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Old 05-07-13, 05:38 PM   #1
timvan_78
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Adult training wheels

My father-in-law wants to teach my mother-in-law how to ride a bike. (She rode as a small kid, but had a wipeout and hasnít ridden since. Sheís ~60, in good physical condition due to yoga 4x/week.) On the weekend I helped him buy an old ladies MTB off CL (staying within his prescribed budget) and then helped him install his online purchase: adult training wheels!

Why Iím Good:
  • I gave up a good portion of a sunny weekend day for this. I could have been helping my 4-yr-old who just learned to cycle. Seeing him so stoked is one of the best parts of parenting!
  • I installed adult training wheels (which I abhor) by myself along a bike path at a public beach, enduring the shame of young and old passersby alike. I felt like printing a sign that said ďThey are not for me!Ē I generally donít care what others think about me, but in this case, I really did. Strange.
  • I did it, even though I donít think itís the best approach to teaching, because thatís the way they want it and I will support themóright or wrong. Iím sure Iíll be taking them off in short order.
  • Learning new skills at 60 yrs old is cool.


Why Itís Bad
  • Training wheels do not teach balance. I installed them, even though I know itís not the right thing.
  • Better to remove pedals and stride around a bit.
  • After I installed them, I tried them out. (I had given up my dignity at this point.) Even if you pedal at a walking speed, your turning radius is HUGE.
  • They look absolutely ridiculous.



Here is my 4-yr old pointing out to me that he learned to ride in 10 minutes without any training wheelsóbasically telling me Iím wasting my time...the little smart@$$!



Anybody ever experience these things?
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Old 05-07-13, 05:51 PM   #2
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  • Training wheels do not teach balance. I installed them, even though I know it’s not the right thing.
  • Better to remove pedals and stride around a bit.

So why not offer to teach your MIL yourself using the no-pedals, hobby-horse method? I can see the use of training wheels for a kid who wants something that looks like a bike but isn't developmentally ready to balance one yet. But once they are ready it only takes a few minutes to learn - as demonstrated by your 4-yr. old. For adults it frequently takes a little longer - but it's still much quicker than by trying to use training wheels.
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Old 05-07-13, 07:02 PM   #3
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She would be a good candidate for a trike.
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Old 05-07-13, 07:08 PM   #4
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She would be a good candidate for a trike.
+1

My mother used to be quite an avid cyclist, but is getting older and has some health difficulties, so she rides a Catrike now.
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Old 05-07-13, 07:29 PM   #5
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She would be a good candidate for a trike.
+2. If she can (easily) learn to ride a bike, she should do it without the training wheels. If she can't or doesn't want to, or just thinks trikes are cool (because, well, they are), she should get a trike.
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Old 05-07-13, 08:04 PM   #6
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As an adult your mother-in-law's age, I recommend no training wheels.

But, given the situation, let her do the pedal, brake and steer thing for a short while, very short. Let her get comfortable with those three. Then declare that step two is learning how to balance now that she knows steering, pedaling and braking. Then make her a strider bike. You might at that time, start by just raising the training wheels a little when you remove the pedals. The natural action of a strider will cause her to be upright. When she gets confident, you can move the wheels up more, or remove them altogether.

Alternatively, you might try just removing the pedals from the start. The natural action of striding will put the bike in the correct position, training wheels in the air.

And when removing the pedal, tell her how it was the Wright Brothers who started threading the left pedal backwards so it didn't fall off. It will help her feel like she's getting into the mysteries of bicycling.

Good luck.
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Old 05-08-13, 08:41 AM   #7
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I've seen a Harley-Davidson with training wheels, Parked, here, last summer.
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Old 05-08-13, 09:47 AM   #8
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[/LIST]
So why not offer to teach your MIL yourself using the no-pedals, hobby-horse method?
I did offer, and suggested that we skip the training wheels alltogether. I'm sure it will come to the no-pedals method. I'm just going through these training-wheel motions because that's what they (he) want. lol.

Re: Trike...I thought of that, but I think she will be able to balance a bicycle just fine. She does yoga (a lot) so her balance/core strength is probably better than most! I see "slow-to-react" and "incorrect-reaction" as being potential issues. But building balance skills gradually should take care of that.

Wish me luck. Unveiling of the hated training wheels takes place on mothers day!
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Old 05-08-13, 11:00 AM   #9
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"Learning" to do something which we can all do naturally- whether balancing a bike or swimming/floating, etc. is more about confidence than anything else. Just having the confidence to do it the first time.

I "taught" myself to ride a unicycle when I was 13- It's like the above- it's just a matter of having the confidence to get on it and do it the first time..... [Heh...I used to get some looks going down the street on that!]

I'd be especially leery of training wheels for an older person- as not only do they hinder the natural balance instincts.....but I'd think that they'd enable one to fall over quite easily....and unlike children, older people don't just get up, brush themselves off, and keep going; they go to the hospi'l with broken bones!

I remember trying my niece's bike once when we were kids. It had training wheels. I already knew how to ride. I HATED the feeling of the training wheels. Even though I already was an accomplished and competent rider.....I couldn't ride that bike with the training wheels, like I would ride a normal bike! I'd balance it, but as soon as I'd lean to turn, one of the training wheels would hit the ground.....so I'd ease up on my lean...and then the bike would rock over in the other direction, so that the other training wheel was hitting the ground. I felt like i was flopping around, like a fish out of water! -And of course, my niece never became a very good rider. Training wheels just get in the way.
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Old 05-08-13, 11:14 AM   #10
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No training wheels! They'll hinder, not help, because they'll prevent her from learning to steer properly, and it is steering that keeps one upright.

Sneak back under cover of darkness and remove them.
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Old 05-08-13, 12:46 PM   #11
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No training wheels! They'll hinder, not help, because they'll prevent her from learning to steer properly, and it is steering that keeps one upright.

Sneak back under cover of darkness and remove them.
Adult training wheels strike me as a horrible idea. It isn't a great idea for little kids, but at least they have a low center of gravity, go at very slow speeds, and don't have far to fall. Moreover, aren't adult training wheels inherently dangerous? If your MIL takes a turn at any speed beyond a walking pace, doesn't she risk tipping over?

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Old 05-09-13, 12:26 PM   #12
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This type of wheel set up is NOT called "Training wheels" they are more properly called "Stabilizer wheels" when used on adult bicycle.

http://www.stabilizerwheels.com/

Remember.......bicycle's come in many forms , shapes and sizes to allow everyone to ride.

I've been thinking about installing a set of these stabilizers to my Cruiser since my balance is going all to hell anymore.
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Old 05-09-13, 04:57 PM   #13
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This type of wheel set up is NOT called "Training wheels" they are more properly called "Stabilizer wheels" when used on adult bicycle.

http://www.stabilizerwheels.com/
Except on their website, right above where it says "stabilizer wheels" it says "adult training wheels"...

Lol, I like the "cover of darkness" idea!

@MRT2, When I tried them out (yes, slowly) I leaned over and the bike did not actually tip. I was expecting it to.
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Old 05-09-13, 06:31 PM   #14
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If one uses training wheels; can Depends be far behind? That should be enough to turn the lady off of the wheels!
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Old 05-09-13, 07:43 PM   #15
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I support the OP 100%.

There's more to it than just "learning to ride a bike." There's "maintaining a positive relationship with the in-laws" and there's "learning how to learn to ride a bike" That discovery process is what the mother-in-law is doing now. If and when she decides the stabilizers aren't accomplishing what she wants, she can ask the OP if he has any ideas - providing, of course, he finds a way to explain it to her without saying "I told you so.".
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Old 05-09-13, 08:29 PM   #16
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If I had to teach an adult to ride, I'd tell 'em just to get on the damn bike and pedal! There's no reason to make such a production out of it! For the lady's own sake....
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Old 05-15-13, 08:17 AM   #17
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I've seen a Harley-Davidson with training wheels, Parked, here, last summer.
On a Harley? Really? WOW! Who would have thought...
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Old 05-25-13, 09:03 AM   #18
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If I had to teach an adult to ride, I'd tell 'em just to get on the damn bike and pedal! There's no reason to make such a production out of it! For the lady's own sake....
This is not really very helpful. As someone who has tried and failed for 30 years to learn to cycle I can vouch for the extreme difficulty of learning as an adult. I can't recall how many times I have heard that "all you have to do is push off and start pedalling". IT DOESN'T WORK! I have fallen over EVERY TIME I have tried this over the years. This year I have tried the taking off pedals and scooting technique. No success after 10 hours but I am still trying. The difficulty I have, and maybe readers can help, is this. I repeatedly read that you have to be moving at ~10mph to make balance easier. I understand the physics of this. But you get on a stationary bike. How do you keep it upright until you have accelerated from 0 to 10mph, unless you have Star Trek warp drive? Any thoughts welcome!
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Old 05-25-13, 09:46 AM   #19
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This is not really very helpful. As someone who has tried and failed for 30 years to learn to cycle I can vouch for the extreme difficulty of learning as an adult. I can't recall how many times I have heard that "all you have to do is push off and start pedalling". IT DOESN'T WORK! I have fallen over EVERY TIME I have tried this over the years. This year I have tried the taking off pedals and scooting technique. No success after 10 hours but I am still trying. The difficulty I have, and maybe readers can help, is this. I repeatedly read that you have to be moving at ~10mph to make balance easier. I understand the physics of this. But you get on a stationary bike. How do you keep it upright until you have accelerated from 0 to 10mph, unless you have Star Trek warp drive? Any thoughts welcome!
Sorry to hear that you are having such trouble. Sometimes, it's easier to learn as a child; when we're adults, we tend to think about things too much, and it sabotages us. Unless you have a medical condition which affects your ability to balance, you can do this!

One thing that might help: If you can find somebody who has a tandem, who would let you ride as a passenger. That would give you the feel and the confidence you need. You wouldn't know who was balancing the bike: You, or the owner; or both. It's just kind of a mental block that you have to overcome. If there are bike shops in your area, I'd bet you could find one that would be willing to teach you to ride.

When you tried the no-pedals thing- did you try it on a slight downhill? If you could find a gentle downward slope on a smooth patch of grass....that would be ideal. Keep the pedals on....it makes it easier if you have a place to rest your feet- and once you're moving and balancing, you may just want to start pedaling to keep going. Glide down that gentle slope, keeping your feet off the ground (hence the pedals)....and either stop when you find yourself running out of forward momentum, and put your feet on the ground so you don't fall over...or start pedaling and keep going!

Once you do it just one time successfully, you'll be amazed at how easy it is. It's something we all can do, naturally. Sometimes though, we just won't let ourselves "let go" to do it. It's more of a mental thing than anything else.

I still remember teaching myself to ride a unicycle when I was 13. I could only go a few feet without falling over at first....but every time I'd try, I go further without toppling over...and by the next day, I was riding down the block.

Hang in there! You can do this!
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Old 05-25-13, 10:05 AM   #20
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Try a scooter.

No, not kidding... it steers exactly the same way, you are standing up, going slower, closer to the ground, not blocked from catching yourself when you fall off.

When I was a tween the BMX-style scooters with 12" wheels were in vogue, they would be perfect for this. I got one but was just a little too old for it. But those got killed off in the market by Razor scooters. I've seen one somewhere with 20" wheels.

Maybe one of these things?
http://www.belizebike.com/english/scooter.html
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Old 05-25-13, 10:13 AM   #21
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By-the-way, Frank- you don't have to be going anywhere near 10MPH to have enough momentum to balance. There are hills where I ride, which I used to only be able to take at 4MPH! (Now I can do a respectable 6MPH on them!)- You'll be more wobbly at lower speeds....but don't try to go too fast right off the bat.
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Old 05-25-13, 01:37 PM   #22
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By-the-way, Frank- you don't have to be going anywhere near 10MPH to have enough momentum to balance.
Agreed. A bicycle can easily be ridden at a slow walking speed, and that's an appropriate speed for learning how to balance. I agree with the comment that a scooter might be a good way to get the feel for balancing before switching to a bicycle. Otherwise keep practicing with the pedals removed and the seat lowered enough so you can easily put both of your feet flat on the ground while seated. Then just push yourself along and try to keep your feet off the ground a little longer each time. A smooth, empty parking lot with a very slight slope is best for learning. Just enough of a slope so you can roll down it at 2 or 3 mph (i.e. walking speed).

Good luck with the practicing. Once you get the hang of it you'll wonder why you ever had any difficulty.
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Old 05-26-13, 05:31 AM   #23
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It is much harder for older newbies to learn to ride a bike. Unlike children, they break when dropped.
There are threads on teaching adults. The key steps are to dress for protection (no exposed skin), wear helmet and gloves.
Pick a flat grassy areas with a very slight downward gradient if possible. Tarmac is OK for kids but not oldies.
First practice braking using the hobby horse method.
Then practice making large swoopy curves, ie learning that bikes steer by leaning and balance by steering
Then practice riding straight.

Training wheels don't help the learning and may slow it down.
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Old 05-26-13, 04:16 PM   #24
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I'm genuinely grateful for the encouragement in recent posts, but I still don't know how to get going on a bike! Today I rode 11 miles in about an hour on my trike. No problem with braking, pedalling or gear changing (18 speeds on trike). So I guess I pass stage 1 above. I have no doubt that if I ever got a bike moving I'd be OK with these functions. However how DO I get a bike to stay upright long enough? Every time I get on a bike it is just a heavy lump of metal that just wants to fall over, preferably taking me with it. I'd love to be able to practice "long swoopy curves"!
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Old 05-26-13, 04:34 PM   #25
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Frank,

Get (borrow or buy a cheap bike from Craigslist)a smallish bike that you can sit on the saddle and easily reach the ground with your feet, then instead of using the bike's pedals at first just propel yourself by pushing the ground with your feet. This will help you get used to balancing without fear of falling because your feet are right there by the ground! Forget about using the pedals until you can do this with comfort. Matter of fact, maybe take the pedals off the bike at first so they don't get in the way.

Also, trikes are fun too, eh?
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