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My friend wants to learn to ride, and I've got a road bike that fits him reasonably. He's willing to buy a helmet, but not a trike or anything like that.

My plan was to put the seat low and have him try riding on grass, so falls are less of a problem.

What other exercises would help him get going?

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See also: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/5364/… –  amcnabb Aug 10 '12 at 21:09
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2 Answers

It's silly, but with the saddle down so that he is able to push himself forward with the feet, ask him to pretend he's running on low gravity, trying to go as far as possible between steps.

On doing this, he can/could/should lean the bike a bit left when he puts left foot on ground, and lean the bike right when right foot is down.

The "secret" is trying to find and maintain the "sweet spot" when the bike is perfectly upright, and at this spot learn to manage the handlebar to keep balance, while the legs would probably be a bit spread and close to the ground.

This should be done on a flat, smooth surface, so the bike could keep going even at low speeds.

Besides that, I think braking should be learned BEFORE pedalling, so the next step would be to stop the bike, then just reduce speed, and THEN pedal with no foot on ground anymore.

I have never tried this, but I think it's how I'd like to be taught if that were the case :o)

Hope this helps.

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This is similar to some of the techniques suggested for children and seems like a good idea even for adults. See: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/452/… –  amcnabb Jul 31 '12 at 17:38
    
The fact that they can touch the ground with both feet is going to give them a lot more confidence and help them from getting hurt. If you don't get hurt (or embarrassed from falling) you will practice more, gain more skill, and have a better chance of success!! –  BillyNair Jul 31 '12 at 17:54
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Also remind them to look where they WANT to go, not where they want to avoid or staring 6" in front of the wheel. –  Matt Adams Jul 31 '12 at 17:58
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Yeah, it might be good to find a bike that's undersized, to make it easier for the feet to reach the ground. Also, the pedals can be removed initially, to make it easier to push along with the feet. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 31 '12 at 19:06
    
(And if you can find the old Fraiser episode where he tries to learn how to ride a bike, that's a good mood-setter.) –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 31 '12 at 19:07
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The technique I describe here is covered very nicely in a video at REI's web site.

My adult wife learned to ride at a local free workshop in Brooklyn two years back. See if there's a local class / workshop in your area. It took all of two hours.

The class was held in a large, vacant asphalt lot. The students were taught how to properly adjust the helmet, and given lightly-padded fingerless gloves. (If you lose control and fall, that's where you're likely to hit the hardest.) They were then given bikes with low seats and took off the pedals. The students took some time walking the bikes, getting used to balance, stopping with their feet, then walking a bit faster and learning the brakes. After 30-45 minutes the pedals were put back on the bikes and well ... basically, everyone was now riding bikes around the lot!

Grass would seem a bad idea, in my opinion, because you have to pedal all that much harder. Take a smooth surface at low speed and start with your feet on the ground.

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