Balance bikes are great for teaching kids how to ride. There are several ways to learn to ride a bike which range from the traditional stabilisers to balance bikes.
Most people over the years have learnt how to ride a bike using stabilisers. This is a safe option where the rider depends on an extra set of wheels for their balance. The downside of using stabilisers is that it creates a dependence on the extra wheels for balance and because of this, it is only once the stabilisers come off that they really start finding their balance. It takes considerable time and practice as well as patience to wean them off their reliance on the extra set of wheels.
Balance bikes have been around for a number of years. They are bicycles without pedals or stabilisers which allow the learner to initially scoot using their feet for balance. Once they are more confident and start finding their balance they start gliding by going a bit faster and lifting their feet off the ground for longer periods of time. The transition from balance bikes to regular bikes is much simpler and kids start riding unaided quickly in most cases after some practice. There are also Balanceability courses available for young kids wishing to learn.
Convert a Normal Bike into a Balance Bike
I have used this method on several occasions which has resulted in children riding their own bikes unaided after just a couple of days of practice. The advantage this method has over a dedicated balance bike is that the bike remains the same and also saves on the extra cost of purchasing a balance bike.
8 Easy Steps to Ride a Bike
- First of all, take the pedals off (watch out for the cranks)
- Keep the seat at a height they are comfortable walking their bike not quite on their tip toes.
- Show your child how to use their brakes before getting on their bike. This can be done by walking alongside their bike and applying the brakes every so often.
- Show them how to get on the bike by applying the brake and tilting the bike towards them.
- Scoot, scoot, scoot. Practice scooting using brakes as well as gentle turns.
- Once comfortable scooting get them to start gliding by counting how many seconds they can keep their feet off the ground.
- Put pedals back on.
- Pedal ready (pedal position at about 2 o’clock). Ideally push off with the right foot so left foot can be on the kerb for better balance.
Learning how to ride a bike can be made very simple as well as fun. It is all a matter of practice and training which makes safer and more confident riders. The next stage is learning rules of the road and if available, to do Bikeability. This course teaches riders how to keep themselves safe on the road.