Though it might sound like one of those outrageous infomercial claims on late-night TV, it really is possible to wean your children from training wheels in about an hour — and without any running along behind the bike. All it takes is a willing child, a little patience and a positive attitude. Here’s how it’s done.
Start by scouting out the right location. Look for a park (photo) or field with a gentle grassy slope (not steep!) about 50 yards long that doesn’t have any significant obstacles such as bumps, rocks or trees. It should be relatively smooth and soft and the grass shouldn’t be too tall.
One Skill At A Time
The goal of teaching kids to ride is to help them learn the required skills of balancing, steering, pedaling and braking. This is a lot to throw at them at once, which is why so many parents wear themselves out running behind the bike while their children struggle with all these new skills.
Balancing & Steering
The first thing to teach is balancing. Walk up the grassy slope about half way, point the bike downhill and have your child get on and coast very slowly down the hill using their feet as outriggers, dragging them for balance and to slow down. The lowered seat makes it easy for them to reach the ground and maintain their balance. The soft grass will keep their speed down and make the bike come to a stop at the bottom of the slope.
Once your child is confident enough to coast down the hill with their feet off the ground, they're ready to coast down with their feet on the pedals. Have them rest their feet on the pedals while you hold the bike in place, first.
Most bikes for kids have coaster brakes, which are also called “foot brakes,” because they’re applied by backpedaling. Show your child how this works and let them practice slowing, coming to a stop and putting a foot down.