January 9, 2014

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"Take off the pedals" works at all ages

I and many instructors use the "take off the pedals" method for students of all ages -- I've personally taught over 900 kids and (mostly) adults, up to early-70s, in 1-on-1 private lessons and also multi-instructor group Learn To Ride classes in SF and the East Bay. Find a bike that fits, lower the seat so the new rider can sit flat-footed (including both heels) with knees slightly bent, remove pedals (no need to remove cranks), and if needed adjust the reach (handlebar distance) so both arms are neither too long (which inhibits turns and corrections) nor too bent, nor too high (not above the diaphragm). Find a schoolyard or traffic-and-obstacle-free parking lot with a gentle grade, such that a basketball or soccer ball will keep rolling but not pick up speed. Have the student sit upright ("shoulders back, chin up") with arms extended (neither "floppy" nor "stiff"). Take little steps that don't lift your tush off the seat. And stay with it -- it can take anywhere from a minute to over an hour to "get" the feel of the steering corrections. Oh, and abandon all hope of a straight line, at least at first -- letting the bike "wander" actually helps your brain discover how to correct the path.

John Ciccarelli / Bicycle Solutions / San Francisco

John Ciccarelli 274 days ago

Great advice!

Hi John,
That's great advice -- thanks for sharing it!

Colleen Valles 238 days ago

bikes only?

whats wrong with roller skates? why force her to ride a bike when she has already chosen something she likes?

Mark 320 days ago

Bikes and rollerskates

Hi Mark,
Great question -- there's nothing wrong with roller skates, and Kira still uses them all the time. But in our area, where things are fairly spread out, they're not as practical for running some errands. Riding a bike helped maximize our options.

Colleen 309 days ago