Last year, we bought my daughter a bike for her fifth birthday. Our decision on which bicycle to buy was strictly made on who her favorite cartoon character was at the moment. We surprised her with a bright pink cartoon character bike with training wheels from a big box store. Immediately, we took the bike out…embarking on the learning process, thinking the training wheels would come off soon. However, we were surprised when she didn’t take to it. She was afraid to fall and would give up quickly. Another complaint my husband and I heard from our daughter was that the bicycle was too heavy for her to lift when she fell.
Six months later, the bike was collecting dust. She wanted to learn to ride a bicycle, but could not get over the fear. Around the same time I received an email from Sarah and Jacob owners of Prevelo Bikes to see if I wanted to try one of their bikes in exchange for an honest review. What I loved about their company is that they engineer these bicycles specifically for kids. Literally they are designed to inspire confidence and built to be easy and safe to ride. After speaking to them, I realized that the fun in riding was what was missing for my daughter. She couldn’t have fun if she was afraid.
I am super proud to say that after ditching her clunky bike and riding her Prevelo Alpha Two (and incorporating some of the tips Jacob offered)– we now have a confident bike rider!!! There is no better feeling in the world than watching your child set a goal and crush it! Seeing the pride on her face was truly amazing!
Here are some tips from Jacob we incorporated:
Don’t Add the Pedals Until Ready
We thought we were doing the right thing by buying a bicycle with training wheels, but that did not help her gain the balance that she needed. Prevelo bikes don’t have training wheels and it’s for good reason. Kids need to work on their balance and get coasting first in order to take off on their bikes, training wheels do not help in that department. My daughter needed to learn to balance and Jacob suggested not putting on the pedals.
She was able to use the bike as a balance bike for awhile until she felt comfortable taking both feet off the ground and coasting for awhile.
Help Them Feel Comfortable On Their Bike
When Jacob delivered our daughter’s bike, he grabbed a bike and modeled how to get comfortable on it. This is something my husband and I did with her too. Get on your own bike (if you have one…if not stand nearby and talk your child through it) and ask your child to mimic your moves.
Lean the bike to one side and then repeat on the other. This helps them see how far they can lean and still be in control.
Then practice lifting one foot off of the ground at a time. See how long you can do this on each leg. We made it a competition with my daughter which she seemed to enjoy! This helped increase her confidence and improved her balance as we did it as a warm up a few times.
The Kangaroo Hop
If Jacob has not trademarked this yet, he should! While scooting along on their bike (still no pedals) have your child take both feet off the ground at the same time (for a brief moment at first). This will look like a kangaroo hop. The goal is to get your child to lift both feet and coast for as long as possible.
My daughter loved the kangaroo hop and would implement this technique during our rides on the trail. She felt confident and did not want to give up until she felt she could lift her feet up for longer than she had in the past.
Have the Right Protective Gear
A helmet is the most important piece of protection that everyone riding a bike should have. Also closed-toe shoes and pants (as opposed to shorts which have skin exposed) are also helpful in reducing the fear of falling and getting a scrape.
When my daughter was finally coasting for a long enough time, my husband put on the pedals but noticed she was a little apprehensive. I contacted Jacob and Sarah and they recommended trying bike gloves. It mitigates the fear of scraped hands/knuckles post fall and makes the child feel more secure. So we purchased gloves and she was riding her bike the next day!!
Personalize and Customize
The great thing about the Alpha Two bicycle is that it is silver and a blank canvas for my daughter to decorate. She has added a pink basket, ladybug bike bell and stickers that make her feel like she designed the bike. As a parent, I love that she won’t tire of a character-emblazoned bike. She can continue to personalize this bike as she grows!
Here are some reasons my husband and I will be buying a Prevelo bike for our son:
- Their bikes are lower to the ground and lightweight which helps mitigate your child’s fear.
- The hand-brakes are smaller (again engineered for kids) and my daughter had no problem braking when she needed to.
- These are high-quality bicycles (no cheap metal parts) that are made to withstand not only the test of time but also children, because they aren’t very easy on anything!!
- Prevelo offers a Trade-Up program. Learn more on their site!
- They offer a five year warranty
- And really– my husband and I like Jacob and Sarah a lot. Their passion for teaching children to ride a bike shines through. When you meet good people like them, you want to support them!
I would love to hear what helped your little one learn to ride a bicycle?