9

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

Addemdum: I made a diagram (see attached). I think I need to raise both training wheels at least an inch and get used to the idea of having zero or only one training wheel on the ground at a time. enter image description here

9
  • 2
    This answer may explain why you're having difficulty.
    – shoover
    Aug 29, 2022 at 22:53
  • 9
    I've got a couple questions. 1) what is the long term goal? Are the training wheels for "training" or for some other longer term balance issue? 2) How consistent is the camber? Is it practical to lift the uphill side and drop the downhill? Seems like potential for a world of hurt lifting both to keep them level, if for what ever reason you need the downhill one, is it going to be so far off the ground causing you to tip anyway?
    – Hursey
    Aug 29, 2022 at 23:47
  • 24
    Can you please say why it is you have training wheels, as this strongly influences the correct answer.
    – mattnz
    Aug 30, 2022 at 8:01
  • 5
    If you have balance issues: A real tricycle (especially a trike recumbent with tadpole layout, i.e. two wheel in the front) will behave much better.
    – Michael
    Aug 30, 2022 at 14:29
  • 2
    What's stopping you from raising them and trying it out? Aug 30, 2022 at 15:13

5 Answers 5

17

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.

10
  • 13
    While training wheels are no considered a good idea, without knowing the reason the OP is using them, it is incorrect to assert that they are not suitable for their needs
    – mattnz
    Aug 30, 2022 at 8:00
  • 10
    @mattnz what valid use could there possibly be for training wheels? They're counterproductive for any sort of training, because they train wrong behaviour. The only use that's not self-defeating is as a permanent addition. But that's no good either, because even a bike with sturdy training wheels is unstable and unsafe, so in that case one should get a trike instead. Aug 31, 2022 at 8:17
  • 3
    Practicalities like availability and cost, this is a global site, not everyone here suffers from first world middle class privileges.
    – mattnz
    Aug 31, 2022 at 20:42
  • 4
    Sorry - response to @leftaroundabout 'should get a trike' presumes the rider can a) afford to buy a trike and b) trikes can be purchased where they live and c) has somewhere to store a trike (trikes take a lot more space than bikes.
    – mattnz
    Sep 1, 2022 at 6:24
  • 3
    @leftaroundabout if you can't afford to buy central heating, it's ok to ask question how to improve the bonfire in your living room so you get less smoke in your house. In fact, the user mattnz was asking in the comments to OP's question ( bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/85604/… ) why OP uses training wheel. OP provided a clear question/issue, let's provide an answer to the question.
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 1, 2022 at 8:48
23

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.

3
  • 4
    +1 for the trike suggestion. They are ideal in situations where balance is an issue, and falling may have extreme consequences.
    – Criggie
    Aug 30, 2022 at 9:41
  • A trike will have the same steering issues on a cambered road (and the answer is "yes, a trike will do that, get used to it", which if it isn't trying to be a trainer for a bike is more helpful than for training wheels). But it will keep the drive wheel in contact with the ground, and it won't bend the training wheel supports.
    – armb
    Aug 30, 2022 at 14:11
  • 3
    My father refused to give me training wheels. Thanks to that I learned to ride a bike in two days, with him running along giving me a little support and encouraging me. The kid next door had training wheels on his bike, and it took him months to learn to do without them. Finally, after they'd been on the highest possible setting for quite a while, his father went out one day and took them off. The kid cried and whined and complained - until we were handed some money and told, "Everyone who rides their bike to the store gets ice cream". Suddenly he could ride... :-) Aug 30, 2022 at 20:34
6

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

enter image description here

5
  • 2
    Starting from a dead stop is a matter of getting up to your minimum balancing speed, as quick as possible. For most people, that's around 5 km/h. Ideally, you want to be up to speed in one push of one pedal. You can do this, just keep practicing and building confidence.
    – Criggie
    Aug 30, 2022 at 22:25
  • 1
    Glad you figured it out! If you think Matega had the right answer, please mark it as such (the grey check mark at the upper left corner of his answer).
    – SSilk
    Aug 31, 2022 at 0:50
  • Please ride carefully. I think the training wheels could give you a false sense of security.
    – Nobody
    Aug 31, 2022 at 9:47
  • 3
    They look so high now that I think you are pretty close to not needing them at all. You probably do most of the riding with them in the air.
    – nightrider
    Aug 31, 2022 at 11:54
  • 2
    @nightrider yeah - if OP is leaning that far then they should be working to regain balance already. If you got that far over suddenly, the wheels won't be enough to save you and will work to make the fall even worse.
    – Criggie
    Aug 31, 2022 at 23:57
3

You are trying to learn three distinct things:

  1. how to balance,
  2. how to steer (while balancing), and
  3. 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:

  1. Remove the training wheels. You don't need them.
  2. Remove the pedals (but keep the cranks). Learn balancing by itself.
  3. 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.

Then:

  1. Go to any flat surface (away from cars, other cyclists, etc—an empty parking lot, for example).
  2. Use your feet to push yourself forward. You'll find that balancing is trivial. You've learned it separately.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
0

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.

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.