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  1. #1
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    My son refuses to ride his bike - help!

    My son, who will be 7 in 2 months flat out refuses to ride his bike. He was riding a bit with training wheels, but won't put in much effort. He even stops near a bump and walks the bike over. About 2 months ago we tried with no training wheels and had a soft fall on some grass and that was the end of the bike. All he wants now is his scooter, and just mentioning his bike, he gets cranked up and upset.

    Some key points:
    - My daugther was training wheel free around age 5 1/2
    - My son's friends all are riding with no training wheels
    - By the spring, I suspect he is going to need a 20" bike as he'll surely outgrown the 16" he's got now. By then, he'll be forced to go without training wheels and I have concerns he won't even want to try.

    Any suggestions on getting him on the bike and going would be really appreciated.

  2. #2
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Try taking of the training wheels and the pedals and turn his bike into a balance bike. After he gets used to that, put the pedals back on.

    You can also see if you can find a trail-a-bike that will support his current weight. It's possible that going for rides with you will help convince him that bikes are fun.
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  3. #3
    Bike hoarder. Murray Missile's Avatar
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    I got a new Western Flyer 20 Inch "English Racer" style bike for my 6th B-Day. It was this time of year and my Dad insisted I try to ride it in front of all my friends. It didn't go well and I got laughed at, then all my friends took turns riding it. I wouldn't touch it the rest of the year. Next Spring my Mom rolled it out and my sister showed me how to use our back step to push off and then walked beside me with her hand on my back as I pedaled until I was going fast enough to stay upright and maintain forward momentum then let me go. After that they couldn't keep me off it. He'll ride it when he's ready.
    Last edited by Murray Missile; 10-09-13 at 05:31 PM.

  4. #4
    Casual Student of C&V J.Oxley's Avatar
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    I agree with Murray Missile's last sentence: He'll ride it when he's ready.

    My daughter let her first bike rot for two years in the back yard. Wanted nothing to do with it, even though we'd crossed the removing-training-wheels hurdle. She drove me nuts, braking any time she got going faster than walking speed, and finally just abandoned it altogether. This summer (age 7), for reasons unknown, she started messing around with her bike and by mid-summer was riding all the time. I could have pushed and grumbled and cajoled all I liked (and I did), but she wasn't going to do it until she decided it was time.

    Like Tom Petty said: The waiting is the hardest part.
    Last edited by J.Oxley; 10-09-13 at 04:41 PM. Reason: clarity

  5. #5
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    Well I guess I will just need to wait until spring if he doesn't get on his bike in the next month! Thanks for all the ideas....

  6. #6
    Allez means go. bengreen79's Avatar
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    My 8 year old didn't learn until her 5 year old sister learned and started mercilessly taunting her. I admit that I allowed that particular bullying to occur

  7. #7
    Senior Member brianmcg123's Avatar
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    You can lead a horse to water...but forget about trying to "make" a kid ride a bike.
    Everyone's a roadie, they just might not know it yet.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Essex's Avatar
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    Younger children aren't always able to articulate what they want to do at the moment, the future or other. If your son doesn't want to ride a bike letting him have free choice is preferable. As he develops intellectual and psychomotor skills he may change his mind. The fall on the grass may have played some aspect in his decision ads his preference seems to be a scooter which probably affords him a greater degree of upright control vs. a seated position where accident avoidance in a child's eye may seem more difficult, and possibility of injury greater? At the end of the day it is probably a affective domain choice for him.

    As an adult - I used to love deep underwater research. Tons of technical gear/breathing systems etc. Then one day - I just didn't care anymore. While I am able to articulate some of the reasons of why I lost interest - the whole thing was similar to a light switch. Either on, or off. I imagine that in a few years I will get interested again and resume being a underwater diving maniac. With subs, rebreathers and boats.

    When the time arrives he'll make his own choice and find some type of wheeled device that gives him pleasure and personal fulfillment.
    Last edited by Essex; 10-12-13 at 04:02 PM.

  9. #9
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    Kids vary, of course. I didn't learn until I was 10. My son was 8. My daughter wanted to go with us, and she begged me to teach her at 2. She couldn't do it then, but she got on and rode away a couple of months before her fifth birthday.
    I taught both kids by removing the pedals and lowering the seat until their feet could touch the ground easily. There's a park near our house with a large, slightly inclined paved area, just enough slope
    that they could coast. My son took two or three days, my daughter maybe 15 minutes, to make ess turns down the whole thing. I put the pedals back on as footrests, then ran along side and said,"OK, pedal!"

  10. #10
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Peer pressure can be a force for good too... organize up a family style ride with a bunch of his friend's families.

    My son is 10 and rides with me pretty often but there are still some things he hates to do on a bike, like go down steep hills (including our drive way, he walks it every time). Maybe there's something your son just doesn't feel comfortable with on your route. Just be patient and let him figure it out - you don't want to burn him out before he gets started.

  11. #11
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    My son is 10 and rides with me pretty often but there are still some things he hates to do on a bike, like go down steep hills (including our drive way, he walks it every time).
    Out of curiosity, does he have coaster brakes or hand brakes? I could imagine not feeling like you have enough control without two hand brakes. (And for that matter, if he has two, does he use the front one?)
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  12. #12
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    Out of curiosity, does he have coaster brakes or hand brakes? I could imagine not feeling like you have enough control without two hand brakes. (And for that matter, if he has two, does he use the front one?)
    He has a 44cm Fuji Road bike... I got it for him used after he did a 25 mile ride last January on his heavy Trek "hybrid" kids bike. So he's used to hand brakes but he doesn't like riding in the drops, and doesn't like riding on the flats either (he says he doesn't feel like he can control the bike adequately) so I understand what he means - braking from the hoods can tire your hands if it's sustained braking.

    It's a process... just have to keep taking him out. Our "normal" loop includes some pretty good hills too, it's about 7 miles and 500 feet of climbing, so I reckon he'll get used to it. He's a fit little bugger.

  13. #13
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    Try a balance bike (no pedals) i.e. Strider or a Trek one; if he can balance on a scooter then he should be able to manage balance bike.

    After a few weeks on it, and then try his 16" bike w/o training wheels.
    My SO: Laugh now bike_boy, for tomorrow you will pay !!
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Turbo231's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike_boy View Post
    Try a balance bike (no pedals) i.e. Strider or a Trek one; if he can balance on a scooter then he should be able to manage balance bike.

    After a few weeks on it, and then try his 16" bike w/o training wheels.
    That's what worked for my 7 yo...stubborn as a mule. I removed the pedals and crank from a trash 16" bike and used it as a balence bike. I was going to have him start riding a 20", he tried but it seemed really hard, put him on his 16" which always had training wheels, with them removed, and boom, it was like magic. Now he rides a 20" easy.

  15. #15
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    go figure - two days ago, my wife gets a request from my son to ride his bike. She went out with him and he rode all over, although, with training wheels. We thought it was a one-off request, but he came home from school yesturday and was gung-ho to jump on his bike and do it again.

    She said he did really well and even got going on his own without the typical push starts he wants, except once up a hill.

    Hopefully it continues and we see him progress before winter sets in!

  16. #16
    Senior Member CoachManny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justin_nj View Post
    go figure - two days ago, my wife gets a request from my son to ride his bike. She went out with him and he rode all over, although, with training wheels. We thought it was a one-off request, but he came home from school yesturday and was gung-ho to jump on his bike and do it again.

    She said he did really well and even got going on his own without the typical push starts he wants, except once up a hill.

    Hopefully it continues and we see him progress before winter sets in!
    That is great to hear Justin! Great job in teaching fun and fitness.

    A lot of it is fear and overcoming it. Congratulations to your young one for conquering that.

    Great job,

    Manny

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    Try taking of the training wheels and the pedals and turn his bike into a balance bike. After he gets used to that, put the pedals back on.

    You can also see if you can find a trail-a-bike that will support his current weight. It's possible that going for rides with you will help convince him that bikes are fun.
    I've always disliked training wheels and actual balance bikes. taking pedals off a bike that fits is the best option.

    but anyway, my daughter rode for a while, but could never get her to ask "dad, let's go ride!" it was always me initiating the ride. HOWEVER, once i started commuting to/from work... BAM! "dad! let's go riding!" (by the way, this was a few years ago.) she ride on a 20" wheel 5 speed w/ vbrake front/canti rear. had to convert to the vbrake because i was attaching the trail gator tow bar. I picked her up from school last week and rode home with her (4 miles)

  18. #18
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    I swear by the balance bikes, but he is going to be too big for one of those. So i would go for taking the pedals off for awhile to work on balance. All 3 of my kids were riding bicycles without training wheels by 3, but all of them started on balance bikes, we never used training wheels. So i would say take the pedals off and work on the balance part, then he will be more confident, like the scooter and riding without training wheels will be no problem

  19. #19
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    I had a grandson who hadn't started riding and was in grade school. I found a decent used MTB that fit him and took the pedals off. My back yard slopes gently with a steeper hill blocking the end of the yard. He started out just walking the bike around and lifting his feet to coast. He didn't need to worry about turning or braking at first because the slope of the yard was gentle enough that he couldn't build up a lot of speed and it was free of obstacles. The hill that rises from the end of the yard provided a natural stop. It didn't take more than a couple of hours and he was ready for pedals. A few trips around the yard under his own power and we went out to a big, empty parking lot. At the end of the afternoon we couldn't get him off the bike and he was riding fairly confidently, though he was really sore from the new activity.

    I highly recommend removing the pedals and using the bike as a coaster to get a kid off on the right foot.

    IMHO training wheels cause more problems than they solve.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  20. #20
    Payback is hell
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    All my kids learned on a Razor scooter, when I saw them coasting with both feet on the scooter, I switched them to a bike.

  21. #21
    Bandolero Bandrada's Avatar
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    Put him in front of a camera...


    Nothing better than a good chain lube thread...

  22. #22
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    Use reverse psychology. Tell him he's not allowed to ride a bike and will be punished if he's caught.

  23. #23
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HBxRider View Post
    Use reverse psychology. Tell him he's not allowed to ride a bike and will be punished if he's caught.
    Yes. Teach him early that it's a good idea to not listen to his parents.

    I can't think of any down sides to this...
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    An old thread.... not likely any help to the OP but I used different method for my son. He also preferred the security of the training wheels when he was a kid. So I loosened them so they rattled around a little. He told me they needed repaired and I told him he could park the bike if he wanted.... but I couldn't get to it right away.

    Then after a few days I reset the wheels so one was too high to give much support. Forcing him to lean left.... or balance. Then several days later I also raised it. Eventually they were so loose they feel off. When he told me... I said I'd put them back on... come the weekend.

    He never mentioned the training wheels again until recently [as an adult with his own kids]. He was telling me about how his son had got his step-brother to remove the training wheels from his brand new 1st bike. It was interesting that he remembered I wouldn't tighten his training wheels. But he was surprised to learn I had loosened them.

    Maybe it's best kids just face their fear head-on and not use training wheels. Maybe easing into the process is OK for some kids. Maybe... it really doesn't make any difference.

  25. #25
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    Yea I agree he will ride when he is ready. My grandson was riding a 2 wheeler when he was three. My niece didnt ride a 2 wheeler till she was 10, by the way she got her graduate degree from Harvard lol.

    If your family is doing a lot of bicycle riding, he will probably want to ride. In the mean time take him on your bicycle. I have an old Schwinn Spitfire 5 with a basket on it. I put a cushion on it and my grandaughter sits on it with her feet in the basket and comes along with me and my grandson on bicycles. When she is ready she will ride a 2 wheeler.
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