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  1. #1
    Pack Fodder bigchris603's Avatar
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    teaching the little one to ride (training wheel question)

    I am in the process of teaching my seven year old step daughter to ride a bike. I have her always wear a helmet. The problem I am runnuing in to is she only seems to ride on the right training wheel. if I lean her to the left she screams like she is going to fall. at times when turning she get up on the right training wheel only, now it has started to bend, I have bent it back and even switched them around with no luck, they just keep bending. She seems to be pointing her knees out like she is cramped toward the handle bar,this makes her pigion toed and her feet are 1/2 to 3/4 off the pedals. She is just under four feet tall and riding a 16 in. I looked online and trek and Diamondback do not seem to have any thing bigger with training wheels. I am going to my LBS tomarrow after noon, I will ask about mare stable/ stronger training wheels, and if getting a bigger bike might help, might they have training wheels to put on a bigger bike?

    Can anyone offer any help on teaching balance or is it just something you learn on your own?

    Any advise will be aprecieated
    Thanks
    Chris

  2. #2
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    You have to lose the training wheels. Take them off. Throw them away. Tough love.

    The physics of bike riding is that we constantly fall from side to side, and we steer the bike so that it is repositioned underneath our constantly shifting center of gravity.

    With training wheels, you learn nothing of this. You learn less than nothing of this, actually.

    If she's too freaked out, let her practice on a scooter... same physics... or, take pedals off the bike, put the seat all the way down, and let her use the BIKE as a scooter.

  3. #3
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    I have no first-hand experience, but this site is persuasive:
    http://funonebikes.com/

    Basically the idea is you take the pedals off and let the kid get used to balancing the bike while pushing off the ground. Once he can coast for 20 or 30 feet, you put the pedals back on and say, "OK, pedal." They claim most kids learn to ride in a couple of hours this way.

  4. #4
    scofflaw
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    I know it breaks your heart to hear her upset, but you have to ditch the training
    wheels, They are counterintuitive. They are the direct opposite of riding on a bicycle,
    training wheels are just wrong see Bicycling Magazine, story about this:

    The Best Way To Teach Your Child To Ride

    By BICYCLING editors


    Helping your child learn to pedal a two-wheeler is a milestone-and an unforgettable experience for both of you. Here's BICYCLING's preferred method, which differs from the traditional run-beside-the-bike way most of us were taught. We've found that it results in fewer crashes and a faster learning time-many kids begin spinning on their own within 15-20 minutes.




    Remove the training wheels and lower the saddle so your child can put his or her feet flat on the ground when seated.


    Find a grassy field with a gentle downhill of 30 yards or so. Short grass is better because tall grass sucks momentum. The ideal area runs out to a slight uphill to slow the child gradually.


    Strap on the child's helmet. Tuck in shoelaces.


    Midway up the hill, hold the bike while your child gets on. Have him or her put both feet on the ground, then let go of the bike.


    Tell your child to lift his or her feet about an inch and coast down the hill without pedaling. Try not to hold the bike to steady your child. Because the child is coasting slowly, he or she can put his or her feet sown if scared.


    Repeat until your child feels comfortable coasting and doesn't put his or her feet down to stop. He or she might want you to run beside the bike the first few times; do so, but don't hold the bike. Let your child feel the balance.


    Now have your child put his or her feet on the pedals and coast down. After several runs, have him or her begin pedaling as he or she rolls.


    Repeat until your child feels comfortable, then move up the hill. After another run, raise the saddle and go to a flat part of the field or a cul-de-sac to ride loops and to practice turning, braking and starting from a standstill.



    If This Doesn't Work
    Before you go to the run-beside-the-bike method try this:




    On a level surface, hold the back of the saddle as you push the bike at a walking pace.

    Reassure the child that you won't let go, and tell him or her you'll play The Balance Game.

    As you push, gently swing the saddle from side to side transitioning to larger motions as your child gains confidence and proficiency. This teaches your child how to adjust the handlebar and his or her body to maintain balance-the key step to riding a bike.

    Play this game for 5-10 minutes, then go back to the hill.



    Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes



    Don't make learning day on a new bike-it adds an unfamiliar bike to an unfamiliar experience. If you buy a "big-kid" bike, let your child ride it with training wheels before learning day, or take the training wheels off the old bike, then use the new bike as a reward for mastering two-wheeling.

    Don't use the one-training-wheel method, don't trick your child by claiming you're holding on when you're not. If the child crashes, you erode trust, which erodes confidence. Before you begin a run, tell your child you plan to let go at some point if he or she looks stable.

    Don't think the learning process will be crash-free. Be ready to comfort, coerce, cheerlead and bandage-and possibly wait for another day.

    Don't think you're all alone. For help, plus info on topics such as riding in traffic, check out the League of American Bicyclists (bikeleague.org).

  5. #5
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    I think training wheels have their place. But their place is with very young children. A 7 yr. old is intelligent enough to understand balance and isn't in need of training wheels. I am very in tune with this age group. My son will turn 7 in September. He learned to ride without training wheels a little over 1 year ago. (age 5)

    I am also coaching a baseball team of this age group so i can tell you that each kid is different. Each bike however, is basically the same. My son was very difficult to teach to ride a bike. I regard it as one of my bigger challenges with him up to this point. He was very afraid of falling and when he would crash, he would give up and not want to go near the bike for days.

    It was hard for me to put up with since i am an avid cyclist and also very competitive. With that said, i think i handled it correctly. I let him be the guide. I didn't push him. When he crashed and didn't ride, then i would just let him not ride. I told him i didn't care if the bike sat in the garage forever, it was up to him.

    The turning point, seemed to be when he started kindergarten. He saw a little friend one day that had ridden his bike to school. He was pretty impressed with that i think because he came home and asked if he could ride his bike. I was pretty floored! So I got it out and took him to the driveway. This time, i just got him on the bike and then i got behind the bike, with the bike facing down the driveway, toward the street.

    From behind the bike, with him attached, i just held the rear wheel very lightly between my knees. The bike would lean one way, and he would instinctively lean the other. After doing that awhile, i just let him go. In that instant, he was riding. He just repeated what we were doing and the rest was history.

    Well, sort of...it takes awhile for a kid to get confidince. Actually it takes a long time. Every crash will shake their confidence and they will crash. My son still crashes. Just the other day he rode into a water puddle and the front tire slid. He crashed and of course has a big crying spell and wanted to give up. Then a day later, he was on the bike again riding like nothing ever happened.

    In summary, i basically agree with the others. You need to give her the oppurtunity to experience that moment when she realizes that she can "catch" the bike on her own and keep it from tipping over. After all that is what bike riding is basically. One long "catch." If not we would all just fall over.

    (My daughter is turning 4 in a couple weeks. Yep it is bike buying time again. Worse than that, it is bike teaching time again. I am both looking forward to it and dreading it. I think it will be different because i am more experienced with the teaching. )

  6. #6
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    I agree with losing the training wheels, but there's another step or two that worked for my kids. Take off the trainers and the pedals (so she can't run over her own calves) and LOWER THE SADDLE until she can put both feet flat on the ground easily. I read that somewhere probably 30 years ago, and when I was teaching my son to ride, it came back to me. We started on a very small hill, just enough to give him a little momentum, but you could do it on the flat just as well, I think.
    His first ride was about two feet. Gradually, over an afternoon (maybe two; can't remember) he got longer and longer. When he could go until he ran out of speed, I raised the seat to normal height, and when he was comfortable with that, I put the pedals on and told him just to rest his feet on them while he coasted. That was about 20 years ago, and I can still remember saying, "Put your feet on the pedals." He did, and I shouted, "Move your feet in a circle." He did that, and then yelled, "I'M RIIIIIIIDINNNNGGGGG! I can RIDE A BIKE!"

  7. #7
    I run real far Makoa's Avatar
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    That's an awesome idea (lowering seat and taking off pedals)! Teaching my son to ride last year was a great experience for me. If I had to do it over again, I would try the "scooter" method.

    I do agree that training wheels are not the way to go.

  8. #8
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    I think people are correct that by 7 training wheels may not be much help. We started my son with training wheels whene he was 4 and that was OK, but it is important to keep raising them so they offer less supprt so the kids get used to the shifting balance. By the time he was 5 the training wheels came off and we started free riding. If I were to do it again I would try lowering the seat and taking off the pedals, it seems like a good idea.

    I think one of the things that really boosted my son's interest in riding was seeing other kids riding. While he preferred to practice in private, seeing other kids riding always spurred interest in riding later that day or the next. You kind of have to go with the flow -- working when they are interested and then push just a little bit to urge them to try a little harder or a little longer. Not enough to make it a pain, but just enough to encourage them to take on the challenge. Like all of us rising to a reasonable challenge helps build some confidence in their abilities.

    I'm still working with my son on being able to start himself off and it is still too common for him to stop pedalling when he really should be pushing harder. But we keep trying each time we ride -- I am not, however, a model of patience on some days. I always have to check myself, but its worth it when it all comes together.

    So good luck, be a patient as you can and remembr it is all for fun.
    God grant me the serenity to accept the hills and winds I cannot change;
    courage to challenge the cagers I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
    (with apologies to AA)
    24 mi. roundtrip -- Maryland suburbs to DC and back.

  9. #9
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    Nothing works with kids like peer pressure !

  10. #10
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    You may need to by a new, larger 20" bike, and then a pair of heavy-duty training wheels. Wald makes a pair that is rated to 125 lbs., and you need to go to the LBS to order them. I've got a cyldsdale for a 6 year old that I had to up grade to these training wheels for.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  11. #11
    Pack Fodder bigchris603's Avatar
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    Thank you for all the ideas, I am definatly going to remove the pedals and lower the seat. As for the new bike, it is some thing I have given thought to. I kinda hoped to use it as motivation to ride with out training wheels. I'll give it a few weeks and see how it works out. I am going to My LBS today and she will be with me, so I hope to look at new bikes with her and get her extra motovated to learn.

    Thanks again
    Chris

  12. #12
    Good Enough ginger green's Avatar
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    Big Chris - You are doing the right thing. More important than balance, more important that the bike, more important than the pedals. You are spending time with your step daughter. You are #1 in my books.

    Keep it up brother.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rule's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice here...as usual. I was in the same boat with a 6 year-old this spring. I followed the 'remove training wheels, lower seat, remove pedals and head for a grassy slope' approach and my little guy had a blast just coasting. Mom insisted on rollerblade knee pads and elbow pads too. At one point I wondered if they were really necessary until I took a look at the wear on them, particularly the knee pads. Man was that ever a good call.

    Once he got the hang of coasting we put the pedals on and did the same thing so that he could get the feel of his feet moving. He found that a heck of a lot easier than holding his legs up and out. It also pretty much ended his wipe outs.

    At that point we let him pedal down the slope and not just coast and let him see how far he could make it across the field we were using. He picked that distance game up really quick, so we added working on using his brakes to come to a stop. He quickly got to where he could brake his bike and get his feet down consistently.

    Next we put him up on the road on a slight decline to let him do the same thing. It was so much smoother than what he was used to riding on. From the first try he was just motoring. I had planned to run along beside him holding onto the seat, telling him when I was going to be giving him the bike. But after about 20 feet it occured to me that he didn't even need me to steady him, so I just let go and him ride for a bit jogging along beside him. I guess he still thought that I was holding on because when I told him that I hadn't, you could see that it just clicked with him that he could ride a bike on his own. He has from then on.

    We worked a bit teaching him to pedal off from a standing start. That just took practice and getting some leg strength. We did steering and bike handling drills, panic stops, emergency bailout off the road into the grass drills, and such. It all took pretty fast from there.

    At this point he has even gone to a rally with me proudly joined me on the family loop. So there's hope. It can be done. Good luck!

  14. #14
    King of the Forest Totoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigchris603
    I am in the process of teaching my seven year old step daughter to ride a bike. I have her always wear a helmet. The problem I am runnuing in to is she only seems to ride on the right training wheel. if I lean her to the left she screams like she is going to fall. at times when turning she get up on the right training wheel only, now it has started to bend, I have bent it back and even switched them around with no luck, they just keep bending. She seems to be pointing her knees out like she is cramped toward the handle bar,this makes her pigion toed and her feet are 1/2 to 3/4 off the pedals. She is just under four feet tall and riding a 16 in. I looked online and trek and Diamondback do not seem to have any thing bigger with training wheels. I am going to my LBS tomarrow after noon, I will ask about mare stable/ stronger training wheels, and if getting a bigger bike might help, might they have training wheels to put on a bigger bike?

    Can anyone offer any help on teaching balance or is it just something you learn on your own?

    Any advise will be aprecieated
    Thanks
    Chris
    All my kids learned to ride two wheels when they were 4 years old. My five year old daughter has been riding without training wheels for a year. Just took the training wheels off, gave them a good shove and let go. It took less than an hour before they got it. They crashed a few times, but just make sure you don't freak out or you'll freak them out. Just say, "It's okay, everyone crashes when they are learning. You're alright." Make sure you teach them in a wide open space with no cars or other sharp objects to crash into. And make sure they wear a helmet. Here are some pics of my 5 year old on her new 7 speed mountain bike. She recently graduated from 16" to 20" wheels. She also rode her Trek Mountain Cub to school (3 miles round trip) this past spring and all the other kindergarteners wished they could do the same.

    Good luck.


  15. #15
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    oh goodness, how cute !

  16. #16
    Senior Member madman91's Avatar
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    lol wow

    i learned the run beside your kid method. On top of that i learned on a street surrounded by thorn bushes. After crashing once i was ready to do anything to avoid crashing again. Learned in about 30 minutes no helmet either

    couldnt i have learned the scooter way

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