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(How) Can an adult learn to ride?

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(How) Can an adult learn to ride?

Old 11-26-20, 02:22 PM
  #1  
Sorcerer
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(How) Can an adult learn to ride?

I just gave my 50 year old brother-in-law a mountain bike for his birthday so that he can ride with his daughter and wife. He lives in a different state, so I will not be able to help him directly.

We just did our Thanksgiving Zoom conference, and I found out he doesn't know how to ride! He never learned how to ride. I said it's just monkey see and monkey do.

He has been persistent in asking me for a bicycle for years and I have relented. One good reason for giving him a bicycle is to help him find some easy exercise because he's let himself get into poor shape.

So Bike Forums, does anyone have any knowledge on this topic?

How hard is it for an adult to learn how to ride a bike of they never ever had?

How long does it take to learn?

What are the odds that they will give up?

If they learn, will they like riding a bike?

Etc.

The idea brings a lot of questions to mind. Learning how to swim offers a comparison. Many people do not know how to swim.

It's Thanksgiving today - Be grateful if you learned how to swim and ride.

Last edited by Sorcerer; 11-26-20 at 02:24 PM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 11-26-20, 02:28 PM
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I'm pretty sure there are adult training wheels available.

somebody is going to have to help him balance the bike as he lrsctises.
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Old 11-26-20, 02:28 PM
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Take off the pedals, slam the seat, and use it like a balance bike.
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Old 11-26-20, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I'm pretty sure there are adult training wheels available.

somebody is going to have to help him balance the bike as he lrsctises.
Do not use training wheels. They don’t help you learn to balance, they help you learn to pedal.
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Old 11-26-20, 02:30 PM
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Your last several questions are probably unanswerable because they are so dependent on the individual. For someone who has never learned to ride, the hardest part is probably learning to balance the bike especially starting from a dead stop. What works with young kids will probably work for an adult as well. Remove the pedals and have your brother scoot along until he gets the idea of balancing with the bike moving. Then reinstall the pedals and teach him how to use the gears properly.

Will he love cycling? Just like kids, some adults are never going to like cycling. You couldn't get my brother to ride a bike short of threatening his life but I have been a life-long avid cyclist. Go figure!
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Old 11-26-20, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post
Take off the pedals, slam the seat, and use it like a balance bike.
Do This^^^^
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Old 11-26-20, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post
Take off the pedals, slam the seat, and use it like a balance bike.
+1. Lower the saddle so he can reach the floor comfortably while seated, remove the pedals so he doesn't scratch his shins/calves and tell him to sit on the bike and push it with his feet on the ground. Then lift the feet to get a feel of the balance, probably he can do it without too much problems. When he learns how to keep balance, lift the saddle (not fully yet) and put the pedals on again. After some time, when he's confident enough, lift the saddle to its normal position.
This has worked with some people I know.
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Old 11-26-20, 02:47 PM
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Find a gentle slope that he can coast down - best if it's grassy. Lower the seat so he can touch the ground while seated. Once he learns to balance while coasting, raise the seat and work on pedaling down the grassy hill. Then work on some Ali Clarkson maneuvers.

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Old 11-26-20, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post
Take off the pedals, slam the seat, and use it like a balance bike.
+1

A motivated person can be riding, with pedals, in under an hour with this technique. I've taught two adults successfully.
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Old 11-26-20, 03:43 PM
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No. it is absolutely impossible. Scientific evidence abounds. Google it.

Giving up or enjoying biking are not issues .... because adults are fundamentally incapable of learning to ride bikes.

You should have bought another bike for yourself.

You still should.
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Old 11-26-20, 03:51 PM
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I agree with all the people who say take the pedals off and slam the seat. Once he masters balance, the rest is just practice.

If it turns out, due to some issue, he hasn't learned to balance because he cannot, then I would suggest a recumbent tricycle of some sort.
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Old 11-26-20, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post
Take off the pedals, slam the seat, and use it like a balance bike.
This works well. I am involved with teaching bike safety to 5th graders, and there are always 3-4 kids who don't know how to ride. We do just what aggiegrads suggests, and have good results. I usually work with the kids an hour a day for two weeks. At the end of that time they are riding pretty well. The method works on "kids" 6 to 60 years old. Most of the riders are skilled enough to get involved in the safety drills by the second week, and go on the around town "graduation ride". This is all street riding, with a lot of stop signs, traffic lights, and turning at intersections.

Remove the pedals ( right pedal-right hand threads, left pedal-left hand threads), and have him lower the seat so his feet comfortably touch the ground. Go to a paved school ground or parking lot (churches are good during the week) with a little slope, and just scoot around. As balance and confidence build work on turning. The time will come when the pedals can go back on.

The first thing though, is learning to use the brakes, and also wear a helmet.

Last edited by Doug64; 11-27-20 at 12:04 AM.
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Old 11-26-20, 09:25 PM
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We taught our 7 year old granddaughter this way. I actually took the pedal arms (one piece) off a 16" bike, Got her coasting. A week later, we went over to small slope and let her really coast. I replaced the pedals and she just hopped on and took off. No falling down. No tears.
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Old 11-27-20, 10:33 AM
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My wife was 30 and pregnant when I taught her to ride a bicycle. I didn't even take off her pedals, just lowered her seat and told her to push it like a balance bike. Within a couple of hours she was pedaling confidently.
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Old 11-27-20, 11:18 AM
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The balance bike approach is great advice. I would add to that explaining counter steering, i.e. that turning the handle bars right causes the bike to go left. Kids learning figure this out instinctively and many adults are not even aware of it. For an adult learning, I think it could be very helpful.
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Old 11-27-20, 11:55 AM
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In all my years I have never considered counter steering on a bike. I think it just happens instinctively at recreational levels. I can see that the need to have a greater understanding on high speed competitive descents, but telling an adult who afraid to ride a bike the concept seems a bit too advanced.

John

Edit added: For me it is most evident when mountain biking if you turn away from an object you invariably lean toward it and head toward it.

Last edited by 70sSanO; 11-27-20 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 11-28-20, 02:38 PM
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He ended up figuring out how to ride it in 15 minutes!
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Old 11-28-20, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
You should have bought another bike for yourself.

You still should.
I agree. Christmas is coming, right?
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Old 11-28-20, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post
Take off the pedals, slam the seat, and use it like a balance bike.
this plus 5 or 6. Tie wrap the crank to the chain stay.
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Old 11-28-20, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Sorcerer View Post
He ended up figuring out how to ride it in 15 minutes!
Congrats!

How did you do it? Threaten to make him read this thread if he didn’t...lol!

John
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Old 11-30-20, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post
Take off the pedals, slam the seat, and use it like a balance bike.
Exactly right! I have a friend who learned to ride when he was 36 years old. He did it by taking out a book on the subject from the library.

Yes, it was suggested to lower the seat to the point that the learner can sit on the bike with both feet on the ground or floor. He or she then lifts one, then both feet of the floor and learns to balance without fear of falling over. Next step is to push off with one foot and kind of glide with both feet on the pedals. It will then be easy to pedal very slowly, then a little faster and farther, etc.

Best regards
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Old 12-01-20, 01:59 PM
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Depends on the Individual: Some people are fearless and some are overly cautious. Since the brother-in-law is persistent about asking you, then maybe he's on the fearless side of the spectrum.


Even then, its also a "head game". Let him know that mere walking is balancing, as you lift one foot off the ground and the other foot does the balancing.


Maybe not for your brother-in-law, but there's a transition and that's the adult size scooter. That's where "balancing for dummies" is taught. The scooter platform is low to the ground and one foot is on the platform and the other is on the ground, so to speak. Pretty soon both feet will be off the ground. That's balancing; even little toddlers are using those Razer scooters quite well.


Seems redundant? Well, it is. But that's how some adults learn. Besides, now the adult has a new toy! Imagine, buying a new set of wheels for that scooter, ceramic hubs. This reminds me of the recent ride on Pacific Coast Highway when an inline skater rode with me. He was going 20 mph and I was behind him. Those high end wheels do make a difference.

Last edited by Garfield Cat; 12-01-20 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 12-02-20, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Ogsarg View Post
The balance bike approach is great advice. I would add to that explaining counter steering, i.e. that turning the handle bars right causes the bike to go left. Kids learning figure this out instinctively and many adults are not even aware of it. For an adult learning, I think it could be very helpful.
I do not agree! Do not explain counter steering, as it just complicates matters. You want easy, first.

They will figure it out quickly, without even noticing that they are doing it!
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Old 12-02-20, 12:53 PM
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You don't explain counter-steering. You experience it first, then master it unconsciously. It cannot be explained to a normal person anyway. It's like believing in Santa. Don't screw it up.

“Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing.” - elf-Judy, The Santa Clause
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Old 12-02-20, 01:11 PM
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Push with both feet on the ground... That's how biking started circa 1900s? Probably even earlier.

Even my two sisters rode bikes when small kids, with one of them, the one who now as an adult won't sit behind a wheel in a car, rode with me sitting on rear carrier (since she was a bit older than I was) several kilometers even to a neighboring town.
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