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  1. #1
    Toeclips are real delver's Avatar
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    Can some people just not ride a bike?

    I have a friend with a ten year old son who wants him to learn how to ride a bike.
    I am about the third person who tried to teach him, and I just dont think it will happen.

    He has no real concept of steering, even a go cart or lawnmower. He seemed unable to keep his feet on the pedals, actually standing on the chain and breaking it. It was painfull for both of us.

    No learning disabilitys, he can whip me at chess and is not terribly athletic, but not totaly hopeless. He was tested for learning disorders, hand eye cordination, ect. and he is ok.(Not that I dig the labeling thing personaly, far from it)
    All his friends can ride and when they go off he claims no desire to join them.

    This is odd to me, cause I was riding at four or so. I told his mother that she should just let him be, no pressure, because his disintrest might just be covering embarrassment. If he is pressured into continuing to try something that he is just not capable of it will be humiliating and embarrassing.

    for what reasons would someone lack the ability to ride? is this common?
    Ucla, Ariel, ride!

  2. #2
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    If he can walk on top of a street curb with his arms outstretched to balance himself (like a tight rope walker) he should have all the motor-skills necessary to ride a bike. The skills come from the same side of the brain where bike balancing comes from.

    Try this... get him a really small wheeled bike with a really low saddle and adjust it so that when seated his feet are flat on the ground (not tippy toed). So he can stand comfortably while the bike just so happens to be in between his legs. A 16" wheel kids bike would be ideal, or a BMX bike but no bigger. Take off the pedals.

    What you want him to do is to slowly walk and then later shove himself forward, while dragging and eventually lifting both his feet just a little bit, for balance while moving forward. He can do this by himself at anytime, and encourage him to do so. No one has to be around for him to do this. He'll be zooming around in no time!

    .
    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post
    Like clever mice, if there is a any crevice to exploit, a chain will find room to jump and derail; you can count on it.

  3. #3
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    Part 2

    If he's been really badly psyched-out or humiliated by his inability to learn at the same time as all his friends, you might have to do a little bit more extra: You gotta do this when no one is around or watching, and do whatever is necessary to take off the pressure for him to perform and do well. You might have to show him by example how to straddle-walk... use your own bike in the same way and lower your seat as well. Just straight lines, no cornering. Keep it in a flat and level area, preferably paved. Nothing uneven or sloped or bumpy like grass. Disrupt the learning activity frequently, have a drink or a candy bar, but don't get off the bikes while you're having a break. Let him realize that you're just hangin out with him.

    Once he can balance the bike (not necessarily that same day), he'll soon get frustrated that the bike slows down all the time. That's the time to put the pedals back on... and he should be able to figure it out from there, in his own time.

    Let us know how he gets on, when the time comes.
    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post
    Like clever mice, if there is a any crevice to exploit, a chain will find room to jump and derail; you can count on it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I've had good success with Pocko's plan. When I had my bike store that is what we recommended to parents - even to the parents of a 12 year old boy who needed to learn to ride a bike quickly so that he could go on a trip with his Boy Scout Troop. I know that it works because I've had several parents come back and thank me.

    I think that it's best to stand back and let him figure it out for himself. Pretty much anything that you do beyond making the push bike available puts an additional pressure on the boy that he doesn't need.

  5. #5
    LCI #1853
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    Teach balance first. Block out about 3 hours' time on a quiet afternoon.

    Get a bike that fits him. One with a low step-over height is ideal. A fairly upright position is good -- the more leaned-over he is the harder it will be for him to get used to balancing that way. Grip shifters are good... though this part will come very late in the process.

    Find a large (empty) parking lot with a gentle slope, such that if you walk the bike up to speed and then glide with your feet off the ground, the bike will continue rolling but not pick up much speed. This is essential -- it's much harder to teach on a level surface.

    Bring a pedal wrench and a multi-tool or one of those Y-shaped hex wrenches. Take both pedals off the bike with the pedal wrench. Lower the seat so he can put both feet flat on the ground, but no lower than that. Adjust both brake levers so he can reach and operate the brakes successfully. If need be, loosen the stem bolt and rotate the handlebars so as to get a good upright position where he's not putting much weight on the bars.


    If he's wearing long pants, put a rubber band or an ankle band around the right pants cuff so it doesn't get caught up in the chain/chainring.


    Show him how to gently brake the bike with his right hand (rear brake) so that he doesn't stop it abruptly. Do this with him walking beside you as you walk the bike at the speed he will be gliding, so he can experience the brake action without fear of falling.

    Now, have him get on the bike, holding one brake to keep the bike from wobbling as he mounts it. Aiming down the slope, have him walk the bike up to a mild trot, with his head up and eyes forward (not looking at the bike), then lift both feet, sit on the seat, and glide. Initially, these glides will be very short -- watch closely and congratulate him on every little improvement; your cheering will help him lose his fear of falling over and begin to enjoy the sensation of rolling free. It will also help him keep up his confidence long enough to "get it", which can take awhile sometimes. Have him take longer and longer steps as he starts to get the hang of balancing. Have him rest his weight down through his torso and back onto the saddle and into the wheels, and sit up fairly straight (but not keep his arms straight or tense). Walk or run down to where he stops, and walk the bike back up the grade for him, so he can save his energy (for now).

    Coach him on this "gliding" process as long as he needs to be able to consistently balance and glide down to where he wants to stop. When he does, he'll lose the stiffness and will glide easily down most of the length of the practice area. Don't move on to the next step until he can glide with ease and stop gently and precisely.



    Now, re-install one pedal. Have him glide just like before, but this time with one foot solidly on this "down" pedal with the ball of the foot properly over the pedal axle, using the other leg to push off and get the bike up to speed. Only do this step long enough for him to get as good as he was starting with both feet on the ground.


    Put the other pedal back on the bike.


    Next, make sure the bike is in a low enough gear to pedal easily. If you can, get him to try pedaling an upright exercise bike at the gym before the lesson, to get the hang of keeping both legs energized and both feet on the pedals as they turn.


    Now, put him back on the bike and have him continue doing the "one foot on the pedal glide-start", but tell him that as soon as he has the glide going smoothly, lift his other foot onto the pedal and start pedaling with both feet. This is easier than teaching a standard start.

    Once he has this interim "glide start into pedaling" technique working, teach him the standard "power pedal" start, showing him how you throw your torso forward briefly to assist the starting leg. Show him how to rotate the starting pedal up into the "10 o'clock" position using the top of his shoe.


    Once he can ride a straight line, show him how to turn in big, lazy loops, first one way, then the other. Slight handlebar movement, and a little leaning turns the bike the way he wants to go. Get him to look at the place he wants to go, and the bike will follow his gaze there. Then teach him to ride big figure-8s the same way... first one way and then the other.


    Somewhere around this point you can introduce the idea of shifting gears -- first one click up or down (in the rear only) so that he gets the idea.


    Close out the lesson with "start-stop drills": show him how to stop precisely with the pedals in the starting position so there's no fumbling around when he needs to get going again. Demo this over and over, using the parking lot lines as guides for where to stop.


    Now congratulate your new cyclist!

    Tom

    Last edited by Pscyclepath; 12-19-08 at 08:40 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    I think even more basic is better. The lowest to ground thing with small wheels is a scooter, a two wheel scooter built for a larger person, not a little kid.

    One foot on the platform and the other foot on the ground, sometimes. Both hands on the bars. Big parking lot, and he's set.

    If you don't believe me, try it yourself. But try not to fall, very embarassing.

  7. #7
    I am not a car Map tester's Avatar
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    (disclaimer: I have no connection to this company. I bought one of their tapes years ago and my son was riding in an afternoon.)

    I found the following website when I was trying to teach my 12 year old son to ride. It worked in one afternoon. Recommended.


    http://www.pedalmagic.com/
    "Bad facts make bad laws." FZ

  8. #8
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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  9. #9
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    I think even more basic is better. The lowest to ground thing with small wheels is a scooter, a two wheel scooter built for a larger person, not a little kid.

    One foot on the platform and the other foot on the ground, sometimes. Both hands on the bars. Big parking lot, and he's set.

    If you don't believe me, try it yourself. But try not to fall, very embarassing.
    + 1 on the scooter. Makes him forget about the bike stress while still practecing balance and steering. Also not embarressing doing this around other kids. Maybe if he decide to try to catch up with them on the scooter the next thing is he want to try a bike.

  10. #10
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    It sounds like he doesn't want to learn to ride. He might be being purposefully difficult or sabotaging your teaching efforts without you (or him) realizing it. If he doesn't want to learn to ride you'll never be able to force him to. It sounds like his parents need to figure that part out and maybe find another activity for him to pursue instead of cycling.

  11. #11
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    I cant remember any kids who didint want to learn to ride a bike but theres always room for one.
    If he has no desire to learn, the solution isnt a technical one about how or what to ride.
    If he want to ride but doesnt like the stress or embaressment then see Pocko above.
    I would add that learning some braking before learning some riding is the correct order.
    If he hasnt made the connection between pedals and wheels, bars and steering you need to go fairly basic. I learnt that on a direct drive (front wheel) tricycle before my first proper bike.

  12. #12
    Toeclips are real delver's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the responses. I will try some of these things.

    I have tried the scooter thing and we just cant get the steering into the lean thing down. His mother and his godfather(my father)tells me the as a little child he used to carry his trike around, never figured out the riding it thing.

    I have also tried coaster brakes, hand brakes, no pedals, low seat, and a lot of the above suggestions. This has been over a few years, not some big high pressure WE WILL LEARN NOW session. He gets enthused when I bring him a new bike to try, but thats just over a new, shiny object.
    He can work any video game and program your vcr.

    I just wanted to help, he is a single mother kid and so we try to show him things like camping, using a hammer and nails, and riding his bicycle. Its to bad, cause if he could learn he would have some of the baddest bikes of any kid in this town, courtesy me.
    Ucla, Ariel, ride!

  13. #13
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    what about something less mechanical, like soccer? Just to get used to his own body? (then add in roller blades, scooters etc)

    or give him a copy of Gray's Anatomy (not the tv show) and take credit for him going to Baylor at 12....

  14. #14
    Senior Member gerald_g's Avatar
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    Is there any chance that the testing he's had has not included Asperger?

    It would explain the balance issue, gross motor skills, good at chess, and lack of interest in joining the crowd.

    Maybe a quick google search and read an article or two, if not familiar. There's a wiki article.

    My son was 10 or 11 before he was able to balance on 2 wheels. He can do it now, but is still (at 16) not a strong cyclist. Go-carts on the other hand, he drives like a bat outta......

  15. #15
    Senior Member ritepath's Avatar
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    Both my kids learned at the same time this year. 6yo girl , 4yo boy. I just took the training wheels off one of their bikes (they both have two) and gave them a push down the yard. Drifting at first, then they'd pedal. After maybe 3 evenings of an hour or less we headed for the driveway where they found it much easier to pedal. That same evening all of us hit the hardpan in front of the house.
    Harmony, Spirit, Way

  16. #16
    Toeclips are real delver's Avatar
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    Soccer, check. not a strong runner, but ok with that and has a good attitude, very popular and great social skills.
    As someone sort of familiar with the Asperger Spectrums myself, I doubt it in his case. He is just very non agressive, disliking the idea of falling a lot. When I say he shows no interest in joining his freinds, its when they are on bikes. thats when he shows disinterest.

    To be honest, I was kind of fishing for something reasuring to tell his mother if I can't ever get him to ride. I imagine that every parent wants their kid to exel at things, but its ok if they don't.
    For the record, I am not a parent myself, but have taught several kids how to ride.
    Ucla, Ariel, ride!

  17. #17
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delver View Post
    I have a friend with a ten year old son who wants him to learn how to ride a bike.
    I am about the third person who tried to teach him, and I just dont think it will happen.

    He has no real concept of steering, even a go cart or lawnmower. He seemed unable to keep his feet on the pedals, actually standing on the chain and breaking it. It was painfull for both of us.
    My youngest son was like this. Then one day I went to mow and he was riding all over the yard.
    Some kids just "ride" when they get 'round to it.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by superdex View Post
    +1 That's how I learnt how to ride!... rather by accident...

    "I" was the last one to learn in my peer group! That's why I have a tremendous amount of empathy for the kid. He reminds me of me, except I couldn't bear to be left-out by my friends, so I literally ran behind them around the neighborhood (they often stopped laughing to wait for me to catch up)... but there was no way, I was going to be left behind. The more someone tried to teach me, the more I messed-up and my self-confidence fell to zero.

    I'd get him one of those or something similar and leave it at his house for him to use whenever or if ever he pleases. Give him opportunity to do this alone and by himself, away from anyone watching. If he learns he learns, if he doesn't then he doesn't... nothing to loose. We're all different.

    BTW, when my mates grew up, they ALL stopped cycling. I on the other hand, went on to own several motorcyles including a Suzuki RM250 motocross bike. Then at 21, I got talked into doing street BMX. I've learnt how to bunny hop, jump, wheelie, etc. I took it up again together with my kids and entered my very first BMX race when I was 38 (24" cruiser class). I then continued riding mountainbikes and have seen nature trails so beautiful it'll make you cry. I have, and have been asked to build and design several bicycles throughout this time, and hope to be able to continue to do so... all this because thankfully, I "accidentally" learnt how to ride on an ugly small bike no one wanted to use.

    .
    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post
    Like clever mice, if there is a any crevice to exploit, a chain will find room to jump and derail; you can count on it.

  19. #19
    on your left.
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    A good friend didn't learn to ride a bike until he was 12 or 13. He lacked the balance necessary until his early teen years. Now he does that Parkour thing, so he outgrew his clumsiness quickly... Just don't pressure the kid, but give him access to a bike he could ride if he wanted to... and eventually he'll want to try it out.

    Personal experience, though, I was biking when i was like 4 when my older brother decided i needed to learn to ride a bike. fond, fond memories...
    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    I learned this the hard way. They say that experience is the best teacher, but I would have been preferred to just read about it on the internet.

  20. #20
    BeaverTerror Yan's Avatar
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    I learned by myself on a church parking lot in the middle of the night when I was 17 years old. Maybe he's embarrassed to be seen trying to learn to ride?

    Aside from that, you can try taking the pedals off and lowering the seat until he can scoot around on both his feet. The pedalling can be learn after the balance is aquired. Don't forget to explain the reverse pendulum physics of the bicycle.
    Yan

    2013 True North custom touring; 2010 Novara Randonee; 2009 Unicycle.com Club 24"; 1989 Miele Tivoli; 1979 Colnago Sport

  21. #21
    Senior Member EatMyA**'s Avatar
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    Have you tryed a Paddlin' ?

    Migh make him get his **** together.

  22. #22
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delver View Post
    He can work any video game and program your vcr.
    I hope he is not spending 10 hrs a day ding this sort of thing? then it could be just from the lack of contact with the real world.

    That said my daughter had similar problems, but not at 10 yrs old. I remember she made little effort, and also after she learned to ride I made sure she did not ride in shorts or a skirt, since she had so many accidents and i did not want one road rash to cower the next one.

  23. #23
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    It sounds like he doesn't want to learn to ride. He might be being purposefully difficult or sabotaging your teaching efforts without you (or him) realizing it. If he doesn't want to learn to ride you'll never be able to force him to. It sounds like his parents need to figure that part out and maybe find another activity for him to pursue instead of cycling.
    And maybe not really his fault. It could be psychological. When I was very young, I had a swimming teacher try to help me to learn by pushing my head under water. Since that day I could not be taught by someone to learn to swim.

    I could be taught the technique but it just did not sink in (no pun intended). I would see my friends swimming and would want to join them but I could not. Finally one day, when I was around 9 or 10, all on my own, I got into the deep end and pushed myself off the wall and would swim back.

    Eventually I built my skills up, on my own, good enough to swim a mile when I was 13 years old. I now love the water I used to SCUBA dive, I love to snorkel and sail.

    So maybe he just needs to be left on his own. But he has to want to do it. And the video games aren't going to do anything to help him get out there.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  24. #24
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    If he like shiny new things and really want to roll....Look into a Cat Trike, no balance needed, it is fairly unique and he should be able to blow his buddies away

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  25. #25
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EatMyA** View Post
    Have you tryed a Paddlin' ?

    Migh make him get his **** together.
    Have you ever tried posting any information of value?

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