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Old 10-04-12, 07:40 PM   #1
thedave80
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question for the 60 plus folks

I'm visiting my folks and brought with me a trek cruiser bike for my mom to try out. We've tried it out a couple times and she is frightened to ride it due to balance issues. She gets very uncomfortable having her feet on the pedals and off the ground

I'm not pushing her but she is disappointed as she was looking forward to riding around the neighborhood with her grandkids. I imagine this is probably a lost cause but have any of you had this issue and if so how did you overcome it? I imagine the best solution is to find her a 3 wheeler but she was looking forward to this bike and I hate to leave her disappointed.
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Old 10-04-12, 07:47 PM   #2
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69 with a balance problem


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Old 10-04-12, 07:53 PM   #3
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My dad had the same problem. He'd been a frequent cyclist into his 30s, but when he wanted to start riding again at 70-something, he just didn't feel secure. He finally wound up with a trike, but it was pretty much junk and he didn't ride it much.
He's gone now, but here are some things I think might have helped:
Wider, softer tires. Your cruiser already has those, probably. He was using 700x28s at 90psi or so.
What about lowering the seat temporarily? Bad for the knees, but if she could put both feet flat on the ground, it might help her gain confidence. If you go with a new bike, crank-forward one like an Electra might work.
Practice, practice, practice. If she's riding on the street, could traffic be intimidating her? If there's a park or schoolyard in the neighborhood, could she ride there for awhile? I live across the street from a school with a couple of acres of paved playground, empty on weekends. That's where my kids learned.
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Old 10-04-12, 08:09 PM   #4
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the bike is what I understand to be a very simple stable low speed bike. In the picture the seat is set up for me, I lowered it a few inches for her but what ended up happening was she started rolling with me holding on to her shoulder, wobbled furiously, got scared and got off. I could drop the seat more and maybe put the handlebars all the way down, would that be of help?

10wheels that would definitely be a great setup for her but she is not that into bikes except for rolling around the neighborhood with her granddaughter. It's a very flat area with extremely light traffic and if she were to do a mile at a time i'd be very surprised.
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Old 10-04-12, 08:15 PM   #5
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I doubt there is anything you can do.
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Old 10-04-12, 08:32 PM   #6
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I'm not sure why you consider it an age thing. My wife and I are in our late 60's and started riding 4+ years ago without problem. Now, we had ridden as adults some 25 years ago, but it's not something you forget how to do. The first couple of rides were a bit twitchy, but that's to be expected. I haven't flown a light airplane in 4 decades, but I'm sure I could climb in a Citabria, take off and land, just wouldn't be pretty.

There are several threads that talk about starting adults off the same way we start kids (my sons and grandsons) - a small bike, no pedals and feet able to reach the ground to they can build up confidence in balancing without having to worry about pedaling, but she's got to want to do it.

I
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Old 10-04-12, 08:41 PM   #7
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My wife will be 75 in a month, and rides and balances on her hybrid just fine. She did not really start riding until about 65yo. It isn't age, necessarily. My wife rides very carefully, but she does everything very carefully.
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Old 10-04-12, 08:45 PM   #8
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I'm not sure why you consider it an age thing...
I agree. It has little to do with someone's age. She just needs some practice...just like when we were kids learning how to ride the very first time.
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Old 10-04-12, 08:54 PM   #9
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...There are several threads that talk about starting adults off the same way we start kids (my sons and grandsons) - a small bike, no pedals and feet able to reach the ground to they can build up confidence in balancing without having to worry about pedaling, but she's got to want to do it.
It's about more than just building up confidence. Making the bike into a velocipede (no pedals, low saddle) helps new riders of any age figure out the basics of how a bike handles. For instance, when a person leans too far to one side on a bike, an experienced cyclist naturally turns the front wheel into the error, which brings the weight back to the center. This sort of thing is a lot easier to learn when one isn't also learning to pedal. After that, it is pretty easy to add the pedals and start riding.

Good luck to the OP. I've known a few grandmothers who started cycling just to ride around the neighborhood with the grandkids and later toured across the country. Maybe your mother is one of those types of people too.
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Old 10-04-12, 08:59 PM   #10
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Perhaps a step through beach cruiser type would feel more comfortable and less intimidating. We're just kids in our 50s, but have a neighbor whom I'd guess is well into her 70s and she got a pretty yellow step through bike and we now see her regularly riding the neighborhood.
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Old 10-04-12, 10:34 PM   #11
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... she is frightened to ride it due to balance issues.
It's not clear from your post whether your mom has a chronic balance problem or whether she's just concerned she won't be able to remain upright on a bike. If it's the latter, as others have said, go back to basics and teach her to balance the way kids are taught to ride. I learned by having someone run behind my bike holding onto the back of the seat while I pedaled. It didn't take long to learn that more speed made it much harder to tip the bike over. Once that's learned, starting and stopping are the only remaining challenges.

If your mom has a chronic balance problem, though, it sounds like a trike might be the way to go.

Good luck.
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Old 10-04-12, 11:24 PM   #12
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Try to borrow a tandem.
You learn how to handle a tandem and after that take her for a spin around the block.
She does not need to balance, she does not need to steer, she does not need to shift . . .
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Old 10-04-12, 11:49 PM   #13
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Try a crank forward design, so she can put her feet on the ground, pedal in an upright position but still not go completely recumbent.

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You might also consider taking of the pedals and lower the seat, let her scoot around on that bike until she feels comfy. I bet the handlebars are fine. Then when she is comfortable, put the pedals back on. Elbow and knee pads as well as some leather gloves and a helmet may also increase confidence.
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Old 10-05-12, 04:50 AM   #14
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Trust her instincts...
... If she doesn't feel safe, she probably isn't.

But, that doesn't mean that there are no ways to change that.

But don't push her into doing something she is not able to do (for whatever the reason)...

Not to generalize about your mom, but too many westerners spend the years of their lives sitting behind a desk, or the wheel of a car, or on a couch. Then, when it is time to do something (like walk up a hill, or ride a bike), they simply can't do it...
... So, start slow...
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Old 10-05-12, 07:34 AM   #15
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A trike is definately the answer. It was for my wife (68) she has already rode it further than the combined milage she put on 3 DF bikes we bought her over the years.

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Old 10-05-12, 08:09 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the advice guys I really appreciate it. I had a talk with her this morning and i'm going to start keeping an eye out for a trike for her for the next time I come out. Whether it's mental or physical I just don't see any good coming out of getting her onto a bike she is not comfortable with.

Thanks again, I got a lot out of this thread.
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Old 10-20-12, 08:31 PM   #17
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Balance problems come and go. They are more common after 60.
Some days I can not stand to glance at the tv. Other days I can ski telemark in the moguls.
Have a trike for when my balance is bad and sometimes it is what I want to ride.

Get her a nice trike. I may be yours someday.
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Old 10-21-12, 06:25 AM   #18
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I doubt there is anything you can do.
Baloney! There are always choices. The only questions have to do with money and motivation.
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Old 10-21-12, 12:14 PM   #19
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Balance problems come and go. They are more common after 60.
Some days I can not stand to glance at the tv. Other days I can ski telemark in the moguls.
Have a trike for when my balance is bad and sometimes it is what I want to ride.

Get her a nice trike. I may be yours someday.
Really? To what do you ascribe the "coming and going?" Why is 60 the magic age? Any research or studies about 60?

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Old 10-21-12, 02:38 PM   #20
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thedave80,

The only real generic difference between your mother and young children in regards to becoming comfortable balancing on two wheels is that young kids are supple and bounce fairly well where as us more mature folk tend to be a bit more brittle.

Try lowering the seat to ensure her feet can easily touch the ground, or maybe find a frame that fits her better. Perhaps her balance issues are physical rather than fear of falling, so if that doesn't do it to both your and her satisfaction, try looking into trikes.

Trikes:
Be carefull here, some of the more upright delta style trikes such as the older Schwinn Town & Country trikes have balance issues of their own. As far as the more expensive (recumbent) trikes are concerned, I've only heard good things about them. I've read that the tadpole style are a bit more difficult to get into and out of than the delta style trikes are.
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Old 10-21-12, 06:38 PM   #21
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BTW another plus for a trike is if she is riding with grandkids, sitting up right on a trike, she can keep them in sight at all times.
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Old 10-21-12, 07:26 PM   #22
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Really? To what do you ascribe the "coming and going?" Why is 60 the magic age?
I think you're right, Denvr - it doesn't have too much to do with age. I do know that when I had a bout of labyrinthitis in my early 50s, my doc said categorically "we don't know what causes the condition, and we have no way of predicting whether (or if) it will go away, or how long it may take to abate". All I can say is that when suffering from this, I could not reliably tell when each footfall would actually touch ground. Very disconcerting. I was prescribed two different types of antinausea agents, and fortunately for me, symptoms went away after six weeks or so. I was lucky!
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Old 10-22-12, 06:03 AM   #23
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I had viral labrynthitis at 25, got me grounded for a year, and out of aviation. Not an age thing for sure.

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