1) What is the right age to introduce your child to bikes?
A child can start out on a balance bike as early as 1.5 to 2 years of age (watch a video of our Balance Bike here). Children develop their physical, cognitive, and social skills at different points in time, and the same is also true for their riding abilities. Riding a balance bike will introduce your child to the concept of balance, coordination, and steering. It will also strengthen their leg muscles and build their core strength, while providing the pure joy of moving on wheels. Apart from your child’s willingness to ride the bike, it is also important to assess their height: feet must touch the ground easily and hands should reach the handlebars with ease.
2) Where are the best places to learn how to ride?
Choose a place where your child feels most comfortable—e.g., playgrounds, parks, running tracks, and safe neighborhood streets. Seeing other children ride their bikes is inspiring, and your child will learn visually and physically through imitation. The best terrain is relatively flat with a slight downhill. Grass is recommended in case of tumbles. Bumpy and/or busy roads are never recommended for beginners.
3) What are the most important skills for learning to ride a bike?
The most fundamental and important skill is balancing, and next up is braking/stopping.
When the balance bike is first introduced, parents will guide their child and walk a few steps with them while helping them stabilize. Next, the child will sit on the bike and walk for short distances. Finally, the child will glide on the bike, gaining momentum and mastering the balancing skill.
The ability to stop the bike becomes more important as the child becomes a more confident rider. The first intuitive way to stop is by using the feet as brakes. It is recommended to introduce the child to a hand brake as early as possible. A balance bike with a hand brake will stop the bike faster and avoid hazardous situations. This also helps ease the transition to a pedal bike, leaving only one last skill to be learned: pedaling!
4) How should my child get to know the bike?
Most young children are generally very curious when they are introduced to their first “real” bike. The main difference between the balance bike and the pedal bike is the cranks and pedals. It is recommended to focus on the cranks first and playfully explain cause and effect while holding the bike in a static position. Move the cranks forward by hand and show how the rear wheel spins as a result. Then let your child experience the same spinning effect on their own. Subsequently, introduce the concept of stopping again by moving the cranks and then using the brakes.
5) How do I introduce pedaling?
Teaching the skill of pedaling is a daunting task for any parent but is imperative in your child’s ability to ride with confidence and control. Patience is key. One option is to demonstrate pedaling using your own bike. Sit on your bike and slowly pedal so that your child can see how you move your legs (and how the wheels move because of the pedaling you are doing). Another option is to explain the act of pedaling on each alternate pedal. Show that when one pedal is up, the other is down. Explain that your child needs to push one pedal down first, and then push the other down when it’s at its highest point. Emphasize the faster your child pedals, the faster the bike will go.
Also, note that cornering and turning does not have high priority at this stage. Stay focused on going straight…the cornering skills will develop later.
6) Will my child be tired from bike riding?
Riding a bike is fun for kids, but it also takes a lot of energy. Their body-to-bike weight ratio is proportionally higher than adults. They will be tired! YAY! It is important to eat regularly and hydrate often.
7) Will my child experience setbacks?
Tumbles and small crashes are part of the learning process. It is not easy watching your child fall, but these challenges will lead to a safer and more confident bike rider in the long run. Provide positive feedback and get them back on the bike as quickly as possible. Once they experience their first taste of independence, they will be unstoppable!
8) What comes next?
When your child seems ready for a new challenge, consider an adventure beyond the pavement. woom bikes are made for off-road as well as on-road use (click here to read our tips on taking your woom bike off road). You can begin taking kids out on the trail even on the woom 1 or woom 1 Plus balance bikes, but woom 2 is an especially good model with which to introduce riders to dirt and gravel surfaces. The best way to explore and experience the world is on two wheels!
At woom bikes USA, we offer lightweight, high-quality woom bikes for children of all ages, starting at one and half and going up to 14-year-olds. View all of our bikes and accessories here.