
If I recall, the training wheels just weren't tightly screwed down, so if I hit a bump, they got raised up a bit.
As I started riding faster, the wheels got bumped more and got raised up on their own. Once I got
used to going fast with the training wheels, I had hit enough bumps and rocks that the training wheels weren't
even helping me any more. They'd been raised off the ground by my maniacal riding!

oldbikechick
04-28-2013, 08:46 PM
I've always done the ol' "run along while holding the seat". As you noted, balance requires a certain speed, and that just takes confidence. If you can reassure them that you'll be right there to catch them, they can be more willing to try.

Or you can try the even older approach of just giving them a push down a hill, but I think that's frowned on these days.

I will need to try the run along beside thing. Right now, the pedals are off as we were trying the "learn how to balance" thing, but maybe it's time to put them back on and try this.

oldbikechick
04-28-2013, 08:55 PM
Knee, elbow and wrist pads can make for more confidence, especially after a fall.

But take a close look at the bike. I learned in my kid's "Lose the Training Wheels" program for kids with disabilities that alot of kid's bikes are built like "trick" bikes these days, with a bottom bracket that's too high, making it less stable and harder to get going on the pedals from a stopped position while balancing. A new bike could be in order. Also get the seat height just right. Too low and it's hard to pedal right (too low is the most common mistake). Too high and it could be harder to get started and feels scary to a new rider.

I will try to take a closer look at the bike, seat height, size, etc. Also may try the REI class. Thanks for all the ideas!

baiskeli
04-29-2013, 07:50 AM
I will need to try the run along beside thing. Right now, the pedals are off as we were trying the "learn how to balance" thing, but maybe it's time to put them back on and try this.

Yeah, definitely time for pedals.

Here's something that makes running alongside alot easier (there are a few different version for sale) - a handle that mounts on the seat post:

http://www.amazon.com/Dimension-Bike-Training-Handle-Kids/dp/B001GSQLUI

txgoonie
04-29-2013, 08:46 AM
I've always done the ol' "run along while holding the seat". As you noted, balance requires a certain speed, and that just takes confidence. If you can reassure them that you'll be right there to catch them, they can be more willing to try.

Ah, yes, I remember it well. And then the parent just conveniently forgets to say something when they let go. It does, however, require the pedals to be on and the seat to be low enough for feet to touch the ground. There may be whining and protesting and needing assurance that you won't let go with this method, but kids have a way of forgetting that when they realize they're pedaling on their own :-)

mstone
04-29-2013, 09:34 AM
Thinking some more about this, the big problem I've found with training wheels (and letting them go to long) is that they actually force the bike to fall over in several common cases (cornering at speed or on uneven ground like at ramps/driveways). A kid who's done that enough times is going to be very skeptical of the idea of leaning into a turn or moving at speed. At any rate, if they've had some falls on training wheels, you may need to explain somehow that those aren't their fault, but rather because the training wheels are causing problems because the kid is getting so big/fast/whatever and the training wheels just can't keep up. It may help to explain what's going on (that you need to lean into turns, more lean with higher speeds, etc.) and demonstrate that the bike won't fall over that way. The approach that works will depend on the kid.

dasgeh
04-29-2013, 09:55 AM
My kids are waytoo young for me to offer any experience based advice. But things that helped my nieces/nephews or I've read about (that weren't mentioned above):

-- Riding on soft ground
-- Practice falling first (to show that the ground is really soft)
-- Using a trail-a-bike to get the kid used to the idea that they can be on a bike and going without falling.

I learned to ride when we lived on a street that was on a hill. At the bottom of the hill was a driveway with a nice, soft lawn. So I rode down the hill, onto the driveway, and into the yard. I fell down a lot in that yard, especially when I started trying to do tricks while riding down the hill. Full disclosure, I broke an arm or two over the years on that hill and in that yard. But not when I was first learning to ride. That went pretty well.

baiskeli
04-29-2013, 11:41 AM
Thinking some more about this, the big problem I've found with training wheels (and letting them go to long) is that they actually force the bike to fall over in several common cases (cornering at speed or on uneven ground like at ramps/driveways).

That's exactly what I finally noticed with my younger child recently - it was getting hard for her to manage the bike with them than without them. I was trying to teach her to tilt the bike to one side and plant her foot on that side to stop, or start the same way, and the training wheels were getting in the way. That's when I knew it was time to just take them off.

Jason B
04-29-2013, 02:25 PM
If I may add, holding the seat and running along side is good, but I found having your hands on either side of their shoulders works really well to get them to learn to balance. I did it with both of my girls and it worked great. The seat method can still end up with some nasty little falls, plus your doing all the balance work, but with you hands on either side of their shoulders saves them every time. You will find that it quickly will improve to little shoulder taps, that really are cues for them to center/balance themselves. Pick a giant unused parking lot. Pull an Einstein and tell them to keep moving for that balance. Don't forget to teach them how to start and stop by themselves.Wear good sneaks and bring a Gatorade, because if you are doing it right, you will be sweating like a pig.
Good luck and take pictures. One of the best pictures I have is teaching my kid how to ride a bike.

mstone
04-29-2013, 03:19 PM
I tried the shoulder thing, but they'd somehow fall straight down, and I'd be trying to hold them up by the neck and then they complained about that.