Forum home Family & kids cycling forum

Stabilisers

DragonDyfDragonDyf Posts: 14
Hi. First post, but a long time lurker!

I'm a product design student, and have been looking into how children learn to ride a bike.

Stabilisers are the cheapest, and most common technique used by parents, yet they are not perfect. I'm looking to possibly re-design the stabiliser enabling the child to learn the techniques and skills in how to ride a bike correctly.

I realise there are other alternatives, like a running bike, but I'm not aiming for that end of the market.

If you have any suggestions, stories from your dealings with them, please shout out!

Thanks for your time! :D

Posts

  • WooliferkinsWooliferkins Posts: 2,060
    The running bike breaks the learning process down into manageable chunks. The child learns balance and steering without the confusion of worrying about brakes and pedals. Once one skill is mastered you move onto the next. IMHO and understanding of the process confidence in balance is the first thing that needs to be mastered then the rest can be added. A running bike is not at any "end" of the market especially as stabilisers are much cheaper than upgrading machines. Good luck.
    Neil
    Help I'm Being Oppressed
  • WooliferkinsWooliferkins Posts: 2,060
    Oops sorry, Welcome along.
    Neil
    Help I'm Being Oppressed
  • Mike HealeyMike Healey Posts: 1,023
    edited January 2010
    Designe them with a quick release mechanism which can be removed in the shop and thrown in the bin. :wink:

    Alternatively, link QR mechanism on stabiliser with pedals, so that removing stabiliser also removes pedals. Then teach kid to ride the most time-efficient way using bike as runner bike, then put pedals back on. 8)
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
  • ok, I can see how this is going!

    So whats so bad about stabilisers then?

    Thanks in advance.
  • Both of my kids learnt with stabilisers .. and they served their purpose well I might add.

    Nor do I believe that it hindered them mastering riding without stabilisers - my son was riding on 2 wheels at 4.5 yrs, and my daughter is zooming around at just 3 years old.

    All this hype about running bikes is just because it's a new idea .. probably equally as great as learning the art of pedalling.

    Just my opnion of course.

    As for what would make stabilisers better - a quick release mechanism would be great, for those few weeks when they want to try without stabilisers, but want to go back to the security of being supported again.
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    DragonDyf wrote:
    ok, I can see how this is going!

    So whats so bad about stabilisers then?

    Thanks in advance.

    The hardest thing to learn, and the one you MOST want to go into the reflex/subconscious, is balance. Stabilisers take this away.

    In fact, it's worse, they make it harder to learn balance. Steering a bike is what, 80% lean and 20% steering? With stabilisers it's all steering. I could go on and on - but shan't.

    Good on you for trying to make them better. However, I agree with the sentiments above.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    Is there any evidence that stabilisers delay learning to balance? Maybe kids rely on them too long when they could balance if they tried - but my experience suggests a kid will balance when they are developed enough to balance rather than when they've practiced enough.

    My kids used stabilisers and the earliest to ride without was just gone 3 - the latest was around 4. Before that they enjoyed riding with stablisers - can't see the problem. I do think stabilisers with an easy fix/remove mechanism such as the Decathlon ones is good because you are more likely to take them off to try the kids to see if they are ready than if you have to get a spanner out.

    One important thing for kids bikes should be a low bottom bracket - I think being able to get their feet down easily is great for confidence.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • Mike HealeyMike Healey Posts: 1,023
    Tom, they delay learning to ride as long as they're on. Sometimes there are confidence problems and one or two kids last year were not really ready, mentally, to start riding. In both cases, they'd had them quite a long time and had become reliant on them to stay upright.

    On the other hand, the 53 we taught to ride, using the good old, take off the pedals and learn to balance without having to co-ordinate pedalling at the same time method, usually had learned to ride by the half-time break, sometimes in a few minutes.

    I suspect (tho' don't have definite proof) that starting on stabilisers might establish a feeling that riding is difficult/risky. and then there's the hidden hollow in the grass, causing the rear wheel to spin uselessly, while the bike is perched on the stabilisers which have a magical ability to find the high bits on either side. :)
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
  • Thanks to you who have contributed so far.

    zummerzet-lou - I am in agreement with you regarding the hype surrounding the running bike. It has the new idea/novelty factor, but I'm not convinced it completely 'teaches' balancing, especially when the child jumps on a bike with pedals.

    Due to complex imbalances caused by pedalling, shouldn't bike learners learn balance AND pedalling at the same time?

    Stabilisers, as they are at the moment doesnt seem to be the answer. They barely teach balancing at all. Perhaps there is scope for product designed to get kids to learn to pedal, balance, and lean?
  • DragonDyf wrote:
    Thanks to you who have contributed so far.

    zummerzet-lou - I am in agreement with you regarding the hype surrounding the running bike. It has the new idea/novelty factor, but I'm not convinced it completely 'teaches' balancing, especially when the child jumps on a bike with pedals.

    My first-born (four years old at the time) had a first bike with stabilisers on for ages. They are, ironically, very unstable on anything other than a flat surface; any kind of camber, pothole or unevenness and the bike would start to tip, mostly on the front wheel & one stabiliser wheel. This really knocked his confidence, so one day I took the stabilisers & pedals off, went to the local park, found a gentle grassy slope and shoved him off. He was riding within ten minutes, having a great time.

    No 2 got a running bike at three years old. He was racing off almost immediately, the balance thing seeming almost innate.

    Both boys graduated to proper pedal bikes with no problems at all. The 'hype' surrounding running bikes is fully justified IMO (I'm talking about the cheap, lightweight wooden ones here, not the overpriced metal 'bikes without pedals').

    Hope this helps.

    Ecto.

    Only a Pawn in their Game...
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    DragonDyf wrote:
    Due to complex imbalances caused by pedalling, shouldn't bike learners learn balance AND pedalling at the same time?

    Actually riding is a constant balance-imbalance-rebalance action.

    So.. get the balance down pat - then worry about the pedaling later. Almost everyone experiences their child has a VERY quick transition to pedaling, once it's introduced.

    Agree - if one item could do all three, it could be good - but I'd be concerned it would do all three badly.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • My kids began with stabilisers. When I took them off, the kids refused to ride their bikes. It took about a year of a war of attrition to get them to ride w/o them. My son can ride, but isn't that interested (but that sums his attitude up to any kind of physical activity). My daughter (now 8) is much keener. We go for regular rides round Richmond Park when the weather's nicer. Well, not quite right round.

    I think the biggest thing that gets kids riding without stabilisers is peer pressure. if you're out riding with friends, you don't want to look like a baby. Unfortunately we're not positioned in a particularly bike-friendly neighbourhood so there aren't lots of quiet roads to ride around in a pack like I did when I were a lad.

    On reflection I wish I'd got my kids started on those bikes you kick along with your feet - pedalling is easy, balance and learning to lean into corners is much less intuitive.
    Knees tracking forward, elbows soft, cadenc- ooo, bunnies!
  • baudman wrote:
    DragonDyf wrote:
    Due to complex imbalances caused by pedalling, shouldn't bike learners learn balance AND pedalling at the same time?

    Actually riding is a constant balance-imbalance-rebalance action.

    So.. get the balance down pat - then worry about the pedaling later.

    Good point and I almost agree!

    How do we regain our balance after imbalancing? not just by steering into the direction we're falling but also by pedaling. The same as on a motorbike, the most natural position for it is upright and accelerating, so if you get a wobbly moment you twist the throttle and with a bit of extra speed balance is regained.

    My suggestion for a redesign of stabilisers would be something suspended, so that it took some of the effort required to regain balance but not stopped the bike from rigidly falling over. The kid then learns what happens when the loose balance, but dont hurt themselves and put them off.

    I learned to ride a small motorbike before i could ride a push bike but the skills are the same, power to the rear wheel and steering in to overcome loss of balance.
    Giant Reign - now sold :-(
    Rockhopper Pro - XC and commuting
    DH8 - New toy :-)
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    How do we regain our balance after imbalancing? not just by steering into the direction we're falling but also by pedaling.

    Perhaps we agree to disagree on that point. Motorbike v bicycle is a little different too, due to the differences adjustments in body postitioning can make are proportionally different.

    Interested to see what you can come up with for your idea. Still not convinced - but hey, I'm a visual guy so need to 'see' things ;) Have you seen those gyro wheel thingos? They seem to do a bit of what you were saying.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • Mike HealeyMike Healey Posts: 1,023
    How do we regain our balance after imbalancing? not just by steering into the direction we're falling but also by pedaling
    .

    Which makes freewheeling impossible?

    The two main reasons which make learning to ride difficult are:
    1. Child is not yet ready for reasons of neuromuscular coordination
    2. Lack of confidence.

    Balance bike/removing the pedals enables the nervous child to put their feet down more easily and they then gain confidence as they learn to balance unimpeded by the necessity to coordinate pedalling at the same time.

    As for (1), time and practice take care of that. We've taught kids with dyspraxia to ride, One who was 14 years old and had lost all confidence took about 7 hours over 4 weeks, but he eventually made it.

    There are some kids who do it easily with the pedals on, but most benefit from the method above.

    I am firmly of the opinion that stabilisers should be made illegal :wink:
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
  • sovedasoveda Posts: 306
    All this hype about running bikes is just because it's a new idea .. probably equally as great as learning the art of pedalling.

    .

    It's about as old an idea as you get, a running bike/balance bike is just a hobbyhorse given a different name.

    FWIW I have a 14 year old bike book which describes how to teach kids to ride and the first step is: take off the pedals so they can learn to balance without worrying about pedalling.
  • Thanks for all the comments so far, they have all been taken on board.

    I'm now looking into running bikes.

    Is there anything you would change with them?

    I quite like the idea of merging the front of a mini scooter onto a running bike. :shock: :D Something to encourage lean? :idea:
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    Miniscooter/runbike? Again.. I need the visuals :?

    Oh... and for proof of concept of the runbike -> pedalbike transition. Check out here
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • Stabilisers turn a bike into a trike. Not the same thing at all. You steer a trike but you have to countersteer a bike to get it to go round a corner. Balance bikes are the way to go.
  • nikstar1nikstar1 Posts: 103
    although i understand your initial point, stabilisers are hardly the most high tech manner in which to learn and from my memory i remeber them being very wobbly and if anythign scaring me more than making me feel i was 'stable' i cant think of any happy medium between these and the running bike.

    Will be itnerested to see what you come up with!
  • DragonDyfDragonDyf Posts: 14
    Thanks to all those that helped.

    I ended up doing a scooter/bicycle/balance bike combo:

    13312_10150188252125484_602880483_12410699_4206700_n.jpg

    oh yes, I worked it with Giant.
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    Nice work. Can we have a side view pls?

    So that's a scooter-styled front wheel, and a 12" rear? Adjustable stem height. (And saddle height, I presume).

    I'm a bit worried about the geo. The bars could be quite wide for a little-un. Does the saddle allow for fore/aft adjustment... or is it a style where the kid can just slide along it to suit?

    I'm not sure what this offers that a current balance bike doesn't... :?
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • fnegronifnegroni Posts: 794
    DragonDyf wrote:
    Thanks to you who have contributed so far.

    zummerzet-lou - I am in agreement with you regarding the hype surrounding the running bike. It has the new idea/novelty factor, but I'm not convinced it completely 'teaches' balancing, especially when the child jumps on a bike with pedals.

    You'd be surprised then.

    In the majority of cases, it works.

    There is a minority who are either not yet ready or for whom the training can be accelerated.

    Either way, stabilisers are a bad idea per se.
  • fnegronifnegroni Posts: 794
    DragonDyf wrote:
    Thanks to all those that helped.

    I ended up doing a scooter/bicycle/balance bike combo:

    13312_10150188252125484_602880483_12410699_4206700_n.jpg

    oh yes, I worked it with Giant.

    I think it's quite a cool idea and I am glad you took on board the inputs.
Sign In or Register to comment.