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Impatient boy

Old 09-16-18, 07:02 PM
  #1  
MadMan2k
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Impatient boy

Do you guys have any pointers on getting your kid to "stick with it" until they learn to pedal and then on to balancing?

My oldest son is 6.5 and he is tall and skinny but not too weak to carry heavy bags of groceries and help out around the house so I think he is strong enough to pedal the bike even on a small hill, but every time in the past couple years we have sat him on his bike (Chinese-made generic bike with 16" wheels and training wheels) he just gives up before he fully learns to pedal. Going down a hill he will do it for a while but then he just complains that it's hard on flat ground or up a hill.

It seems like he is just not that interested in learning to ride a bike, which I admit I can't really comprehend because it was such a huge part of my childhood and there are lots of kids riding bikes around the neighborhood, even ones way younger/smaller than him and he doesn't seem to care.

I'd be happy to buy him a much nicer BMX bike if he could just learn to ride but my wife (understandably so) wouldn't support spending money on something he might not even use.

My other boy is almost 4 and he is scared to even sit on a bike without being held up and my daughter is 1.5 and we have a little balance bike but she wants no part of it. I am pretty sure they will follow the lead of their older brother though, once he learns.

I get frustrated by this because I sure pictured having a whole family that would want to ride around together. My wife has a bike but is not interested in riding without the kids. We even have a lot of good trails a stone's throw from where we live, people drive their bikes across town with their cars and trucks to ride here and we are just missing out. I guess you can't force your kids to do anything, but I see riding a bike as a mandatory skill that I will have failed as a dad if my kids don't learn. So any pointers on getting them to at least learn would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Also, first post in a long while - time sure flies.
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Old 09-17-18, 05:43 AM
  #2  
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No one in my family took any interest in cycling when my kids were still living with us. I know what that's like. Some kids (and spouses) just aren't interested, and it's better to support them in whatever does interest them. That said, a 6 1/2 year old boy on a 16-inch-wheel bike? Is it possible he's too crammed on the bike, and doesn't enjoy it because the fit is wrong?
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Old 09-17-18, 07:26 AM
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Training wheels generally don't "work".
Kids generally don't have the capacity for mental separation to use the trainers "only" to keep from tipping over.
They ride training wheel bikes as if they are chain-drive trikes.
Balance/straddle bikes work far better.
Once they manage coasting on them, transition to pedal power tend to take 15-45 minutes, with a minimum of tears.
WRT "hard on flat ground" - inspect the bike. The cheap way of building kids' bikes is to use as many adult-sized parts as possible. I've seen a few with 170 mm cranks. Riding a beast like that is indeed a rather awkward experience.
Gearing is less likely to be an issue due to the whel size, but can be worth checking out.
At the end though, if the kid isn't interested, it's difficult to force an interest.
Is there something that he likes that can be used as a lure?
As in "let's ride to the xx and get an ice cream/go fishing/watch the "whatever"?
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Old 09-17-18, 09:08 AM
  #4  
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My kids are beginning to get interested in bikes as late 30yo adults...my wife never liked them. Come to think of it, most of mine interests have ended up as solitary pursuits...maybe it's me?
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Old 09-17-18, 12:07 PM
  #5  
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Generic Chinese bikes tend to be
  1. Too heavy
  2. Badly designed in terms of proportions for children's arms, legs and bodies
  3. Too heavy (how much does it weigh as a percentage of his weight cf yours as a percentage of your weight)
Agree with DABAC: Balance bikes are the way to go. We've been teaching kids to ride via that route since we started our kids club offshoot in June '98 and the total must be in the region of 12-1500. We've taught all sorts from 2yrs 10 months upwards, including a 14yr old severely dyspraxic boy who couldn't even walk alongside his bike without losing his balance/falling over. It took 4 x 2hr sessions but he managed it. Most kids manage it in our normal 2hr session and often before the break at 1 hour.

We have, on occasion, not used a balance bike or their own with the pedals off, but only when the youngster concerned was absolutely adamant the pedals should stay on (usually older ones). It works.

To get some idea of the right proportions of frame/cranks/brake levers log on to the following.
https://www.islabikes.com/size-guide
https://www.islabikes.com/product/ki...0-large-age-6/

All their bikes' proportions change as the sizes get larger. We've got 22 ranging from CNOC14 model to 26" rigid mtbs and 700c cyclocross bikes and they stand up well to the kinds of punishment our lot dish out, both normal riding and racing. I'm not suggesting you buy one of these - they're pricy, tho' they hold their value remarkably well when it's time to sell on.

I'm not suggesting you buy one - it's not my plastic which'll take the hit but it will give you some idea of what to look for if you should decide to change his bike. But good luck regardless.
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Old 09-17-18, 12:15 PM
  #6  
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I also support what dabac said above. A balance bike is the way to go. If nothing else remove the pedals, lower the seat and let him push it around with his feet flat on ground for as long as he wants to. Encourage him to push off and lift his feet and coast a while. Once he has the balance down, then reinstall the pedals and let him try that. After he has gotten the pedals down, then raise the seat almost to where it should be, let him acclimate to that and then raise it to the proper height. Most kids are deathly afraid of falling.

I've never taught a kid but I've shown many an adult how to do it this way. Once friends wife would get upset when hubby just kept pushing her to 'just do it' by flinging her down the street screaming at her to pedal. Days later she talked to my wife in tears. I came home much earlier that he did so she asked if I could help. I removed her pedals and lowered the seat so she could comfortably stand flat footed. For 2 afternoons she paddled around, lifting her feet and eventually 'showing off' by putting them up on the downtube as she coasted. One more afternoon with the pedals installed with the seat low and she could do it well enough to show her hubby. A few weeks later I helped her raise the seat to the proper height so she could get some power into her stroke. Last I saw of her she was biking around like nuts.
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Old 09-17-18, 01:22 PM
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Thanks for the replies. I had not considered balance bikes because in my mind I was thinking they were for kids under 3.

I think I will try taking the training wheels and the pedals off of my son's bike and teaching him to push and balance on it and go from there. Maybe the size of the bike is too constrictive now for him to comfortably pedal and we're just adding an obstacle.

Thanks for the link for the Islabikes website and sizing info. I did not know there were quality mountain bikes available for small kids but that is a good thing to keep in mind.
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Old 09-18-18, 03:29 AM
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A bit of peer pressure maybe? When I grew up the ones that couldn't cycle by the age of 4 were left behind. Not that I remember beeing 3, but I do remember 6 and 7 year olds bragging about how long they had been riding a bike without training wheels. Are there any (slightly older) kids in the neighbourhood who cycle and who have gained independence because of it?
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Old 09-18-18, 03:41 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by MadMan2k View Post
It seems like he is just not that interested in learning to ride a bike....
From what you describe, it seems that he is just not that interested in learning to ride a bike.
As another posted mentioned, I went the way my kids wanted to go when they were young. I exposed them to things (playing musical instruments, sports, music, martial arts...) and let them decide.
Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-19-18, 09:22 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by MadMan2k View Post
Thanks for the replies. I had not considered balance bikes because in my mind I was thinking they were for kids under 3.

I think I will try taking the training wheels and the pedals off of my son's bike and teaching him to push and balance on it and go from there. Maybe the size of the bike is too constrictive now for him to comfortably pedal and we're just adding an obstacle.

Thanks for the link for the Islabikes website and sizing info. I did not know there were quality mountain bikes available for small kids but that is a good thing to keep in mind.
Yup, that’s probably it. And if you do buy another bike for him, don’t buy a BMX bike. Take it from me, a guy who loves BMX bikes: a tall, skinny kid who is having trouble learning will not do well on one at first. Wrong geometry. He’ll be too stretched-forward, and won’t feel securely centered unless he stands up somewhat, which he won’t, cause he’s not strong or experienced enough a rider yet.

What you you need is simple, lightweight yes, but also upright and not too long up front from seat to stem, except with a long, stable rear triangle so it’s not twitchy. Sloping top tube helps. Good luck!
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Old 09-21-18, 02:38 PM
  #11  
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we started 2 of the grandkids out on balance bikes and the transition to pedaling was... well.. amazing!! the hardest part of learning to ride a bike is learning to balance. training wheels delay that process.. atbman has it right.
the oldest of the 2 started his pedal bike experience on an electra 16" with coaster brakes. this boy is on the slender side. and i did not know how much the weight of the bike can impact a childs experience riding... this bike had to weigh more than half of what he did. so last summer, i bought both of these boys frog bikes . through a bike shop that had a type of a buy back program. the 8 year old chose a bike with gears. and it weighs a lot less than the electra bike. we can't keep him off of it.. he has been out on hilly rides with me.. he says it is like magic how the bike goes up hill. the younger one at 4, after being on a balance bike for a year, took half an hour to get pedaling totally independently.. he could balance and pedal from the get go after a little shove off.. it took him half an hour to figure out how to get the bike started by himself.
there are many companies now putting out lighter weight bikes with better geometry and features now.. i think isla bikes started it and they are the gold standard. other companies that are out there are cleary (sausalito, california) and woom... woom bikes are readily available on amazaon. these bikes are very well made and can be found on sites like craigslist, however, they sell pretty quickly. google two wheeling tots for in depth information on how to buy a kids bike. isla roundtree has a very good video on you tube on how to teach a child to ride a bike (i can't post urls yet....)
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Old 09-23-18, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by MadMan2k View Post
Thanks for the replies. I had not considered balance bikes because in my mind I was thinking they were for kids under 3.

I think I will try taking the training wheels and the pedals off of my son's bike and teaching him to push and balance on it and go from there. Maybe the size of the bike is too constrictive now for him to comfortably pedal and we're just adding an obstacle.

Thanks for the link for the Islabikes website and sizing info. I did not know there were quality mountain bikes available for small kids but that is a good thing to keep in mind.
A few more tips:
  • Never push the bike (a) it knackers your back and (b) you may not quite be pushing him in the direction he's steering
  • Place your hand (or even fingertips) on his upper back - maybe between his shoulder blades - this gives him sufficient flexibility of choice to learn to steer more easily while still giving him some help
  • We play the counting game on both the balance bike and when the pedals are back on. Once he starts to lift his feet off the ground for a few yards, get him to count how many seconds (very roughly) he can keep them in the air. When he's pedalling, do the same to see how long he can keep going before losing his balance. This should, in my experience, take his mind off losing his balance and focus it more on how ell he's doing and how much he's improving.
  • I've no hard and fast rule for when to switch to pedals - you'll know that much better than me as you watch him
Good luck!
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Old 09-28-18, 02:48 PM
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If any person is impatient, he/she should ride a bicycle. I can go 4 km distance by bicycle in 15 minutes, by car 20 minutes, by bus 30 minutes in my city. (I live in a very untidy city with more than 15 million people and awful traffic jam)
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Old 03-25-19, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by atbman View Post
A few more tips:
  • Never push the bike (a) it knackers your back and (b) you may not quite be pushing him in the direction he's steering
  • Place your hand (or even fingertips) on his upper back - maybe between his shoulder blades - this gives him sufficient flexibility of choice to learn to steer more easily while still giving him some help
  • We play the counting game on both the balance bike and when the pedals are back on. Once he starts to lift his feet off the ground for a few yards, get him to count how many seconds (very roughly) he can keep them in the air. When he's pedalling, do the same to see how long he can keep going before losing his balance. This should, in my experience, take his mind off losing his balance and focus it more on how ell he's doing and how much he's improving.
  • I've no hard and fast rule for when to switch to pedals - you'll know that much better than me as you watch him
Good luck!
Thank you for these tips! I just posted a similar question for tips about how to get him going; he's interested in biking but easily discouraged. A game is always fun and helpful!!
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Old 03-25-19, 04:20 PM
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Balance bikes ,.. they get the balance down first , its a bike without pedals..

a throwback to the 1800s the first thing on the way to developing

what became the bicycle was a larger version of that..
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Old 03-25-19, 05:10 PM
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I think every kid is different but it sure helped to have my kid on a balance bike. We'd take a walk to the donut shop with 3yo him and the baby twins' stroller every Saturday morning while Mom slept in. I'd let him ride on the front of the stroller when he got tired. But later, he wouldn't ride his pedal bike at all until his annoyed mother (who had prematurely bought the pedal bike) hectored him into it. He had the pedal skill and the balance skill, just took a lot of convincing to get him to put it together.

So far he hasn't had a problem with hills. He goes uphill faster than me with gears, until it gets too steep/slow to stay upright.
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Old 03-25-19, 07:56 PM
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Lots of good tips here. I will add (unless it was mentioned and I missed it) that skate parks are great training grounds for kids learning to ride. I would take my 2 - 3 year old son early in the morning before most anyone showed up and he had all the ramps and bowls and smooth concrete to cruise around on with his Strider balance bike. Obviously this is only helpful if you've got a park somewhat nearby. If so, I highly recommend it - it's an exciting place for a young kid and seemed to motivate my son to learn to ride and eventually show off around his peers when he graduated to pedal bikes and skateboards.
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Old 03-25-19, 10:09 PM
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I was the last kid in the neighborhood to take the training wheels off. I was maybe 7 or 8 years. My dad just said I had worn out too many sets of training wheels and he would not buy anymore.. I made myself ride too keep up with my friends. The kid has to want to ride, you can't force them. I am now 69, my son's kids ride, not my daughter's.
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Old 03-26-19, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by spost View Post
Thank you for these tips! I just posted a similar question for tips about how to get him going; he's interested in biking but easily discouraged. A game is always fun and helpful!!
My pleasure. Join the campaign to make "training" wheels illegal! (tongue in cheek)(just in case)
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Old 03-26-19, 02:09 PM
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I agree with those who prefer balance bikes. And if the kid is too big for one, just take the pedals off a bike that fits. Learn to balance first and pedal later. Don't hold a kid up while he's learning. Just have him scoot. If he feels insecure, lower the saddle. If he's anxious about falling, practice stage falling from standing, on the grass.
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