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Thread: Teaching kid to get on/off bike without being seated on saddle

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    Default Teaching kid to get on/off bike without being seated on saddle

    How did you teach your kid to get on and off the bike without being seated on the saddle? Any tips? My (almost) 12 year old Partner In Crime won't do this - she has to be seated on the bike and she can barely reach the ground when on the saddle (very tippy toes) which makes her pretty anxious (she's fallen a few times doing this). Since she's fallen she's a little scared to try which makes her really frustrated (boy, do I understand this!).

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    So, I haven't worked with older kids, but for my littler kids, I have not taught them to get on and off without sitting on the saddle. So this means that both of them can touch the ground -- the older one is comfortable sort of lurching himself over the saddle with only tiptoes touching. I think I do need to do this too, though, and I was thinking I'd start by just having him practice riding around on his bike standing on only the left pedal. Once he's used to counter-balancing his weight, then he can throw his other leg over the saddle. We'll see how that plan works out in practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tania View Post
    How did you teach your kid to get on and off the bike without being seated on the saddle? Any tips? My (almost) 12 year old Partner In Crime won't do this - she has to be seated on the bike and she can barely reach the ground when on the saddle (very tippy toes) which makes her pretty anxious (she's fallen a few times doing this). Since she's fallen she's a little scared to try which makes her really frustrated (boy, do I understand this!).
    Can you bring the saddle down? If so, I would and just let her start as she wants to for a while. Then, when she's confident that way, have her to start without her bum on the saddle, but with the saddle in the same position. Once she's ready, then bring the saddle up. In my experience, it's all about confidence.

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    Sorry, I wasn't completely clear.

    You know how when we're waiting at a stop light, you've got one foot on the pedal and one foot on the ground but most likely you're not in the saddle (unless you're a giant) but rather just straddling the top tube? Then when the light changes you basically stand up and push down on that one pedal and THEN you sit down on the saddle? She doesn't do this. She has to be butt in the saddle and then she'll fuss with the correct pedal position -- tricky because the leg that's on the ground can barely touch -- before she teeters off and finds stability with momentum. Once she's got that, she's fine but her starts are a source of frustration (for all of us) and since she's fallen over a few times she's nervous about it. The same is true for her getting off - she slows to a stop and puts a foot [toe] down while still sitting in the saddle. Since she can barely reach the ground from the saddle, she's at high risk of falling. [Aside - I don't know how other racers do butt in the saddle cx starts, y'all are nuts. Or tall. Or have your saddles fairly low.]

    She's very dependent on her saddle and almost NEVER gets out of it. Last winter I taught her the mountain bike concept of the "attack" position where she was out of the saddle, hinged at the hip with her elbows bent and out and she did GREAT. I need to re-introduce that and maybe have her spend some more time out of the saddle. Last weekend at the Great Pumpkin Ride I pointed out wheels&wings to her and had her notice how w&w is almost always out of the saddle and how cool it was. I think my approach is going to be getting her to spend more time out of the saddle as we're riding on flat, even ground so that it becomes more normal and comfortable. She absolutely does NOT want to try a butt out of the saddle start. Yet. She will when she's ready but I'd like to gently hasten that along...It's absolutely a confidence thing. Again, I get it. This is my biggest issue when mountain biking too (or even descending fast on a drop bar bike).

    Standover on this bike is fine. The stem needs to be WAY shorter but the bike overall fits her well. Her saddle is as low as it can go and actually is TOO low.

    I make her sound like a terrible rider and she's not. I'm always surprised at the stuff she'll ride over out on the gravel/dirt trails without a second thought. I just want to help improve her basics since her dad is determined to turn her into a mountain biker!

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    Last edited by Tania; 11-02-2017 at 11:31 AM.

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    Does she do any other activities that might involve climbing, stretching, and/or balance that you just need to reminder her of as being similar? For example, gymnastics, ballet, wall climbing (I see these at parks now), lot of use of jungle gyms (although the ones that exist now seem way too safe to learn anything on), horseback riding, climbing on anything. Lots of people, including kids, do not always realize that two things use similar skills

    (and I am not sure I understand what you mean by sitting on the seat to get on and off as I have no memory of ever getting on bike other than by swinging my leg over the bar and pushing my self on and off the seat via the pedals once I started or leaning the bike and pushing up off the ground. I am usually lucky if my toes hit the ground when on a bicycle.)

    ***I see your reply that came when I was still typing. I understand what you mean by sitting in the seat to start. I still think finding a similar activity to compare to might help.
    Last edited by DrP; 11-02-2017 at 11:36 AM.

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    Have you tried raising the seat to the correct position. That way, she can't sit on the seat when trying to start. She will be able to reward herself by sitting down once she is standing on the pedals. Getting off is the reverse: Hit the brakes while coasting off the saddle and put your foot down when the bike stops. I would think that once she does this a few times, it will become second nature.

    It also may make sense to make her a "road" biker before teaching mountain bike skills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DismalScientist View Post
    Have you tried raising the seat to the correct position. That way, she can't sit on the seat when trying to start. She will be able to reward herself by sitting down once she is standing on the pedals.
    I had the opposite idea. How about having her ride on a bike that is too small, where the saddle is so low that it's only comfortable to ride up on the pedals. With a smaller frame and being closer to the ground, I would think that there would be less apprehension about tipping over. If things get too tippy starting off, she could just stand on the ground and let the bike roll ahead from under her. Can't say that I've seen this in practice, though.

    Also, practicing on a long, empty downhill patch of road should help build her confidence.

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    Here is how to get on the bike:

    1 - Make sure that you downshift.
    2 - Before getting on the bike, squeeze the brakes closest to you(it doesn't matter if it's front or rear), so the bike doesn't move while you are trying to get on it.
    3 - Lean the bike toward you to a ridicules angle, like 45 degrees, move further away from the bike if necessary. After few times, leaning it that low is not necessary.
    4 - Get on the bike, but prepare to release the brakes if your foot touches part of the bike, like the saddle, which may cause you to lose your balance.

    To stop:

    1 - Turn slightly to the right while slowing, your body will lean left.
    2 - Put your left foot on the ground.

    Do it the other way if you prefer to put the other foot on the ground.

    It takes weeks for foot muscles to strengthen and adjust to the new sport.

    Shifting:

    We can confuse beginners while trying to teach them two opposing things at once, like press this for faster, and this for slower. This is two facts performing opposite functions, which humans are not good at remembering(regardless of hair color). I prefer to teach them one fact: press this for faster. The other one does the opposite(but I don't say slower). Just associate this with faster, the other one does something else. So the person just remembers one fact.
    Last edited by n18; 11-09-2017 at 09:22 PM.

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    Ok, so I understand now that the issue isn't getting on/off the bike, but rather starting from a stop while on the bike. It sounds like the key to making starts from a stop more confident is getting her to be more confident standing (balancing) on the pedals. Once you can stand to climb a hill, etc. that should translate into ability to stand on the pedals to start from the stop and then plop oneself down on the saddle.

    I think some people are just much less comfortable getting out of the saddle; I don't know if it's a question of feeling imbalanced or other physiological differences or just not having had the need or desire to practice that.

    I was going to echo the sentiment that maybe just lowering the saddle a bit makes sense, but if the saddle is already too low for efficient pedaling then either smaller wheels would help, or just developing this out-of-saddle comfort.

    Anyway, that is my 2.

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    Yes, I think hozn is on the right track. Can she ride standing on the pedals? Not even necessarily pedaling, just standing up (pedals at 3 and 9 o'clock). If she can get comfortable doing that, then hopefully she will feel more comfortable starting over the top tube.

    Try riding on the flat, coasting and standing up. Once standing, she can try pedaling, too. I think if she can get comfortable riding out of the saddle, it will make it a lot more comfortable to start out of the saddle.

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