Tips for teaching your child how to ride a bike

Did your child receive a bike for Christmas? Are you dreading having to teach them how to ride it?

teaching your child to ride a bike

Isla Rowntree, x-national cyclocross champion and founder of Islabikes shares her top tips for teaching your child how to ride a bike.

She has a clear vision in the industry, to build lightweight bikes that are gender neutral in their aesthetics, which maximise enjoyment for kids. Here are her top tips for teaching your child how to ride a bike.

Find a large, safe, flat open space to use as your learning zone. Something with tarmac or a fairly firm surface is perfect. Long grass is too tricky for new riders to pedal on.

Adjust the height of your child’s saddle so they can get the balls of their feet on the floor.

Put your child on their bike and stand behind them, holding them under their armpits. Don’t hold any part of the bike. We want the new rider to feel how their bike naturally moves underneath them.

Push your child along and let the bike wander in any direction. You can help steer the bike by leaning your child right and left. Doing this will let your child learn that leaning is part of the steering process.

If your children has learnt to balance on a balance bike, they may take a little while to grasp the concept of forward pedalling. Encourage them while they practise pedalling forwards.

If your child is ready to cycle unaided they should quickly get a feel for balance and you can gradually let go, but stay close by to catch them if anything goes wrong.

For nervous riders, you may need to stay with them a bit longer. That’s fine. Just let them know that you’re there, but you’re very gradually going to loosen your hold on them. Eventually they’ll be cycling unaided without even knowing it. The look of delight when they realise you’re no longer holding them and they’re cycling all by themselves is a moment to treasure.

The final part of the jigsaw is learning how to set off from stationary unaided. For this, have your child put one of their pedals just past the top most part of the pedal circle. That means around the ‘5 to the hour’ position with the left leg, or ‘5 past the hour’ position with the right leg.

Now ask them to give a good push on this leg. With enough forward momentum they should be able to transfer both feet to the pedals, start pedalling and be a completely independent rider!

*This is a collaborative post


  1. Rachel Melton

    Mini M got a balance bike for his birthday, we thought it might help him when he does start riding a proper bike to find his balance easier. When we were in the park yesterday he wanted to get on another child’s bike. Good tips xx

  2. Gemma - Nagging Mother

    Fab tips! My children got bikes in the summer and they learnt to ride then. I thought it would be a nightmare but they learnt a lot quicker than I thought… probably within 15 minutes. It also helped that me and the mister had a little competition going as to which child we were helping would learn first! (I won!)

    Gemma xx

  3. My son had a balance bike and he is definitely struggling to get to grips with the forward pedaling part! We are lucky to have cycle paths around us that are really useful for learning. He’s on his way, but not quite there yet 🙂

  4. Angela Milnes

    great tips. I remember Sylvia coming home having learnt to ride a bike elsewhere so I didn’t have the chance to teach her but it’s a great thing to do and your tips sounds really useful. Angela

  5. Nadia - ScandiMummy

    Great tips! I remember learning to ride a bike when I was a child. My boy is only 11 months so it will be a while yet, but I have a road bike and enjoy it so much, so hope he will too one day. Thank you for co-hosting #KCACOLS

    Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  6. Great tips. I will keep these in mind for when my boy is old enough to learn.xx #kcacols

  7. Coombe Mill (Fiona)

    I spent hours running round a field gradually letting go of the back of bikes! #KCACOLS

  8. Marianna isn’t old enough yet but I do worry a little about when she does get a bike – I haven’t ridden one since I was about 12, and my partner can’t ride a bike at all! I think we will all be learning together. 🙂 #KCACOLS

  9. Random Musings

    Don’t forget the stage where they realise no one is holding the bike, panic and fall off or was that just me lol 🙂 Thanks for hosting #KCACOLS

  10. Trista Souza

    This will come to be very useful this spring when I plan to get all 3 of my littles bikes and teach them to ride so that next year when 2 of them are going to the same school we can ride there for exercise 🙂 #KCACOLS

  11. Very useful. We want to teach my son in the summer #KCACOLS

  12. Great tips thank you. I will use them to help the kids in my school.
    Amanda. #KCACOLS

  13. My 5 yo learnt a few months ago & was thrilled. He was quite confident & I used the hold the saddle & eventually let go technique. My 8 yo daughter still cannot ride though & has no interest to learn. #kcacols lifeinthemumslane

  14. Very helpful tips. I will share these with my neighbour. Her son is learning how to ride a bike.


  15. Really helpful tips here. I am wanting to teach my younges to ride a bike before new baby arrives in the summer!

  16. Gumdrops & The Bear

    Really useful as we’re just about to start teaching our big one! Thanks x #KCACOLS

  17. I have already commented, but just popping back from #kcacols x

  18. Great tips. Thank you. We bought the Tubblet a bike and she’s learning to master it now. She’ll get there I’m sure

  19. Pinned this for later – we’ll be teaching my son to ride a bike without training wheels this summer. #KCACOLS

  20. My kids are too young to ride bikes yet but it is full of useful tips for those embarking on the adventure! #KCACOLS

  21. Maestro Mummy

    Great tips- thank you. Our daughter is 20 months but will be pinning this to look back on when the time comes. #KCACOLS

  22. I’ve got all this to come! Great tipsx #KCACOLS

  23. Someone's Mum

    These are great tips. I rather fear my son may take a while as his asd means he is very slow and reluctant with physical things. My daughter however might be at it in afew months, even though she’s only 1! Will definitely keep hold of this until both are ready. #KCACOLS

  24. TheMummyToolbox

    Very helpful, we haven’t quite gotten to the bike riding age yet and it’s a bit too cold at the moment but definitely need to teach the little monster! I think it’s so important! Thanks for co-hosting #KCACOLS this week xx

  25. These are wonderful tips! Learning to ride a bike can be challenging & scary for some kids. Balance bikes seem like a great idea for children to learn balancing before pedaling. Thanks so much for hosting #KCACOLS

  26. Rebecca Farrelly

    Great tips! Mia is took young for a bike yet, she cant even manage a trike! But this is good to know for the future when no doubt we will be buying her a bike 🙂

  27. Good tips! We’re still a way off this yet, but I’m sure I will be scared of it when the time comes! #KCACOLS

  28. Tin Box Tot has really got the hang of her balance bike in the past year and loves to scoot around on it. I’m sure it won’t be much more than another year before we look for another bike for her #KCACOLS

  29. These are really good tips – thanks for sharing. Learning to ride a bike can be quite tricky for some children! #KCACOLS

  30. mommyslittleprincesses

    Thank-you so much for these fantastic tips. I can’t wait to put them into practice with Ella. Thanks for co-hosting lovely!xx #KCACOLS

  31. Sleepingthroughyet

    Great tips, my daughters learning with stabilisers at the moment so I’ll be using these when we go out again. #KCACOLS

  32. great tips – Arthur’s grandparents bought him a balance bike for xmas ( although at 12 months he is much too young to use it!) so we will be trying with that first #KCACOLS

  33. This is all great advice, thank you! We actually got our eldest riding on her own last weekend, which took us by surprise, but our youngest needs a bit more help so this will be really useful. Becky x #KCACOLS

  34. Rachel Bitmead

    Really useful tips, I am dreading teaching Miss M to ride her bike without stabilizers this summer. It has to be done before she outgrows her second bike! #KCACOLS

  35. I hadn’t thought about holding them under their armpits. I would have naturally gone for holding the bike, so thanks for sharing that tip. H had a balance bike last year – Grandad got in there very quickly – but he hasn’t shown it any interest yet. Hoping that this summer we have a breakthrough. #KCACOLS

  36. My Petit Canard

    I cant wait to teach our little one how to ride a bike! Really useful and practical post 🙂 Emily #KCACOLS

  37. Martin - At Home With The Boys

    Our eldest got a bike for Christmas and we were really impressed that it only took him a few days before he got the hang of it. Now all he needs to do is learn how to stop and start on his own!

    Thanks for sharing #KCACOLS

  38. Thanks for these! One of the things I’m looking forward to most is teaching T to ride a bike. A little way off yet though:) Thanks for sharing x #kcacols

  39. Mummy & the Mexicans

    Good tips! I remember (vaguely) learning to ride a bike in a car park when I was about eight! It’s such an important thing to learn, but I’ve still got quite a few years till it’s Emma’s turn. #KCACOLS

  40. Dennis L. Ward

    This is all great tips, thanks for sharing some solid tips.

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