Whether you’re giving your kids their first glimpse at life on two wheels, or trying to help an old friend pick up a new hobby, teaching someone to ride has never been easier! In today’s post, we’ll look at the best way to introduce a new rider to the basics of balance and how to get them rolling on their very own.
Step 1 – No Pedals
First thing’s first and, when it comes to new riders, that means balance. Learning to trust that the bike won’t just tip over on you for no reason is the biggest initial hurdle to overcome. For beginners, the concept of tossing your weight back and forth to press down on the pedals is pretty antithetical to our innate understanding of balance, so the easiest thing to do is remove them from the equation.
That’s why our balance bikes don’t have pedals to begin with and, if you’re an older learning rider, your first step ought to be to take the pedals off. Make sure you do it right (and remember that the left pedal is reverse threaded), but pop those pedals off and you’ll be one step closer to your first successful spins on your new ride.
Step 2 – Slam that Saddle
Now that the pedals are out of the way, let’s make sure your (or your pupil’s) feet can reach the ground. Use an allen key to loosen the seatpost collar and lower the saddle until it’s at a height that lets you put both feet down while you’re sitting.
When you’re using the pedals, you’ll want the saddle higher so you get good leg extension, but when it comes to learning you just want it low enough that you can use your legs to keep you from tipping over when you’re stopped.
Step 3 – Scoot Around
And now you’re ready for your first rolls into freedom! Keep your butt on the seat and use your legs to scoot around your practice space!
If you’re teaching a toddler, the balance bikes have a handy grip on the back of the saddle to hang onto, but most kids (and adults) will be able to scoot along on their own with no risk of tipping.
Get a feel for the bike’s balance between kicks and gradually ramp up your effort so your “feet up” rolls last longer and longer. Eventually you’ll have a feel for bikes’ magic ability to self-balance at speed and you’re nearly there!
Step 4 – Hit the Slopes
Now that you trust the bike not to topple, try to find a slight slope you can ride down so you won’t need to rely on so much foot-power.
Make sure you give yourself enough of a push that you hit the slope moving, but then you can let gravity do the rest, coast on down the hill and, boom – you’re riding on your own!
Step 5 – Pedal time
If you’re teaching a balance bike rider, you’re all set! Now they’ve got everything it takes to hit the roads solo (well, not without supervision, but without a parent holding them upright).
Do the same thing you did before, start with some pushes, let the slope speed you up and balance you out, and this time put your feet on the pedals as you coast.
Give that a few shots and then start adding in some pedaling of your own! You’ll probably be surprised how little you have to shift your weight left and right, and how easy it is to get the bike moving with pedal power. And guess what – you just learned how to ride a bicycle!
Once you’ve really got the hang of it, bring the seat back up so your knees don’t get mad about all that bending, and you’re ready to ride off into the sunset!
It really is the best way to learn to ride or to teach someone else, and you never even need to install training wheels. Now hit the road with your new biking bud and enjoy the bike life! We’ll see you out there.