For many years, it’s become accustomed for parents to teach their children to ride a bike using training wheels. Also known as stabilisers, training wheels fit on either side of the rear wheel, and prevent the child from falling off the bike or losing balance. It was often thought that teaching a child to cycle by focusing on steering and control was the way forward, however those in the know have recently argued that balance is the key to a fast learning process.
To teach your little one how to balance rather than steer, then you need to throw out the stabilisers and try something new. We’ve put together this little guide, helping parents get to grips with teaching their child to cycle without the use of training wheels.
Why Shouldn’t I Use Training Wheels?
If you’ve decided to prioritise balance over control, then the last thing that you want to use are stabilisers. For example:
- Stabilisers don’t teach balance: Once a child is moving onto bigger bikes, they still won’t be able to balance. Balance is the most difficult thing to learn when first riding your bike, so mastering it early is key.
- Stabilisers can be less safe: Using stabilisers can be less safe than not using them, as your child won’t know how to balance once they’ve moved on to bigger bikes.
- Stabilisers don’t improve technique: The technical side of cycling; balance, agility and more, can’t be taught using stabilisers. They can be taught by getting rid of the training wheels and by learning to balance on your own.
- Stabilisers take longer to learn: All training wheels can teach a child is the ability to balance. Not using them means that the more difficult skills are picked up earlier.
How Do I Teach My Child to Ride a Bike with No Training Wheels?
If you’ve decided to remove the stabilisers, then you have two choices. The first is to teach your child to ride a bike completely aid free, and the second is to use a balance bike. We would recommend opting for a balance bike first, before moving your child on to a proper bike once they’ve got the hang of balance, control and steering.
Teaching My Child with a Balance Bike
Balance bikes don’t come with stabilisers, gears, brakes or pedals. The primary aim of a balance bike is to teach someone to ride focusing entirely on balance. Hassle free and super easy to use, all your child needs to do is push the bike along the floor with their feet and see how long they can go without having to put their feet back to the floor.
Balance bikes can only go as fast as a child can push the bike, making them a highly safe option. They remove any hassle for you thanks to the chain-free, brake-less design and can make your child’s experience safer as they’ll have far more control when it comes to riding a bigger and better bike.
The Benefits of Using a Balance Bike
- Balance bikes are extremely easy to use: No brakes, gears or pedals make balance bikes incredibly easy to use. Push your bike along with your feet, and put your feet down when you need to stop.
- Balance bikes are very safe to use: A lack of pedals means that a balance bike can’t go too fast. If the bike is going out of control, put your feet to the floor and regain balance.
- Balance bikes are faster to train with: By focusing on balance over control, a child can master the key skills of cycling at a faster rate.
- Balance bikes are hassle free for you: All parents know the pain of fixing gears, cleaning oil from a chain or trying to change a bikes seat or handle height. Balance bikes are designed to be hassle free, and can be used straight out of the box.
- Balance bikes are suitable for all ages: As kids develop at different ages, balance bikes have been designed for toddlers as young as 12 months, through to young adults and early teens. Most places that sell balance bikes sell them in different sizes. For example, 12 inch balance bikes are great for toddlers, whereas a 14 inch balance bike can be used by a small child just past the ages of three or four.
Teaching My Child Without a Balance Bike or Training Wheels
If you want to teach your child to cycle without a balance bike or training wheels then you can, however it is a little bit more difficult. We would recommend focusing on balance first before moving onto steering and control. We would advise sticking to three different methods.
- Firstly, teach your child to push the bike along the floor with one foot, as this gets them used to moving the bike while also teaching them how to balance. This is safe to do as your child should always have one foot close to the ground.
- Secondly, hold onto your child rather than the bike, before decreasing the contact between you and them as they get used to cycling. Holding onto the bike can be more dangerous and won’t teach the learner how to balance.
- Once your child is more confident, they can hone their cycling skills by getting them to glide with both feet off the floor. This can get them used to different speeds, while also improving control, balance and agility.
Now is the Time
There’s no time like the present for teaching your child to ride a bike. Remember, kids as young as 12 months can start with a balance bike, but if you don’t feel your child is ready, then don’t worry as every child starts at a different age. Experts think that teaching a child to ride a bike can improve their motor skills, spatial awareness and agility, perfect for putting them one step ahead of their class.