I bought a 12" bike with support wheels for my kid. He is 2.5 years old. He is not pedaling the bike, so I push the bike from the back. The bike moves forward, the wheels rotate, but the pedals do not move. Since the pedals do not move, my kid just puts his feet on them and will not pedal.

How can I make the pedals move when the wheels move so that he'll learn to pedal?

  • 8
    Have you considered a tricycle, with pedals mounted directly to the drive wheel? Teach one skill at a time. (This is the other side of the balance bike idea.)
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 21:01
  • I'd say no tricycles (or training wheels). Pedalling isn't technically difficult. Balancing on a two wheeler is, so get them practising that. Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 12:27
  • 1
    As an alternative solution, have you considered not pushing?
    – Adam Rice
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 14:08

6 Answers 6


So your boy is simply sitting and not pedalling, so you push him along? Of course he's not going to pedal when he's getting a free ride from you.

Stop Pushing!

Firstly, does he understand how a bike works? Do you ride? Does he see you or others riding?

You might consider going the other way, and remove the whole transmission and the training wheels. Essentially revert the bike to a balance bike until he gets the idea that he has to push.

Something like this: enter image description here

Eventually he'll realise how slow the balance bike is, and want his pedals back to go faster. And that's awesome.

  • 2
    Or push then let go. Thats show I got off training wheels
    – Batman
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 23:10
  • 6
    I think balance bikes are excellent. Get the pedals off and the stabilisers and hopefully your child will quickly grasp the concept of balancing and pushing themselves forward. There's an article on bike radar about taking the next step. bikeradar.com/beginners/news/article/…
    – Chris
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 7:30
  • 4
    +1 : . I have very few regrets in life - putting training wheels on my boys bike is one of them. A balance bike takes the child though a series of easy progressions. Training wheels 'deep ends' them (balance, pedalling, starting, stopping.....) and worse, teaches bad habits
    – mattnz
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 20:14
  • 1
    @mattnz: opposite experience here. Six of my kids have gone from training wheels to no training wheels almost seamlessly. The boys, in particular, used them when they were two, getting familiar with the bike and with pedalling; then when they were three I removed the wheels, spent a little while (15 minutes) holding them crom the saddle while they worked out the balance, and that was it. Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 14:22
  • @MartinArgerami yeah, just put the training wheel 3" above the ground.
    – jqning
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 2:26

Two options:

  1. Remove the pedals (leave the crank in place) and set the seat low enough for him to touch the ground with his feet and push himself along. Keep raising the seat a little at a time, as he gets the concept of balance, and reinstall the pedals when he seems ready.
  2. Intentionally do what is often unintentionally done to a bike: Wrap something -- rope, twine, some sort of rubber strip -- around the rear axle, between the wheel proper and the sprocket. Get it tight (tie it in place if necessary) and make sure it doesn't stick out to where it will get caught by the chain. This will keep the sprocket from "freewheeling".

As to #2, two cautions: 1) There is a very slight chance of serious injury if the kid gets going downhill with his feet off the pedals, then sticks his feet into the path of them. 2) There is also a slight chance that the bicycle will be damaged by the wrapping, and the forces between the two moving parts. (However, I've seen several bikes with this done unintentionally, and, aside from busted spokes on larger bikes, there has been no obvious damage.)

  • 2
    Good idea about packing behind the rear cog - I never thought of that.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 7:46

What you describe is fixed gear bicycle. Generally they are recommended only for people who are already very proficient at riding a bike, not kids under 3 years.

  • He is 2.8 and quite strong. Yes it has single gear. So what i wanted to know is, is it a bug with cycle or can we tweak the bike to make pedal move with wheels?
    – anand
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 22:04
  • 3
    @anand Your child's bike is ok. To obtain what you want you have to replace the hub to fixed gear hub (single gear does not mean it's fixed) but it is STRONGLY dissuaded. It will cause pretty sure some injuries.
    – krzyski
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 22:35
  • 3
    Actually, quite a few bikes designed for small kids are fixies. First bike I ever rode, in fact, had a "fan belt" for a chain, and no freewheel mechanism. Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 22:49
  • 4
    @anand a fixed-gear bike is only recommended for more proficient riders because it doesn't allow coasting, which makes many normal actions (including turning, especially on tight curves) a bit trickier and dangerous for novices. This is why fixies aren't recommended for inexperienced riders. A single-speed does allow coasting, on the other hand, and many youth bicycles are build like that.
    – Jules
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 0:26
  • 1
    I was a child a few decades ago and by then all children bicycles were fixed gear, even without brakes - we were expected to stop just by stopping the pedals. That bicycles were fine to learn to ride with stabilizers and without stabilizers. Maybe it wouldn't be fine to go downhill with such bicycle and modern freewheel bicycles for kids are better but for playing and learning they it worked. Therefore, I can't agree on that fixed gear bicycles are for just for proficient riders and not for children.
    – Pere
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 11:05

I have 2 kids, they both knew how to ride a bicycle around 2.5 years (with pedals and without training wheels).

The secret was to teach them only 1 thing at a time, in a funny way.

Basically, here was the plan :

  1. Move forward,
  2. Use the direction,
  3. Balance,
  4. Use of pedals,
  5. Everything combined.

Balance bike

The bike they used the most during all this process was their balance bike. We bought one and give it to them around 1.5 year. Since then, we proposed them to use it every time it was possible (going to the park, at nurse's etc).

Basically, kids will learn steps 1 to 3 by themselves.

You know they rock at step 3 when they intentionally raise their feet just for fun in slopes, or just after strong pushes with their legs.

If they raise their feet, they're ready for step 4 : learning to use pedals.

Bike with training wheels

Make this step as short as possible, and make them alternatively use the balance bike.

That's not simple to get the idea that you need to push on on only one foot, and alternate. In terms of coordination. But as they know they need to go forward, just showing them once or twice will make them get the principle.

Once they get it, they just need practice to make it automatic. Then they're ready for real bikes

Without training wheels

Once you tried this, you can forget the training wheels : you still can alternate between a bike and a balance bike.

Find a slightly downhill portion of asphalt (you need it to be long enough, and safe). Place your child on a bike (without training wheels) and if he's ready, just help him place his feet on the pedals and run next to him as he will enjoy the ride 😀

After a few descents, he will get it completely.


I had the same encounter with my 2 year old in 2015, then winter came. When the 2016 summer came ~8 months later, he at 3 years old understood it with no effort.

Just relax, and as his cognitive skills grow, he will learn quickly.

  • 1
    This. There's no reason why kids need to know how to ride a bike when they're not even two years old.
    – user23374
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 19:46

I had the same problem with my son. He didn't understand how to pedal and he lacked the strength in his legs to get it moving easily and so form any association with pushing and movement. I was advised to use a push-bike without pedals, but obviously this doesn't solve the actual problem, but rather just avoids it.

In the end, I jacked the back of the bike up on some bricks (on the stabiliser wheels) and then manually moved his feet around on the pedals until he had figured it out.

I also got him at first to just give little pushes on the pedals rather than a full 360 turn.

  • I disagree that removing pedals 'doesn't solve the problem'. What it does is change the order in which the kid learns the skills: balancing first, pedalling second. As another answer notes, there's no need to push a child to ride before they're ready to: if you want them to be able to get places quicker you'll find they soon go surprisingly fast on a balance bike.
    – nekomatic
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 21:55

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