Many of us have fond memories of our first bike. For a child a bicycle can be the beginning of freedom. One has never gone so far away from home by one’s self. For some of us future bike geeks, a first bike is also a first experience of owning and maintaining a cool machine. For some, there is an important social element of riding with friends.
I remember my first bike mostly through my younger brother and sister. I knew I used to ride it before it was handed down, but I do not actually remember riding it. The machine was what is now referred to as a sidewalk bike. My mother called it the greasy bike, probably because it lacked a chain guard. It was a red fixed gear model with training wheels and hard non pneumatic tires. How stylin!
Current parents have a great option that was not readily available until recently. These are bikes without pedals or cranks. They are known by far too many names: balance bikes, run bikes, kick bikes, and training bikes. These are great for learning balance, steering and the feel of riding.
Training wheels are still a common way for children to learn to ride. These should be adjusted upward in small increments to increase the wobble and encourage balance without the aid of the training wheel.
There are also training handles which require the adult to run behind the child while holding the bike upright. This does not sound like fun to me.
The most important thing for a young rider is to ride. While this sounds obvious, some parents want to wait until a child asks or sees peers riding. Start those riding memories early!