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  1. #1
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    need help learning how to ride

    i'm learning how to ride as an adult. i'm having some trouble and am hoping that someone here can enlighten me. is there a way i can work on my balance? also should i be able to put my feet flat on either side of the bike? i can barely reach with tip toes - the seat is as low as it will get. should i try smaller wheels? thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member PatrickMcCabe's Avatar
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    You may be able to cut the bottom of the seat tube to lower the seat if that would make you more comfortable.
    Seems like the seat tube is bottoming out on a water bottle bolt or something.

  3. #3
    hobby alchemist j-lip's Avatar
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    You'll want to be able to stand above the top tube, but don't plan on trying to put your feet on the ground while your in the saddle. Adjust your seat so that your leg is almost fully extended at the farthest point of rotation when you are peddling. This will give you the most efficient stroke.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by j-lip
    You'll want to be able to stand above the top tube, but don't plan on trying to put your feet on the ground while your in the saddle. Adjust your seat so that your leg is almost fully extended at the farthest point of rotation when you are peddling. This will give you the most efficient stroke.

    i can just barely reach above the top tube - whats the best thing/way to adjust for this?

  5. #5
    Barbieri Telefonico huhenio's Avatar
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    Perhaps the bike is way too big for you*


    *a couple inches would be too big
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  6. #6
    Mxu
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    Smaller bicycle.

  7. #7
    Senior Member kerk's Avatar
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    Sounds like the frame is too big for you, but you should still be able to ride ok. A good way to work on your balance is to find an open area (empty parking lot) and ride without worrying about what direction you are going. When you feel like you might fall to one side, turn that direction and that will correct your balance. After a while it will become second nature and you will do it without thinking and the adjustments will be much smaller. That's how I taught my kids to ride and they caught on in a matter of days.
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    Not to sound like a total shill but can I suggest "Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills" by Ed Pavalka and bicycling magazine. I've learned a ton from reading this from the basics to training for a century and everything in between. I got mine at my local bookstore. Now if I could just talk them into paying me for selling out like this.

  9. #9
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    Ride a smaller bike on grass with the seat way down so you can put both feet down. Riding on grass will allow you to fall without hurting yourself. Congratulations on taking this on. I'm sorry that you missed out riding a bike as a kid, but you can make up for that now.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Sometimes the problem with balance is fear. The slower you go the harder it is to balance. Someone already suggested a clear safe palce to learn. Also do NOT fall into the trap of going too slow. Go at a jogging pace, you may find your problem is gone.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    I'd get a BMX bike. Don't get me wrong, I hate BMX bikes, but they do ride very low. What I would do is, practice going down a gentle hill. That way you won't have to pedal, and both of your feet can be ready to drop to the ground.
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  12. #12
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    Here's how I learned to ride:

    I don't know how old I was, but probably 5 or 6, so I had a bike with training wheels. You're too old for that, but that won't matter, because all the training wheels did for me was get me used to riding the bike-- they didn't help me learn to balance. So when my parents decided it was time for me to learn to ride without training wheels, my dad took the training wheels off, and held my bike by the back of the saddle while I pedaled down the sidewalk, with him holding on to make sure I didn't fall over. They kept saying "good, good" and then their voices seemed a little too far back, so I turned my head, and saw them standing about 20 feet back. I had been riding by myself, and didn't even know it.

    Once you have forward momentum, the balancing part is easy. And once you learn to ride, you never forget how. Ever. So I would encourage you to enlist a sympathetic friend who will help you balance as you pedal. Once you're pedaling along, have your friend let go. It's easy.

    Now, the other problem you have is that it sounds like the bike is too big for you. If it's a road bike, you should be able to straddle the top tube flat-footed and still have about an inch of clearance between the top tube and your crotch. On mountain bikes, you would want even more clearance. Hybrids, I'm not sure. Here's a link to help you figure out bike fit: Fit Your Bike

    Try to keep the saddle positioned correctly-- so that you have a slight bend in the knee at full extension. A lower saddle will just make the bike harder to ride. A bike that's too big or too small will just make it harder to ride.

    To reach the ground while you're on your bike, all you have to do is lean over to one side, and let one foot touch the ground. The other way to reach the ground is to get off the bike-- slide forward on your saddle until you're no longer on your saddle (but remember to put your feet down on the gorund-- don't leave them on the pedals). Basically, just slide forward, put your feet on the ground, and stand up. Practice with a friend if it seems hard (it's not hard at all, but maybe it sounds complicated).

    Get the right fit, and enlist a friend. Keep your forward momentum going, and don't go too slow, because the faster you're rolling, the easier it is to balance.

    Good luck!

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    thanks for the infomation and advice - i did the worksheet on that link - and the bike is too big for me. however - getting a new one is not an option for me right now (no cash) so i guess i'll have to put this one hold. thanks again for the information

  14. #14
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    What about selling it and then using the proceeds to fund a bike that fits better?

  15. #15
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sargent
    thanks for the infomation and advice - i did the worksheet on that link - and the bike is too big for me. however - getting a new one is not an option for me right now (no cash) so i guess i'll have to put this one hold. thanks again for the information
    You can always check out thrift stores for cheap bikes that fit. And when you drop it and scuff up the paint it won't be a loss.

  16. #16
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    Learning to ride as an adult is a bit harder than learning as a child.
    There is lots of good info at
    http://sheldonbrown.com/beginners/index.html

    You need a bike that is simple and on the small side.
    Keep the saddle a bit lower than you would normally have for riding, perhaps letting the balls of the fet touch the ground for confidence.
    You need fairly low gearing so you can pedal easily at low speed.

    The secret about riding is that bikes are balanced by steering and steered by balance.
    Bikes are not ridden in staright lines. The natural path for a bike is an S curve. The S is so long and narrow that it appears straight but it is still a curve. Beginners should try to ride a wider, swoopier curve.

    You should also learn to stop the bike before you go too fast. The brakes will stop the bike, not the rider. You have to gently brace against the bars or you will carry on. When you stop, lean to one side and let your feet touch the ground.
    If you try to plant your feet on the ground whilst you moving, you will be dragged off.

    Practice on gently sloping grass with a safe runoff.
    Cover your legs and arms for protection from grazes.
    Gloves may be useful.
    A helmet is probably not needed for slow speed rides on grass but start as you mean to continue.
    Before you head out onto the road, practice basic bike handling drills in a safe place.

  17. #17
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    Consider telling your neighbors that you're trying to learn to ride and asking whether they know where you can borrow a smaller bike. Unless you live way out in the sticks there are bikes going unused everywhere around you, and you may find that people are eager to help. Or place a Craigslist ad asking to borrow a bike. If nothing else, you're going to get interesting replies.

    The BMX bike suggestion is a good one. What you want is a bike that's as simple as possible and that can be adjusted to let you sit upright with your feet planted on the ground. Any BMX bike would qualify.

    By the way, I'd suggest waiting until you're pretty confident with the small bike before moving on to a full-size bike and adjusting the saddle height per experienced cyclist recommendations. It's easy for us to forget that we all learned to ride sitting upright on small bikes.

    Once you've found a bike that lets you sit upright, etc., make sure the bike is ready (air in the tires, brakes work, nothing bent or otherwise problematic). Then:

    Take your time learning to ride - expect slow progress at first.

    When you feel yourself getting frustrated (and you will), stop for a while.

    Break riding technique down into several steps:

    1 -Sitting on the bike on level ground or a slight downhill (as an earlier poster suggested), let the bike roll forward for a foot or so while gently squeezing both brake levers. (You don't need to be told to keep your feet just off the ground, ready to steady yourself; you'll do that automatically.) Repeat (remembering to squeeze the brakes gently). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat until you've passed through nervousness and then through confidence and are well and truly bored. If this happens the first day, great. If not, so what? Nobody's keeping score.

    Once you've practiced step 1 enough to qualify as utterly bored, move on to

    2 -Same as step 1, but roll a couple of feet farther. Start to get used to turning the bars to keep yourself balanced on the bike - as the bike starts to lean to the left, turn the bars slightly to the left; when it leans right, turn slightly right. Repeat. Repeat, etc. (see step 1). Then a few feet farther, then a few feet farther, and so on. This is the step that'll take the longest to master, so again, take your time. It may only take a few days, it may take more. But once you've mastered this step (i.e., you've again gone from nervousness to confidence to boredom), the rest is easy.

    3 -Keep one foot down and pedal half a stroke with the other. (Be ready to put both feet down immediately, although if you've truly mastered the previous step you may not feel the need.) Repeat. Repeat. You know the drill.

    Once you're confident/bored with step 3, you're nearly done. Pedal with both feet, start doing gentle turns, buy an $8,000 carbon fiber state-of-the-art racing bike and start blasting past every rider you see. Oops - turned over two pages at once there. Still, you'll pretty much know what you're doing by this point.

    Remember - it's a steep learning curve at first, but it gets easier, and the rewards, as proven by the existence of bike forums like the one you posted on, are immeasurable.

  18. #18
    Barbieri Telefonico huhenio's Avatar
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    There is a bicycle riding teaching scene in Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor", in which Peter O' Toole - in the role of an scottish tutor - teaches the adolescent emperor how to ride a bicycle. It looked like a pretty straight forward way to do it. Rent the DVD
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  19. #19
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sargent
    getting a new one is not an option for me right now (no cash) so i guess i'll have to put this one hold.
    Buy a piece of junk at a yard sale for $10 bucks or salvage one from a dumpster. No need to put it off.

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