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  1. #1
    Senior Member BayBruin's Avatar
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    Need Help Getting Son to Ride

    My oldest son is 8 years old (weighs 85 pounds) and he has autism but is very high functioning. When he was younger I would get him out on his bike sporadically with training wheels and because of a lack of coordination and lack of attention he took a couple spills on it (yes...even with training wheels). He says he doesn't like to ride bikes but I know it's just because of the fear factor. He wants to drive someday but I told him that first he needs to learn how to ride a bike. If I can't trust him to pay attention while riding his bike a car is out of the question.

    Anyway, I was pretty much resigned to him not riding but then someone brought up the "trail-a- bike" option. Totally turned a light on for me. We tried one years ago when he was like 5 and he loved it when he was with his aunt. I asked him yesterday if he would like something like that again and he said he really would. I think it would be perfect...help with his balance....get him used to pedaling....SAFE! But now that I am looking at these things the best I can find seems to have a wieght limit of 75 pounds. Since he is already 10 pounds over the max weight and these things are expensive I'm thinking this isn't a good option. Thoughts/suggestions? One thought I had is why I didn't do this MUCH sooner. Oh well.

    There is also the idea of a tandem bike but I am 6' 2" and he is much shorter. Is there an "off the rack" tandem that could accomodate both of us? I can't see spending serious cash on a custom tandem when I am not convinced he would like it.

    I REALLY need to find an activity my son will really enjoy. Cycling is a good option because my youngest likes to ride...I love to ride...and my wife used to ride and would be interested starting again. My son loves to read, play in his room, watch TV (ugh) and play on the computer. I need some activity that he will like so I can get him on a path towards life long fitness plus improved balance and focus would be huge pluses.

    All suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    "Knowledge is Good" - Emile Faber

  2. #2
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    You might consider cross posting this on the tandem forum. I think there might be a tandem that would work for you....more important than how much your son weighs is how tall he is.

  3. #3
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    There is a British company KMX Karts that makes a recumbent trike especially for kids and it is widely available in the US. One model costing USD$500 has a maximum weight of 88 pounds and a second costing $600 will accomodate weights up to 150 pounds. They were built for BMX type riding so it isn't a long distance riding choice but it would eliminate any problem with balance. You can check out the experience of the administrator on www.bentrideronline.com who bought one for his son. You may have to go back a ways in the articles on this site to find it. Apparently the kid had a ball on it. I have frequently let older boys use a spare recumbent trike that I own (2003 Wizwheelz 3.4) and they all seem to love riding it.

  4. #4
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    The trick here, as you probably already know, is to subtly work with him so that riding a bike goes from "a scary thing Daddy wants me to do" to "Fun!". If you can't find a tandem bike that will work with your greatly different sizes, is your wife willing to ride one with him? If she's smaller than you, finding a workable tandem might be easier. Along with this, perhaps you both could make riding a bike the way you get to fun places for him- such as a movie theater, an ice cream treat, or a friend's house where he can play video games.

    Another option is to start him out on a scooter. Razor scooters and others are still "cool" for kids to be on at that age, and it would be a way for him to pick up balancing and coordination skills as he pushes himself along.

    Small changes in where he learns to ride can make a difference. My cousins were having trouble getting their son to learn to balance on his bike; they were playing it safe by starting him out on grass. The problem was, he didn't have the strength to pedal the bike up to balancing speed on that soft surface. I had them try him out on firmer sand, and he was able to take off and gain balance on the bike there.
    Last edited by rnorris; 02-23-10 at 12:37 PM.

  5. #5
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    I agree with the razor idea. My son has not been diagnosed as autistic, but he has many similar traits to those on the high functioning end of the spectrum. We tried for years to get him to ride--both trike and bike with training wheels--to no avail. Using the razor scooter--for about 2 years-- really helped him get confident about his balance and when he was 8 1/2 he just hopped on his bike and rode it! Now he's 9 1/2 and loves riding.

    Another thing you might try is using a "run bike" with him. My 5 year old used a 12" bike with no pedals to figure out his balance and he got so he could go down hills and around turns without any anxiety. Now he's six and has a hard time starting up from a complete stop but can ride pretty well after a push.

  6. #6
    Daily Rider finnyct90's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayBruin View Post

    Anyway, I was pretty much resigned to him not riding but then someone brought up the "trail-a- bike" option. Totally turned a light on for me. We tried one years ago when he was like 5 and he loved it when he was with his aunt. I asked him yesterday if he would like something like that again and he said he really would. I think it would be perfect...help with his balance....get him used to pedaling....SAFE! But now that I am looking at these things the best I can find seems to have a wieght limit of 75 pounds. Since he is already 10 pounds over the max weight and these things are expensive I'm thinking this isn't a good option. Thoughts/suggestions? One thought I had is why I didn't do this MUCH sooner. Oh well.

    All suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    I had an "AlleyCat" brand trail-a-bike that we used with my daughter as soon as she could pedal and hold on. We used that for a few years and as she got older, we used to switch and I would ride the alleycat and she would
    'drive/tow" on my bike with the seat all the way down. I weigh 205lbs and the alleycat held up fine...we used to get laughin so hard we would risk a crash.
    I think you would be fine with the trail a bike, I don't think you are going to stress it too much. It will also take the stress off of you and you can both enjoy the time together.
    Bless you both.

  7. #7
    smitten by саша pwdeegan's Avatar
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    the (dream) tandem you want, if you go that route, is the Co-Motion Periscope.
    http://www.co-motion.com/tandem_bike...eriscopes.html
    The front (captain) fits a full grown adult, and the rear (stoker) can scale to fit a child up to an adult.

    dreamy! well anyway, it's my dream tandem, once my daughter is old enough.

  8. #8
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    I second the balance bike idea. We have a trail-a-bike and although it increases confidence, it does zero to teach balance.

    Take a 16" or 20" bike and take off the training wheels, pedals, cranks, and chain. Set the seat to a height that he can stand over with a few inches to spare. Start on flat ground and let him push himself around with his feet. He will quickly figure out how to steer to keep the bike under him. This method works so much better than training wheels, which only teach them how to pedal, not how to steer or balance.

  9. #9
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    I can't speak to the autism issue, but it's important to remember that everybody's different. i've been an enthusiastic (occasionally obsessed, i think) cyclist for 40 years, and one of my children (age 29) also enjoys it. but my wife, while she's ridden with me a lot and even did a couple of centuries because she thought I wanted her to, just isn't into it. She's athletic and has the potential (she's run a 3:30 marathon, for instance, and was a fencer in college), but she'd rather do other things. Same with my daughter, an all-state soccer player in high school. she just doesn't care about bikes. I'd say to provide every opportunity, but be prepared to recognize his lack of interest. My wife enjoys an occasional 10-mile weekend ride, but she'll never be what I think of as a real cyclist.

  10. #10
    Dirty old man in training
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    BayBruin,

    My 9 year old son weighs 110 lbs, is about 4'10" tall, and has ASD. His behavior is similar to what you described for your son: he likes to watch videos, play on the computer, and read books, all indoor activities. He doesn't go out and play in the yard as much as I would like. I have tried sporadically over the past 4-5 years to teach him how to ride a bike: with training wheels and also by taking the pedals off and trying to teach him how to walk the bike with his feet, then coast. Right now he has a Trek Jet 20" bike with a coaster and a hand brake on the rear wheel. He knows how to use the hand brake to stop but hasn't got the coaster brake down yet.

    I tried towing him on an Adams trail-a-bike a few years ago and I had a really hard time balancing the contraption - to the point I eventually gave up on it. I did research on TABs with 2 wheels (tricycle configuration) and ended up buying a Morgan Caboose TAB:

    http://www.caboosetrailerbike.com/

    http://www.pedalcarsandretro.com/Cab...cle-p-520.html

    EDIT: They have models with 20" and 26" wheels, both have a 200lb weight limit. I bought the model with 20" wheels.

    The Caboose TAB has been great to take him out on rides. I don't have to worry about his balance on it, like if he got distracted and turned around quickly. It takes a little getting used to, you can't lean your bike to turn because the TAB has 2 wheels, you have to slow down and steer around turns. It is also noisy and creaky but seems sturdy enough. EDIT: it is a single speed and the master link that came with it broke, I had to replace it.

    The razor scooter idea is great. We got one for him and it took a while (at least a year) for him to get interested in it, but now he loves to go out in the cul-de-sac we live on and do laps and zip around on the scooter. He's got the balance thing down now because of the scooter.

    I haven't had much luck in the last 6 months getting him to try and get on his bicycle, he prefered to ride his scooter. Then I got a bike for his 4 year old sister. After seeing her pedalling across the cul-de-sac he wanted to get on her bike

    I feel optimistic about him riding a bike this year. Worst case if it is too much for him to handle I have thought about getting him an adult tricycle with 24" wheels.

    Another issue is wearing a helmet. He used to hate wearing a bicycle style helmet. I have a couple of coolmax skull caps I wear under my helmet, and he tried one on once and didn't mind wearing his bike helmet. After he outgrew that helmet I got him a BMX/skate style hardshell helmet and he loves wearing it.

    Feel free to PM me if you want any info on the Caboose TAB.
    Last edited by Chuck G; 03-31-10 at 03:38 PM.

  11. #11
    BrooklynRocks globalrider's Avatar
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    My 10 year old son has some issues and was scared of cycling. I tried a couple of the larger kids trike things but they were slow heavy and handled poorly. I got him to try cycling last year after I bought him a adult sized trike and dropped the seat as low as possible. He enjoyed using thru the fall. We went out in the ice covered puddles in March for a couple laps in the park. I hope to do some tweaks and upgrades and get some more riding in with him this year. I also would consider a tandem fitted with a child stoker adapter kit. They raise the stoker's crankset so kids can ride an adult sized tandem. Hope these ideas help
    Charles
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  12. #12
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    The usual riders for tandems are man-woman teams, and that often involves a considerable size disparity, so you should be able to find tandems that come close to what you need without a custom frame.

    They do make extension kits that shift one bottom-bracket up, but I'm thinking they're used for smaller kids than your son. Where I've seen them more was on triples.

    There are all kinds of recumbent/cart-type vehicles of various price ranges that would work as well.

    One thing to keep in mind too, is that besides the fear factor, besides the autism, there's just a lot of kids that like to ride bikes AND a lot of kids that don't really care about it. So assuming you get it worked out where he can ride fine, he may or may not be too interested thereafter.

    I've got a cargo tricycle that is reversed with two wheels in front, one in back. One thing I've learned from it is that an upright tricycle is not especially stable, so avoid that. They're fine for riding around at 8 mph, or you can race them and take corners on 2 wheels. But if you go for more than 2 wheels, try to get something low.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  13. #13
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    If you go the tandem route, just add a Child Stoker kit.

    Check in the Tandem section of this forum, but I imagine they're capable of being mounted on any tandem. I used one for years with my daughters.

    A used low end tandem plus stoker kit shouldn't be cost prohibitive.

    You could also look into recumbent trikes. They are so much fun that they are addictive. A tadpole might be a good place to start. back when I used to take my family on camping vacations, almost all the campgrounds had a few available for the kids to play with. They loved them!

    check this out.....
    http://mnhpva.org/Mini_Bents/Mini.html
    Last edited by cranky old dude; 04-03-10 at 06:54 PM.

  14. #14
    The wizard of ...
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    Bike Friday makes tandems that fit smaller stokers. They are good bikes with high resale value

  15. #15
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    Another vote for a tandem w/stoker kit or Bike Friday style tandem, depending on your budget. You can find a stoker kit to fit most any traditional tandem. The Bike Friday's are decent but do not ride as nice as some other tandems. If you are just tooling around and going for occasional rides, they are perfect. If you like getting out and will bedoing longer rides frequently, I think you appreciate a higher end tandem.

    The Bike Friday (The Two'sDay model is what I have seen mentioned most) offers high adjustability. Meaning you would likely not need a stoker kit. Co-Motion makes a similar model called Periscope, but you will pay significantly more for that one.

    At 8 years old and 85lbs, I think you'll likely need a stoker kit on a traditional tandem. Expect to pay $100-200 for a stoker kit. Factor that into what tandem you might buy.

    I've helped one Asperger's kid learn to ride on our tandem. But he is high functioning. We have not attempted riding with his low-functioning brother.

    As stated, each kid is different. Hopefully you'll find that biking together gives you an activity that you two look forward to doing.

  16. #16
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    Have you looked at something like this: http://lightfootcycles.com/trailertrike.php?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhound View Post
    Have you looked at something like this: http://lightfootcycles.com/trailertrike.php?
    Along those same lines but maybe pricier is Hase.

    The Trets is their Trike/Trailer. Trix is another kids model they have. It looks to only differ by not being convertible to a trailer. Pino is their tandem.

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