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Bike Skills for Beginners: Starting & stopping – Get out of your seat

By Annette 4 years agoNo Comments

text here-6When we start or stop a bike there is so much opportunity for disaster.  Falling sideways, becoming unbalanced or getting all tangled up.  Usually ending in a memorable “ouch” moment.  A number of things need to be coordinated and balanced for this skill to become fluid and graceful.  Fortunately over time it becomes a skill we don’t give much thought to…until today when I would like to take YOU or your lovely kids to the next level of starting and stopping – out of the seat.

If you are learning to ride a bike for the first time take note of these starting & stopping tips;  


  • choose a flat even surface
  • looking ahead at where you are about to go, not down at your bike
  • being in a suitable gear so you don’t have to push really hard on the pedals


  • look ahead and choose a point to stop at, then focus on it
  • smooth even braking using both hands
  • get your feet ready by moving your pedals to 12 & 6 o’clock
  • for more detailed information on braking please read Get Better at Braking and Bike Brake Levers.

Most people learn to start and stop on a bike with the seat low so they can reach the ground when the bike is still.  This is a safe and sensible option and one that applies to kids learning to ride as well.  With time on the bike comes a sense of balance and control so you may not need to have your seat low to feel safe. You can also expect physical changes as you spend more time on your bike – your legs get stronger therefore your bike seat position could get higher.  Why?  This will give you more power as your legs will be able to move in a more naturally lengthened way.  Read more about your bike seat and what height it should be at, here.

This bike seat is as low as it will go, notice the bent knees even at the end of the pedal stroke.

This bike seat is as low as it will go, notice the bent knees even at the bottom of the pedal stroke.


The seat has been adjusted up a couple of inches. Notice how the leg is much straighter at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

The seat has been adjusted up a couple of inches. Notice how the leg is much straighter at the bottom of the pedal stroke.


My question to you is would you like to raise the height of your seat?  This would mean that when you start and stop on your bike you will have to get out of your seat because a raised seat means you won’t be able to reach the ground with your feet easily.

Starting & Stopping – Get out of Your Seat

STEP ONE     If you feel like you’re ready to start and stop like this, a great way to prepare is to practice taking weight into your feet. Next time you’re out riding – stand up on the pedals then move the pedals into the 12 and 6 o’clock position while you are up out of the seat (like the photo).  Make sure you are going fast enough to glide along when you go to stand up.

Weight on the feet at the top (12o'clock) & bottom (6 o'clock) of the pedal stroke.

Weight on the feet at the top (12o’clock) & bottom (6 o’clock) of the pedal stroke.

STEP TWO     Your next step is to practice the sequence below on a quiet street or cycle pathway.

Get into the “ready” position

  • straddle your top tube so your body is just in front of the seat
  • take all your weight onto one foot (usually your less dominant side)
  • with the opposite foot move the pedal to a 10 o’clock position then rest this foot on the pedal
"Ready" - out of seat, 10 o'clock foot, eyes ahead.

“Ready” – out of seat, 10 o’clock foot, eyes ahead.

You are now “ready” to start

  • push off with the grounded foot as you begin to pedal with your 10 o’clock foot
  • at the same time move your body up and back onto the seat.  Make sure your up movement is enough to avoid getting any clothing caught on the nose of the seat.
  • you have created some forward momentum and balance so it should be natural to place your push off foot onto its pedal and start riding.
Starting. Starting & stopping. goRide

“Start” – moving up and back, grounded foot landing on pedal.

Coming to a stop  (see the photo sequence below)

  • move your pedals to a 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock position
  • engage your brakes and slow right down.  Always look ahead at what’s coming and where you want to stop safely.
  • when you are practically stopped take all your weight onto the 6 pedal as you move your body up off the seat then as you stop completely, step down onto the ground with the 12 o’clock foot
  • now place your 6 o’clock foot onto the ground with your body in front of the seat


Once you have the confidence to start and stop this way you can now consider raising your seat height.  See our story on adjusting your seat if this sounds like something you want to do.  Even if its just a little at a time.

Why would I want to do this?  As I said at the beginning a higher seat height will give you better leg length, which will give you more power.  What does this mean for your riding?  It simply makes it easier.  Your big leg muscles will be able to generate a stronger push.  Expect to be able to ride greater distances before your legs get tired.  How you ride on hills will change.  Expect to go up bigger hills and get further up hills before stopping or be able to ride up hills in a different gear.  This transition to a higher seat height can make a huge difference to where and how long you can ride for.

Remember the kids.  Their legs are growing constantly so please check the height of their seats regularly.  They too will benefit from learning how to get out of their seat to start & stop.


Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

goRide is a shared journey, so we would like you to assist in guiding it along the way. Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback are welcome. Thank you for being a part of the goRide way. 

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