20

I'm a 20 yrs old boy with polio in my right leg, and due to this fact I never tried to learn to ride a bike.

But now I want to give it a go, but since I have no one to teach me (I have no friends or family), online videos are my only options. Please point me to any videos or websites that can teach me how to ride a bike.

My biggest problem is that I can't do the balancing as the entire right side of my body is very weak. Also please recommend my first bike; I want it to be light-weight.

5
  • 1
    I would recommend that you get some form of tricycle. A recumbent tricycle would probably work well for you. (I'd get one if we had room for it in the garage.) Jan 2, 2022 at 13:40
  • I'm not sure how universal the term "adaptive cycling" is, but I suspect it will be recognizable in much of the English-speaking world. You could search for adaptive cycling clubs near you as a start.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Jan 2, 2022 at 14:17
  • Some cycling clubs offer bike training for adults. Or perhaps try Tandem biking if you find someone to try it with :)
    – Erlkoenig
    Jan 2, 2022 at 16:47
  • 6
    Could you please quantify "very weak" -- e.g. can you push 1%, 5%, 20%, 50% of your body weight with your right leg? Can you stand? Do your muscles fatigue quickly, or can you maintain that force for a long time? Jan 4, 2022 at 0:46
  • On balancing: if your right side is weak, your sense of 'balance' is probably skewed to favour your left leg when walking/standing. You need to unlearn this in order to ride a bike. Being conscious of this may help you adjust, perhaps in conjunction with using a balance bike as suggested by @Michael.
    – avid
    Jan 4, 2022 at 12:56

5 Answers 5

19

I think the consensus in recent years has been to not use any kind of training wheels when learning to ride a bike. For young children there are balance bikes which don’t have any pedals or drivetrain by design. I guess as an adult you can try to “imitate” such a balance bike by removing the pedals and possibly the crankset from a normal bike and lower the seat so both feet can reach the ground comfortably. You then “walk” while on the bike and try to balance longer and longer until you can lift up both legs and still not fall over.

I’d probably try this with a cheap, used, slightly smaller bicycle with relaxed seating position first. Get a proper bike once you’ve learned to ride and know that you can actually do it. This way you are also able to actually test ride the new bike before you buy it.

If it turns out that your disability makes it hard or impossible to balance and/or stay on the bike you can look into tricycles. Recumbent tricycles are fast (small frontal area for low drag) and fun to ride. Unfortunately they are quite expensive.

4
  • Agreed that training wheels are rubbish - a balance bike teaches steering and balance, while not complicating matters with pedaling, and is very effective for most learners. However with the OP's special needs I'd be inclined to go the other way, and start with a trike. Add electric assist, and possibly fixed wheel to make one-sided pedaling easier.
    – bertie
    Jan 2, 2022 at 16:27
  • 1
    @bertie: I guess it depends on how bad it is. I don’t like telling disabled people they can’t do something. Of course if it turns out to be impossible (or impractical) a trike is the only real option. However I recall a cyclist who was missing an entire arm and leg and could still ride a normal road bike.
    – Michael
    Jan 2, 2022 at 16:36
  • 4
    I said "start with a trike", not "you'll never ride a bicycle". I'm "differently able", I'm better at cycling than I am at walking, but I'm in the process of constructing an electric trike to supplement my two-wheelers because I have worsening back weakness. This isn't accepting less, it's just trying different. Some people choose to ride trikes for fun, not because they can't manage bikes (a chap in the next club over from ours used to ride an upright trike so his girlfriend could keep up with him - upright trikes can be a bit challenging at higher speeds).
    – bertie
    Jan 2, 2022 at 17:05
  • 6
    It really depends on the peculiarities of OP’s disability. The only advantages of starting with a trike is that you can learn how to pedal (which is surprisingly difficult for people who’ve never done it) and maybe build some muscle. The problem with trikes is that they are big, expensive and the (used) market is small.
    – Michael
    Jan 2, 2022 at 17:49
10

In many countries there are groups that have an interest in helping people with disabilities get into cycling - e.g. https://wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/ . I would suggest such an organization if you have one local. If not, the resources offered by these groups in other countries might be helpful.

With electric bikes becoming popular, all sorts of alternates that were too heavy to be practical become an option, have a look around for ideas (The above web site has some listed).

Try to work out where you would like to get to, are you aiming to be able to ride a standard bicycle, or is the aim to have a machine that gets you mobil. How much (secure) space do you have to store it, ideally inside.

Cost is probably the limiting factor in what you can do. Look to see if there is support in your country that will help fund a bicycle, this could be thorough government agencies, local charities and NGO's etc. A local support organization might be able to help.

If all else fails, get in touch with you local bicycle club, and a bicycle coop if you have one.

1
  • 2
    Yep, a bicycle co-op would be well-motivated to set up a bike to suit your needs. Jan 2, 2022 at 21:48
3

I foresee two possible issues with your situation:

  1. It may be difficult to use to right leg to keep you up after you have stopped
  2. It may be difficult to give a lot of power with your right leg when going up hill

The first issue is easy to overcome. You just make sure you lean a bit to the left when stopping and you use you left leg. Your leg will be almost straight when touching the ground, so it may not be an issue at all. For me landing on the left leg is a habit and I always do it. I only put the right leg on the ground when I loose balance to that side, that happens sometimes because I do not put any effort in to avoiding it.

The second issue is also easy to overcome, just buy a bike with more gears. Then you can always keep the pedals moving fast enough to provide most of the power with your right leg when going up hill. I would recommend 7 or 8 gears, that should be enough. Bikes with more gears usually have two handles to change gear, that can be confusing when learning several new things at the same time. If you like technical stuff you can also buy one with 28 gears, it's not a huge deal to have two handles for gear change.

I know training wheels are generally not recommended, but if you really cannot hold yourself up with your right leg, even when it is (almost) straight, you may want to consider having a big training wheel on the right side only.

One last tip, find a safe place to practice. Not all countries have safe bicycle lanes.

2
  • 2
    The only worry I'd have with the above is that, at least for me, whatever foot balances me, the other one is the one "starting" the bike (right foot on ground, left pedal up, left foot starts the pedaling). I'm sure there's a way to work around that, though, but it's perhaps not trivial - it will require pushing off/forward with the left foot and then beginning pedaling also.
    – Joe
    Jan 3, 2022 at 21:42
  • @Joe: Good point. And it may also be useful to have a bike where the pedals can move backward freely, so the left pedal can be put upward without moving the bike.
    – Orbit
    Jan 4, 2022 at 11:31
2

As indicated in the comments, try out a recumbent trike, this will work for people who are so weak in one leg that they can not learn on an upright bike or even trike, but can be more comfortable for people who can learn to use other cycles.

Recumbent trikes are available for people who can not use one side of their body at all, if you have limited use you can mostly use one standard as factory made or at most with the brake handles all worked with your strong hand.

Depending on the location you might be able to get one from the support groups also already mentioned.

There are also sit-up trikes, which are likely to work for you, but you will still need to balance your body, while a recumbent trike has much more support as you sit in a kind of chair.

This is a link to a wikipedia photo of one recumbent trike.

0

Another option is a bike or trike where the handlebars are also the pedals. I've seen one or more in use. You pedal and steer with your hands.

Or one where you pedal with hands and steer with a foot or other body part. Haven't seen one, but it would surprise me if no one has ever built such a thing.

2
  • 1
    But how this would be helpful if the hand is also weak?
    – nightrider
    Jan 4, 2022 at 8:00
  • Well, it would be possible to pedal only one hand or leg, but it would be more difficult. One hand would be easier than one leg, since you would be able to pull as well as push.
    – WGroleau
    Jan 4, 2022 at 20:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.