After numerous attempts to ride my cruiser bike without falling, I have ordered a set of "training wheels" for my bike. Yes, I took the pedals off and practiced on grass and all that, but just could not get the hang of it. The very last time I had training wheels on a bike, I was 7 years old, so this was not an easy decision for me. I am 59.

My question is this: How will I be able to tell when I no longer need the training wheels? When I was a kid, the training wheels actually lifted off the ground after awhile, indicating that I wasn't even dependent on them (so my parents took them off). I became quite proficient at riding and hope to be again, so this is important to me. Any ideas?

Please do not write in and tell me not to install the wheels - I agonized over this so long, and am only doing it as a last resort. Please just advise based on the assumption that these wheels are going on the bike. Thanks.

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    Welcome to Bicycles @Muse. As we would do with a kids, gradually adjust the wheels to be higher and higher. As soon as you can ride straight without either training wheel on the ground, take them off. It sounds agonizing - you've already tried to do what we would all do in this position. The issue is that you're trying to train your autonomous nervous system. It takes a while, and can be frustrating. If you didn't say not to, I would be recommending that you persevere. But now that you've chosen this other course, stick at it. But also, check if there are any problems with your balance.
    – andy256
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 23:44
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    If you are having trouble riding the bike I would suspect that the bike may be part of the problem. Perhaps it is too large for you, or it's not adjusted properly. And I find that the super-wide handlebars they often put on cheap bikes are hard to manage. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 12:18
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    Since you've taken off the pedals lower the saddle that your feet touch the ground. There's no need that heels touch as well, the front third may be enough. Then walk along while sitting on the saddle and try to cover distances lifting the feet and balancing. It will be a better exercise than with 'training wheels'. Once you got the twist you'll lift the saddle and put the pedals back on. Good luck.
    – Carel
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 16:32
  • Hi - its a year later. How did you get on with this? I'd be seriously considering an adult tricycle, if there are ongoing balance issues. Did you have any hearing problems ? Often hearing and balance are linked.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 7:59

2 Answers 2


Please do not write in and tell me not to install the wheels - I agonized over this so long, and am only doing it as a last resort.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but at least for children there has been a trend in recent years to skip training wheels completly. It just leads to children trusting in them and never learning to balance. Where did you find strong enough training wheels for a grown adult anyways?

Just like Daniel R Hicks in the comments I suspect the bicycle for being at least partly responsible. I’ve never ridden one of those cruiser bicycles myself but the seating position generally looks horrible.

Can’t you borrow a more normal bicycle, adjust the saddle height (hiiiigh!) and ask someone to assist you i.e. keep you steady so you can reach speed? (it’s much easier to balance a moving bicycle)


This probably sounds completely non-helpful, but you'll know you don't need the training wheels when you're no longer using the training wheels.

I'm sure you're probably tired of the non-helpful "don't use training wheels" as well... here's the problem with training wheels.

Any two wheel, in-line vehicle (i.e., bicycle, motorcycle) is balanced and steered by countersteering*; the operator controls balance and direction by turning the front wheel the direction it's falling over, or to turn, away from the desired path of travel to force it to lean in.

Any vehicle with more than two points of contact with the ground (bus, car, motorcycle with sidecar, bicycle with training wheels), doesn't; direction is controlled "normally" by pointing the front wheel(s) where you want to go.

This makes training wheels- at the surface a good idea- problematic, as your motor system is trying to learn two different sets of skills. At best, you've converted your bicycle into a quadcycle. At worst where they don't touch the ground all the time, sometimes it's a tricycle, sometimes it's not, and you're forcing your brain to switch modes rapidly, making it harder to learn, not easier.

There's a video on YouTube channel "Smarter Every Day" with a backward steering bicycle; maybe you've seen them at a fair or carnival. The steering is geared so turning the bars right make the wheel turn left. It is very difficult to learn how to ride, because you have to retrain your motor skills. Should you watch it, note at 1:02 to 1:05, when he attempts to ride it- the bike starts falling to rider's left, and he tries to steer the front tire back under it- causing it to fall faster. Later he tries to ride a normal bicycle, and can't at first; his brain has to switch modes. This is what you're doing to yourself by wanting to use training wheels. Smarter Every Day, Backwards Bicycle

Good Luck!

*The mechanics of which are beyond the scope, etc; for this article, let's run with the belief in magic. Or, Countsteering 101

  • DeanW can you please provide proof of counter steering? I do cycle and have tried on several bikes, on all I go left when I pull on the left end of the handle bar. I guess those people sure they go right do change the balance without even noticing it and steer that way.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 15:17
  • I fixed the links above... Note that on a bicycle, it's fairly easy to counteract / overcome by shifting body weight because your body is the largest part of the system; on a motorcycle, not so much.
    – DeanW
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 21:23
  • @Willeke: Try riding with no hands, make a fist, and push the left side of the handlebar forward and see what direction you crash in. Imagine balancing a broomstick on your hand. If you want to move it to the left, you have to move your hand a hair to the right first, to begin moving the center of gravity towards the left. If you still don't believe me, read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countersteering, or ride a motorcycle, where the effect is much more dramatic. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 19:30
  • @whatsisname I have tried and it never worked for me. But it might be that my bike reacts so fast on the steering, balance as well as handlebars, that I do not have enough time to see it. Proof has been added to the answer, that is enough for me.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 19:33
  • @Willeke: It's not the bicycle that does it, it's the rider. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 19:52

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