How to teach your child to ride a bike

So your child is ready to learn to ride a bicycle? And you are keen to start teaching them, fantastic!

You came to the right place because here at Cycle Sprog we’ve got years of experience teaching our own kids to ride bikes as well as hearing from our readers about how they got on.

We work closely with cycling instructors who are experts at teaching children how to cycle.

If you’re not sure if your child is ready to learn to ride a bike, do our quiz first.

Here are our top tips for getting ready for that first session.

how to teach your child to ride a bike - Cycle Sprog's tips

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1. Pick the right spot

You’ll need a flat, tarmacked space with no traffic. Sometimes, a slight downhill slope can help.

Some people think that a soft surface like grass is better, but it isn’t because it will make it harder for your child to get riding.

You also want to avoid being disturbed, so make sure you don’t start teaching in the middle of a playground or a park busy with dog walkers!

preparing to teach your child to ride a bike
Checking your child's bike is the right size for learning to ride

2. Check your child's bike is the right size for learning

It is very important that your child feels safe on their bike.

If their saddle is too high it can be scary for them. Make sure that their saddle is set so they can get both feet firmly on the floor.

If this isn’t possible, we recommend waiting until they have grown or buying them a smaller bike.

Be aware that a bike that is not comfortable or too big for your child might put them off cycling!

Further reading: Is my kid's bike the right size for them?

3. Ensure your kid's bike is safe to ride

Every time your child rides their bike it’s important to check that it’s safe to ride.

Spin the wheels and make sure they’re not catching on the brake rims. Engage the brakes and make sure the wheels stop turning.

Check both the tyres are inflated properly - it’s very hard to ride a bike with flat tyres. Ensure there’s no damage to the wheel spokes, or to the brake levers.

Never let your child ride their bike if the ends of the handlebars are exposed. They should always have a bar end plug in place, or be covered by the thick material of the handlebars.

4. Avoid stabilisers/training wheels

It can be tempting to add on training wheels to give your child additional support.

Unless your child has additional needs and cannot balance themselves, please don’t do this.

Your child will not be learning to balance when using stabilisers/training wheels, and when you remove them they will be more likely to topple over.

If you’re not sure if your child is ready to start pedalling, do our quiz first to find out.

Further reading: Does my child need stabilisers?

how to prepare for teaching your child to ride a bike
getting ready to teach your child how to ride a bike

5. Set the tone

It’s important to make sure that your child is keen and happy to start learning to ride a bike.

Have you chatted with them about starting to use their bike? Do they want to learn how to ride a bike?

Have they seen other people riding a bike? It’s far easier to do something if you know what that thing is!

Keep it low-key and see how you get on in your first session. Don’t put any pressure on them, although a bit of enthusiasm from your side won’t hurt of course.

However tempting it may be, be mindful of inviting other keen family members, like grandparents, and don’t film your child.

You want your child to feel comfortable and relaxed and not feel like they’re in the spotlight.

6. Kids bike helmet

Wearing a helmet is a personal choice, and if you do decide your child should wear one make sure the bike helmet fits well.

A badly fitted helmet won’t protect your child.

Also make sure it’s comfortable, as you don’t want anything distracting your child as they learn to ride.

Further reading: Best bike helmets for kids

preparing to teach your child how to ride a bike
kids learning to ride a bike

7. Appropriate clothing

Make sure your child is wearing clothing that is safe and suitable for cycling.

Trailing fabric can get caught in the wheels or chain so avoid long skirts, wide trousers and tassels/belts that could come loose.

It’s best for them to wear comfortable shoes with grippy soles and covered toes.

Wearing layers is a good idea so they can regulate their temperature.

If it’s chilly then a pair of gloves can really help, especially if your child feels the cold.

You certainly don’t need to dress your child up in protective clothing or body armour. Learning to ride a bike should be a fun activity, not something to be scared of.

But it can help to make sure they’re wearing socks, leggings and a long-sleeved top, so ankles, knees and elbows are covered.

8. Give yourself plenty of time

Each child will take a different amount of time to learn to ride a bike.

Some kids leap on and pedal off straight away, and others will take longer.

Try not to be so rushed on your first session so both you and your child can relax and take your time.


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