How to Ride a Bicycle

Do you wish to go outside and ride a bike? Maybe you're embarrassed that you don't know how to ride a bike yet? Or quite possibly, you're as eager as anything to start riding and enjoying one of the healthiest and most satisfying forms of self-transportation possible! To ride a bicycle, follow these simple steps.


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    Make sure you know how to ride a bike safely. If it is your first time riding, consider lowering the seat so that you can put most of your feet on the ground while seated. You should also check the tire pressure, brakes, and such. If you’re wearing long jeans or other long pants, be sure to roll up the right pant leg so it doesn’t get caught in the mechanisms on the right side of the bike. Avoid long skirts or baggy clothing (which could become caught in the gears or tires) and flimsy or open-toed shoes (which might prevent you from stopping yourself effectively should you opt not to use the brakes).
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    Mount the bicycle. With the seat lowered, this should be a breeze.
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    Practice balancing on the bike. Push yourself along a flat surface with your feet and get the feel of how the bike leans and steers. Do this until you have a good feel and some confidence about steering the bike. Try pushing yourself along fast and "gliding" with your feet up in the air, steering only with your hands. Notice the tendency of your body to lean slightly into the curve to keep balance when just using your hands to steer. When you are up to it, instead of using your hands, try to make turns with your body and let the bike follow you; you'll notice that the front wheel will also make the turn automatically. This is the key bike-riding skill: balancing and steering. Take as much time with this step as you need to feel confident.
    • Balance is easier to keep when the rider is moving faster. Going too slowly while riding will not keep the rider safe.
    • If you’re practicing with a helper, have them hold your bike behind you and try to steady it as you pedal.
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    Find a safe place to practice. Concrete is the easiest surface to bike on but is unforgiving if you fall. (With correct braking techniques and a properly adjusted seat however, this should not be an issue. See steps below for more details.) Short grass or even tidy gravel would be acceptable alternatives for anyone who feels panicky about falling, but be forewarned that these surfaces make balancing harder and offer more resistance to bike tires. Wherever you end up going, make sure it has both flat areas and gentle slopes (to help you build momentum) but no tight spaces, steep slopes, or traffic.
    • Riding on the sidewalk is inappropriate, illegal or dangerous in some areas, particularly urban areas because you might hit people.
    • Helmets are necessary and helpful. They help protect heads.
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    Pedal from a complete stop on the flat area. Make sure the pedal your foot is currently about 10 'o' clock with the other (free) pedal, then begin pushing it down with that foot as you lift the other foot onto the pedal and begin biking. Do this until you’re comfortable starting and stopping on a flat surface.
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    Make sure you know how to brake. While practicing, it’s a good idea to allow yourself a long distance over which to brake gently so that you feel prepared to dismount if necessary.
    • If your bike has brakes on the handlebars, test to see which brake controls the rear tire and which the front, as it varies between countries and can be modified to suit a person’s handedness. To do this, lift the front end of the bike, spin the tire manually, and test both the left and right brake lever separately. The rear brake is normally used by beginners for simplicity. The front brake is much better at stopping the bike, but has the potential to cause a crash if used improperly. If the rear brakes fail then the front brakes should be gradually used until the bike is stopped. It is much better to become comfortable using the front brake to stop, as this will allow you to stop in much less distance than the rear. Also, being familiar with the use of individual brakes is important, in case one does fail.
    • If your bike doesn’t have brakes on the handles, it should have back-pedal brakes. In order to brake, you will need to bring the pedals so that they are more or less level underneath your feet and then press down on the pedal that is farthest back as though you were going to backpedal. What will happen, however, is that this will engage the brake and slow down or stop the bike. Apply more or less pressure as necessary.
    • If your bike is a fixed wheel and hasn’t been modified, it has no brakes. Instead of braking, you will need to slow the bike down by either slowing the pace of your pedaling, which will bring you to a gradual stop, or skid-stopping, which will bring you to a faster stop. To skid-stop, lean forward on the bike to shift some of your weight off the rear wheel, then stand up into the forward lean and lock both pedals in the horizontal position. Since the pedals control the rear wheel (which has been freed from your weight), it will lock, bringing the bike to a skidding stop. Bicycling on a fixed wheel is much more complicated than a traditional bike and is not recommended for beginners.
    • Balance is easier to keep when the rider is moving faster. Going too slowly while riding will not keep the rider safe.
    • If you’re practicing with a helper, have them hold your bike behind you and try to steady it as you pedal.
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    Practice gliding down gentle slopes. Walk the bike to the top of a slope that ends in a sizeable flat area, mount it (keeping one or both feet on the ground until you’re ready), and glide down, allowing yourself to slow naturally in the flat area at the bottom. Dismount and repeat as necessary to get used to the feel of the speed, balance (which should be easier now that your speed has increased), and incline.
    • When you are confident you can put your feet on the pedals and coast for a few feet, try not putting your feet down to train your sense of balance.
    • When you’re comfortable with putting both feet on the pedals, practice braking gently on the way down the hill. Do this until you don’t feel the need to put your feet out to brace yourself.
    • When you’re comfortable coasting, pedaling, and braking in a straight line, practice steering slightly to the left or right.
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    Pedal down the slope and onto the flat area. Use the techniques you learned while gliding to pedal and steer, only this time, instead of stopping on the bottom, continue biking along the flat surface. Practice making gradual turns, then sharper turns. Brake to a complete stop and try putting only one foot out to hold yourself up.
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    Pedal up the slope. Bike from the flat area up the slope to get used to the additional work you have to do to move uphill. Lean forward into the pedaling or even stand up to give yourself extra power. Bike up and down the slope several times until you’re comfortable with both. When you feel confident enough to do so, bike halfway up the slope, come to a complete stop, and re-start pedaling upwards. Once you can do this with ease, you’re ready for a more challenging terrain.
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    Get ready to ride. Raise the seat a bit, but still keep it low enough so that you can touch the ground with the tip of your toes while seated.


  • Don't quit if a minor scrape or other mild injury occurs. Wear extra padding if required but remember that the more you ride, the less likely this will happen again.
  • Be careful don't rush and don't give up if you fall! Be confident!
  • Find a safe open area to practice on away from traffic. School yards, soccer fields, football fields or a garden and empty parking lots are decent places to practice.
  • Be patient and don't be afraid of falling down from the bike. It helps to 'become friends' with the bike (as in, to trust it and go slow at first).
  • Don't rush! Start out slow if it's your first time. Then, gradually get faster and faster as you get more confident with the bike.
  • Keep your arms relaxed as you learn to balance. The design of the bike makes it want to balance by itself as long as you don't interfere with it too much. (This is the reason why some people can ride with no hands.)
  • Do not assume the intention of other road users; always assume you are the most reasonable road user at the moment by acting responsibly and watching out for others, including other cyclists.
  • Don't worry if you take some time to get used to the motion and balance. Keep working, because it is an essential process.
  • Riding your bike is like living your life: you will (subconsciously) head toward whatever you're looking at (rough patch vs. smooth path), so you are best off looking ahead consciously deciding your way. (If you look towards a ditch or curb, you will go there or close to it.) It's good to check your stress level as you approach challenges and know that you have already decided to go for the task, so you might as well relax, breathe, and enjoy it all.
  • The bicycle seat should be in a low position for learning only, once you can ride, it should be raised to avoid strain on your knees. You legs should be almost fully extended on the down stroke.
  • Have a parent or other adult supervise and help you if you need it.
  • If you cannot get a hold of a helmet/gloves, it might be best to practice on grass, first, rather than pavement. Note that, in some places, if you ride a bike on pavement, its a law to wear a helmet while doing so.
  • Once you learn to ride a bike, you will never completely forget how to ride it.
  • Training wheels can help you get the "feel" of riding a bike. Just don't rely on them too much.
  • Start out on grass until you feel confident enough to try it on concrete.
  • Riding a bike with gears is harder than riding one with none, especially for beginners. Just remember that a lower gear like 1 or 2 will make you do less effort, at the expense of you going slower. 1 or 2 is recommended for uphill and straight riding. A higher gear like 5, 8 or even 10 depending on the bike is usually best for downhill or experienced riders because although pedaling is much harder, more speed will come out of one cycle. This is ideal for downhill.
  • Balance your bottom on the seat, put your feet on the pedals, and push down one foot at a time. If it's your first try, don't go too fast.
  • You can also wear a protective cup if you want.
  • For those interested in the physics of bike control, bike balance and bike turning is all about the dynamic action of having the rear tire make a smaller radius than the front tire, causing the bike to want to straighten up. Just leaning on a bike doesn't turn it so much as get the front and back wheel out of alignment. Once you get the hang of riding a bicycle, you can see this effect by riding through a puddle, then making a turn; if you inspect your bike tracks, you'll find that the front tire goes the wrong way before the turn is made, thus creating two paths for the tires. Motorcyclist often apply this as a term called counter-steer wherein the cyclist applies a minute amount of steering effort in the opposite direction of the intended path to get the front and rear tires out of alignment, and then applies appropriate steering input to maintain this state of tire disequilibrium until deemed appropriate and the steering is gradually neutralized allowing the rear tire to return to alignment with the front. Although slightly beyond the scope of this wikiHow, the same can be applied to bicycles, where it is more perceptible at higher velocities. Although the theoretical understanding of this is not crucial to be a proficient cyclist, the practical application is important to become a smooth and relaxed cyclist.
  • Take the pedals and push the bike along with your feet,once you got your balance properly put the pedals back on and start riding.
  • Look for a bicycle rulebook or manual or similar in your local multipurpose store, bike shop or municipal authority. Such a manual should contain helpful tips for safe road riding and for bike maintenance.
  • If your child or you are starting to ride a bicycle make sure it's a good size. Make sure it's a safe bicycle!
  • When teaching a child, start with a bike with the smallest wheels available (such as a 9" Barbie bike), add a few older siblings or friends having fun on their bikes, and finally, turn your back and come back a little later. The 'magic' of riding is so easy to learn on such small wheels and they won't be hurt in a fall.
  • Always wear safety gears like helmets, kneepads, etc... even if you are an expert rider. You might fall and get a bone fracture!


  • Be on alert when you ride a bike and watch out for traffic.
  • Before you ride in traffic, learn more about cycling and the rules of the road. Remember that a bicycle is a legal vehicle and always ride with the traffic, not against it. Even if you are on a sidewalk, ride with the traffic. This is because a car turning across the traffic often will not check for traffic going in the opposite direction, including your bicycle.
  • Teach your kids and/or friends about the dangers of speeding as well as the basic traffic signs and signals.
  • Don't ride in traffic if you don't know how to: 1) keep your bike consistently within 3 feet (0.9 m) of the edge of the road (unless you are on a multi lane road the you should be in the centre of the correct lane); 2) make hand signals; 3) quickly look behind yourself while pedaling so you can assess upcoming traffic.
  • In some areas, there is a minimum age for driving in the same lane as a motor vehicle. Usually it is something like 12 or 13, up to maybe 17.
  • Be careful when mounting a bicycle designed for males, as it has a bar that you'll have to step over. A female styled bike is recommended.
  • Elbowpads and kneepads are recommended for learners.
  • Always wear a helmet. In the event of an accident, a helmet could mean the difference between living and dying. The one time you forget to wear a helmet could be the one time you get in an accident. In fact, riders without helmets are 14 times more likely to be in a fatal crash than their helmeted counterparts. In some countries (as well as a number of states in the US), riding without a helmet is illegal. Again, when riding a bicycle, always remember to wear a helmet!

Things You'll Need

  • A bicycle (a bike with gears is more preferable)
  • A bike pump (for increasing tire pressure)
  • A helmet (make sure it is tight enough)
  • Kneepads (optional)
  • Elbowpads (optional)
  • A good place (so you can ride in it)
  • Training wheels (optional)
  • Sunglasses(optional, if sun gets in your eyes)

Article Info

Categories: Learning to Bicycle Ride