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jrenaut
10-06-2014, 08:22 AM
I've fallen into the role of Bike Guru at the kids' school, but without all of you I actually feel a bit unprepared for all that. I was asked yesterday about how to transition your kid from training wheels. The child in question is a 1st grade boy, but I also need to work on this with my daughter and I suspect other parents will be interested to know as well.

Any good methods that worked for your kids?

Emm
10-06-2014, 08:42 AM
I've fallen into the role of Bike Guru at the kids' school, but without all of you I actually feel a bit unprepared for all that. I was asked yesterday about how to transition your kid from training wheels. The child in question is a 1st grade boy, but I also need to work on this with my daughter and I suspect other parents will be interested to know as well.

Any good methods that worked for your kids?

just watched my neighbor do this for their kid. They took the pedals off the bike, and had the kid use it as a balance bike for a week or two, then put the pedals back on, and the kid began using those (somewhat successfully...). LOTS OF PADS were used in this process (knee, elbow, and gloves), and I definitely heard some wailing in the morning coming from their house when he fell. Their toddler would never have training wheels they said--they started him on a balance bike and said he'd go right to a big kid bike once he was older.

Key part--kid was NEVER alone during this process. I always saw a parent with him, either just watching from the porch while reading the paper, or actively showing him how to balance, use the pedals, and stop (how they taught him how to stop without pedals on a bike with coaster brakes I don't understand, but I think part of it was the "put your feet down so you don't fall over once you slow down to a certain speed" training).

My parents raised my training wheels slowly without telling me, which meant they helped with falls, but didn't offer balance. Then one day they took them off and "surprise"! I was riding a bike. And having a panic attack because they set me down a hill to start. But it worked out in the end ;)

eminva
10-06-2014, 08:49 AM
With the popularity of balance bikes, many people skip the training wheels completely.

The way we teach adults in the WABA Learn to Ride Class would work for any age. We have terrific success so I would teach my kid using this method if I had it to do all over again.

Take the pedals off and lower the seat so the rider can put both feet flat on the ground. Have them sit on the seat and take "frog hops" -- pushing off with both feet at once -- and glide. Then have them push off alternating feet and then gliding. Once you see that they can glide for a while with good balance, give them one pedal. Teach them, while standing, to use their foot to put the pedal into the "power position" (about 2 o'clock), mount the bike while pushing off, and then glide. Once they can glide well taking one pedal stroke, give them the second pedal. They should be ready to pedal successfully at this point. Gradually raise the seat as they get comfortable with the balance thing.

Question: How do I break my son's bad habit at age 13? He is capable of mounting and dismounting a bike from/to a standing position, however, he likes to balance on the seat if we are stopped at a traffic light or for any other reason when he knows he will be starting up again soon. I see adults doing this, too, and I don't know if they realize they are doing it or if they don't know how to start the bike from a standing position. I've mentioned this to my son but as a parent, you don't want to be too preachy. Any advice welcome.

Liz

dasgeh
10-06-2014, 09:09 AM
Haven't done this myself, but have heard two techniques:
(1) The faux balance bike method (as others describe)
(2) The former MTB pro method (guess who told me about this one): Put MTB pegs on the rear wheels of the kids bike, no training wheels. Adult stands on the pegs and helps the kid steer/balance and stops falls. Helps if the adult is not too tall, and fairly well coordinated.

dasgeh
10-06-2014, 09:11 AM
Question: How do I break my son's bad habit at age 13? He is capable of mounting and dismounting a bike from/to a standing position, however, he likes to balance on the seat if we are stopped at a traffic light or for any other reason when he knows he will be starting up again soon. I see adults doing this, too, and I don't know if they realize they are doing it or if they don't know how to start the bike from a standing position. I've mentioned this to my son but as a parent, you don't want to be too preachy. Any advice welcome.

I don't understand the problem. Is he track standing and you don't want him to? Is he resting his bum on the seat, with one foot on the ground? Why is that a problem?

jrenaut
10-06-2014, 09:15 AM
(2) The former MTB pro method (guess who told me about this one): Put MTB pegs on the rear wheels of the kids bike, no training wheels. Adult stands on the pegs and helps the kid steer/balance and stops falls. Helps if the adult is not too tall, and fairly well coordinated.
You should stop taking advice from crazy people.

mstone
10-06-2014, 09:16 AM
Question: How do I break my son's bad habit at age 13? He is capable of mounting and dismounting a bike from/to a standing position, however, he likes to balance on the seat if we are stopped at a traffic light or for any other reason when he knows he will be starting up again soon. I see adults doing this, too, and I don't know if they realize they are doing it or if they don't know how to start the bike from a standing position. I've mentioned this to my son but as a parent, you don't want to be too preachy. Any advice welcome.

Yeah, if you can comfortably stop at a light without getting off the seat, the seat is probably too low (barring exotic designs). Some people really like it, though, and I have no idea how to change that. Or do you mean he's track standing?

peterw_diy
10-06-2014, 09:23 AM
Peer pressure? Only half joking. We tried raising the training wheels. We tried removing training wheels and pedals, coasting downhill. In the end, it was a schoolmate who taught kid1 how to ride. Kid1 couldn't tell me how the friend taught.

Kid2 hasn't had training wheels; we're trying the pure balance bike approach, and it seems better. Haven't tried a pedal bike yet but kid2 seems happier (kid1 really disliked getting stuck when the rear wheel would lose contact) and balance is good. Kid2 can now turn at full speed with feet up (!) and is good with the hand brake. I think kid2 will be pedaling before starting Kindergarten.

dasgeh
10-06-2014, 09:25 AM
Peer pressure?

I've heard LOTS of stories of kids coming to Kidical Mass rides riding on parents' bikes or with training wheels, seeing other kids ride sans training wheels, and insisting on pure pedal bikes when they get home. Of course, our kids are still happy to stick to their balance bikes and riding on our bikes during KM rides...

jrenaut
10-06-2014, 09:26 AM
Peer pressure? Only half joking. We tried raising the training wheels. We tried removing training wheels and pedals, coasting downhill. In the end, it was a schoolmate who taught kid1 how to ride. Kid1 couldn't tell me how the friend taught.
Yeah, this is how I learned. I was good friends with the girl across the street who was about a year older. This is one of those memories that seem too vivid to be real, but we were talking about taking off training wheels, which she'd already done and I hadn't. She said to me, "Well, can you ride fast?" What am I going to say? No? So her dad took my training wheels off and I tried riding in her backyard. I don't remember falling or any great trauma.

hozn
10-06-2014, 09:52 AM
I don't have any extremely pertinent advice, since we went the balance-bike-only approach here, but had a couple thoughts while reading the above comments:
- The idea of making the bike a balance bike is probably a good option. I did that when my son was transitioning from his strider to his 14" islabike c-noc. This isn't especially relevant in this case, but the most significant aspect of the transition from balance bike to pedal bike was the increased weight of the bike. The Strider weighs ~6lbs and the [very lightweight] c-noc weighs ~13lbs. That took some getting used to and my son still preferred to ride the Strider for months after he was capable of riding the larger pedal bike.
- Getting the pedal into the right position to get started can be a bit tricky for little kids/bikes, since the coaster brakes prevent back pedaling. My son had no problem balancing on his new bike, but starting from a stop was something I was helping him with for a few months before he was comfortable doing it. Now he's even able to get started by himself on [shallow-grade] hills; I'm impressed.
- Definitely agree that parent has to be there with the kids, but I assume parents are always there when their kids are learning to ride bike -- or at least close behind. Initially I would run along with him; now I can't keep up running, so I ride my bike with him. I stopped my son from falling over lots of times. And I failed to prevent the falls a few times too. My favorite was when he charged full-speed on the pedal bike straight into a curb. Apparently he just wasn't looking in front of his bike. (??) Pinch flatted his front tire and sent him over the bars. Somehow he made it through that blood-free. I'm always grateful when learning experiences like that happen with minimal damage.
- I found the seat height to be a balance between confidence and efficiency. Initially the seat on the pedal bike was pretty low; he could easily put his feet on the ground. As he got better at starting from a stop, etc. we kept raising the seat up. Now it's almost at what would be recommended/most efficient height. But I wouldn't stress starting out with the saddle too low. If the kid can't put their feet down while learning, you risk more accidents and it generally being a lot less fun for the kids.

I think peterw_diy is right, though, probably one of the strongest motivators to drop the training wheels will be peer pressure. For children just getting started with any sort of two-wheeler, though, I would strongly recommend the balance bike approach. Learning to pedal seems to be a lot easier than learning to balance.

eminva
10-06-2014, 10:37 AM
I don't understand the problem. Is he track standing and you don't want him to? Is he resting his bum on the seat, with one foot on the ground? Why is that a problem?


Yeah, if you can comfortably stop at a light without getting off the seat, the seat is probably too low (barring exotic designs). Some people really like it, though, and I have no idea how to change that. Or do you mean he's track standing?

No, not trackstanding. I wouldn't say comfortably, but he sits on the saddle with his tip toes on the ground. The saddle probably is too low -- the bike is probably too small -- but fine tuning this is one of the many problems with a kid who's grown 5+ inches in a year (I should probably start a separate thread soliciting bike selection advice for the very tall).


Peer pressure?

The tried and true method for so many childhood rites of passage.

Liz

Rockford10
10-06-2014, 11:01 AM
I remember we did it the same way we ended up teaching the kids how to swim - lots of consistent practice. We struggled a little bit with the bike riding until realizing we needed to practice every day for 5 minutes or so. When we did it every-so-often or just on the weekends, it wasn't happening. When we switched to every evening, it was easier.

krazygl00
10-06-2014, 11:49 AM
We just went through this, and here is what worked for us. Our daughter has been on a balance bike since she was about 4 years old. She wasn't really good at it until she saw some other kids on their balance bikes zooming around and then it kind of clicked for her. After that she could easily scoot and balance for 20 or more feet. We didn't really push the issue but she started saying she wanted a pedal bike, probably because she was loving her trail-a-bike. We got one with training wheels and I adjusted them about an inch off the ground each, thinking she already had the balance thing down and the wheels would be there just in case. This wound up being a total disaster as all they did was serve to catapult her and the bike over to either side. After some tears I adjusted them down even with the rear wheel and then she was happy. For about a month or two she rode like this until she said she wanted to try without the training wheels so we took them off.

I think she almost regretted this when she realized there was no going back :-) However she soldiered through and did a few rides with me holding her. Then one evening at a playground I had her ride in circles with me letting go for a few seconds at a time, which she was proud of. The next evening we did a repeat of that and she finally got it. I think the balance bike definitely helped with this because she was riding like a natural. Steering to balance made complete sense to her. However I don't think a balance bike alone would have been enough because what she had to learn with the training wheels was to pedal to move herself. The final piece was learning to pedal to keep moving to balance, and that is the part that can only be learned on the bike.

cvcalhoun
10-06-2014, 01:45 PM
Hmm. My recollection with my kids is that after taking the training wheels off, I took each of the kids over to Rock Creek Park, to a place where the bike path went down a hill. I would start him or her at the top of the hill, holding onto the seat, until s/he seemed to be balancing okay, then let go. S/he'd pedal for a while, then fall off. After repeating this all one afternoon, each of them could ride a bike without training wheels. Remarkably enough, they have made it to adulthood now without showing signs of major brain damage. ;)