At the Bike Club warehouses, we sometimes get bikes returned to us that look like they haven’t been ridden at all. Whilst this makes light work for the mechanics, it is a little disheartening to imagine the bikes having sat in a garage or cupboard for a couple of months gathering dust before it is decided that the kids just aren’t that interested after all.
If you’ve recently got a bike from us and your child isn’t radiating quite as much joy over it as you’d hoped, it need not be the end of the road. There are lots of reasons why children might not immediately take to a bike, so here we go through a few of them and give you some ideas for things to try. There isn’t a silver bullet to get your child to ride and everyone will be different, but it’s worth seeing if any of the following work!
Let It Be Their Discovery
Parents can be overly keen at times. What’s intended as positive encouragement may be met with resistance if the child feels forced into doing something against their will.
Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy reportedly struggled to inspire his son onto a balance bike for this reason. In the end, he found that simply leaving the bike in a corner of the room for a while allowed his son to become naturally curious about it and start playing with it. The gold medallist’s advice is that children will learn in their own time. A bit of patience and strategic placement of the bike at home might be all you need.
Help Them Gain Confidence
A lack of interest could just be a symptom of uncertainty. Even if they know how to ride, there are still lots of things to learn as they progress. For example, if they’ve just got onto their first bike with gears, do they know how to use them?
They may be stuck in the highest gear, and finding it hard to push has left them feeling unenthusiastic about ever cycling again. Perhaps their saddle is a little too high and they don’t feel safe stopping. When learning to ride children might not say of their own accord if something feels wrong, so asking them can help identify any issues. Showing them how to resolve those issues will go a long way to boosting their confidence.
It’s Better With Friends
Especially for slightly older children, going on the same old rides with parents can get boring. A good way to mix it up is to invite some of their friends to come along. You might find that kids who were reluctant to ride have a surprising change of heart when they see their friends having a good time on bikes and will want to join in too.
Make Cycling Fun!
Cycling can be many things: a sport, a way to stay fit and healthy, a way to experience nature...but above all, cycling should be fun! If a child associates getting on the bike with long and arduous slogs, they’re probably not going to want to do it. There are lots of ways you can make a bike ride more than just that. You could turn it into a scavenger hunt, combine it with a picnic, or play Simon Says.
Finally, remember that kids will be kids. Sometimes they don’t want to ride their bikes for an hour, they just want to roll around in the dirt for a bit. But hopefully some of the above tips give you an idea of what to do before the cobwebs start forming on the bike!