Top tips to teach a child how to ride a bike

Parent walking with their child, who is cycling

The wind on your face, the butterflies in your tummy, the world rushing past in a blur. Speeding away on your bike for the first time is something you never forget.

We want as many children as possible to experience the excitement of exploring new places by bike, so we've created a list of top tips to help your little one find their wheels.

Learning a new skill in a place full of colourful plants and wildlife is hard to beat. Help your little one find their wheels along quiet tree-lined paths and watch their confidence grow as they practise on acres of soft grass. Watch out for squirrels, ducks, butterflies and deer. 

A rite of passage

Jonathan Smith, cycle hire supervisor at the National Trust, said: 'It's vital for kids to learn to ride a bike, it gives them a sense of freedom, a sense of independence. It’s a real rite of passage and something every child should do before they’re about seven or eight.

‘If you’re cycling in a beautiful environment like Osterley Park. It’s nice to be surrounded by trees. We’ve even got cattle and horses on the farm around the outskirts of the park.’

Learning to ride is a great way of spending quality time as a family

Go on an adventure

Cycling with us is not only an adventure that the whole family can enjoy, it's also a safe way of exploring open countryside and getting some fresh air. Once your child is confident pedalling why not explore new places as a family? From quiet paths through ancient woodland to routes over open moorland, we look after a variety of cycling trails, which are free from traffic and pollution.

Top tips for learner cyclists

Learn how to ride a bike

There are lots of fun ways to exercise, including going on a bike ride. If you're a beginner, learning how to ride a bike is all about having fun and finding a sense of freedom.

We've got lots of tips on how to get the whole family into cycling, no matter your level of experience. Soon enough, you'll be riding independently and ready to explore the outdoors in your local area.

Try simple balance games before getting on the bike

Get back to basics

For young children who have never cycled before it’s useful to spend some time off the bike first. This stage is all about playing simple games to gain balance and the movements needed for riding. HSBC UK Ready Set Ride by British Cycling has loads of games to try, so check out the link at the bottom of the page.

Picture of two children riding balance bikes

Try a balance bike

Once they’re ready a balance bike is a great introduction to cycling. The skills they’ll gain from scooting the bike along will help them to progress to a bike with pedals. Let them move and get used to the bike at a speed they feel comfortable with.

A girl cycling in the park at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Get pedalling

When your children are ready to start pedalling pick somewhere flat, open and on short grass. Avoid holding the saddle or the handlebars as this will make it harder for them to find their own balance. Instead, support them gently at the top of the back, cradling the bottom of their neck with one hand. Alternatively, you could hold them gently under the arms.

A family enjoying an Autumn bike ride through Castle Ward, Co. Down.

Learn together

Have you never learned to ride a bike or are you a bit rusty after many years off the saddle? Why not brush up your skills with the kids? Not only do you get to spend quality time with the family, it can actually help the kids to learn more quickly.

Make sure your child is safe while cycling

Get ready to ride

Make sure your child’s bike and equipment are set up properly before they start cycling. A bike shop can help with this if you're not sure. If you’re worried about traffic then your local park can be a good place to start.