From first turns to future pro
When it comes to cycling, there is nothing more important than feeling safe and secure on the bike. woom bikes and their components develop in line with children's skills on two wheels. At the start of the learning process it is key that kids get a solid grasp of how to handle a bike. After that there is no stopping them! woom's superlight, cleverly designed and affordable bikes for children aged one and a half to fourteen years accompany youngsters throughout their childhood. Riding with woom is what fun on the bike is all about!
First steps on a (balance) bike
At the start of a child's cycling career it is all about balance.For more on the balance bike click here.
Learn to ride in 15 minutes
Learning to ride a bike is child's play! We have put together some useful tips and ideas to make the process even easier.Click here to find out more.
Now it's all about bike-handling skills. Kids can learn so much in just one day riding in nature.Top tips for future pros can be found here.
The first step when learning to ride: balancing
As soon as children learn to walk, it's a great opportunity to get them interested in cycling. The best place to do this is in an environment where there are already other youngsters whizzing around on two wheels. As they watch, children become curious and want to have a go themselves. There is no point in putting children under pressure. Instead, let them decide for themselves when the right time has come for them to hop on a balance bike. With a low saddle and high handlebars, riding a balance bike is very much like walking. Slowly but surely, the steps become longer and children find themselves gliding on two wheels.
A good place to learn is on a gentle downhill slope far away from traffic and other things likely to cause stress. Even if children intuitively use their feet to brake, this is the right time to teach them how to use a hand-operated brake safely and effectively. This will make it a lot easier when they transition to a pedal bike. We strongly recommend that children always wear a helmet and gloves.
“Kids generally learn to ride a balance bike between one and a half and two and a half years of age. The most important thing is that the child has to want to do it – there is no point putting them under pressure.”
With their legs on either side of the balance bike and their hands on the handlebars, children take their first steps into the world of cycling. Children learn best by copying others, so grab the new balance bike and head to a park where other children are likely to be whizzing around.
Step 1: walking
- Tip 1: Set the saddle to the right height; the child should be able to place both feet flat on the ground and still have around 3-5 cm of space between their bottom and the saddle.
- Tip 2: At the start it is a good idea for an adult to hold the child's shoulders until they have learned to walk with the balance bike between their legs.
Now it is time for the steps to become longer – after learning to walk, it is finally time to learn to ride! After a little practice children will even be able to proudly stretch their legs into the air as they roll by.
Step 2: rolling
- Tip 1: As soon as the child spends more time running than walking with the bike between their legs, the saddle can be gradually moved up bit by bit.
Ideally, children should learn how to brake while riding a balance bike as this is the time when they can practise with their feet on the ground. The hand-operated brake on the woom balance bike prepares children for braking on a pedal bike. This – combined with balancing – means all they then need to learn is how to pedal.
Step 3: braking!
- Tip 1: As soon as children are able to run with a balance bike between their legs, it is the right time to demonstrate how the brake works by picking up the bike and letting the child observe how the back wheel can be blocked by pulling the easy-to-use lever specially designed for small hands.
Feet on the pedals:
learn to ride in 15 minutes
Now it's time to push the pedals. The first step from a balance bike to a pedal bike is smaller than it might initially seem. If children have successfully learned to keep their balance on the balance bike then the switch to a pedal bike really is easy. And even if they haven't, they will still learn to ride! It is important to show children the connection between the cranks and the wheels so that they know how pedalling makes them move forward. Once they have understood that, show them how the brake works.
Usually it takes just a few turns of the pedals for children to comprehend the principle behind riding a bike and want to have a go themselves. With a parent's hands on their shoulders for support, and with their eyes straight ahead, they can make their first attempts while remembering to practise applying the brakes. The front brake and the rear brake are different colours so that kids don't get them mixed up.
“Children generally learn to ride a bike between the ages of three and five years. The learning process is easier if they already feel safe and comfortable on a balance bike.”
Before heading out for the first practice session, it is a good idea to use the child's curiousity about riding a bike to explain the most important functions. Once they have understood how riding a bike works in theory it will be a lot easier for them to ride in practice. The learning process is also easier if children already know how to ride a balance bike. Don't forget that children should wear a helmet and gloves at all times.
Step 1: pushing the pedals
- Tip 1: Show the child how the rear wheel moves when the crank rotates; simply lift the bike into the air and turn the pedals as fast as possible with your hand. You can then use the brake to stop the wheel spinning.
- Tip 2: The saddle height should be set so that the child can easily reach the ground with both feet when sitting on the saddle; the heels should be the only part of the feet slightly off the ground.
- Tip 3: Support the child during their first attempts by holding their shoulders or the saddle of the bike. Make sure you don't hold on too tight – and don't use stabiliser wheels. Children will learn to keep their balance automatically, especially once they pick up a bit of speed.
The big moment has almost arrived! Even if a child still needs a little support from Mum or Dad, it is important that they can feel that they are propelling themselves forwards by turning the pedals.
Step 2: riding the bike
- Tip 1: As soon as children can turn the pedals themselves, parents can take their hands away for a few moments and then gradually let the child ride independently for longer.
- Tip 2: The best place to learn is on a gentle downhill slope with plenty of space and no obstacles such as curbs.
On the first few metres it is important to run alongside the child to stop the bike gently or prevent an accident if necessary. After a few attempts the child can try using the brakes on their own.
Step 3: braking and stopping
- Tip 1: children intuitively brake using their feet, so it is important to show them how to use the green hand-operated brake as early as possibly in a fun and playful way. Apply the brake first, then put your feet down on the ground – that's the best way to bring the bike to a stop!
The final step for children on the path to independent cycling is learning to set off on their own. This is an easy skill for them to learn if you keep a few things in mind.
Step 4: setting off on your own
- Tip 1: Every child has a dominant leg – do they prefer kicking a football with their left or right foot? This is the leg which should be used to push on the pedal when setting off. The pedal should be placed at around one o'clock. Sit down on the saddle, rotate the crank into the right position, put your foot on the pedal, press down and push off from the ground with the other foot.
- Tip 2: Alternatively, children can set off in the familiar way like they would on a balance bike: roll away and, when they have picked up enough speed, move their feet up onto the pedals.
“Skills training can be combined with a perfect day in the park.”
Refine, improve, learn ...
New horizons. It's not about riding straight ahead anymore: riding uphill, with tailwind, cornering and out into the world. Kids now sit effortlessly in their saddle. There is so much more to explore! One gear is no longer enough – it's time for a bike with several gears. woom bikes make it easy to learn how to shift gears while on the move. The next step is safely negotiating obstacles in nature or on the road.
Perfecting skills. No matter whether it is used to travel to school, for exercise or visit friends, bikes make you mobile. German inventor Adam Opel once commented: "No other invention combines usefulness with pleasure as deeply as a bicycle." Even if kids have already learned how to ride, it is always a good idea to learn new skills and practise old ones.
Smooth shifting keeps the material in good condition and is effortless. It is best to let your child shift through the gears while you call out which gear they should be in – the aim is to switch from one gear to another as quietly as possible.
- Tip 1: Practise shifting together for the first time on a flat surface. Tell your child to stop pedalling for a moment, show them how to twist the shifter and then let them start pedalling again gently. The point of this is to introduce them to the main principle in a playful way: ride fast, shift up; ride slow, shift down.
- Tip 2: You can test how quiet the shifting is in a somewhat hilly area. Before riding up a hill, let the child gain some speed. They should then lighten the pressure on the pedals, shift and then continue pedalling gently until the chain is firmly in place.
Before going into any kind of traffic, children need to be able to safely tackle small obstacles. Whether riding over roots in a park, along bumpy paths or on a slippery surface, with just a little practice kids can overcome them safely.
- Tip 1: In order to ride over uneven surfaces, children need to get into the so-called 'basic position'. This means first getting their pedals parallel to the ground and then, while travelling relatively slowly, standing up on the pedals with slightly bent knees. With their hips centered over the bottom bracket, they need to slightly bend their elbows outward and their shoulders towards the handlebars. This position is ideal for absorbing and compensating uneven ground.
- Tip 2: To avoid getting caught on an obstacle like a curb, kids have to learn how to 'glide' over it by slightly lifting up the front wheel. Pushing hard on the pedals, it's easiest to slightly pull up on the handlebars and shift their body weight backwards to slightly raise the front wheel.
- Tip 3: Even wet surfaces, leaves and gravel can be obstacles. Riding on such surfaces has to be learned at a slow pace. Kids should try to ride and brake within a defined zone until they can easily and precisely stop at a line drawn on the ground.
When going on long rides, moving the saddle up slightly makes pedalling more efficient. This is done in small increments until a slight bend in the knee can be seen and only the toes touch the ground. Before achieving this, though, it is important that children have a good sense of balance. This can be learned with the following tips.
- Tip 1: Whether signalling at a crossing or wiping an annyoing fly off their face – kids need to be able to feel just as confident riding with one hand as they do with two hands. This is best practised on a flat surface at a relatively slow speed without pedaling. First they should hold onto the handlebars in a relaxed position. Then they should let go for a second and see what happens. After a while they can move their hands further away from the handlebars.
- Tip 2: Braking without putting down their feet. This should be practiced on a soft surface. The child should brake to a stop, then, without putting down their feet, continue riding. It is much easier and even fun if the pedals are kept parallel to the ground.
- Tip 3: Balance can be practiced playfully with two buckets and small balls. Place one bucket upside down with a ball on it; place the other bucket further away. The goal is for the child to ride past the bucket that has a ball on it, take the ball off it and then throw it into the second bucket.
woom bikes grow with your child
Children grow up fast. Still, we want your child to always have the right size bike – and we think this should be affordable for everyone. That's why we have launched the upCYCLING system.
- Exchange your old woom bike and receive a 40% discount when buying the next size up.
- Lifetime upCYCLING membership (you only pay once).
- The bike must be roadworthy.
- We'll organise return shipping of your old bike at no cost.