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Next Bike For My Autistic Nine Year Old Son

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Next Bike For My Autistic Nine Year Old Son

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Old 07-24-18, 03:31 PM
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kengrubb
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Next Bike For My Autistic Nine Year Old Son

My youngest, Joseph, loves to ride. On his single speed 16" bike with training wheels, he's ridden 6-7 miles at a time. When he outgrew the 16", I had issues getting him to ride his 20" bike without training wheels. Took the training wheels off the 16", and eventually gifted it away. He treated the 20" like a push bike, but just in the last week he's been putting his feet on the pedals and really riding. I knew he could it's just figured out what's in his head--more importantly him deciding to do it.

I can see that he's close to outgrown the 20", so I'm starting to think about 24" bikes. There are any number of single speed 24" bikes at BBSes, but I'm really thinking about a 3 speed 24" bike. Shimano Nexus 3 speed had coaster brakes so he can continue to have hand brakes and coaster brakes.

Upgrading a BBS bike can be problematic. My thought is get him a single speed 24" Electra from an LBS and have them upgrade to a 3 speed wheelset, shifter, and hand brakes. Move him up to 24" and introduce him to gears. A 3 speed internal seems a better idea, and more forgiving, than derailers for an autistic who may become very frustrated.

Any thoughts on this plan?

Any ideas for other suitable bikes?
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Old 07-25-18, 05:40 PM
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It is hard to generalize, but one thing I am worried about is changing stuff if that is problematic (as it is to many who have autism). Since he just started riding the 20" in the last week, maybe let him get used to that for awhile, until it is very obviously too small (too small might mean a very different thing to him -- it might be what is giving him the confidence). Then if the frame and fork allow it, maybe 24" wheels first would be a small enough change not to induce upset.

I'd stick with what works for as long as possible.

What's a BBS?
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Old 07-25-18, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
It is hard to generalize, but one thing I am worried about is changing stuff if that is problematic (as it is to many who have autism).
...
I'd stick with what works for as long as possible.

What's a BBS?
Good points. Routine is very important. When he was in pre-school, it was 4 days a week--Tuesday thru Friday, and Mondays were hell.

I am going to keep his 20" even after we get a 24" to create continuity and let him embrace the 24". Probably won't start thinking about a 24" until late fall or even winter. Might even wait for spring.

BBS is Big Box Store
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Old 07-25-18, 10:35 PM
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Sorry, I am one of those people who can't equate initials with people's names, let alone figure out acronyms and TLAs.

May I ask if he is he able to talk, or somehow participate in choosing a bike?
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Old 07-27-18, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
May I ask if he is he able to talk, or somehow participate in choosing a bike?
He communicates, but it's challenging. I have a video of him on Facebook riding, and he says, I think, "I saw what you did", which was in response to me videoing him. He talks mostly in single words and short phrases, unless he's repeating something he heard and then he could probably recite Hamlet's soliloquy, if he were so inclined.

Whenever we go to the bike shop, his excitement is through the roof. When we get to point of a new bike, I'll probably talk to the shop in advance and schedule a time to guide him toward a couple of 24" bikes. He'll express his choice in his own way, probably sitting on the one he wants and saying, "This one."
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Old 07-27-18, 03:34 PM
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How tall is he? Have you considered getting a 3-speed IGH folding bike? That would be easier than trying to convert a 24", My 9-year old, who is 57" tall, can ride both of my folding bikes (Brompton and Mobic), though the crank length is a bit long, Since he would be able to ride it for a long time, that would give him some continuity as he keeps growing.
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