Learning to ride

If you have never learned to ride a bike, it isn’t too late! You can learn to ride a bike at any age. And you don’t need training wheels.

There are different ways to learn to ride or teach someone else. This guide covers two common methods – the ‘balance bike’ method and the scooter method. It also covers beginner riding skills. 

This guide is the first in a series of Adult Bike Ed guides to help make riding safe and easy.

Teaching yourself or someone else to ride

To get started, you will need:

  • a bike that is the right size for the rider (don’t try to learn on a bike that is too big) 
  • a securely fitting helmet
  • open space with no traffic or people walking – ideally a gentle slope on grass or a bike path or footpath.

Learn how to make sure your bike fits you properly and adjust your helmet in our Getting started guide.

Our Basic bike maintenance guide covers how to adjust your seat height. 

Our guide to Choosing the right bike for you is a handy resource if you don’t have a bike yet. 

Relax and take your time

Whether you are teaching an adult or a child, or learning yourself, it is important to be patient and encouraging. Allow the learner to progress at their own pace. 

Staying relaxed is the trick to learning to balance on a bike. This isn’t always easy to do! 

Take the time to focus and relax before taking off. If you are helping someone else to learn, try to stay relaxed and positive yourself.

Some learners will learn to balance fairly easily. Others will need more practice. Take regular breaks. Try to finish a practice session before the learner is too tired. 

Ways to learn to ride

Balance bike method 

This is an effective step-by-step method for adults and children.

You can turn any bike into a ‘balance bike’ by lowering the seat. The learner’s feet should be flat on the ground. If you can, remove the pedals. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can still use this method without removing the pedals.

The balance bike method works best on a gentle slope. A park with a mown grassy slope is a great place to start. But a quiet footpath or bike path works well too. It is best if the slope flattens out so the bike doesn’t go too fast. When the bike naturally slows down, the learner can start pedalling. 

How to find your balance 

  1. Walk your bike to a place that you can coast gently downhill for 10 to 15 metres.
  2. Sit on the bike with both feet on the ground. Face downhill.
  • Hold the handbrakes on.
  • Look ahead to where you are going.
  • Relax your upper body.
  1. Release the brakes and allow the bike to move forward.
  • Push the bike forward with your feet if you need to.
  • Use your feet to stop the bike tipping sideways.
  1. Repeat rolling down the slope a few times. Try coasting with your feet off the ground for as long as you can. You will begin to feel yourself starting to balance.
  • Use the brakes (not your feet) to stop.


Once you can roll without putting your foot down for 10 to 15 metres, it is time to use pedals. 

  1. Replace one pedal and coast down the slope with one foot resting on the pedal. Use your brakes to stop.
  2. Add the second pedal. Coast down the slope with one foot resting on the lower pedal and the second foot on the ground. 
  3. As you roll, lift the other foot onto the second pedal. Continue to coast. 
    (Keep looking ahead as you lift your foot. Try to find the pedal without looking at it.) 
    Image of adult bike rider starting to pedal
  4. As the bike slows down at the bottom of the slope, turn the pedals to keep the bike moving forward. Now you are riding! 

Scooting method

Using the bike as a scooter is another way to learn. 

  1. Stand over the bike with one foot on a pedal.
  2. Lean forwards so you are resting on your hands as they hold the handlebars (imagine there is no seat).
  3. Use your second foot to scoot the bike forward (like riding a skateboard). Repeat this as often as possible to keep moving.
  4. When you have enough momentum, lift your second foot off the ground and coast for as long as you can. 
  5. Try sitting down while you are coasting. Lift your second foot onto the pedal. When you are ready, start turning the pedals. Now you are riding!

Tips to make it easier: 

  • Have your scooting foot clear of the pedal. You will need to stand slightly to one side.
  • Keep looking ahead, even while you lift your foot onto the second pedal.
  • Keep your upper body straight. In particular, keep your hips forward.

Next steps

Once you can balance and pedal on the bike, try starting off from a still position rather than rolling. 

Starting on the flat

person with their feet on the bicycle pedals

  1. Straddle the bike, standing or sitting on the seat. Hold the handbrakes on. 
  2. Using the top of your foot, push one pedal backwards until it is in the ‘2 o’clock’ position. (This is also called the ‘power position’.) 
  3. Release the brakes and push firmly on the pedal. Look ahead to where you are going. This should give you enough movement to keep going straight while you find the second pedal. 
  4. Lift your second foot onto the pedal and keep pedalling. 

As you become comfortable, raise your seat. This will help you pedal better. 


Use your brakes to slow or stop the bike. Do not use your feet for braking.

To stop, squeeze both handbrakes firmly and smoothly. 

For more braking tips, read our Getting started and Riding know-how sections.

Steering – keep looking ahead

It is normal to wobble when you first start. The key is to look ahead to where you are going. 

With practice, you can steer a bike through a very narrow space. This helps to avoid other people or other obstacles on the path. Practise by drawing lines with chalk 40 cm apart on the path. Ride between the lines. 

For more tips on steering, read our Riding know-how section.

Need more help with learning to ride?

Riding skills training courses can help you learn or return to riding. You can also try riding with other people. 

Our Bike riding support section links you to groups, training, services and information. The information will help you find people to ride with. It will also add to your skills for whatever style of riding you would like to explore.

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