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How to learn bike riding

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How to learn bike riding for both adults and kids is both scary and exhilerating

Remember the old days when your parent held on to the back seat and you felt free? That feeling lasted all of about ten seconds as they pulled their hand off and you crashed into the nearest outcropping of bushes. Fortunately, today there are new methods for how to learn bike riding. Better methods.

Below, we'll delve into ways in which new riders can learn the necessary skills to become better riders and (hopefully) avid bicycle enthusiasts.

The Best Options for Learning

Instead of the old "hand on the back of the seat as the child learns to ride for the first time" method, there are new training methods which simplify things a little better. Many experts offer new ways in which to isolate specific learning in a way that builds confidence and allows for riders to get a handle on each set of challenges individually. They won't just start the rider out and pray they don't crash.

What this means is that balance, pedaling, steering, braking, and the lot, are taught in focused individual sessions. It's easier for most to understand and once they've mastered the individual steps, they can look to put it all together and ride.

There obviously will be certain differences for those learning as a child and those beginning to ride as adults. Yet, the ways in which to teach oneself (or be taught) are surprisingly similar for both groups. Generally, with this newly established method, one will look to:
  • Start with working on the balance of the bicycle
  • Add pedaling to practice time
  • Work on traveling in a straight line and working with the brakes
  • Insert turning corners into the learning process
  • And finally, head out on the open road to continue the process


The website offers an in-depth guide for newbies looking to ride for the first time. As well, a simple Bicycling for Beginners site offers a variety of ideas for the prospective rider. With both, they start with a focus on bicycle balance. The rider will lower their seat enough that they can place both feet on the ground as they learn. This provides both comfort and safety.

Start with a bicyclist's helmet, bike, and find a hill that slopes gently down. Go about 15 yards up and try coasting down the slope without using the pedals. Work towards keeping your knees and feet close to the bicycle, as this will help with overall balancing. And use your feet if you need to propel yourself, depending on the slope.

Repeat this process until you feel comfortable with the initial steps outlining balance and coasting techniques.


At first, you can simply push yourself along with your feet to get comfortable using the pedals on the bicycle. Understand how to use the brakes so that you can stop yourself when you need to, without crashing.

If you feel like it, use only one pedal, first. Then try both as you coast down the gently sloping hill. Work pedaling into the practice now and see how that feels. Remember, start slow and only do what feels comfortable to you. You can raise the seat in increments after each practice run down the hill -- Whatever is comfortable for you and at whatever pace you need to go.

Work with braking and pedaling until you feel you're ready to move on to the next step in the learning process.

Going in a Straight Line/Turning

Find an unused section of flat land for this next exercise, whether it be a field, parking lot, etc. Working from a standstill, have one pedal pointed at the handlebars. This will allow for you to start strong and power the bicycle forward without stalling or slowing. Work toward a smooth and steady start, if at all possible. Practice makes perfect on this one.

Head straight and then practice applying the brakes. For the next step, lean slightly to turn, steering your way through the bend. Try to increase the speed now when your confidence has grown. Now you understand braking, balance, pedaling, turning, and speed.

The only left to do is take your practice skills out on the road or trails. Always be safe, wear a helmet, and obey the laws when you ride. For more information on learning how to ride a bicycle, common mistakes, and education opportunities, head over to International Bicycle Fund website.


Bicycling for Learning to Ride. Teaching a Kid (and Adult) to Ride a Bicycle.

Above photo attributed to Ed Yourdon

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