I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Author: Shannon Miller

A favorite childhood pastime is bicycling…getting that first “big kid” bike and tossing the training wheels aside for the first time!

“You never forget how to ride a bike”, but do any of us remember all of the effort our parents went through to teach us in the first place?  As I watch the older kids in the park I begin to wonder how my husband and I will teach our little Rocco how to ride.

Champion Cycling LogoLuckily my fantastic team here at SML found an expert in the field!

Jeff Luque of Champion Cycling shares some great information that is kid tested and mother approved!

What is a good age for a child to transition away from training wheels?  How long should a child ride with training wheels before graduating to a “big kid” bike?

Generally, a child will ride with training wheels for 1 to 2 years.  Once a good foundation of balance is gained, it is a good time to remove the training wheels. Moving to a bigger bike is based upon the child’s comfort level. Confidence in pedaling the bike is more important than the size of the bike. Once the understanding of balance is formed, it is easier to ride a bigger bike.

Are there better places (i.e. terrains) than others to teach a child how to ride a bike?

There are multiple places to learn how to ride. It is important to use a place that is comfortable to the child: a familiar driveway, a park with plenty of room, or if you live near the beach, riding during low tide is a good idea, as the sand gives a firm base but it’s not as hard as pavement. Additionally, there is a downward slope to the ocean that can help with momentum, which is a key to balance.

What are some general tips for teaching a child how to ride a bike (without training wheels)?

As I mentioned earlier, momentum is key for balance.  Pushing your child with his legs hanging straight down will help build up momentum. They actually make bikes called balance / push bikes. These bicycles have no cranks and pedals. Once balance is achieved, the child can focus on pedaling.  Another important thing is of course learning how to use those brakes!  Or doing “the skidd,” which will give years of enjoyment to the child! Tires will get worn, but it well be worth the look of happiness!

Are there specific things to look for when choosing a child’s first “big kid” bike?

When the child is ready for a larger bicycle, it is important to get a bike that is not too big. After all, you don’t buy shoes 2 sizes too big to grow into. Make sure there is not an over-extension of the arms and also that the brake levers are not too far out of reach. Knee pads and wrist guards are a good idea and helmets are extremely important (and required by law).  When looking at different priced helmets, think about how much your head is worth! Priceless!

TIP:  Now when your child comes to you and says “I want to ride my bicycle,” you’ll be prepared from every angle!  Have fun and enjoy this time with your little one!
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