20 April 2011

Learning to ride a two-wheeler bike: some tips

via goodenoughmommy.blogspot.com

Stacy shared some great tips for making the transition from training wheels to a "big kid" bicycle:

Amazon: Balance Buddy Keep your kid's first bike, the tiny one with training wheels. They will outgrow it but don't get rid of it. When you think they are ready to try two wheels, take the training wheels off that bike and have them use it to practice balance: they will be able to touch the ground when they feel like they are falling. It's also easier for them to learn how to get started.

Stacy also recommended the Balance Buddy, a handle you attach to a bike that helps you hold it while your child rides. Anyone who has experienced the unique brand of back pain that comes with teaching a kid to ride a bike understands the beauty of such a product! Read Stacy's blog post for more details about how the Balace Buddy worked for her.

We've talked before about how to teach a kid to ride a bike (fantastic recommendations in the comments of the original post). But it's been a while and I'd love to revisit the conversation.

How did you teach your kid to ride a two-wheeled bike?

(We just waited long enough till the kids basically taught themselves.)

Related: DIY pedal blocks help kids fit a slightly too-big bicycle

Your comments

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4yo got a regular bike with training wheels over a year ago, and is EXTREMELY reliant on the training wheels. So we just got him a balance bike, which he's already pretty good at down our angled driveway. Once he's competent with balancing, we'll give him his regular bike sans training wheels.

I've heard from lots of people that balance bikes are a much better beginner step than training wheels, because pedaling isn't a hard skill to learn, but balancing is.

Strider bike. It was the lowest standover height that we could find in a balance bike. Started our daughter on one at 18 months.

Another vote for strider bikes. My 2 year old nearly gives me heart attacks because she's so good (and fast!) at riding. She got it for her 2nd birthday and it took maybe 3 weeks for her to get it.

My 3.5 year old loves his too :) He started at 18 months but we didn't use it much until recently.

Strider bikes are awesome and we have one for our second child. My daughter learned on her regular bike and i just took the pedals off of it and let her push it around with her feet. After about a week i noticed that she is coasting more and more. I put the pedals on and off she rode.

Strider Bike! We put our kid on it at 18 months also. It has been a great investment. He loves it and is so talented on it, that I am sure he will transition to a bike with pedals with no problem at all.

Strider. Love it! We got one for our then 2-year-old. He mastered balancing on the strider almost immediately. He started riding a regular bike, sans training wheels, when he was three. He hopped on a bike one day, started pushing it like he would the strider, then the moving pedals started hitting his legs. He picked up his legs and set his feet on the pedals and moments later he was pedaling away. He didn't stop pedaling for almost an hour. He just rode and rode. It was amazing and terrifying all at the same time. I didn't get to pat myself on the back for teaching him to ride a bike, but I did get to see the look in his eyes when he figured it out for himself.

I swear by the "glide-to-ride" method, which is similar to the strider thing but doesn't require any special equipment (just the smaller-scale first bike you mentioned). Both my kids learned to ride in an afternoon and never fell. Here's a blog post that includes the column I wrote, with step-by-step instructions:
http://suzannetobias.blogspot.com/2009/08/glide-to-ride-makes-biking-easy.html

The strider/balance/push bike method is awesome! It took my 4 y.o. son probably a total of 10-20 minutes over two days to get the hang of it and immediately took the petals off his bike and rode off. AMAZING! Same results for 2-3 other friends that borrowed the balance bike.

My 8 year old and I have been talking about this lately. Part of our challenge is time - another challenge in Florida is heat. It's very close to being too hot to ride bikes before, like 8pm now. I'm going to go check out the original article because we are planning on doing a bike riding lesson (in a soft, grassy field) in the coming week or so!

I could've written JC's (previous commentor) story, word by word, myself.

Both of my sons started riding at about 18 months - they had the Wishbone tricycle/balance bike (http://www.wishbonedesign.com/). At 2 years old, we converted it to a two wheeled balance bike, and they were frighteningly fast on it. My older son is now 4 years old (younger is 2.5), and has been riding a 2 wheeled pedal bike since he turned 3. Because he was so proficient on the balance bike, it literally took him about 30 minutes to get a hang of pedaling; it was automatic Best thing about learning first on a balance bike is he knew just to put his foot down on whichever side he was falling, so he's never actually taken a fall (except when doing something stupid!). We can't attribute the fast learning to his talent, or our patience, but really...it was the bike. We can't recommend balance bikes enough.

The balance bike! After having used that for a few months, my kids were riding regular 12" pedal bikes before they turned 3! They are not exceptionally athletic people (quite the opposite, actually), but the balance bike really keyed them in to the skills necessary to ride.

Balance bike. My son screams around on it. He's three and he's ready for pedals now, but we haven't gotten around to getting him one. He's been riding his balance bike since he was about 2. I can jog and he rides next to me.

We saved ourselves money and skipped the balance bike. Just take the pedals and training wheels off of the smallest bike you can find. I know regular bikes are heavier than the balance bikes, but that didn't seem to bother my kids. My son used his bike without pedals and training wheels for less than 6 months and then we put the pedals on and off he went - before he was 3 and a half.

I am surprised that no one has mentioned loose training wheels.

We knew our son was ready to take off the training wheels when they were loose, and he could peddle for several seconds at a time without using the training wheels.

You can use a broom handle in the yoke area of the back wheel. CHEAP!

We have a grassy hill near our house--not too steep. We had our son go down the grassy hill several times. No need to pedal. Just to learn balance. He didn't fall, but if he had, it wouldn't have been such a disaster. After several times of that, he had it figured out.

Wow. Practically unanimous votes for a strider bike! Is there a particular brand you like?

Surprised that nobody has mentioned going to a vacant parking lot with a very slight incline... This makes it possible to balance and glide to the bottom, turn, then lose momentum and stop. Repeat. That's how my (very uncoordinated) daughter mastered the two-wheeler with only one fall and no tears, at age 7.

Her first vehicle was a Razor scooter, so she had the general idea of balancing on two forward-pointing wheels.

Oh, also, it's pretty essential for that first bike to have an easy-grip handbrake rather than the type that brakes by pedaling backwards. For those very first forays into balancing a bike, her feet were nowhere near the pedals.

Gyrowheel. Best bike-riding tool ever. My daughter learned in 2 days, and my son in three. We've loaned it out to several other children who've learning in 1-3 days too. LOVE it!!

We have a Strider bike. 2 year old doesn't like it so far. It's awkward and uncomfortable for him. He'll last about 2 minutes then sets it down and doesn't want anything to do with it. I think the tires and too narrow. Saw another bike where the tires were about 4" wide. That looks better. We'll keep trying the strider, but might go to the other if he hasn't made any progress by mid-summer. FTR, I have tons of bike wrenching experience and it is set up as optimally as possible. :)

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