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I have a friend that refuses to attempt to learn to ride a bike without training wheels/being a tricycle, despite being 22 years old and an avid jogger.....

I have an 30 year old touring bike, and a hybrid that is more on the mountain bike end of things.

I've noticed that adult training wheels are horribly expensive, and I don't have $200 to blow on a set.

I've come up with some crazy ideas that I might discuss with a professor from my engineering mechanics class, but does anyone have an affordable way to set up training wheels on a "typical", if you will, adult bike?

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Tell him to man up! –  GordonM Jul 4 '13 at 8:12

3 Answers 3

Don't.

Training wheels can be effective if someone has balance issues, but for those people a tricycle is normally a better approach.

To someone with reasonable balance learning to ride, using training wheels impedes learning. For infants, the balance bike toys are great, but they are not available in adult sizes. Instead, remove the cranks, bottom bracket, derailleur and chain from a normal bicycle. If you don't have the tools a bike shop should be able to do this cheaply. Ideally choose one that's a little on the small size for the adult so that the crossbar is lower and the handlebars closer than usual. Using a cheap/reclaimed bike means reassembling it afterwards isn't an issue, which is handy since old, cheap bikes are often really painful to put back together (and you'll probably end up buying new cables, chain and possibly bottom bracket anyway).

That setup lets them get the hang of balancing and steering with the safety of being able to put both feet on the ground easily. Do it off the street, obviously, preferably in a park with grass available to deal with the inevitable "what if I fall" question. Answer: try falling on the grass.

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some more details on learning to ride with no pedals rei.com/learn/expert-advice/teach-child-to-ride-a-bike.html. This is an excellent way, you learn how to balance and get confidence in stopping the bike before you start to go faster. –  robthewolf Jul 2 '13 at 7:03
    
Should be no real need to remove the bottom bracket. Remove the chain, maybe, and tape the crank arms horizontally after removing the pedals. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 4 '13 at 0:49
    
Daniel, I've done this and having the extra width down there is annoying. It means you need to hold your legs out further when scooting, and when the BB/crank inevitably hits you on the back of your calf it hurts. But padding that area is a good idea. –  Mσᶎ Jul 4 '13 at 0:55

You don’t learn cycling with training wheels. The most difficult part of riding a bike is keeping balance and making a turn, not pedaling or braking. When you have appropriate speed, an experienced cyclist performs a steering manoeuvre called countersteering (although most of them are not aware of that): In order to turn left, you push the left bar handle (yes push, not pull). That way you "fall" to the left and at that moment physics kick in and you make a nice left turn.

If you have training wheels, you are learning the exact opposite: if you want to turn left, swing your steer to the left, if you want to go to the right, swing it to the right as if you are in a car. So you'll have to re-learn cycling again once the training wheels are dismounted.

Learning the hardest part (keeping your balance and steering) can best be done on a low bike with the pedals dismounted, using your feet to make speed. If he is experienced in that, just remount the paddles back and off you go!

Source: Living in the Netherlands, father of four kids that could all ride a bike at the age of three (without any use of training wheels) and being an active motor bike rider.

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Why would you blow $200 when it's the friend that refuses to learn to ride? Tell this person to get a 24" wheeled kids bike from a thrift store for 15 bucks and take the cranks off to turn it into an adult coaster bike. That wouldn't look any more ridiculous that an adult riding a bike with training wheels, and it would actually teach this person how to balance on a bicycle.

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Yep, that's a very good suggestion. A relatively small bike with the pedals off and the seat low enough to walk flat-footed. Use it until you can coast along pretty well, then the pedals can be added back and the seat raised. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 4 '13 at 0:46

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