Tips for getting rid of stabilisers?

Leccy

Senior Member
My son is 4 and has a little first bike (must be 10 or 12") with stabilisers on. When he first got it we went to our local tennis courts, when they were shut in the evening, and he got the hang of it in about 10minutes.
Unfortunately we live at the top of a fairly steep hill and his school is also on top of another hill and he is nowhere near as confident here as he is in the nice flat tennis courts. His general nature is quite reserved, he's not a confident rough and tough sort of boy, he's quite cautious.
He's now nearly too big for this bike and can comfortably hold up, with feet down, a 16" he was eyeing up in Halfords. Do I persevere with the stabilisers on uneven terrain or try to go straight to no stabilisers in the tennis courts then stick with that? A lot of his friends are riding without stabilisers and the idea of picking a new bike is making him want to try harder. Part of me thinks the stabilisers are putting him off to a certain extent when on uneven ground and they suddenly jerk from one wheel to the other!
 

compo

Veteran
Location
Harlow
I posted this back in March but don't know how to link to it so here it is again:

My daughter's first proper bike was a Raleigh Chipper, a scaled down Chopper. She had stabilisers on it. Behind our house was a large paved area where the local kiddies played in safety. My daughter came in for lunch one day and I decided she was big enough to learn to ride without stabilisers so I whipped them off quickly whilst she was eating. Poor little kid took one look and burst into tears, and still sobbing her little heart out pushed her bike down the garden path and through the gate to the play area. I admit I had tears in my eyes and nearly relented and called her back to refit them. Even her mum had the hump with me, but I was used to that. Anyway after a frosty hour watching TV my daughter came running up the path shouting "Daddy, Daddy, I can ride my bike". A short time with all the other kids and she had taught herself to ride, just like that. I asked if I was forgiven and she told me she would think about it. I am still waiting for an answer 35 years later.
 
OP
Leccy

Leccy

Senior Member
Lol brilliant! I wish we had a nice flat bit near us where he could play with his friends but unfortunately he is an only child and we have to drive to the tennis courts with the bike in the boot for now so can't really drop him off and leave him to it!
 

Andy_R

Hard of hearing..I said Herd of Herring..oh FFS..
Location
County Durham
Stabilisers off, pedals off, seat right down. Get him to "run" whilst sitting on the bike, each time taking bigger "strides". Once he's got his balance, pedals back on. Make sure he understands how to stop the bike with the brakes, and how to steer before putting pedals back on. It is possible to teach a non rider how to ride in less than an hour.
 
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Leccy

Leccy

Senior Member
I see that as a challenge Andy! As soon as he's better (asleep, home sick from school at the moment) and the weather dries up I'll get down there with my toolkit!
Do I leave the seat low when I put the pedals back on or put it back up? At the moment the handlebars and seat are both near the extreme of their extension
 

Graham

Senior Member
Sounds like your Son has a similar character to mine. For my son, I raised the stabilisers up a bit so that the bike wobbled a bit. This (I think!) got him used to balancing the bike without the stabilisers touching the ground - I'd ask him if he could "make it go quiet" i.e. no stabiliser noise. After a while, I took the stabilisers off and he freewheeled down a slight slope with me running next to him. Took him about a day to ride/pedal/steer at the same time - Massive confidence boost for him too!

We didn't bother with riding on unven paths etc with stabilisers - Think that made him less confident - The stabilisers caught on tree roots and jolted him around a lot, so agree with you on that point. No stabilisers on the tennis court sounds best!
 

Arjimlad

Tights of Cydonia
Location
South Glos
I have a playing field opposite my house, so when my sons were ready and asked me to do so, I took the stabilisers off their bikes & did the "running along behind holding on to back of saddle" trick around the playing field.

Then I let go, without saying anything and they carried on nicely, only realising they had been going under own steam once they were on the other side of the field.

They would have had a soft landing if they had fallen off. But they did not. They were each about 4-5 when I did this and peer pressure was a big thing.

Do you have a flat grassy space nearby ?
 
The older of my 2 brothers learnt to ride a bike with only 1 stabiliser on at first (primarily becuase the other one broke, and was never repaired - one of those (now ex) step fathers who was a roundtuit person... It was positioned slightly off the ground so that if it was 'in use' you were leaning to one side. After a while, he asked for it to be removed and never looked back.
My other brother, I taught to ride by simply running alongside him holding him less and less - it took about 30 mins, I was exhausted and he had it sussed. There was only 1 or 2 occasions where I was left holding him, and the bike was on the ground. removing the fear of being hurt in a fall, (i.e. trust in you) worked great. It was just teaching him the to carry on holding onto the brakes when he stopped and after he had stopped that took a while - he had never riden before.
(Ironically my sister on the other hand, like myself took straight to bikes and was riding from the age of 3 without stabilisers at all, much to the neighbours horror).

If you goggle 'balance bikes' you will see the sort of thing that Andy_R is referring to. We saw them extensively through Scandinavia last year, and from what I could tell younger kids take to them really easily. the idea being that they walk whilst sitting on the bike rather than feet off the ground (hence the no pedals bit). this sort of thing.... there is a picture of the kids on them http://www.kettler.co.uk/toys/balance-bikes/
 

ianrauk

Tattooed Beat Messiah
Kids get used to balancing on a bike very quickly.
Once they have learnt there is no stopping them.

This is my little boy at 2&qtr years old on his balance bike....
He now scoots around like nobody's business. And he is already going on about wanting a bike with pedals like daddies.

 
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Leccy

Leccy

Senior Member
that looks really good, unfortunately the only big flat bit of grass I can think of is quite long and will be boggy for a long time after this weather stops, if it does!
Might have to go for a weekend drive in search of suitable learning sites, I think if he comes off on the tennis courts its going to hurt, they're tarmac ones
 

mrandmrspoves

Middle aged bald git.
Location
Narfuk
Tarmac is best....because it's easiest and the bike will roll better. Totally agree with the advice above re saddle down and pedals and stabilisers off. After a while the saddle can go up bit by bit until balance is achieved.
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
I agree with the advice, though if he is outgrowing the bike you probably don't need to put the saddle down very much - he just needs to be able to put his feet flat on the ground easily. A little slope will help but not a huge one at first.
 

atbman

Veteran
I agree with the standard advice about taking the pedals off and making sure he can reach the ground comfortably. We teach 40 odd kids a year to ride by this method.

Stabilisers should be banned - they are the instruments of the :evil:
 

Davidc

Guru
Location
Somerset UK
It's a shame he's had stabilisers, but the damage is done. Take the advice about converting the bike to a balance bike (stabilisers off, pedals off, saddle down etc.) and use it on a hard reasonably level surface.

It'll take time after stabilisers but he'll still get there in a few days.

atbman's description of stabilisers can't be bettered.
 
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