Teaching my son to ride

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  • Teaching my son to ride
  • morgs

    Hi All,

    Without going into too much history, I started seeing my son again last year (after not seeing him for 3.5 years) and we have been slowly building a relationship since.

    Me and his mum have decided that I’m going to do a regulat activity with him and the first thing that has come up is riding a bike. Great! Just one problem, apparently he can’t ride! He’s 7 in July and I am sure I was riding well before then, but the problem is I can’t remember how I learned.

    So, does anyone have any helpful hints & tips to teaching a kid to ride a bike?




    just let them play about outside on the bike. My niece whos now 6 hasn’t had any ‘training’ from her dad but can already wheelie, ride with no hands- including turning with no hands, jump over tyres and much more that scares her mum to death. They just pick things naturally from other kids and from messing around.

    b r

    Let another child show him.

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    Firstly it’s really great news you are back in touch with your son.

    Does he ride with training wheels already ? Training wheels help get familiarity with basics (but be sensitive to him being embarrassed so perhaps practice somewhere quiet and let him know he’ll soon be riding without them)

    Then for me it was always just walking/jogging along behind holding the back of he saddle (hope you’ve not got a bad back) as my kids got balance and confidence.

    Encouragement all the way. Be patient. Don’t overdo it. He will have some tumbles and tears but that’s part of it and is great bonding.


    Try watching some “cool” youtube/vimeo stuff when he’s ready but don;t scare the life out of him with massive jump videos !

    Finally when coaching with Jedi he made some very insightful remarks about learning to ride bikes which is always with your parents/grandparents who are of course “the ultimate higher authority” – except of course my Mum and Dad can’t ride like Jedi. You’ll be sharing something very special with your son, a lifelong skill.


    I can’t wait to teach my boy to ride 🙂

    Buy him a skateboard too, that way he’ll learn how to fall off 😉

    Premier Icon scholarsgate

    I think holding your son around the shoulder/under the armpit area is better for your back and better for him as it lets him control the bike and allows him to feel and correct the wobbles.

    Here you go


    You might find this discussion useful:
    This was prompted by a question about teaching a child with Autism to ride, but the same principles apply to any learner.
    I’ve written a longer reply in the above thread, based on my experience of teaching kids to ride, but in very simple terms, start with the pedals off and the saddle low enough to allow your son to get both feet on the ground, don’t use stabilisers and don’t try to hold him up. This will allow him to acquire balance himself, in a controlled way.


    Sloping grass so he didn’t need to pedal, running alongside with a hand on his back, holding on to start with, then lightly keeping him in balance by nudging when necessary, then letting go. That worked for my boy’s balance. Also think about using football shin pads or long trousers so that they don’t mash their shins on the pedals until they work out starting and stopping without crashing.


    Brilliant guys – thanks so much for the reponse!


    Having gone through this last summer with my son, the only real way of doing it is giving him time. make it fun as this will encourage him to spend more time on it when you are not there. start with training wheels (somewhere quiet if he is embarrassed he can’t ride) let him ride with those and get used to stopping and starting on his own. when he’s happy with that, suggest taking the training wheels off (on grass!) and see how he goes. as someone mentioned above, you will get a sore back! It important to keep it fun all the way.
    I found it just clicked one day, mine wanted to go back to training wheels, then decided all of a sudden he only wanted one. then did a lap of the garden, proclaimed he was ready for none, i took the other wheel off and off he shot, he’s never looked back!
    It can be a slow process, but it will click for him and he will get there, there is no set time on it, it could take him a week, it could take him 6 months, but it will happen.

    Good luck


    +1 for sloping grass

    *learning to ride is principally learning to make the teeny tiny steering or balance inputs to counter the mass of your legs going up and down
    *(don’t tell the kid this, or he’ll start pedaling, flail the handlebars side to side madly, and fall off)
    *coasting the bike down grass is perfect because the bike will move without the complication of pedaling, and being grass it won’t “run away” too fast, also falling off hurts a bit less
    *the pedaling and related stuff can be introduced a little at a time on subsequent runs


    kcr is right on this one – not read the full seperate post but pedals off, seat down is the best way. He’ll learn to balance and steer without having to learn to pedal at the same time…..too much to take in at first. Get him to scoot along in a sort of running motion with his feet, then lifting his feet up once momentum is gained. Feet up and steering can then be developed. Once mastered, put the pedals on and get him riding.
    Like others have said too, keep it fun, quiet place and time on the bike is vital. Best of luck.


    turn the bike into a balance bike by taking cranks off. scoot around until happy on sloping grass, re-introduce cranks and he’ll be fine. Prsonally don’t like the parent holding on thing as they become reliant on you. with cranks off their feet on the ground they become a bit more independant. have fun! #edit# like he ^ said!


    +1 for yetidave

    The balance bike is the best way IMO, my little man had some time on a balance then once the time was right we got him a proper bike. It took him 5 mins and he was riding like a pro. Congrats with reconnecting with your wee fella and best of luck



    +1 on the be patient, even though you ‘know’ he can ride without you running behind or without stabilisers, he has to know, and that can take more time than you think, try not to rush him and just enjoy the time you have together.

    Premier Icon Trekster

    Something else I find usefull is before the child gets on the bike is to start by pushing the bike. First in a straight line, then in circles and the create a slalom/obstacle course with some old coke/milk cartons etc. this gives them the idea of steering. Do this from both left/right sides, clockwise and antoclock. Then how to mount/dismount. Then repeat with above exercises. Do occasional work with special needs kids and this works for some. Maybe get some cheap elbow/knee pads and some gloves to save on the bumps and bruises


    My lads 7 & hes been riding 2 years now without stabilsors,the wife & i tought him on the local plsying field,by making him ride unassisted from one to tother,he did in 20 mins !,balance the lot,hes now got a full suss bike with discs on
    !,lol,we’ve just done Sherwood pines thisaft & he’s been messin around in the tech park & fell off the bit of north shore in there a few times but got straight back on that’s how I teach him ,it’s easy to be a bit too close to them & cuddle them but at the same time he needs to toughen up ,we all did !,but he’s fine.

    Premier Icon stumpyjon

    Balance bikes are a good idea but don’t work for all kids. My daughter learnt to ride last summer at 7. Had tried her with the pedals off etc but to no avail. Finally cracked after a 2 hour stint on a gently sloping grassy area in the local park. I found holding under the saddle worked well, that way she couldn’t feel me touching her so when I finally let go she didn’t notice (wrecked my back but it was worth it).


    +1 for back wrecking.

    Teaching to ride has taken a hiatus while the Chiro sorts me out 😳

    Premier Icon alexpalacefan

    Stay away from training wheels if you possibly can. They DON’T teach a kid to ride a bike! Rather they just teach how to ride a bike with training wheels on, a completely different thing.

    Gentle slope, grass, and balance bikes are the way.

    APF (sometimes cycling instructor)

    Premier Icon takisawa2

    If your local, Islabikes have an open day in March. Seeing all the other wobbly riders really spurs them on.
    As above, hold under the arms, they need to feel the bike leaning & instinct will make them lean the opposite way. If you feel them do that they are ready, & at 7 he should have the strength. My youngest could balance at 3, but lacked the strength to pedal along till gone four.


    Took the stabilisers of my daughters bike just before she was 4 and she was really struggling to get the hang of balance and pedalling at the same time. We got her a ‘balance bike’ (ie no pedals or drive train) to scoot along. Few weeks playing on this and she was ready to introduce pedalling on her ‘proper’ bike. So I would certainly recommend the advice give to remove the pedals/cranks to get the balance part nailed first then introduce the pedals. Good luck, and make sure you both enjoy it, good times 🙂


    Thanks guys for the advice – just thought I’d update you on how we got on.

    I picked him and his ‘stunt king’ bike (and MTB-sylee SS kids bike with stunt pegs 😕 ????) on Saturday and headed back to my place. Waited for the weather to clear up a bit before having lunch then heading out.

    Went down the grassy hill route, but we had to write it off as it was too muddy to get any forward momentum

    Oh well, here’s to next time!


    Have at look at this link for pointers for the next time you’re out.


    Patience will be the best thing you can exercise while he’s starting off, my eldest is 4 years old and isn’t too interested in putting the work in with the bike so it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll be carrying the bike for a large part of each trip to the park but there are plenty of other dads doing the same so it’s quite common.


    Glad to here you’re getting to spend time with your wee one! the weather can be a nuisance but stick at it, hopefully you’ll be able to hang out together on your bikes soon!

    Good luck!


    My son could balance on a ‘balance bike’ by the age of 2 and was pedalling his little Specialized around by 3… i know your son is older but for anyone else on here get a balance bike… you’ll never see a set of stabilisers again.


    As above my son started at 2 on a balance bike and was riding around by 3 his own. Start them young on a balance bike and you’ll have no problems.

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