Author Topic: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride  (Read 19046 times)


  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #25 on: 26 September, 2009, 05:52:46 pm »
I taught my son by taking him to a local school playing field. Did the old lowering the saddle and removing the pedals thing.

The field was a bit soft, but fortunately there was an artificial cricket pitch, which he scooted up and down.

He did fall off a few times at first, but there was one key piece of advice I was able to give him that made all the difference - and it was advice that I got from the old place, IIRC.

It's this: if you feel like you are about to fall over, steer the bike in the direction you're falling.

When I told my son this, it made a very noticeable difference to his ability to stay upright - progress from then onwards was very rapid.

When we got as far as putting the pedals back on, I had a very similar experience to Lee, running alongside him "holding on"... Absolutely priceless moment. Once that happened, he knew he could ride a bike and his confidence grew hugely.

It took a fair bit more riding, quite a few grazed knees and one incident of falling off into a patch of nettles, before he learned how to use his brakes properly...

"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #26 on: 02 October, 2009, 08:46:40 pm »
Miss Z now gets (small) air going over jumps and has just about got the hang of changing the 3-speed gears.  She is rather quick.  See her riding round Blenheim Palace on Sunday - pink Triumph Wave with a 1979 Sturmey-Archer hub, Deore V-brakes and a Suntour XC Pro front hub.  And a pink basket.
And Darkness and Decay and the Coronavirus held illimitable dominion over all.


  • Eating all the pies and drinking all the tea.
Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #27 on: 30 October, 2009, 10:30:33 am »
My 5-year old has balance - at least he seems to have it on his scooter - but refuses to pedal. It's just faster and easier for him to make Daddy push! He also has fear of being without stabilisers, even though he probably could balance without, I think partly because Mrs C says they're good, she learnt that way.
But it will come when they're ready.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #28 on: 30 October, 2009, 08:19:58 pm »
Some kids just aren't ready to learn to ride a bicycle.
Some can ride at 3.
Some kids can read at 3, most can't. Most sensible people don't press toddlers to read.


Our eldest learnt at 3 1/2, when I got fed up because he broke three pairs of stabilisers in one summer on his new bike.

His sister took till 6 1/2, and nothing I tried would help. It has to be when they are ready.


  • Just do it!
Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #29 on: 30 October, 2009, 08:52:13 pm »
I must confess to not being a Parent and having only taught one child to ride. This was my little brother who was then 5.8 years old.
He wanted to learn. I doubt we'd have had much success otherwise.
Stabilisers had been removed and I explained to Sam he'd need to try and keep himself up, rather than leaning to the side as he had done with the stabilisers.
We went to Hampstead Heath Extension, found a gentle downslope and got moving with him trying to stay upright.
By the end of the afternoon, we had success.


Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #30 on: 04 June, 2010, 03:11:40 am »
At almost 6, I would have had them riding for pushing on 18 months now.

sorry,  just my opinion.

Every child is of course different but my 6 year old is quite a nervous soul and a bit prone to giving up too readily at the best of time.

however, he's a great wee biker and loves going round the local skate park with the slack jawed/slack jeaned teenagers even when it's mental busy.

Confidence, confidence, confidence.

My break through with him was through his scooter. Balance, learning to brake ( as opposed to jumping off- messy) straight lines and turning were all things he nailed on his micro scooter first. All lend themselves to the bike suprisingly well. As he went without his stabilisers for the first few times I would remind him about his scooter, how it was just the same and good he was doing.

Maybe try that approach ?

One main problem is the fear of going too fast. They build up speed and get nervous. Show them you going down a gentle hill/ path in the park and how, when it's clear, they don't even have to brake. They will just slow down

awra best...........


Long time lurker/little time poster.


  • Timelord
Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #31 on: 04 June, 2010, 02:07:58 pm »
I was relatively late to lose the stabilisers, and certainly didn't get the hang of it until after my younger brother did.  This was largely through lack of confidence, but also because I had very few opportunities to ride other than round in circles in the back garden, which made it hard to get up any decent speed and taught all the wrong weight-distribution habits.

What made the difference for me was watching the Big Kids in the park, playing ride-as-fast-as-you-can-then-jump-off-and-see-how-far-the-bike-will-go.  I don't remember, but my dad may have even given my own bike a good running-shove to demonstrate that it would indeed do the same thing.  This provided much-needed empirical evidence (I was that sort of child) that bicycles have some sort of magic stabilising force that increases with speed, and that riding on two wheels is not, as one naively assumes, equivalent to the easily demonstrated to be practically impossible task of balancing a stationary bike.

As an adult who has recently learned (and taught a couple of other adults) to ride a recumbent, I can summarise this as "Moving bikes are self-stabilising.  If in doubt, go faster.", but that might not be as helpful to a child who may not have the same pedalling skills or faith in the laws of physics.  Fear of speed is probably an issue too, so perhaps stabilisers aren't entirely evil, as they let you get the braking/stopping bit sussed first.  A bit of risk compensation through use of protective clothing might work to your advantage there, too.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...


  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #32 on: 04 June, 2010, 04:47:34 pm »
Simples, gaffa tape and a steep hill :)

what teethgrinder said, the "like a bike" bicycles are brilliant for that but simple and cheaper way is to remove pedals as said before.
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  • ACME Fire Safety Officer
  • Audax Club Mid-Essex
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Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #33 on: 04 June, 2010, 04:54:03 pm »
I was taught in park with a (small) hill on grass. Parent running alongside then let go once up to speed. No need to pedal because of the hill. Once confidence in balance is gained pedalling is easy.

I did essentially that a year or so ago with my (then) 4-year old.  She took maybe 3 sessions to get the hang of it.

We played the "Daddy retracing the path taken, counting steps" game, tracking what was her best distance yet, which she got quite into.  I got quite tired.

EDIT: one thing I just remembered - it took her a bit longer to manage to get started off on her own (i.e. without a push).
You are in a maze of twisty flat droves, all alike.

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Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #34 on: 02 August, 2010, 11:52:21 am »
Little G never used stabilisers; she graduated straight from the balance bike & sussed it at the third sorties. Why not take the pedals off and start in the same way, even with an older kids? Most of my friends' kids have gone the same route and few, if any, have used stabilizers.
Frenchie - Train à Grande Vitesse


Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #35 on: 21 April, 2011, 12:30:37 pm »
Heard about this on R2, apologies if it's already been posted:

Balance Buddy Bike Handle

Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #36 on: 12 January, 2012, 03:51:04 pm »

That's exactly how I taught each of my 3 girls, all of whom were riding confidently without stabilisers before the age of 5. It just takes a bit of time, effort and persuasion, they'll get there.

My parents used the traditional terror method of running along holding the seat post and then letting go - I crashed a lot, but it was on grass.

Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #37 on: 12 January, 2012, 03:52:54 pm »
I think that's how they generally do it on the continent as well.

+1 for what he ^^^^ said.

Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #38 on: 29 July, 2014, 10:02:43 am »
I second, or third, or nth, the grass idea. My daughter was taking an age to learn to ride, and I was a bit clueless to be honest. It's only when I took her to a playing field that she picked it up, almost immediately. I think she liked the soft grass, and the fact that she could steer anywhere she liked.

Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #39 on: 26 September, 2014, 08:42:22 pm »
Stabilisers are the work of Stan!
Balance bike untill they are confident and then the pedals.
If they are not interested, re visit later, not everyone wants to ride a bike.
Welding, fabrication and light engineering available to forum members.

Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #40 on: 02 September, 2017, 10:44:39 am »
I've just taught my 6 yr old grandson to ride and used the same technique I used with both my sons. Grassy down hill slope, no stabilisers, hold them to start and then off you go. They fell off off goodness knows how many times but got the idea in the end 👍

Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #41 on: 30 December, 2017, 05:17:26 pm »
Just got our 4 year old pedaling! She's just turned 4 and been fast on a balance bike and then her bike without pedals for at least a year but attempts previously to get her pedaling weren't liked and didn't want to scare her off. Went out today after asking if she wanted to pedal and after a few nervous runs with me holding on she scooted off got to speed and started pedaling. Lots of wobbling as she looked at the front wheel but me running ahead have her something to look at. No stopping her now stuck the seat up from scooting height and went out for a good chunk of the afternoon.


Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #42 on: 19 June, 2020, 01:00:08 am »
My experience with my kids was that they learnt to balance bike, but then needed to learn to pedal and use the brakes, with stabilizers.  At that point they needed to take the lead and say they wanted to try without stabilizers, though 2m son had a try for a minute and then was cycling. 
I disagree with grass, easier for them to pedal on a tennis or basketball court, they get familiar with it balance bike and/or stabilizers and you hold on to them until they can stop without crashing.  (Also, crashing on a basketball court = falling over = no biggie).
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  • Just do it!
Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #43 on: 22 June, 2020, 08:12:46 pm »
My kid brother was 5¾ years old when he mastered riding on two wheels.
He had possessed a bike with stabilisers for two years and HE wanted t learn to ride without them.

We removed the stabilisers and took him to Hampstead Heath Extension one afternoon, with the intention of getting him to learn. He was, of course, used to riding leaning over onto the stabilisers, as is usually the way with them.

I told him he should pedal with a 'staying up feeling', rather than leaning. I waled with him as he learnt to feel this.

We found a slight downward incline, I accompanied him but he got the knack fairly quickly.

He did pedal into a hedge as we went home.

Mission accomplished!

Rust never sleeps


  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #45 on: 27 October, 2020, 10:51:16 am »
Well that's just what is and what I was teaching kids about 10+ years ago :)

But it's a very good video and what all parents who have kids they want to learn to cycle should watch it
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  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
Re: Teaching an (almost) 6 year old to ride
« Reply #46 on: 27 October, 2020, 11:04:58 am »
My record was about 2min. If you remove the time I spend telling the kid about pedalling and braking. She had been using a balance bike for a year or so and was just over 4 years old. She got on the bike and I at the ready just as Isla in above video and off she went with a wobble. We tried one more time and after I remined her that she needed to give it some welly, she were off. I could have gone home, but I had to train her bigger brother.

Who was 5 going on 6 never touched a balance bike, spend some time on a bike with stabilisers. After an hour of faffing with him he could just about ride, if you ignored the wobbling. That is if he remembered to have a good push off, but most times didn't and therefore wobbled, then stopped pedalling as he got scared and then we started all over again. He also constantly just leaned to the left as he had gotten used to the stabilisers holding him up.

So I gave the brother some home work, ride the darn balance bike until your parents get sick of going to the park with you (ok I didn't say that but strongly hinted that he needed many hours on it).
Current mood: AARRRGGGGHHHHH !!! #bollockstobrexit