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Nottinghamshire County Council - Proud of our past, ambitious for our future
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Teaching a child to ride a bike

Child cycle training

Child cycle training can be provided for children aged nine and over. It is normally carried out through schools across the county, is usually free of charge and carried out by our trained cycle instructors.

All pupils who take part in training must provide their own bike which should be appropriate for the activity.

Find out more about child cycle training.

A child learning to ride a bike

Have you purchased a bike this Christmas and want to know the basics in teaching a child to ride?

Try the following techniques:

Stabilizers

  • Try to avoid using stabilizers as they can be relied upon too heavily and the child will be more likely to become nervous if they are removed.

Bike height

  • Adjust the seat, so that the child can put both feet flat to the floor.

Remove the pedals

  • Use the bicycle without pedals, (they can be removed) using the cycle as you would a 'hobby horse' until balance and confidence is gained.

  • The trainee can start off just getting used to the feel of the bicycle, pushing it along and using the brakes.

  • As the trainee gets used to the feel of the bike and gains confidence in stopping, they can build up speed and lift their legs from the ground for a longer time.

Replace the pedals

  • Progress on to pedalling. It is common when pedals are replaced for the rider to watch their feet again. Raise seat if necessary.

  • Stand in front of the bike and hold on to the handlebars (instructor to walk backwards in a straight line). The technique involves minimum physical contact between trainer and trainee.

  • It is very important that the trainee looks at you and not at their feet. They must continue to look ahead; progression will be slow to begin with.

  • Use lots of praise and encouragement and plenty of patience.

  • Make small advances, keeping the bicycle straight.

  • Gradually lift one hand for a second or two and replace.

  • Repeat this exercise gradually taking the hand off longer each time, eventually taking off one hand and then both.

Practice

  • Do a little each day.

  • Gradually as the child gains confidence and stays at a slow pace, greater balance and control is achieved. Remember to reinforce keeping the head up, looking ahead and pedal slowly, using the brakes when needed.

  • Introduce turning

  • Trainees with restricted movement may find it easier to get on and off the bicycle by leaning it.

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