Stabilisers - useful. or not?

I manned a stall at a school event on Saturday and spoke to quite a few parents who told me that their child still rode with stabilisers. I was surprised at the advanced ages of some of the kids.

In my own limited experience of teaching kids to ride, I have found stabilisers to be counter-productive. I reckon that riding a bike with them is nothing like riding without. I suppose that they may be useful to get really young children accustomed to the action of pedalling and using the brakes, but other than that I cannot see much use for them.

I never had them and neither did my older brother - our Dad just coached us and we rode after a few false starts.

Do other people find them useful?
Based on my limited experience I'd agree kids become too reliant on them where you here stories about other kid without them riding at a far earlier stage.


Married to Night Train
Salford, UK
Neither my sister or I used them. Nowadays, I know about the scooting method, and would always recommend that.

My nephew hasn't shown much sign of wanting to learn yet, but he has an Islabike for if and when he does (he's not quite 3 yet), and if he's outgrown that, I'll make sure to tell his mum and dad about scooting with the pedals off a bigger bike.


Just about surviving
I've seen old family cine film of me riding with stabilisers and haven't seemed to have suffered.
Saying that I have a balance bike waiting from time when grand-daughter is tall enough to reach floor safely (GF's sons daughter). All I've read, even mumsnet recommend them for teaching balance with limited steering.


Cycling in the sun
I taught the first 2 of mine with stabilizers ... they learned to cycle. The last one... we stuck him on his sisters bike when he was 4 when we were out as he was tired ... and although it was just meant to be a rest with me pushing him I was aware he was almost balancing. What followed was 2 months of him not believing he could cycle unless he thought I was holding on - whereas I wasn't. I suspect if I had known about teaching them without stabilizers he would have got his confidence much quicker.

I have since helped quite a few children of different ages to cycle without stabilizers including a couple with special needs. In each case they learnt much faster than if they had gone down the stabilizer route (well most already had tried that and failed especially the older children).

For me I would always recommend the non stabilizer method and wish I had known about it for my children.


New Member
West Midlands
I taught all of mine using stabilisers.

Gradually raised them so that more balancing was involved; once the child could see that they were, in fact balancing I removed them. The method seemed to work and didn't take long.


Legendary Member
Debian said:
Gradually raised them so that more balancing was involved; once the child could see that they were, in fact balancing I removed them. The method seemed to work and didn't take long.
I would say that's the important point. I remember my Dad doing it for me and I am constantly amazed at the amount of parents I see out and about with kids on bikes with both stabilisers down fully so the bike is basically a tricycle. I have no idea how they're supposed to learn balance when the bike can't lean a little.


Well-Known Member
I tried all sorts with our youngest, every weekend off trying her with raising the stabilisers, taking them off, putting them on and the last thing I did about two months ago is take the bottom bracket, cranks and pedals off her smaller bike. She has been able to scoot round on it but I haven't actively encouraged her.

Since then nothing until yesterday when she sat on the bigger bike and cycled off down the road. Bloody fantastic.

Definately one for the ?run bike ?scoot bike.
My eldest used them when she was too small to put her feet on the floor properly but could just about pedal. She only came unstuck once when she rolled it on a bend in the park. I was running alongside and pulled her up by her arm as her bike rolled impressively onto the grass. She thought it was very exciting and asked if we could try that again :biggrin: It was good for learning how to use breaks and allowed her to ride a too big bike early but that's all.

We bought a cheap walking bike on sale from a supermarket and my middle one has just stopped using it in favour of trying her first pedal bike and our youngest now uses the walking bike. I would definitely go for a walking bike rather than stabilisers. If you use it on hilly streets get one with brakes.

I never had a bike with stabalisers. I used my older sister's hand me down girl bike ;). My dad never took the pedals/cranks off so I had bruised ankles for a while. When I tried to ride with my dad holding the back of the bike I discovered I could ride pretty much straight away when I heard my dad talking to a neighbour at the top of the street saying "He thinks I'm holding onto the bike still".


CC Addict
I put the stablisers on my son's bike when we got it for him & regretted it as he won't even consider riding without. He's happy scooting down the road on a micro scooter though so balance isn't an issue.

Unfortunately, the stablisers on his bike won't go up high enough to make them useless.

No. 2 son definitely won't have stablisers!

Twenty Inch

New Member
Behind a desk
Leo (2 and a half) scoots along on his balance bike very readily without them. I still remember falling off after my dad removed them, and then stopped holding the back of the saddle. Hopefully Leo will be spared that.


Über Member
South coast
Teaching my daughter to ride at the minute and have raised her stablisers. She is now starting to get the whole balancing thing and has asked me to take them off.
She is also going through that asking lots of questions thing and the other day she asked me what salad cream was made of.
She found it very amusing, when i read out that stabliser where one of the ingredients !
Top Bottom