Our guide to learning to ride a balance bike
Find a suitable location – a safe, large, open space that allows your budding cyclist to wobble at will is ideal. Choose tarmac or very short firm grass; longer or softer grassy surfaces will hinder momentum and balance so are best avoided.
Children are generally very receptive to learning from their peers. If you have access to a space where other children will be cycling or using balance bikes, such as a public park or play area, this is ideal.
How about a helmet? This is for you as a parent to decide. Getting your child used to wearing a helmet from an early age is certainly good habit-forming for when they progress to a pedal bike, where it is strongly recommended.
First, adjust the saddle height so that when seated your child can get both feet flat on the floor with enough bend at their knees to allow for a comfortable striding motion. It's also important to make sure they’re wearing suitable footwear - trainers are ideal.
Your child will typically begin by walking with the bike, waddling along and possibly standing and pushing rather than sitting in the saddle. As confidence grows they will become more comfortable in the saddle and begin to walk the bike along from a sitting position. With a little time and practice they will learn the art of balancing on two wheels and, as confidence builds, will begin to propel themselves forward with a striding motion.
Steering and braking skills will develop naturally as they gain experience, although effective use of the brake is usually one of the last things the child will master.
Keep calm and encourage
It’s only natural to worry about your child as they race off into the distance, but try and stay calm! This is a good opportunity to allow a little independence whilst still being on hand for encouragement and support. Bumps and falls will happen; when they do it is important that you react calmly, check the child is ok and then check the bike is ok.
A note on stabilsers
We often get asked whether we would recommend stabilisers, we don’t. The problem with stabilisers is that they prevent the bike from leaning, which is what your child must learn to steer the bike. They simply put off the point of learning to ride until you remove them and can actually make learning more difficult as incorrect habits have to be unlearned. We find that a child that has ridden with stabilisers will almost always take longer to learn to ride than one who has never ridden before. We recognise that some children can benefit from or need stabilisers, but where possible always encourage against their use.