Step-By-Step Guide How To Teach A Child To Ride A Bike

How To Teach A Child To Ride A Bike

If you’re looking for the answer to the question, how to teach a child to ride a bike, you came to the right place!

The joy a child experiences when getting their first bicycle is a feeling they will never forget!

In a word, it’s Priceless!

Learning to ride a bike brings a child a sense of true freedom & accomplishment. And that feeling stays with them as some of their fondest childhood memories!

Are you ready to teach your little one to ride a bike? Follow the steps below, and you’ll have your child up and riding in no time!

Dad running next to child learning to ride bike
Man shows How To Teach A Child To Ride A Bike

What’s The Best Age To Teach A Child To Ride A Bike?

There are many opinions on what is the best age to learn to ride.  Generally, most kids are ready & willing to learn between the ages of 2 to 8 years old.

But for many kids & parents, the age of 5 or 6 is the most sensible age to learn.

But the right age depends on the child’s interest & willingness to learn!

How Long Does It Take For A Child To Learn To Ride A Bike?

How long it takes varies and depends on how much your child has spent riding other types of bikes & other factors.

Some kids catch on fast (sometimes as short as 45 minutes). Others take more time & practice to get the hang of things.

Whatever the case for your child, be supportive & encouraging. Understand this is a big moment in their development. Try your best to embrace & enjoy the journey you’re on with your child. Be their hero & cheerleader.

Trust me, they will never forget that you were there for them during this time!

Before Learning To Ride

Switching to a two-wheeled bike is usually preceded by lots of practice on a tricycle.

Teaching a child to ride a bicycle is not an easy task. It requires lots of time & patience, but helping children conquer this obstacle is so worth it. 

Equipment Matters

Start by buying or repairing a quality bike suitable for your child’s age; don’t forget a helmet, knee pads & gloves.

This may seem a bit excessive, but it’s so important to cushion your child from any falls. 

Choose a practice area that’s safe & calm. It’s best to choose an area with no distractions so your child can concentrate on learning to ride.

The 3 Most Popular Teaching Methods

1. Training Wheels

Child riding bicycle with training wheels

As a rule, small children’s bikes come with training wheels. While this is the slowest way to learn, it’s also the safest. At least until the child is comfortable with the speed & balance it takes to control a bike.

Even when learning on a bike with training wheels, you will still need to supervise.

Pro-Tip: practice will be much easier if you find a flat, grassy area for practice. That way your child doesn’t need to worry about keeping the bike upright & stable.

You also won’t have to wipe as many tears or nurse as many owies & boo-boos.

This also allows the child to concentrate on pedaling & steering. Which takes a lot of pressure off of them as they practice.

You can raise up the training wheels as your child gains balance & confidence. This gives the bike a slight imbalance for them to respond to. 

After that, you can remove the training wheels on the way to two-wheeled practice.

2. Train On Small Bikes

Dad running with child while teaching how to ride a bicycle

Many people suggest learning on smaller two-wheeled bikes instead of bikes with training wheels.

Why? 

Smaller bikes allow a child to put both feet on the ground.

This focuses first on balance, then pedaling & then guiding the bike. 

Concentrating on balance is much easier when they can put their feet on the ground. As a result, they explore the various movements & motions of the bike.

Some people also remove the bike pedals, so the child can push and balance the bike in a very natural way.  

You can put the pedals back on and increase seat height when you feel that the child is ready to move to the next level.

If you chose to use a small bike for training, it’s time to move to a bigger one.

3. Support From An Adult

Dad teaching a child how to ride a bike with training wheels

This is the classic way of teaching a child to ride a bike.

For this method, the child sits on their bike while the adult holds them by the shoulders or holds the bike seat. While you run beside or behind them.

This technique also allows the child to learn to pedal and steer first.  Another benefit here is they gain balance through speed & forward momentum.

You can start to let go of the bike as your child gains confidence & gets more practice. Little by little you let them ride the bike by themselves!

More Tips & Advice

Be Patient While Your Child Learns

Children don’t learn to ride a bike in a single afternoon. Be prepared to invest some time, have a good dose of patience & offer encouraging words. 

This can take time!

Depending on their age & aptitude, it takes time for a child to finally start riding a bike by themselves.

Make Sure The Child’s Bicycle Is 100% Operational

Be sure to check tire pressure, brakes, height, and seat position. Also make sure they always have their helmet, gloves, and knee pads on.

Don’t Push Them Too Hard

It’s ok if your child wants to walk or run beside their bike. Let it be. This is a great way for the little ones to become familiar with a bike’s movement & speed.

It’s also important for them to make progress at their own pace.

Teach Simple First Steps – Getting On The Bike

Start by teaching them how to get on the bike. Show them how to swing one leg over the rear wheel & seat. Then how to position themselves on the center of the bike, and then lower themselves back onto the seat.

The right support can do wonders!

Support the bike as they learn. This will have your child feeling completely comfortable while learning. Your child should trust that you’re there to help them balance. That way they can focus on learning all the basic motions without worrying whether they’re going to fall.

Communicate with your child

Don’t let go of the bike without letting the child know. Count to 3 before letting them ride without your support.

Try to keep up with them as they go

Try to stay alongside your child as they ride without your support. Running or walking as they go. Tell them they’re doing well. This can make a huge difference to them!

Training wheels – both or none

Avoid the temptation to keep only one training wheel on the bike. It may seem safe, but it doesn’t provide any stability to the bike.

It also doesn’t give the sense of balance that your child needs to learn. Keep both training wheels on until your child is ready to do without both.

Use a towel for support

Instead of holding the child, you can try wrapping a large bath towel around the child’s waist to steady them. This acts like a kind of safety net that supports them while they’re learning.

Be prepared for Falls

Be prepared to see the child fall many times and to convince them to try again. Especially when they show signs of giving up!

Celebrate their efforts & successes

Organize group bike rides & family outings when the child is finally able to ride a bike by themselves. They will continue to improve as they ride alongside you. 

The Wrap-Up

In this article, we gave a detailed overview that will help anyone teach a child to ride.

Remember, you’re making memories while you’re building your child’s life skills. Each moment is a precious gift!

Enjoy every single step of the way on the journey with your child!

What’s Next…

If you enjoyed this article, go check out our Cycling Training Plan For Beginners!

Happy Cycling!

About Informed Cyclist
Michael Rogers
I’m Michael, a cycling fanatic and the founder of Informed Cyclist. I started this site to give back to the sport I love! My mission is to bring the very best cycling advice & know-how to my readers. I hope you enjoy this site as much as I love working on it. I put a lot of heart & effort into it!