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Kids Bikes

Between the ages of 18 months and 30 months most children are ready for a trike or push-along. Most kids try a two-wheeler with training wheels at around 3 years old. Training bicycles come in different heights that correspond to the child’s size.

Between the ages of 4 and 5 most kids are ready to learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels.

A child must be able to sit on the bicycle, hold the handles and touch the ground with both feet. The rider should be able to dismount easily. It’s vital to buy the right-sized bicycle. Make sure the bicycle isn’t too big. They also shouldn’t be riding scrunched up with their knees hitting the handlebars. Get a bike that’s simple enough for your child to handle.

Most children’s bicycles have seats and handlebars that can be adjusted. The most important mechanical parts of a bike, overall, are the brakes. Children generally lack the coordination and strength for hand brakes until at least 5 years old. Coaster brakes  (brakes on the back wheel that are engaged by pedaling backwards) tend to be easier for young kids to use but they become less common as the bicycles get bigger.  Until a child’s hands are large enough and strong enough to effectively use a handbrake, they should rely on coaster brakes. Some kids have trouble with multiple gear bicycles in their early years.

A properly fitting bicycle helmet should always be worm by children. It should be comfortable and snug, but not too tight. The highest rate of bike-related head injuries is among boys 10 to 14 years old.

Children’s bicycles are measured by their wheel size, not seat height and frame size as is the case with adult bicycles. For example, a 20” bike will have a wheel diameter of 20”. Although there are no hard and fast rules for buying particular size bicycles for a child of a particular age, the guidelines we recommend are:

12” Wheel (ages three to five)
16” Wheel (ages five to eight)
20” Wheel (ages seven to ten)
24” Wheel (ages nine to twelve)
26” Wheel (ages twelve and older)

As you can see a child has to go through four or five different sizes of bicycles before they get to the size that adults ride. There are a different models of bikes, and the frames come in different sizes. Although what brand you buy often comes down to your budget, the better brand bicycles generally have increased performance, are safer and are more durable.

First Step: Teaching kids to ride a bicycle with training wheels

It’s quite possible to teach a child to ride a bicycle using training wheels in about an hour using the following steps.

Start by lowering the saddle so both feet can comfortably touch the ground. The next step is to find the right location to learn. Look for a park or field with a gentle grassy slope – not a steep slope – that is about 50 yards long that doesn’t have any significant obstacles such as bumps, rocks, or trees. It should be relatively smooth and soft, and the grass shouldn’t be too tall.

The goal of teaching kids to ride is to help them learn the required skills of balancing, steering, pedaling and braking. They should master one riding skill at a time. A child must be comfortable with each new skill before they’re shown the next one. The child should put on the helmet and gloves before starting. This way, they’ll feel safe, which is important because if they’re afraid, they won’t want to try.

Start by scouting out the right location. Look for a park or field with a gentle grassy slope about 50 yards long that doesn’t have any significant obstacles such as bumps, rocks, or trees. It should be relatively smooth and soft, and the grass shouldn’t be too tall. Avoid a steep slope.

Balancing and steering
The first thing to teach is balancing. Walk up the grassy slope about half way, point the bike downhill and have your child get on and coast very slowly down the hill using their feet to reduce the speed. Make sure they can reach the ground and maintain their balance. The soft grass will keep their speed down and make the bike come to a stop at the bottom of the slope.

Have your child repeat this step several times, coaching them to lift their feet off the ground a bit to get a feel for how steering affects handling. They’ll learn quickly because they can drag their feet anytime they want so they won’t feel out of control.

Stick with this skill until they’re confident balancing and steering and they can make it down the hill with their feet up. Make a big deal out their progress so they recognize how great they’re doing.

Pedaling
Once your child is confident coasting down the hill with their feet off the ground, they’re ready to coast down with their feet on the pedals. Have them rest their feet on the pedals while you hold the bike in place. Be sure to remind them to put their feet on the ground as the bike slows down and stops so they don’t fall over. After a few runs down the hill, they’ll get the hang of it.

When they’re comfortable coasting with their feet on the pedals, have them practice pedaling the bike as they go down the slope. After a few runs, they’ll probably be able to go further up the slope for a longer ride and more extended practice.

Braking
Most bikes for kids have coaster brakes, which are named “foot brakes” because they’re applied by backpedaling. Show your child how this works and let them practice slowing, coming to a stop, and putting a foot down. When they’ve mastered the basic balancing/steering, pedaling and braking skills, you may want to have them take three more trips down the hill, one for each skill, as a refresher.

After using the steps above, many children will not need to use training wheels again.

Second Step: Teaching kids to ride a bicycle without training wheels

Start by lowering the saddle so both feet can comfortably touch the ground. The child should wear protective gear too.