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Learn to Bike at Any Age

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Tips and resources for beginner bike riders

Getting started

What you will need

  • Helmet-  Make sure your helmet fits it properly. It needs to cover your forehead and the straps should be tight. helmet - checklist
  • Bike that fits – rider should be able to rest their feet flat on the ground while sitting on the seat.
  • A paved area with a slight slope
  • Wear closed toe shoes. Your feet will serve as your brakes. 

Checking your bike

  • The tires should be pumped up. Riding on deflated tires is hard work and makes the bike less stable.
  • Check the brakes to ensure they work.
  •  Your seat height should allow for your feet to be flat on the ground and there should be a slight bend in the knees.
  • Skip the training wheels.  Training wheels hold the bike in a rigid upright position. Riders will not learn to lean the bike which is important in mastering balance and steering.

Tips

• Keep it fun!

• Coach, don’t criticize
• Be Patient
• 
Be Positive

• Take breaks
• Keep a time limit and try again tomorrow!

Teaching points

• Sit on seat (and stay seated).
• Eyes forward, not down in front of wheel.  Look towards the horizon and where you want to go. 
• Scoot the bike forward using your feet on the ground
• Pick up speed

• While rolling, try lifting your feet off the ground.
• Put a foot down to prevent falls & tip-overs.

Bonus Teaching points

• Use right/rear brake only to control speed or stop
• Steer into/towards the direction of a lean (if you start to tip over, steer slightly in that direction).
• A little speed / momentum is better. A bike that’s barely moving wants to fall over.

Important safety reminders!

  • Learning to Ride is EXCITING; but it’s important to know how to stop. 

  • STOPPING: 1)Use both brakes; 2)Keep your weight on the seat until stopped; 3)Keep your feet on the pedals until the bike stops.
  • TURNS: 1) Lean with the bike into the turn; inside pedal UP. 

Tips, Teaching point and reminders are from Bike New York’s Virtual Learn to ride. Find out more about Bike New York here: https://www.bike.nyc

Balance

Balance bikes have no pedals. This allow a kids and adults and to gain confidence and feel their balance while moving. Research shows that starting on a balance bike is more effective than using training wheels. Bikes with training wheels can be turned into a balance bike by removing the training wheels and pedals and lowering the seat.

Kids who start out on a balance bike usually transition to a pedal bike without the need for training wheels. Toddlers can start on a balance bike early as early as 18 months – 24 months. The balance bike familiarizes kids with the concepts of balance and motion and provides a safe foundation for learning to ride a pedal bike.

Check out cycling.uk for a step-by-step guide on starting kids on balance bikes.

Transition to pedals

The best way to get on a pedal bike is to learn to balance first. Learning on a two-wheeler without the complication of pedals and having feet off the ground allows the opportunity to learn the skill balancing.

Pedaling

Normally, when your child is around 4 years old and has been regularly using a balance bike, you will find the transition to riding a pedal bike fairly straightforward as they have already learned to balance, steer and brake.

How do you know you are ready to transition to pedaling? Are you proficient in the following steps:

1. Able to support all your weight on the seat.
2. Able to gain momentum by running with the bike.
3. Can Balance with feet up for extended periods.
4. Able to avoid obstacles while riding.
5. Can lean through turns with feet off the ground.
6. Able to find and use footrests while riding.
7. Can control your speed.
8. Able to stop safely with feet.

Ready to try pedaling? Watch Cycling UK video and read more about How to teach a child to ride a bike

or use Bike NWA’s GET READY Guide that teaches balance and steering, key skills for learning to ride a bike. Download the guide for free Bike Northwest Arkansas - Get Ready


Another resource for teaching children to ride is  REI’s Teach a Child to ride a bike guide.

True Beginners

It’s never too late to learn to bike. Many people discover the fun of getting around by bike for the first time as adults. A YouGov poll found that 13% of adults between the ages of 18-34 do not know how to ride a bike. Below are some resources to help get  you rolling on your bike.

Follow Bicycling Magazine primer - IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN HOW TO RIDE



How To Ride a Bike, For Adults from Bike East Bay




REI's instructions How to learn to ride a bike as an Adult

Cascade Bikes Learn to Ride Tip Sheet

Eugene Springfield Safe Routes to School Tip Sheet  (Spanish & English)

 

Success!

Print off a certificate to celebrate that you know how to ride a bike! 

CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT - I learned to ride a bike.

certificate - learning how to ride a bike


What is next?

Now you know how to ride a bike – you can learn more about road safety  and increase your riding confidence on the road by taking a bike skill class.

One of the best online bike safety classes is Cycling Savvy. The City of Davis for a limited time is offering this class for free. See below to sign for the “free” online Basic Cycling Savvy Basic Course.  
1. Sign up for Cycling Savvy at https://cyclingsavvy.org/product/cyclingsavvy-basic-course/
2. Create an account with a unique email and password
3. Add the Cycling Savvy Basic course to your cart ($17.50)
4. View the cart
5. Use the code cityofdavis_basic at checkout

Bike EAST Bay offers free online bike education webinars – you can find them here:
Free online bike education webinars.

Fun Videos:

 

Sources:

Never Make These 7 Mistakes When Teaching Someone to Ride
https://www.bicycling.com/skills-tips/a20032688/never-make-these-7-mistakes-when-teaching-someone-to-ride/

Strider Bikes- Learn to ride.   https://www.striderbikes.com/learn-to-ride/

How to Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike
https://rascalrides.com/benefits-of-a-balance-bike-7-reasons-why-your-toddler-needs-one-now/

The Balancing Act of Learning to Bike as an Adult
https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/05/the-balancing-act-of-learning-to-bike-as-an-adult/527238/

Teach a child to ride a bike     https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/teach-child-to-ride-a-bike.html 

https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/skills/how-to-teach-a-child-to-cycle-in-30-minutes/

https://www.bike.nyc/

https://www.cyclinguk.org