We occasionally get inquiries about how to learn to ride a bike. While I have offered one-on-one sessions for people just outside our shop there is a very simple way to learn that just about anyone can use to learn. It’s the method of learning using a “balance bike” rather than “training wheels”. I’ve used the method to teach grown youth (10-12 yrs. old) within an hour and some of the videos I’ve seen say within 30 min. for younger kids (which I’m assuming is due to them being generally less scared of falling than older people).
In a nutshell, ‘balance’ bikes are like a normal bike except they have no pedals and are designed to help the person figure out how to balance while rolling. Typically the seats are much lower than on a bike with pedals so that the person can easily touch the ground to help avoid a crash while learning to balance. A smooth grassy area with a slight decline is the ideal place to learn so that if there is a crash the person doesn’t get hurt. Once the person can roll for 3-5 seconds with their feet up (might take a bunch of times up and down the same hill) then it’s time to put the pedals on and raise the seat a couple inches and encourage them to pedal (on the same grassy hill). Once they’re able to put the pedaling together with the balance without crashing on the grass then get them on a smooth hard surface (away from traffic and other objects) and encourage them to keep trying the pedaling and within a short while most will begin bicycling!
Here are some videos that will show you how this is done:
A series of three videos I shot after successfully teaching a young adult woman (June 2015):
- Starting out w/ no pedals on a grassy slope:
- Pedals on, seat raised a couple inches, still on grassy slope:
- Putting it all together w/ pedals on, on pavement!
Some additional videos:
This is one of the best I’ve seen that you should encourge your kid(s) to watch:
- “4 year old teaches how to ride a bike without training wheels”:
Another great one:
- “Teach kids how to ride a bike in 30 minutes or less”
- Here’s another one showing adults learning using the balance bike method too showing that it works for older people as well! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0sifwUaQkg
If you need a bike in order to teach yourself or another adult you can rent a bike from us; for access to smaller bikes for teaching children contact the Share a Bike program in E. Lansing to see if they would loan you a smaller bike for teaching, or you might be able to acquire one from them via a donation (contact them for details).
Good luck learning and/or teaching!