Training wheel adjustment?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Wright, Sep 5, 2001.

  1. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    OK, you parents, time to hand out some advice:
    We bought my 4 year old daughter a bike last year, but she only recently began to ride it on a regular basis. Originally, I adjusted the training wheels to be slightly off the road, but she had a lot of trouble turning. She'd take a left and the bike would fall over to the right. I thought she was turning too sharp but earlier this week decided to find out what the problem was, so I hopped on the bike myself. (I'm told it was hilarious, watching me ride up and down the street on a kiddie bike.) Well, even I had a hard time turning the thing! When I went right, the bike would lean right as it should, but then the right training wheel would hit the ground and jerk the bike back to the left. It would then fall over.
    So, I thought, better raise the training wheels. I raised them all the way up and let my little girl ride it. This time, that problem went away. I expected she would figure out how to balance and only use the training wheels as a "catch", but she just rode it back and forth with one training wheel on the ground and the other way up in the air - leaning the whole time. She also fell a couple of times just riding in a straight line because the bike was leaning way too much.
    So, I readjusted the things again. This time, they're all the way down, to the point that both wheels touch the ground at all times. The bike stays perfectly level on it's own and doesn't wobble back and forth at all. This seems to work better. I'm thinking this is how they are supposed to be adjusted, as she will get used to riding straight and level so one day when we remove the training wheels, she'll just keep riding that way. At least, that's how it works in my head. Real life may be another story.
    Anyway, my wife is convinced that they should be up off the ground a bit so she will learn to balance. We already tried that and had problems, and she doesn't balance that way, she just lets the bike lean on one of the training wheels and rides it sideways (and falls over trying to turn). I think they should stay all the way down, holding the bike perfectly level at all times.
    What's the correct way to adjust training wheels??
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    -Ryan (http://www.ryanwright.com )
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  2. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    The correct way is to do it as your wife indicated. But having said that, I think you should leave them all the way down. The idea is to get the rider to, as you say, use them as a “catch” so she can learn to balance. Also, leaning into turns is very important, and training wheels off the ground allow for this, um… training.
    But it sounds like your daughter is just riding it like a tricycle – no leaning, no balancing, and no fewer than three wheels in contact with the ground at a time. In other words, she’s not really “training,” she’s just riding.
    And that’s just fine. When she gets a little older and more receptive and sensitive to kinematic feedback, then it will be time to raise the training wheels off the ground a little so they can do their job.
    So just be patient. Every kid learns at her own pace, and there’s nothing intuitive or instinctive about riding a two-wheeler. It sounds like it’s just too early for her to grasp the concept enough to think of it as different from riding a tricycle.
    And if it makes any difference, I’ve just gone through exactly the same thing with my daughter. She just didn’t “get it.” Worse, when she began to respond kinematically, she attempted to lean outward on turns in order to counteract the bike’s tendency to lean into turns so she could keep the bike as upright as possible, regardless of the forces acting on it. Consequently, she fell down a lot unless the training wheels were lowered to the ground. It was bad enough when she was clueless about the need for balance, as your daughter seems to be. But when she began doing exactly the opposite of what she should have done to maintain balance, I thought we’d never get rid of the training wheels. Finally, I raised just the left wheel and drew a circular chalk “track” in the driveway for her to follow. Going counterclockwise, when she allowed the outside right wheel to touch the ground, which was her tendency in order to keep the bike upright, she would have to stop and put her feet down to avoid taking a spill. When she allowed the inside left wheel to touch the ground, she did just fine. Suddenly, she “got it,” and we ended up taking the training wheels off that very day.
     
  3. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I think when I was learning to ride many moons ago, I had my older sister basically run behind me and hold the bike a bit and then practice doing slow speed turns and stuff. Leave the training wheels on but at a slightly raised position. I think it would be best way to teach how to lean into a turn... And holding the bike upright would teach avoiding the tricycle affect that training wheels have on bikes. Worth a shot anyway, that's how I was taught... Look what happened to me... Gasp... but that's another thread...
    On a completely side note, if you are on your own bike, to make really quick turns, say to avoid a car or a pothole, you actually want to do something called "counter steering" I think the guys on Motorcycles already know what I'm talking about... Say a car is about to cut you off and you just have enough space to turn and not to brake... You actually want to turn into the car for a 1/2 second and then weight the outer edge and turn in the direction of the car. By turning into the car, you're naturally going to put your weight or CoG in a perfect position to lean the way you want to go. Try it on an empty street while travelling slowly. It works and I've used it a few times to avoid potholes that sneak up on you.
    Jay
     
  4. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    I'm of the old-school... for the training part, skip the training wheels altogether and just run behind her and hold here until she's got it. That's how I learned.
    If you don't want to do that, it sounds to me like your wife's suggestion would be the best.
    Then again, I have no children, so what the heck do I know.
    /Mike
     
  5. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    My philosophy regarding "training" wheels is that they aren't there to do any training at all. They help the young child enjoy riding a bicycle without the danger of falling. If they don't prevent the bike from falling, even during a turn, then they aren't adjusted correctly. They need to be down far enough that they prevent tipping during a turn. They don't have to be all the way down though.
    I've taught two kids how to ride a bike (not my own, they're still too young). The way I did it was by taking off the training wheels and walking/running beside them while holding the bike. This gives them the chance to learn a little balance. As they get used to it you can slowly hold it a little less, letting them to the bulk of the balancing. You're just there to prevent the falling. Eventually, with their consent, you can let go and let them do it themselves. The real trick is knowing when they are ready. They have to be willing to learn. Both kids I taught were basically begging me to teach them and both picked it up in just one afternoon. They were 6 years old at the time.
    I taught myself to ride a bike with no training wheels. I did it on the grass so I wouldn't hurt myself if I fell. Leave a determined child to themselves and they'll do their own teaching.
    Don't forget helmets!!!! (And knee and elbow pads if you plan on teaching without training wheels.)
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    [Edited last by Bill Catherall on September 05, 2001 at 07:07 PM]
     
  6. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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  7. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    quote: My philosophy regarding "training" wheels is that they aren't there to do any training at all. They help the young child enjoy riding a bicycle without the danger of falling.[/quote]Bingo! Bill, once again, you've crystalized in two sentences what it took me a few paragraphs to say (not to mention a few years to figure out).
    Also, Ryan's kid is only four years old! Learning to ride a bike without training wheels is probably two years off. I'm with Bill. Keep the training wheels on, and adjust them so she doesn't fall. If that means they need to be lowered to the ground, then so be it. At this age, she can't be expected to get the feel of balancing a two-wheeler, so any attempts at "training" would result only in frustration. At most, she should simply feel good about herself for having graduated from a tricycle to a bicycle - even though, technically, she's added a fourth wheel. [​IMG]
    [Edited last by BrianW on September 06, 2001 at 11:37 AM]
     
  8. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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  9. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    Thank you for all the replies. I actually took the training wheels completely off the other night and walked along with her, holding the bike. She's real unsteady & wobbly. I think it's just too early for her, so I'm going to just keep it in "quadcycle" mode for another year or so. Then we'll pull 'em off and learn how to ride it on two wheels.
    Yes, she has a helmet and is not allowed to ride without one. When she is much older and has been riding for a number of years, I'll let her take it off if she wants to. Bike helmets didn't exist when I was growing up and we rode our bikes constantly. I don't know anybody who ever hurt their head falling off a bicycle. Regardless, the potential is there, so until she is much older and fully competant, the helmet stays on.
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    -Ryan (http://www.ryanwright.com )
    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
    Teach him to use the HTF and keep him occupied for life.
     
  10. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    It's not so much the falling that you need to worry about. Kids have a tendancy to roll down driveways onto streets and in the path of oncoming traffic. In a case like that a helmet can save their life. Older kids that like to ride fast, do stunts, tricks, stupid things, or even ride in the street need helmets.
    When I was a kid we never wore seat belts in the car. Baby seats were steal death traps. Mom use to hold the baby in her lap in the front seat. Does that mean that if I lived to tell about it then seat belts aren't necessary?
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    Bill [​IMG]
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  11. Jonathan Burk

    Jonathan Burk Second Unit

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    Here's another very successful way to teach a kid to ride a bike:
    Take off the pedals and training wheels, and lower the seat so their feet can touch the ground. Let them putter around like this, and they'll quickly learn to balance, without falling. Once they're really good, put the pedals back on. If they're used to balancing, it's no problem to start pedaling. [​IMG]
     

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