I just had adult training wheels put on my bike and I cannot steer it properly. The roads in my neighborhood are all cambered (raised in the middle) and the bike keeps pulling strongly to the right. I have to lean my body way out to the left to conteract the pull to the right. The training wheels are set almost right on the ground. Should I move them higher so there is space between the wheels and the ground? Or am I doing something wrong? Thanks. Zaffer
Bicycles (and other two-wheeled vehicles like motorcycles) constantly need righting while riding. That is done mostly by the rider. If the bicycle starts to tip to the side, you automatically steer to the same side so you induce an opposite effect. This is helped by the head angle, the wheel trail and the gyroscopic effect, but active steering plays the biggest role. If a bicycle leans to one side for a longer time, it starts to turn or it falls over. (In fact, this is how you steer a bike in a corner: you steer in the opposite direction to make it lean into the corner and then you just keep it leaning until you've taken the turn.)
If you're cycling on the right side of a cambered road, the part of the road you're riding on slopes to the right. On a normal bike this isn't a problem since you can ride upright regardless of the slope.
Compared to this, a bicycle with training wheels is a completely different vehicle. It doesn't need righting and it doesn't need to lean into corners. In fact, if you try to ride it like a normal bike it leads to the experience you described. Your training wheels make the bike lean to the right, perpendicular to the road surface. Your natural reaction to the bike leaning to the right is to steer to the right to counteract the leaning. You then trick your brain into thinking the bike is already upright by leaning left relative to the bicycle.
If you would lift the training wheels a little, you would create a vehicle that behaves like a bicycle when it is upright but makes it impossible to lean into corners and actually throws you off if you try to go into a corner at any speed.
The solution is to remove the training wheels completely. Training wheels suck and they don't teach you how to ride but they also hinder your progress.
Training wheels are for training only. You need to find a suitable flat place and do the training there. From the time my daughter had them I remember they are not suitable for actual travel over real roads. Among other things, on a more worn tarmac you can just hang on them with the rear wheel in the air.
If the goal is to learn riding, do some training and then remove the training wheels (even if my daughter still remembers how angry she was when I did). They do not give a lot of useful skills so can be ditched early or not used at all.
Initially you can lower the seat instead, to be sure the ground is easy to reach.
If you have some more permanent problems, use adult tricycle instead.
Thanks everybody for your answers -- especially Matega who got it right! I needed to raise the training wheels off the ground to about 2" clearance. They work perfectly now. I find I can ride my bike "as normal," meaning the training wheels don't touch the ground at all, but if I start to lose my balance, they catch me and prevent me from tipping over. Cornering is different, of course and starting from a dead stop is a learning curve, but the wheels give my bike stability and me a sense of conficence to keep riding as I grow older. Please see attached pics. Zaffer
You are trying to learn three distinct things:
- how to balance,
- how to steer (while balancing), and
- how to pedal (while steering and balancing).
Don't try to learn all three at the same time. Just like you would never attempt to juggle three balls from the start. You would first make sure you know how to juggle just one ball, and then two balls, ...
Do this instead:
- Remove the training wheels. You don't need them.
- Remove the pedals (but keep the cranks). Learn balancing by itself.
- Find a gentle slope and go to the top. Hop on the bike and slowly lift your feet off the ground. Do nothing else. The bike will start to move (by gravity). Steer just enough to stay in a straight-line and to balance.
After doing this, you'll find that you learned balancing in just one minute.
- Go to any flat surface (away from cars, other cyclists, etc—an empty parking lot, for example).
- Use your feet to push yourself forward. You'll find that balancing is trivial. You've learned it separately.
- Now turn gently to the left and to the right, still while pushing yourself by just "walking". You'll see there isn't much to it.
You've just learned balancing and steering. Only pedaling remains.
- Put back the pedals. Notice carefully which pedal is right and which one is left. They thread differently. For safety, you need to apply quite a bit of torque to tighten them.
- Now start to pedal. You already know how to balance and how to steer. Pedaling is now trivial. You are likely already used to the motion from exercise bikes.
On a normal bike, you steer by doing a bit of counter steering first. You push the left handle bar a little bit, your balance goes to the left, then you go to the left. With training wheels, you need to do the opposite. To go left, you push the right handle bar, not the left handle bar. This is why training wheels for kids are quite counter productive.