Bike Q&A: Gymco’s bike experts answer your questions!
Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 |
My child’s bike came with training wheels. How long should we use them?
In the past, it was believed that training wheels were the best way to learn to ride. That belief was wrong!
We know now that training wheels teach an inaccurate muscle memory, and have no consequence for certain behaviors. With training wheels, children are able to release the handle bars and do not learn the dynamic tension required to maintain balance between oppositional pedaling and maintaining a straight line. Also, children then learn to lean from side to side on the training wheels. Short answer: skip them!
What’s your take on balance bikes?
Balance bikes are the new wave; although the balance bike doesn’t teach pedaling skills, it does teach successful ‘balance!’ That skill is crucial to learning on a real bike later on. Children who practice gliding on a balance bike are more comfortable with two-wheeled bikes and are more confident riders. They have better control of their pedal bikes, so when things go wrong – say a foot slides off the pedal – they just glide and move their feet back on and start pedaling. They also learn how to steer more efficiently.
What’s the normal age for a child to learn to ride a bike on two wheels?
Every child is different; we have seen children learn as early as three years of age (and a couple at two). The average age for children to start learning is between four and five. The longer a child has been on training wheels, the harder it is to learn to ride without them. An eight year old who has been riding only on training
wheels has a deep muscle memory; they can learn, but it’s harder for them because of those ‘easy’ years. We’ve taught all ages (from toddlers to adults!) here at Gymco.
How do I know what size bike to buy for my child?
One of the biggest mistakes I made with my first child: purchasing a bike that was too big! Not all bikes are created equal. Make sure that the child can move the bike easily on his or her own. Be sure the bike is not too heavy for the child. If the bike is too heavy, and it starts to get away from them while they are riding, it will be more difficult to get it back on the right track.
Also important: the distance between the seat and handle bars. If a child needs to lean too far forward to reach the handle bars, it makes it difficult to balance. Think of your shoulders like a steering wheel; wherever your shoulders go is where your body tends to go. Handle bars should always be within easy reach – and above the level of the seat – for comfort and ease in riding.
The seat should be at a height where the child can rest the balls of his or her feet on the ground comfortably; this will help with confidence. Once the child starts pedaling, they should be able to move between a 90 degree angle (on the up side, with knees not coming above the seat) and a soft knee (on the down side). Pedaling should be done with the balls of the feet, not the arch or heels. Toes should be pointed forward. Smaller bikes are easiest for learning.
Any safety tips for young bikers?
Children should always wear a helmet, shorts or pants (no skirts/baggy clothes), and closed-toe shoes when biking. They should also learn to stop correctly before heading out – they’ll be more confident riders with their speed and direction under control! 🙂
More questions? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!
Learn to ride in just two hours at Gymco’s Bike Clinics: let the experts guide you through to success; building the confidence and skills you’ll need to become a successful rider. Join the #gymco2wheelclub today!