Sunday, June 12, 2011

Learning to Ride a Bike

We've now taken three kids successfully through the process of learning to ride a bike with no training wheels. The first two kids got the traditional treatment-- tricycle, to bicycle with training wheels, to raising or removing the training wheels, to lots of running along beside the wobbly rider.

But our most successful story is our third child, who went from a balance bike to a bike that never had training wheels. Balance bikes look a lot like a regular bike with the pedals conspicuously missing.  The child sits on the seat and walks or pushes against the ground with his or her feet.  The seat is adjusted low enough that they can have their feet flat on the ground at rest.  Most kids seem to start our sort of walking and gliding and then one day realize that they can lift their feet and glide for long distances.  Meanwhile, they are learning the art of balancing on two wheels.

When our youngest got to the point that she was always gliding, we introduced a small regular bike.  At first she used it like the balance bike but with some practice and coaching, she started getting her feet on the pedals.  We still had to help her start the first few days but we never had to run beside her, and she soon learned how to push off and get her feet on the pedals alone.  She was so proud!  She's also had to relearn how to stop, and still often put her feet down rather than using her pedals as brakes.  We had a confidently biking three year old, the youngest any of our kids learned.

The bikes are $90 or so new, but can be found used for a better price on Craigslist.  Some families remove the pedals from a regular bike and this can work, but the balance bikes are designed especially for pushing with a low frame.  They seem to be the most painless way of learning to ride a bike and based on our experience, I'd never recommend training wheels again.

1 comment:

  1. Wish I had of know about those a bit earlier! My kids are now bike riders, but after lots of running behind/beside them!