There’s a common misperception that kids younger than five are too little to learn to ride a bike. The other day at our local playground, a couple of parents stopped to ask how old my daughter is. She was tearing around the outer loop, standing up to pump her pedals, and then slamming on the brakes with such conviction she proudly left skid marks on the sidewalk. They were convinced she was six. She’s four. They looked at me with a mix of awe and mistrust, like I have a prodigy on my hands or else I’m just being pushy and reckless. My daughter is athletic, but she’s not unusual. Almost any child can learn to ride a two wheeler by the time they’re three.
And some can even learn to bomb a downhill course, complete with ramps and bridges and rocky ledges, by the time they’re four—like the rad preschooler named Malcolm in this video that went viral last week. If you haven’t already seen it, be prepared to be seriously impressed. The kid is clearing stuff at Highland Mountain Bike Park in New Hampshire that would terrify a lot of adults, and he’s four. More proof that, as parents, we tend to underestimate what our kids are capable of, and when.
Not every kid will be a natural-born mountain biker like Malcolm, but it's easy to raise competent three-year-old rippers—on one condition: No training wheels. Just. Don't. Go. There.