Karen of Strider UK has shared her top tips to getting your toddler onto 2 wheels and learning to ride a bike. Strider has taught 1.7 million children across the world to ride on two wheels.
- Choose the right equipment. Balance Bikes are the method of choice for beginners of any age. With nothing complicated to confuse, your child will straddle the bike, start by standing and walking it along. Your child will never need stabilisers.
- Check your child will fit. Measure your child’s inside leg to determine what seat height they need. The easiest way is to put child against a wall and put a book between their legs and measure to the floor to determine the seat height you need. The overall height of the child is not relevant providing you buy a bike whereby both seat and handlebars adjust so the bike will grow with them.
- An 18-month-old needs the seat to go as low as 28cm to be able to ride it. A 5-year-old will need a seat height of 48cm. Choose a bike that will cover a huge seat height range so that your child won’t outgrow the bike. It is important that they can do the Striding action with feet flat on floor. On tip of toes is dangerous!
- Bikes need to be light enough for young children to handle, especially if starting out as soon as a toddler. A Strider Pro is the lightest Strider in the world and is just 2.2kg so even the smallest of rider can ride. Anything over 3 Kg is getting heavy, especially when your rider is so young.
- Puncture Proof tyres and sealed bearings are a good choice, to avoid downtime and so that the bike can be used over any terrain. An EVA polymer such as the Strider wheels is a better choice than hard plastic tyres or foam so that they give a smooth ride and good grip.
- Make sure your bike has a footrest, ideally placed in the same place that pedals would be on a regular bike; to ensure that the child learns balance in the correct position. When they get a bit of speed up it is more comfortable with feet resting on the bike than dangling in the air, especially over bumps!
- Brakes are optional. Young children can’t reach lever brakes or know how to use them correctly and they can cause more accidents than they are designed to prevent. The best method is to learn to stop with their feet so they can stop quickly in an emergency. Some bikes offer an optional rear foot brake if you are wearing through shoes. Read more on brake choice here
- Be a cheerleader, not a coach! Praise your child for any amount of time they spend on their bike. In the first few days, it may be just 5 minutes. Let them be independent and encourage them. Better still get on your bike with them!
- Ride with others! Strider runs a series of races, family days out and events across the UK to give kids a chance to learn from watching others. Children can race from 18 months right up until their 6th birthday -all get medals and a trip onto the podium. We even include a free race with every bike purchase.