Learning to ride a bike is a childhood rite of passage and it’s a wonderful opportunity for parents to bond with their children. However, the experience can be incredibly nerve-wracking for parents and kids alike, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here, we’re answering all the questions you might have about teaching your child to ride a bike.
Let’s get started!
What is the best age to teach a child to ride a bike?
Every child is different and there isn’t a specific age that’s known as the best time to start teaching them to ride a bike. Some kids are more adventurous and able to start far younger, whereas others take more time to warm up to the idea of riding a bicycle on their own.
Generally, you can start teaching your child to ride a bicycle by using a balance bike between ages 3 and 8, with an average starting age of 5 years old.
Are balance bikes better than training wheels?
Yes! Teaching your kid to ride a bicycle using a balance bike is a much more effective approach than using training wheels. Here’s why.
Balance bikes teach kids how to balance and steer first. Often, children get so caught up in the pedal aspect of riding a bike, that it takes them a lot longer to figure out how to balance on two wheels and control the handlebars.
On a balance bike, where your little one will push off the ground and glide on its two wheels, it helps them figure out how to maintain their balance. Once they’re balancing like a pro, with the smarTrike’s Xtend Bike, you can then add on the pedals.
Honestly, pedaling is one of the easiest parts of riding a bike. It’s the balance aspect that takes practice. So, once your child gets the hang of balancing between two wheels, the pedals will feel like a piece of cake.
What age should a child be able to ride a bike without stabilizers?
Again, every child is different and will develop at different rates. Instead of focusing on the age that they should be able to ride without training wheels or other stabilizers, you should focus on what skills they’ve learned in the process.
Some aspects to focus on:
- Can they steer effectively to avoid crashing?
- Can they balance on two wheels without constantly falling over or putting their feet on the ground?
- Are they picking up speed and gliding with ease on their balance bike or bicycle with training wheels?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, it’s likely that they’re ready to move onto the next level of their bike-riding, regardless of their age.
What age can a child pedal?
If your child starts on their balance bike at age 3, they’ll likely be ready to start pedalling as soon as they’ve learned to balance and steer. However, it probably won’t be until they turn 5 (at least) that they have the motor skills needed to pedal on a bicycle.
The good news is, a product like the Xtend Bike grows with your child from ages 3 to 6 years old.
Starting out as a balance bike, they will have gotten used to the seat, handlebars, and overall feel of the bicycle. That way, when you add the pedals, you’re not placing them on an entirely new bike.
They’ll feel safe a secure knowing that this is the same bike they’ve been riding and gliding on, just with added pedals that help them ride faster and glide longer.
How to Teach a Toddler to Ride a Bicycle
Ready to teach your toddler to ride a bike? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Help your child to feel safe. To do this, let them know that you’ll be with them the entire time and make sure they have all the proper safety gear like a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads. You might even let them practice falling to show them that this gear is made to protect them. Many kids will be nervous to ride a bike for the first time, so this is an important step.
- Start with a balance bike. Instead of getting a bike with training wheels, start using a balance bike. As your child pushes off the ground and learns to balance and glide on two wheels, they’ll start to understand the most complicated parts of bicycle-riding: balance and steering.
- Add the pedals. Once they’ve gotten the hang of balancing on two wheels, your child’s Xtend Bike will be ready for pedals. Arguably the easiest part of riding a bike, incorporating pedals will feel like a breeze.
- Keep practicing. As they say, practice makes perfect. Especially for young kids, it’s important to regularly practice their bike riding so that they can internalize how to do it. Soon enough, it’ll become as natural as, well… riding a bike. And don’t forget to cheer them on every step of the way!
Should a toddler wear a helmet on a tricycle?
The truth is, kids should always wear a helmet on a tricycle. Especially if your child’s motor skills aren’t fully developed yet, they won’t be able to steer as swiftly and as effectively as an older child. You can certainly tip over on a tricycle and bump your head. Helmets on a trike are definitely necessary.
To summarize, here are the major takeaways:
- Most children are between the ages of 3 and 8 years old when they first learn to ride a bike with the average age being 5 years old.
- Balance bikes are often more effective than training wheels when it comes to teaching a child to ride a bike.
- A balance bike will teach children how to balance on two wheels and work on steering with the handlebars before getting caught up in learning to pedal.
- With a bike like the Xtend Bike, you’ll be able to add pedals when your child is ready (usually about the age 5) after they learn to balance and steer.
- Start teaching your child to ride a bicycle by making sure they feel safe.
- Always be sure your child is wearing the proper safety gear – most importantly a helmet – while riding both a tricycle and a bicycle.
Check out the smarTrike Xtend Bike along with the full range of “grow with me” trikes and bikes for toddlers. We’re here to help you enjoy this exciting time in your child’s life. They’ll be riding in no time!