Once your rider is proficient in unsupported riding and can demonstrate controlled braking, steering, coasting, and dismounting, it’s time to introduce them to bike–body separation, or how to stand on the pedals. Learning how to stand, therefore creating space between you and the bike will let the bike move underneath you. This is a critical skill that will help your rider navigate obstacles and stay safe on variable terrain including dropping down curbs and riding on loose surfaces.
Step 1: Demonstrate that standing with even feet is more stable than standing with one foot higher than the other. Practice stationary standing with adult support.
Step 2: Practice transitioning between sitting and standing while riding.
Step 3: Set up an obstacle course and practice standing along various points.
Your rider can stop their pedals at 3 and 9 o’clock.
Your rider can stand with equal pressure on both pedals while stationary.
Your rider can transition comfortably between sitting and standing while in motion.
Note: This is an intermediate skill that younger or more timid riders may find intimidating. If so, wait to introduce it until they are very comfortable riding on their own.
Experiment: Have your rider stand with both feet on the ground (no bike) and ask them to lift one foot so they are balancing on their other foot. Ask them how stable they are and if you feel like having a little fun, give them a little nudge to see if they can hold their balance.
Next, have them stand on both feet and step one foot in front and one foot in back. Then ask them how stable they are and give them a nudge.
Obviously, they will be more stable/balanced with two feet on the ground. Tell them that this is how they are going to be standing on the pedals and that it’s important that they stand with one foot in front and one foot in back.
Stationary standing: Have a capable adult support your rider’s bike by straddling the front wheel and holding onto the handlebars just inside the grips (like in lesson X).
Have your rider sit on the bike in a normal riding position and pedal backwards a few times, then ask them to stop their pedals when one pedals is in front and one pedal is in back (3 and 9 o’clock). Again, having their feet in this position is important as it will create even pressure on the pedals and give them better stability. Have them practice stoping the pedals a few times in this position.
Then, have them try to transition between sitting and standing. Practice pedaling backwards a few times, then transitioning.
Standing in motion: Once your rider is comfortable transitioning from sitting to standing while stationary, see if they can ride around and transition while in motion. Remind them that they will want to stop their pedals in the stable (forward/back) position which will require coasting.
Have them practice sitting/standing while moving on a flat surface until they demonstrate that they can stop their feet in the correct position and feel comfortable standing on the pedals. If they become unstable, encourage them to try to just lift themselves an inch or two. Remind them to keep looking forward.
Set up an obstacle course and challenge them to practice standing at various points throughout the course.
Have your rider practice this motion until it becomes natural for them. Then, once they are very confident standing, they are ready to use this skill on variable terrain such as gravel or rocks, curbs, and other uneven or unpredictable surfaces.