It is essential to start teaching a child how to ride a bike early. The key is to get them balancing on two wheels before they have developed a debilitating fear of falling off.
The reality is that even as an adult falling off a bike is a risk all cyclists take, and as long as you have all the necessary safety equipment, you do not get severely injured.
There are two styles of bicycles that work well for children! If they are younger, a balance bike can be an awesome first cycling experience. If they are a bit older, a single speed bike that fits them well will help them learn and enjoy a bike.
The best bike for a young child to master the basics
Balance bikes are very popular for younger kids (under 5 or so).
Small balance bikes are the perfect way for children to get used to balancing on two wheels. Some even have handlebars that turn, which will help a child master the art of steering.
Interesting Note: These bikes are actually throwbacks to what bicycles used to look like before pedals and cogs were introduced to increase speed and efficiency.
The beauty of balance bikes is that you are unable to build up speed and there are no pedals to get in the way when the child wants to stop or is starting to feel off-balance.
A balance bike is also an excellent opportunity for a child to feel the rush and excitement we all get when riding a bike.
- Co-op Cycles REV 12 Kids’ Balance Bike
- STRIDER 12 Sport Kids’ Balance Bike
- Early Rider Limited Big Foot 12″ Kids’ Balance Bike
Best bike for an older child to learn on
If you are a bit late to the game and your child is too old for the balance bikes on the market (which are really aimed at children under age 5), then the best bike for them changes some.
The best bike for an older child to learn on, is one that is well maintained, has only one or very few gears, fits the child now, and has enough room on the rear axle for stabilizers.
It can be tempting to invest in a too-large bike for the kid right now, so they grow into it. While they are still learning that is a bad idea, it can create a fear, as it is uncomfortable and challenging to reach the floor with ease when they need to regain their balance, or stop the bike.
We don’t recommend spending too much money on a bike used for your child to learn how to cycle on. It will likely be involved in a few crashes to start with, so you should not be too precious.
Bikes that will work well for your child at this age can be found at a relatively low cost at Walmart or other big box retailers.
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Once a child learns how to ride a bike, you can invest in a larger, more high-quality bike.
As long as the bike fits your child, is well maintained (tires inflated and brakes that work), looks cool (to encourage them to be seen in public on it) and is relatively simple to use, they will be able to learn how to cycle in no time.