Friday, March 20, 2015

Let's Talk About Bike-Riding

With the Spring-like weather we've been having lately maybe it's a good time to teach your child to ride a bike!

When it comes to children and bikes, here are a few concerns parents have shared with us:

  • Am I the only one that struggles with teaching my child how to ride a bike? 
  • I'm worried that my child still doesn't know how to ride a bike. Is this something to be worried about? 
  • Is there an easy, but safe way to teach my child to ride a bike? 

We all know that our children are not born with all the talents in the world. They might excel in one area of development, but struggle in another. Some children catch on quickly when learning to ride a bike, whereas for others, it takes some extra practice.

I've heard about several methods parents have used to teach their child to ride a bike. There's the "hold onto their seat" method, the "training wheels" method, or even the "let them go" method where parents set them free to learn for themselves how to ride. Recently, I've come across another method that many parents have given a two thumbs up rating. I call this the "balancing bike" method.

The Balancing Bike Method


This method is meant to be a step-by-step progression approach to easily and safely teach your child to ride a bike (citation). In the beginning it will isolate major individual components of bike riding and then bring them together in the end to master the skill. The major components for riding a bike include learning how to balance, brake, pedal, and steer. This video gives great instruction on how to use the balancing bike method, but before jumping into the video, take time to get your child ready to ride.

Deciding when to teach your child


Generally, children are physically and mentally ready to learn how to ride a bike between the ages of three and six – this of course is not a set in stone rule. Remember not to force your child to learn to ride, but instead keep it FUN!!

Bike fitting


Buying a bike that fits your child is crucial. I know it's tempting to buy a too-large of bike and think he or she will eventually grow into it. Unfortunately, this can slow down or even completely halt your child's learning progress. When riding large, cumbersome bikes, children are more likely to lose control and crash. To ensure safety, he or she should feel comfortable and in control of the bike at all times.

What is the right size of bike for your child? According to experts from REI, they recommend the "standover" test, which instructs your child to stand over the top tube of the bike with both feet planted on the ground (see photo below). You will know the bike is the right height if there is a 2" to 4" clearance between him or her and the top tube.

Click here if you need instructions for online bike fitting.

Also, before buying a bike, make sure you can adjust the seat position to a comfortable height for your child. Remember, for both kids and adults, the seat should be situated so legs never fully straighten during a down stroke. It's good to have a little bend in the knee at the bottom of your pedaling motion.

Further adjustments that might be helpful are explained on this website.

(Source of information: http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/bike+fit.html)

Watch the How-To video

For another helpful website for teaching the balancing bike method, click here.

We would love to hear from you and your experiences with teaching your child to ride a bike. Please comment below!!

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