How to teach your child to ride a bike with Libby Trickett

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 Photo: Getty Images

Although swimming is her strong point, Olympic champion Libby Trickett loves cycling.

Trickett has teamed up with bicycle manufacturer Merida, to create a video for parents of kids who are ready to reach their next milestone: riding a bike. 

From a balance bike to teaching your kids how to use gears, the video gives great tips for parents and how they can best get their kids riding.  

But before you get started, make sure your child is wearing a helmet that has been fitted correctly. 

Balance bike

Trickett suggests starting off on a flat surface where there is plenty of room to ride. Make sure the bike is at the correct height, so your child can place their feet flat on the ground.

When trying to provide support for your child, lightly hold them under their arms. Refrain from holding the handle bars as they need to get a feel for the bike first.

To get the wheels rolling, practice on a gentle slope and run along behind the bike reassuring them that you are still there.

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While attaching some training wheels might seem like the quickest way to get them riding it doesn't teach them how to balance, making a balance bike the perfect starting point. 

Normal bike

Transitioning from a balance bike to a normal bike "takes some kids five minutes and others months, so be patient," says Trickett.

First things first, kids need to know how to stop before they jump on and start riding.

Have them walk beside the bike, holding the handlebars and experimenting with the brakes.

Similar to the balance bike, help your child by holding their shoulders but as they gain confidence you can slowly start to loosen your grip.

Once your child is confident with starting, pedalling and stopping it's time to master the art of steering.

Again, pick a slope with a small incline. Rather than picking an object to aim for, keep it simple and choose a direction.

From there, build up to practicing figure of eights to tighten turning skills.

Bikes with gears

When teaching your kids how to use gears, Trickett says to remind them to always keep pedalling when changing gears and never back pedal during a gear change.

Encourage them to go for an easy ride and work their way through, and get a feel for each gear.

Most importantly, don't be afraid of them falling. If they are kitted out with approproiate safety gear, any serious injuries should be avoided.

Besides, taking a few tumbles is all part of the process.