How to teach your child to ride a bike in 7 steps.

Warning: this post contains swear words and sarcasm. CLICK OUT NOW IF YOU DON’T LIKE SWEAR WORDS. And yes, I’m shouting there.

I’ve been skiting lately on Instagram about how awesome I am now that my kids can ride bikes and we can ride bikes together and it’s so idyllic because we can ride bikes.

Did you get that? Just in case you missed it: YIKES BIKES.

Why am I so excited by this? Because it took us a looong time to get to this point including a doomed dalliance with stabilisers, hysterics, bruises and plus walking anywhere with kids takes shitloads longer than riding. I’m going to share the steps needed to get your little ones awesome on bikes too, not crying or screaming protractedly whilst pushing bikes.

Tips to get your kid riding a bike without the blue murder screams:

  1. Don’t.

Skinned knees, crying, screaming. And that’s just you, the parent, trying to keep up with the little shits as they get their first taste of freedom on the bike and take off like pastel coloured bats out of hell. It’s heaps  easier to give them a screen with a bike app rather than get on an actual bike.

Photos courtesy of Two Wheeling Tots

2. Balance bike

Still here? Well then the next step is to invest in a balance bike. I thought these were just for wealthy hipster parents who couldn’t get their hands on the latest child-proof Ipad cover and so went for one of these instead. Hold the Apple merchandise people: the hipsters were right! Putting your child onto a balance bike is an excellent way to get them used to gliding along on wheels and steering the handlebars. It’s important their feet fully touch the ground while they sit on the seat otherwise they’ll fall off and you’ll be back to the crying. Once they start to develop their own internal stabilisers (or muscles for us non cycling folk) you’ll see them start to ‘balance’ without feet touching the ground for support for as long as that little bike will carry them.

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And even when they can ride them, there’s still whingeing… Go to Instagram to see this in full glory

3. Practice.

This is a great chance for you to boost your social media accounts as you post ridiculously cute videos of your child in a helmet. It also gives them plenty of time and practice on the balance bike to build their confidence and core muscles.

4. Terrain.

I’m a big fan of finding a park bench, giving my children two flat landmarks to ride between and then Instagramming my way through the next 45 minutes. Unfortunately parenting requires more than sitting, so it’s a good idea to facilitate your kids balance biking on different terrains and pathways (if you’re cluey, this will still include lots of sitting).  Warning: nothing is more frightening than watching your two year old careen down a hill laughing maniacally. Have wine or a defib machine on standby.

5. Transition to a pedal bike.

You’ll know your kid is ready for the pedal bike when they start whinging they can’t go fast enough on the balance bike. That or you’re sick of having a pedal bike hanging around in the garage that you trip over every time you attempt to get in the car. Just me? Anyway, make sure the seat on the pedal bike is low enough so that they can still touch the ground with their feet (again, important or falling over = shitful crying times).  Find somewhere with a slight incline but NOT where you’ll be filming into the sun or that video is never going to go viral= parenting fail. Hold the back of the bike and get your child to put his feet on the pedals, hold on and run behind until they are pedalling. Try to keep up.

6. The brakes.

To be fair, after the balance bike, getting used to the idea of a back brake is pretty hard. The hand brake on the other hand seems to give them too many options and they try to stop with their feet.  You’ll have to manually show them how the brakes work. Or they can ruin their shoes. Up to you.

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…and there they go…

7. First Aid

You should now never leave the house without bandaids and betadine (if you did before). Bikes are dangerous people: my kids have fallen off their bikes because of a cheeky and sudden breeze, a little pine cone sitting in the middle of the path they couldn’t steer around or some poor bugger just trying to go for a walk who is now traumatised because two kids careened toward them yelling “GET OUT OF THE WAY AAAAARRGGGGHHHH!!!” before riding off the path and straight into a paperbark tree.

So there you have it. If this instructional post doesn’t fill you with the confidence needed to chuck your kid on a bike and push them down a path, there are plenty of sensible sites like Bikewise and REI which subscribe to the balance to pedal theory I mentioned here. I’m not affiliated with any of these but if you want to buy a book from booktopia or that ebook I wrote on how to travel with kids without feeling murderous toward them, that’d help me out..

Ebook banner

Have you taught your children to ride yet? Screaming and crying or laughing and hooning?


Linking up with Kylie Purtell and #IBOT



23 thoughts on “How to teach your child to ride a bike in 7 steps.

    1. Oh geez, my heart leaps at the thought of it: they must be very resilient to have soldiered on rather than get off and cry! We sent our 2 year old down “gently” sloping grass on his balance bike- he stopped by falling to the side. Then laughed and laughed. I think I started going grey that day!


  1. Hahaha oh no I was thinking of introducing a bike soon, but I don’t think I’m ready for the crying or the injuries. I thought balance bikes were just for hipsters too, but maybe we should try one before getting a real bike because I think mastering the concept of balance and pedalling at the same time might be too much for her. #teamIBOT

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you have a bike for your little one already, you can take the pedals off and use it as a balance bike. One of the links at the end of the post discusses this. Good luck- the balance bike certainly made it a ridiculously easy transition for my two.


  2. Do you know I’m 45 and to my utter shame I still can’t ride a bike?! At least your kids can ride, so they have one up on me! I keep promising myself to learn but I just don’t get around to it. Now I think the balance bike might be the answer to all my cycling prayers! I wonder if they make them for adults…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, lots of the sites talk about taking the pedals off and just using a pedal bike as a balance bike. Worth a try? “You’re never too old”and all that jazz + bike riding is great for things like… I dunno…. wine tours?? 😀


  3. My five year old son is so disinterested in his bike, he prefers his scooter but I’m really going to have to get on to teaching him to ride soon, I don’t want him to go off to school not knowing how.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Little friends riding bikes can sometimes work in getting them interested, or a massive chocolate shaped carrot 😉 It’s hard when they’re not interested though- we carried my daughter’s bike all the way around Australia for 10 months and I think we managed to coax her onto it once! Good luck 🙂


  4. Sigh. We are here right now with my 4.5 year old. He is transitioning from a balance bike to pedals without training wheels, and, let’s just say that it’s FUCKING PAINFUL (more for me than him). I love this kid, but he has massive performance anxiety and doesn’t like doing things wrong, so he doesn’t have the “aaaah fuck it, let’s just do this” attitude that his older brother had. Slowly, slowly….


    1. We had that with the eldest. It really was a shittingly painful process. The balance bike helped but she was on it for about a year (after six months of on and off screaming on a pedal bike with stabilisers) before we got her successfully on back on the pedal. But now we are flying! He’ll get it soon enough and then you’ll be cursing how quick the fucking maniacs go.


  5. We got our 3 year old this fancy schmancy bike/trike/balance bike convertible dealy – it’s currently a trike with no pedals, then converts to a balance bike, then to a trike WITH pedals. Except I’ve lost the fucking conversion instructions so it looks like it’s going to remain an expensive trike with no pedals…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha. You lost me at ‘convertible’ which is code in our house for “we’re going to lose the instructions and end up with some hybrid thing which kind of works but not really”. Bloody bikes! Good luck 😁


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