Learn the key steps to teach a child to ride a bike without bicycle stabilizers, how to teach a child to balance and what bike safety gear to wear.

A child’s first bike is usually one that comes with bicycle stabilizers so that toddlers can start cycling almost before they can walk using the additional wheels for balance, effectively turning the bike into a trike. Unlike a child’s trike, however, once the child is confident with steering, the stabilizers can be removed, although the progression from aided to unaided cycling can be complex for both child and parents.

This article offers some advice on the best way to teach a child to ride without stabilizers safely.

Kids’ Bike Helmet and Cycle Clothing

The most crucial first phase is to ensure the child is wearing a well-fitting kids’ bike helmet. The appropriate cycle clothing should also be worn; flat shoes or trainers, trousers that do not drag on the floor or flap around, and tops with sleeves to protect tiny bodies in the event of a fall.

Guarantee the saddle is at the right height on the bike; it should be set low enough so that the child can sit on the saddle with both feet touching the ground, just while they get used to the feeling of having no stabilizers for support.

Learning to Ride a Bike

Once the bike is set with the right saddle height, find a completely flat piece of ground with plenty of space around it and try the following:

  • Hold the bike upright for support and let the child sit down on the bike.
  • Keep one hand on the saddle and the other on the handlebar, let the child mount the cycle, and then let go of the handlebar, so the child has the freedom to steer and let him/her start pedaling slowly.
  • Run alongside the bike, maintaining support for the child by keeping a firm grip on the saddle or the child’s shoulders; this is easier said than done, especially if your child pedals faster!
  • Ensure the child does not rock from side to side or pull the handlebars round, making the bike unstable.
  • Once the child feels confident, get a helper to stand a few meters away and let go of the saddle after the first few pedal strokes; the helper can catch the child if he/she overbalances, and you will feel more confident to let go.
  • Keep practicing until the child has perfect balance, then encourage them to turn right and left, constantly reminding them to put a foot down if they feel they are likely to fall over.

Tips for Riding Without Stabilisers

Follow this advice to make it easier to learn to balance when riding without stabilizers:

  • Instead of removing the stabilizers straightaway, adjust the height so that they are an inch or two off the ground; they can then be used as a safety net for the first few attempts as your child is learning to balance without training aids.
  • For extra stability and prevent sore backs for parents with slow-to-learn children, consider attaching a long handle made from a stick to the seat-stay, an excellent alternative to leaning over the bike to grip the child’s shoulders.
  • Consider buying some elbow and knee pads for extra protection; falls are inevitable, and children will have more confidence if they know it won’t hurt so much when they do fall.
  • Balance bikes¬†offer an alternative way to teach children to ride a bicycle; without pedals, they allow children to learn balance, coordination, and critical motor skills by instinct, meaning the transition to ride a bike without training aids is much easier.
  • When they finally learn to ride a bicycle without any help, celebrate with a family cycling day out in the country.

Learn to Ride Without Bicycle Stabilisers

Wear appropriate cycle gear, including a safety helmet, and set the saddle at the right height to teach a child to ride without bicycle stabilizers. It can be tiring for parents to run alongside the bike while their child learns, but with confidence and practice, kids will soon be riding without those training aids.

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