How to Ride a Bike
What activity can improve your balance, boost your endurance and double as an eco-friendly form of transportation? Riding a bike. But first you have to learn how.
Whether the journey begins as a child or adult, riding a bike a useful skill to have. More importantly, it’s a ton of fun.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Find a Safe Place to Ride
Don't start on a busy street or bike path. Find a nice open area where there aren't a lot of cars or bikes.
2. Get the Right Protective Gear
No matter a person's age, having sufficient padding improves safety and can take much of the fear out of learning how to ride a bike. Knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards make falls much less scary.
A good helmet is also a must. Make sure to adjust the helmet properly so that you can comfortably fit one finger under the chin strap.
3. Adjust the Seat and Handlebars
It’s a lot easier to learn how to ride a bike if you lower the seat. That way, you or a little one can put their feet down quickly if anyone starts to lose his or her balance.
Once a rider learns how to pedal confidently, raise the seat back up to allow more leg extension.
If the handlebars are adjustable, play with the angle to find a comfortable position.
4. Practice Getting On
Squeeze the brake levers, tilt the bike toward you, and climb on. It’s that easy.
5. Before Anyone Tries to Ride a Bike, Test Out the Brakes
Most kid bikes have a foot brake, or coaster brake, that can stop by pedaling backward. When you pedal backward with a bike that has a foot brake, the wheels will stop moving, and the bike will stop. Just be careful. If someone gets going fast, the tires can skid if you brake fast.
For bikes with hand brakes, it’s good to get a feel for how the brakes work before anyone starts rolling. Slowly walk the bike forward and practice applying the brakes. This will help young or old riders figure out how much pressure to apply.
Also, note which lever controls the brakes. In the U.S., the left lever usually controls the front brake while the right controls the back. Always avoid squeezing the front brake hard on its own. At high speeds, this might send a person flying over the handlebars.
6. Glide Before You Ride (And Forget Those Training Wheels)
Have you ever seen those balance bikes? They are great for kids to learn how to ride. That's why training wheels are no longer considered an effective way to get kids started riding a bike. It's better to teach kids the glide method and have them find the balance point on their own.
If you are an adult learning how to ride, you also can practice riding your bike like with the glide technique. With the seat lowered so that your feet can comfortably touch the ground, practice pushing off and gliding along. If you feel wobbly, no worries. You can always put your feet back down.
Practice this until you have a feel for balancing on two wheels.
7. Put the Bike in a Lower Gear
Most starter bikes for kids are a single speed. So you don't have to worry about shifting gears.
But with a multi-gear bike, pushing off from a standstill is much harder if your bike is in a high gear. It means you’ll have to push on the pedals with a lot more force to get started.
A bike has to be moving to shift gears, so walk it forward and change the gear. Test it out. When you feel some tension on the pedal without having to work hard to push it, you’ve found the right starting point.
8. Learning to Ride a Bike Is Easier With Help From Someone
All first-time bike riders learning to ride a bike can benefit from having someone spot them. Whether you're a kid or an adult, when you start riding, the spotter can hold the handlebars and the back of the seat to help you get moving.
Spotters should be positive and encourage the new rider. Remember, riding a bike is supposed to be fun.
9. Get Ready
Climb on the bike, stand on one foot and set the opposite pedal to approximately two o’clock. This position makes it easier to get a solid starting push.
It's time to roll. With your hands on the handlebars, push the pedal forward. As you start to move forward, lift your other foot off the ground and begin pedaling. That’s all there is to it.
Parents or friends can help new riders gain momentum. Just hold onto the bike while riders practice breaking and dismounting until they learn how to safely bring themselves to a stop.
With a little practice, you or anyone can be riding on your own in no time.