Cycling doesn’t have to be all scraped knees and wobbly wheels. Follow these simple steps and your kid will be biking with confidence in no time.
Prepping for Take Off
If your child is aged four or older and has their balance and coordination skills down, they may be ready to ride, but before it’s full steam ahead, here are a few steps you can take to help get the ball (and wheels) rolling:
- Make sure your child understands the rules of the road and the dangers of traffic, and always wears a helmet.
- Buy the right bike. Look for an inexpensive beginner’s bike with a single gear and a foot brake. The wheels should be in proportion to the bike—the right size should be about 14-20 inches. Your child’s feet should touch the ground when they are sitting on the saddle with their legs straightened. Make sure the bike isn’t so big that your kid will have a hard time controlling it.
Finding a Safe Open Space
- Take your beginner biker to a quiet area without cars. The right spot will be a safe, open space like a big empty parking lot, a paved school playground, or a flat, well-trimmed field.
- Insider tip: There are a few nice lanes at Benjakiti Park, which expanded and revamped to include another neatly manicured green space. Lumpini Park, Benjasiri Park, and Wachira Benchathat Park (Rot Fai Park) also have a few good areas to let your kid loose on the grass.
- A good trick to teach kids to ride a bike is to first take off the pedals of the bike and get them to “scoot” around. You can remove the pedals using a 15mm wrench. Pump up the tires and set the seat height so your child can put his/her feet flat on ground.
Finding the Balance
- Ask your child to take giant dinosaur steps (left, right, left, right) and to look ahead when they’re riding. This puts your kid on the right track to a balanced, comfortable ride.
- Once they have their T-Rex stomp down, tell them to take frog steps: push off with both feet at the same time then glide.
- If they struggle with the froggy glide, explain that they need to turn the front wheel to keep it under them. A good way to demonstrate this is to stand in front of the bike with them on it and lean it over to show them that if it goes one way the bike disappears from under them, and if it goes the other way it comes back under them.
- Now put the pedals back on the bike and raise the seat a little; time for this dino to soar!
- Show them how to use their brakes, making sure they understand that it’s the brakes and not their feet that will stop the bike. This isn’t the Flintstones, after all!
- Then, have them push off with one foot on the ground and the other at the top of the power stroke. First, they will glide briefly while the second foot finds its pedal… and then the pedaling can start.
- Watch your kid light up because they learned how to ride a bike. (This is our favorite step.)
Editor’s Note: This article is by Merritt Gurley, Camp Director of Camp Sun Bear, a sleep-away summer camp for kids ages 8 to 15 in Khao Yai, offering a week of adventure. Fun-filled days include cycling, rock-climbing, zip-lining, hiking, swimming, canoeing and playing in the sun.