Teaching Children to Ride a Bicycle
This is a follow-up to our prior post on Teaching Children to Ride a Tricycle. Once your little one has mastered tricycle riding, we can turn our focus to the two-wheeler, the bicycle!
Riding a bicycle is a complicated skill that requires trunk stability and strength, balance, coordination, motor planning and body/spatial awareness. A child also needs a well-established vestibular and proprioceptive system. In comparison to the tricycle, pedaling a bicycle requires more force and strength, while the higher height of the bicycle and two-wheel base of support call upon a greater level of balance and body/spatial awareness.
Many times we recommend beginning with a balance bike. Before children are able to utilize a conventional two-wheeled bicycle either due to their strength, balance or their motor planning abilities, a balance bike can be a great piece of equipment to practice climbing on and off, forward movement, weight shifting and steering/navigating around obstacles. Find a balance bike that meets your needs as well as your child's. It is important to ensure the proper fit of the balance bike for each child.
When shopping for a Balance Bicycle keep in mind:
- Adjustable Seat: As child grows, bike should be able to accommodate! Child should be able to sit on the seat with both feet touching floor.
- Adjustable Handlebars: Child should be able to comfortably grip both handlebars with shoulders relaxed and elbows slightly bent.
- Durable Materials:
- Wood bikes are eco-friendly, but do not usually hold up as well over time.
- Steel bikes are durable, but usually heavier and more susceptible to rust.
- Aluminum bikes are durable and lightweight.
- Composite bikes are also durable and lightweight.
- Frame Weight: Ideally a frame should weigh less than 40% of child's body weight. Lighter bikes are easier for children to maneuver and for adults to carry!