Holiday firm offers to take the strain out of stabilizer shedding

Parents can relax as kids get over the wobbly stage

by Mark Appleton   February 1, 2011  


A holiday firm is offering to help children get through that rite of passage of dispensing with stabilizers, leaving parents free to relax on their break in the French countryside.

For the 2011 season Keycamp is offering cycle training expert BikeRight’s ‘Learn to Ride’ programme at six French parcs, including: Les Deux Fontaines and Les Menhirs in Brittany and Les Sablons, Club Farret, Camping La Chapelle and Cala Gogo, all in the Languedoc region.

On day one, the kids learn to balance using specially created 'Zoom' bikes, while on day two they'll get to practice their new skill and learn to pedal and brake. Finally, on day three, they’ll get to have some fun on their bikes and be in line for a certificate for completing the course.

Of course, for many parents the idea of not being there when the stabilizers come off their children’s bikes is unthinkable, but if you’re in line for a holiday in France and want to leave cycle-training duties to the experts see: and for information about BikeRight, visit:

8 user comments

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It's a nice idea, which might appeal to those who aren't competent cyclists and feel they don't have expertise (not that you need any) or where there's a mental block for the child. Sometimes they will respond better to anyone other than a parent to learn a new skill or overcome an obstacle.

However, children learn to ride more quickly by not using stabilisers in the first place. If they scoot first there's no need for the relearning process when you remove the stabilisers and no fear of falling because their 'comfort blanket' is removed.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2413 posts]
1st February 2011 - 13:01

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I think stabilisers are a bad idea, other than for kids with a disability. They teach kids poor technique, delay the acquisition of proper cycling skills and aren't safe as I've seen a few highsides. If it was up to me, stabilisers would be banned on safety grounds and would only be allowed for those children with fundamental disabilities preventing them from ever learning to ride unassisted and who are unable to attain the sort of speed that would allow them to tip over when cornering.

My kids started with a push-along bike and when the time came to ride a proper bike, it took about 200m max before they picked it up. Friends of ours also gave their kids push-along bikes and those children learned equally fast. Both my kids started competition cycling at a young age and when most of their friends weren't even able to cycle without stabilisers.


posted by OldRidgeback [2577 posts]
1st February 2011 - 13:15


Are stabilisers so bad? When I was a kid, I wanted a bike that worked just like my dad's - so a scooter/pushalong wasn't going to cut it. I learned with stabilisers, just like all the kids I knew, and we picked it up quick enough. When we were strong enough to go fast, the stabilisers were raised to allow us to lean in to corners. The incremental raising allowed a gentle transition into normal riding - eventually the stabilisers weren't touching the ground except when leaning hard into corners, at which point they came off.

I'm not saying that it was better than a pushalong for learning technique, and I know that thinking moves on, but I wouldn't have said stabilisers were awful, or that they are dangerous - learning to ride a bike is always going to result in falling off at some point anyway.

As for the camp, I'd guess lots of people want to teach their kids themselves, but for others it would be just like a skiing holiday - send the kids to ski/bike-school whilst the parents head off. Later on you can marvel at how quickly they've picked up the skills and are beating you at your own game.

posted by step-hent [718 posts]
1st February 2011 - 13:44

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The problem with stabilisers is this: a child on a bike fitted with stabilisers tends to ride very slowly and often stops - safe in the knowledge he / she won't fall off.

To successfully ride a bike without stabilisers, a youngster needs to understand they have to travel fairly fast, concentrate on an object in the distance and remember to take a foot off the pedals as they come to a halt.

As a parent I learned about this the hard way. An afternoon of running up and down the road with the oldest lad and he finally got the hang of riding after about 4 hours - he was pleased and I was knackered. A couple of years later the youngest lad was put at the top of a gentle slope 20 yards long and after couple of trial runs he got going under his own steam in 5 minutes flat. Big Grin

posted by John G [53 posts]
1st February 2011 - 14:24

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A highside for a kid using a bike with stabilisers is actually worse than a normal tumble on a normal bike as the design ensures the child is pitched at an angle that increases the risk of head injuries.

Stabilisers are bad. Things have moved on. My youngest could ride a proper bike when he was 3.


posted by OldRidgeback [2577 posts]
1st February 2011 - 15:50

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Agreed - I'm in the Parents Against Stabilisers faction.

I wouldn't ban them but I would suggest that if you want your kids to learn to ride a bike sooner and better rather than later and with a lot of fear to overcome, then stay away from them.

Child 1 - very athletic, confident boy. Takes to most sports pretty well and is annoyingly immediately better than people who've been practising for years. Had to be cajoled and bribed to get off stabilisers at age about 4.

Child 2 - less naturally gifted. A persistent plodder (audaxer in the making). Terrible with stabilisers - raising them up just meant he rode along at an increasingly alarming angle. Must have been 6 before being forced off them with many tears and much terror. And why...

Because Child 3 - a girl, but pretty physically confident. Never on stabilisers - had a push along. By early age 3 was ready for a pedal bike and went straight onto one with no problems. Thus embarrassing Child 2, three years older, to do the same. You should see the looks from 5 year olds in the park on stabilisers when a non-stabilised 3 year old comes hurtling past them.

I'm pleased to say Child 2 is now a confident and keen bike rider and actually has pretty good handling skills, so it can all end happily. But it makes it a damned sight more difficult to get them there.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [694 posts]
1st February 2011 - 16:14

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Fair enough - I can see the point about increased likelihood of head injuries, and the idea that some (most) kids dont get the balance skills by simply raising the stabilisers. Guess I'm just nostalgic for the days when everyone learned with them... everything changes round here Big Grin

posted by step-hent [718 posts]
1st February 2011 - 16:16

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Both my kids had the push along bike. They also regularly embarassed older kids still struggling with stabilisers.


posted by OldRidgeback [2577 posts]
1st February 2011 - 17:58

1 Like