WFMW: Teaching Your Kids to Ride a Bike

Wednesday July 29, 2009


Our 5yo and 4yo are both good bike riders and learned without training wheels, so I thought it might be worthy of a post to mention our teaching technique.

I use the term “our” loosely, because my hubs was the primary teacher.

The first, and most important step, in my mind, is to invest in a “glider bike”.  Also known as a balance bike or running bike – this is basically a smaller framed bike that has no pedals.  When I first started looking for these bikes several years ago, they were popular in  Europe, but not widely available here.  The Like-a-Bike was the best known brand, but very expensive (~$300).  When I found a much cheaper option at Target, I snatched it up.  Nowadays, there are quite a few varieties available — and since our wooden Smart Bike is on it’s last legs, and we will probably buy a Strider Running Bike for our last non-rider.

Anywho, these bikes are fantastic because they teach children the principles of balance.   Training wheels keep kids from falling, but don’t teach them how to balance on their own.  In fact, many kids learn to rely on the training wheels and remain in an off-balance position while riding. We introduced the glider to our kids between the ages of 2-3.  It took a little work to get the hang of it, but once they were proficient, they loved gliding around.

When learning to glide, we discovered it worked best when we found an area with a very gentle incline – not enough that they would wreck if going too fast, but to give them a little speed to make it easier to balance.  The kids became quite adept at rolling down a small hill and gliding as far as they could go.

Here’s a video from Strider Bikes showing how fun these running bikes can be:

Once our child mastered the glider bike, Mike would promise them a “real helmet” before graduating to real bike.   We had kid helmets that I had picked up at yard sales, but he would take them to the bike store to pick out a high quality helmet, which they were quite proud of.

Once we moved on to the real bike, they needed a little help to get going.    Mike figured out the best way to assist them on a bike without training wheels was to wrap an deflated bike tube under the arms and hold either side.  You could also use a beach towel or even a theraband.  The idea is that Mike would walk/jog behind as the child pedaled and when they lost balance, the tube/towel/whatever could be used to support them.   It was  a good solution because they only get help if they need it.

Some friends have asked us what kind of bike to buy after the kids graduated from the glider.  I have to confess, we are not bike snobs – although we loved our fancy schmancy glider bike, I just picked up a regular ole kids bike at a thrift store for a couple of bucks.

Anyway, those are my tips for teaching your child to ride a bike.

This post inspired by the “Works for Me Wednesday” series at We Are THAT Family.

Tags: , ,

One Response to WFMW: Teaching Your Kids to Ride a Bike

  1. 1
    Debbie says:

    All good ideas. I am still working with Caige. Can’t quite picture the things under the arms you are talking about?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


View My Recipes On

Chowstalker Badge