How to Ride a Balance Bike Guide

How to teach a child to ride a balance bike

Instead of going straight to a bigger bike with stabilisers, a balance bike can be a much better start to a life of cycling and an easier way of mastering the essentials. Balance bikes are basic, child-friendly bike that teach your little one the art of balance and steering without having to worry about anything else.

If you've already chosen a balance bike or have one ready to go, then here's a quick and easy guide on how to teach your kid to ride a balance bike.

Sort the saddle

The first thing to do is to set the saddle height on the bike. The saddle should be lower than on a normal kids bike, so that your child can put both their feet flat on the ground even when they're sat on the seat. If it's too high, they won't be able to push themselves along and will probably end up overbalancing or even falling over.

Show them the brakes

If your child's balance bike has a brake, it's a good idea to start off by showing them how to use. Walk your child along with the bike, getting them to squeeze the brake, so that they understand how to slow down and stop if they want to. If they understand what the brake does, then it may give them more confidence if things get a little too fast.

Be patient

To begin with, your child might lack confidence, so they may end up just walking the bike or taking small steps. Don't worry, this is completely normal! They probably won't be lifting their feet up or rolling away quite yet, but just give them some support while they get comfortable with the bike and the steering. Don't touch the handlebars or steer for them, because they'll need to learn to do this for themselves. If you need to support them or stop them from falling, hold them under their arms, or hover your hands close to them to give them confidence.

When younger kids first start learning how to ride a balance bike, it can be frustrating if they aren't getting what seems like a simple task straight away. Try not to interfere too much and make things fun - putting the pressure on or giving too many instructions at once can put kids off activities, so keep things light-hearted and don't worry if it's taking a bit longer for them to get it.

After practising until they feel more confident, your child will progress to being able to slowly scoot along and steer the bike to go where they want to.

Give encouragement

Over time, your child will progress to running along. Eventually they'll start taking long strides where both feet are off the ground. Encourage them as they do this and give them support if they need it as they lift their feet for longer. At this point, you might start finding it more difficult to get them off their bike and in for dinner!

Move up to a kid's bike when they're ready

Once your child is happy gliding along with their feet off the floor, it's time for them to move on to a bike with pedals. Many parents look to add stabilisers to their child’s first bike, but it doesn't promote balance as much.

Always remember that learning to ride a bike is different for every child. Some may take a bit longer than others to lose the wobbles and gain more confidence. It's important to be patient and supportive, and make sure your child feels confident before moving on to the next stage. After all, it's not a race, yet!

Learning to ride a balance bike is a really simple and natural process that kids will love, and a great skill that will stay with them for the rest of their cycling lives. Pop in to your local Halfords store or visit us online to find the right balance bike for your little one! Or if you're not sure which bike to choose, then check out our handy Balance Bikes Buying Guide.