Hey there REI Community!
One of the most rewarding moments (of many!) of being a parent is when your kiddo first learns to ride a bike. The look on their face when they realize they have left their training wheels behind and are powering themselves on their bike is truly special. The journey to that moment, however, can be challenging and a struggle from time to time. There are a lot of good resources out there, like this Expert Advice article: How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bike, to help guide you along the process. We’d love to tap into the collective knowledge and wisdom of the REI community and hear about how you taught your kiddo to ride a bike. We're hoping you will share your experiences and what motivational tools you used to help get excited about riding. What advice, tips, and suggestions do you have for a someone preparing to teach their kiddo how to ride?
Our kiddo is in balance bike land still and not onto pedals yet, but I do have some thoughts:
That's fantastic @TomV
And you're right about training wheels. We used them with our first child and didn't with our second. Want to guess which one learned faster and enjoyed it more?
This is a great conversation and I just wanted to say I appreciate all the perspectives! I also wish I had all your wisdom before I taught my kiddos to ride. I'm very intrigued with the idea of training wheels vs no training wheels. My daughter definitely used them to figure out the pedaling and then took off without them no problem. For my son, they were definitely a 'crutch' that he came to rely on and it was a struggle to get him to give them up. Ultimately, we chose not to fight against his will and one day he walked into the garage and announced that he was ready to have them taken off. Of course, after he rode off without them and did great he told us he wanted them put back on and that's when we drew the line!
All in all, I think the critical part is patience with your kiddo and letting them come to the bike. There were moments we had to change plans and adapt what we were doing because my son wasn't having it with his bike that day. I honestly think that because our goal was for him to have fun at all times on his bike, he is now a little ripper and really enjoys his time on two wheels now.
Thank you for sharing your stories, I'm looking forward to hearing more!
Got a min so....
I disagree with the non use of training wheels. Contrary to current views, kids are different. Some need them, some dont, some get dependent. That doesnt mean you leave them on until the kid is 16, in fact as soon as mine started to lean into them, I raised them. Then when they started to become dependent on them, I bent them to increase the lean for one of the girls without letting her know. The son took to it like everything else. He went from crawl to run, jumped in any pool without worrying about the whole breathing thing, and was pedaling around his older sister. Zero to sixty in all things physical. The girls learned more methodically and incrementally. Which is why IMHO it is a lot easier to teach a woman to shoot. They mine the gold, not jump into every available stream with a pan.
The training wheels are for the kid to learn to pedal and brake. To get them to put time in the saddle before they have to put it all together. If they are stuck on them, then you raise them, or bend them, or both over time.
As an aside, we didnt have new stuff when I was a kid. There was a little red bike that came from somewhere. My sister decided I needed to ride. So she put me on it and shoved me over a hill steep enough that when my mother caught us she was "vexed". After about 10 runs or so I got it so my son comes by it naturally.
I thought of another thing to add that's been great in our family is the Kids Ride Shotgun Mountain Bike Seat, this has the kid riding on your own frame between you and the handlebars on their own mini saddle. They are not strapped to it in any way, so they must rely on their own (and your) balance. It's a great way for them to learn how a bike feels at speed as it dips and leans and maneuvers around without having to worry about the propulsion. AND it's my understanding that they're now stocked at REI... 😏
As far as training wheels, I just want to be clear it can be done that way, but some of the main points against them in more detail:
What fantastic timing to tag me in this! We just did our first Bikepacking trip yesterday/day before. While it was supposed to be 3 nights and I pulled the plug after 1, they did simply amazing on the trail (but I don’t tolerate poor campers, and there was a disconnect at our campsite, zero help from either child… I adventure solo with the 2 kids, 3 and 6 years old… when you’re in the backcountry alone with young children you can’t take a chance that they aren’t listening… so I pulled the plug, I’m hopeful that the message was received even with the listening ears clearly turned off)…
My daughter is 6 now, riding a islabikes beinn 20s… my son is 3 and on a strider pro. All I have is our experiences and a lot of research… someone mentioned 2 wheeling tots up ahead of me and I’ve found them to be the most useful over all… no matter you stage in the game or your financial level.
My 6 year old began on a balance bike, she moved to pedals at a new 4 and never fell. I mean, she falls, especially while learning to navigate her bike for the first time 2 days ago with loaded panniers.
My son is more adventurous and ready for pedals but they’re now hard to come by given how light weight he is.
My tips and advice??
Get the lightest weight bike you can afford, shop used. The younger the rider, the more important this is.
Get out there. Try all different terrains and experiences. My son far prefers the pump park. My daughter, a nice paved trail…
Keep the bike available as often as possible… 24/7.