Parents often ask us what is the best way to get started on a new balance bike. Like a chick who’s learning how to fly from the nest, some kids will take to a balance bike straight away, whilst others may need more help and encouragement.
This guide works for all kids bikes out there, not just the LittleBig bikes.
Here’s our top ten tips for getting your little one started in no time:
1. Pick a Safe, Suitable Location
An open area free from traffic and distraction will provide a safe learning environment, and ensure your child is focused on the task at hand.
Avoid parked cars, steps, open water and any other obvious obstacles. Tarmac or short dry grass will ensure your child can get enough momentum to balance safely.
2. Choose The Right Bike
They say a bad workman always blames his tools, but really a bad bike can make it much harder to cycle and may put your child off.
A decent lightweight balance bike will give your child the tools they need to start cycling in earnest. Check the tyres are pumped up, wheels are spinning freely, handlebars turn easily and brakes (if the bike has them) are working correctly.
3: Make sure your bike is the perfect fit
Riding an ill-fitting bike is awkward and frustrating. While sitting on the saddle, your child should be able to touch the ground with the balls of their feet, with a slight bend in the knee.
The handlebars should be within comfortable reach, without being cramped, so your child can steer easily. Handlebars on proper bikes can be rotated backwards or forwards and moved up or down to get the right fit.
4: No stabilisers are the key to perfect balance
If your child has ridden a balance bike before, do not fit stabilisers when they’re ready to pedal as this will un-do all their good work in learning to balance. It will actually counter their development, a bit like giving a crutch to a child who’s learning to walk.
5: Practice Makes Perfect
Even a few minutes of practice every day can see dramatic improvements. And the better your child gets, the more they’ll want to go out and ride their bike.
6: Get padded up
To ensure that a gentle fall doesn’t knock your child’s confidence, it’s best to be kitted up properly. A well-fitted helmet is strongly recommended, along with sturdy shoes and robust clothing, like jeans and a soft padded jacket. Avoid loose clothing or shoe laces that may get caught in the wheels.
7: Find a gentle hill
In order to get your child coasting along easily, it’s best to find a very gentle downhill which will help in picking up speed. Just make sure there’s a good run-off at the bottom!
8: Learn to use the brakes properly
Most kids will intuitively use their feet to stop while using the balance bike, at least while they’re getting started. Once your little one gets faster they’ll need to start using their brakes.
It’s best to teach them to use the rear brake first, then also using the front brake as they get more confident. You may wish to run alongside them with your hand on their back in case they need to stop.
9: Patience really is a virtue
Balance is normally mastered quite quickly. But the nuances of pedalling and braking can take longer.
If your child is reluctant to start riding it’s best to put the bike back in the shed for a few weeks until they’re ready.
10: Monkey see, monkey do
Your child will try and copy whatever you do, so try to let them see you riding a bike as much as possible. If they have a brother or sister who rides a bike then all the better, as you can then go out and ride as a family, and that’s what it’s all about!
Round the world cyclist, mountain bike racer, engineer and all round bike geek, Simon Evans clearly loves all things BIKE.
Simon worked as a Structural Engineer in Cambridge for a number of years before setting off on an 18 month, 30,000km cycle around the world, testing his bike, body and mind to the limit and giving a wealth of wonderful experiences.
Coming home in 2010, he wanted to combine his engineering with his love of bikes to create a better and more sustainable bike for kids. In 2015 he launched LittleBig bikes which have now been sold to 77 countries around the world giving thousands of kids the best start on two wheels.