Whether young or, less young, it’s never too late to learn to ride a bike. Autoparts has the guide – and some cool tools – that can help get you or the young person you’re helping – get into the saddle with confidence.
Learning to ride a bike:
It’s sometimes referred to as the world’s greatest invention, and for the millions of people who use their bike every day to get to work or to travel miles in search of essential supplies, in their world it might just be that.
Bikes allow immense increases in mobility and connectivity, even on a ‘micro’ scale; allowing a cyclist to travel 10-20 miles per hour in an average journey, almost eight times further than walking will cover.
The basic technology around them is also well understood, too, so there tend to be bike shops everywhere from full-time bike repairers and bike sellers in built-up places to local handy-people in small settlements ready to get you on the road again should you experience a hiccup when out cycling and can’t make the repair yourself.
They’re also a really easy way to get a bit fitter and control your weight, with an adult burning on average 500-600 calories per hour when in the saddle, meaning also that the morning commute can have you burning calories before you’ve even sat at your desk. And for children, they’re a lot of fun and can give young people a sense of confidence and freedom they never knew they had.
But to start from the start, it’s important to learn how to ride a bike properly, whether you’re helping a child to learn, or have left it till being a little older before you start learning the ropes on two wheels.
Here are some important tips and tools Autoparts can offer on learning to ride a bike:
A balance bike can give your child the extra stability to be able to use their motor and visual skills to get used to the idea of travelling by bike, while having the reassurance of better balance.
Before even sitting in the saddle, though, you should be responsible for your child or the young person in your care by making sure they have a bike helmet, firmly fitting but comfortable around the head and clasped securely under the chin.
That saddle should also be in the right position; have tools handy such as allen or hex keys to be able to readjust the saddle to the appropriate height for the user.
Setting off for the first time
You should find a quiet place for them to practise cycling, and start from a stationary position, with a hand on the brake, doing that yourself if they can’t at first.
Practise scooting along first, using your feet as pedals to push along against the ground. This will give a first taste of what it’s like actually moving on the bike.
Then, for cycling with the stabilisers, set off and maintain a slow and steady speed, until the young person is more confident. You should tell them to look where they are going, not just straight ahead but scanning slightly left and right to give a wider view, and of any potential hazards or obstacles.
Only cycle for short distances first of all – maybe only a few meters at a time – to establish familiarity with the movements and build more confidence and competence on the bike, with the benefit of the stabilising wheels.
If having to learn in the winter, for example on a first bike as a festive gift, front and back lights should be mounted on the bike and used at all times.
Even in the daytime, or before sunset, a bike reflector strip should be used at the bike’s front and back to give a visual aid to any approaching traffic with their lights on, letting them know that you are there.
For kitting out your child’s bike are lots of great products for bikes including helmets and lights which can be found in Autoparts’ cycling accessories section.
Young people and adults
The same rules apply for adults learning as for children getting on a bike for the first time.
First, find a safe and relatively uninterrupted place to practise. And always wear a helmet and put the appropriate lighting or reflective material on the bike depending on whether you’re learning during the day or night.
Then, Scooting along using your feet to power you ahead, against the ground, is the best way to get started. With this sensation, it’ll be like gliding, as your own power keeps moving you forward between pushes.
Then, when you’re ready to engage the pedals to get you moving forward, step into the saddle, with one foot on the floor, two hands on the handlebar – one at each side – and wind the pedal back, to around the ‘2 o’ clock’ position, you should push forward firmly against the pedal, hold your body in a steady position leaning slightly forward from the waist, to encourage you to move forward (that will happen naturally anyway as you push forwards) and bring your planted foot up to meet the opposite pedal as it turns round to meet you.
Then, it’s a case of looking where you’re going – checking left and right while observing what’s ahead in front of you, and keeping the pedals turning. With this, you’re cycling!
Better still, the faster you go from your standing start, the easier it is to keep your balance – so don’t worry too much about increasing the pace a little more, as it actually makes you more stable on the bike.
To stop, simply apply the rear brake first, then calmly apply the front brake, and as you come to a stop, put your foot down to stop completely.
As you become more accustomed to getting on and off the bike, and going longer and longer journeys, a world of fun on two wheels awaits.
For a full range of cycling tools, parts and accessories, from small to large, and for children’s and adults’ bikes, check out Autoparts’ cycling products section.
Image credit: Header image by Anvesh via Unsplash.com