Kids and bicycles: the different steps to learning

So your little one is ready to join the family on a bicycle! How do you choose the right bike for your children? Here are a few expert tips to introduce them to the pleasures of cycling as a family, safely and happily.

 Step one: the learning bike

Kids can usually start riding their first bike at around two years old, once they’ve mastered walking. Parents have long been advised to start their kids out on a tricycle, because of their three-wheeled stability, but today the learning bike is recommended. Also called a running bike or balance bike, it allows the toddler to push standing up (rather than sitting like on a tricycle), which is a more natural physiological position to learn balance.

Once the child masters balance with their learning bike, they can cover greater distances without putting their feet on the ground. To move forward alone and ride on or off the sidewalk, the learning bike offers a certain freedom of movement to beginning riders. It’s available in a few sizes depending on the diameter of the wheels, but the most popular is 10-inch and 12-inch wheels.

Step two: training wheels

From three to five years old, once the little cyclists have mastered the learning bike, it’s time for them to try the standard two-wheeled bike. So, what about those ubiquitous little training wheels? If your child has already used a learning bike, he quite likely won’t need them. However, for children just beginning or a little fearful, training wheels can help them master the pedal bike. The next step is to choose a bike that matches the size of your child with the diameter of the wheels.

To find the right size, have your child try a variety of bikes and consider the three following points:

  • Both feet touch the ground
  • They can easily climb into the saddle
  • They can effortlessly reach the handlebars and use the brakes (if the bike has them)

If your child’s knees reach the handlebars while pedaling, it’s time to get a bigger bike!

Junior bike: how to choose the right one

Every type of bike is available in a junior size. Like an adult bicycle, choose the type of bike according to how it will be used. You can use these descriptions to help you decide:

  • Hybrid bike: for riding on roads and bike paths
  • Mountain bike: to play on the street or ride on all kinds of terrain (which is ideal when you go camping!)
  • Road bike: for performance as part of a bike club with a competitive component, for example

The size of a junior bike is determined by the size of the wheels, not the size of the frame. There are different sizes of wheels depending on the size of the child. Here’s a table to help you decide:

Nevertheless, keep in mind that the best way to choose a bike for your kids is to have them try out different models. This way, you’ll be certain to find the one that they’ll want to ride over and over again.


The helmet! Children of any age, even on a learning bike, need to wear a helmet to protect their little head. The helmet must fit perfectly without moving when they bend their head forward. If you want to be sure that your kids wear their helmet, let them choose it and make sure they can put it on by themselves. You can also let them decorate it with their favourite stickers (this works very well with really young kids)!

Don’t forget…

Safety tips

·        Check that the helmet is perfectly positioned on the head and that the visor is at eyebrow height.

·        A helmet must not receive any shock. If it does, you need to replace it immediately, as a damaged helmet will absorb subsequent impacts less effectively.

 As with learning any new skill, riding a bike requires not only the child’s patience, but the parents’ patience, too. Guide your children positively through the first steps to help them get maximum fun from riding their bike.