When do kids learn to ride a bike? How do adults learn how to ride a bike? Is it too late for me to learn?
These might be the questions swirling through your adult head. Learning to ride a bike as an adult may seem daunting or even impossible - but not knowing how is more common than you think. A study from FiveThirtyEight shows that 1 in 8 adults in the US don’t know how or have never tried to ride the ol’ two-wheeler.
Maybe you’ve never had the opportunity to learn, or (if you’re anything like me), you tried once as a kid, failed, scraped your knee pretty badly, and gave up. But I’m here to tell you - there’s no shame in not knowing how to ride a bike, and it’s never too late to learn.
This comprehensive, step-by-step guide will have you riding like a pro in no time!
Bike Riding for Beginners - Common Questions:
Before we put the pedal to the pavement, let’s start by answering a few questions that a lot of beginning cyclists-to-be might be wondering. I’ve compiled the most commonly asked questions below:
Can adults learn how to ride a bike?
Yes! Unlike learning a language, learning how to ride a bike doesn’t necessarily get harder as you get older. Heck, it may even be easier to learn to ride a bike as an adult (once you get past the fear of a potential scraped knee, that is). Just relax, be confident, and remember that it’s okay to make a few mistakes.
How long does it take to learn to ride a bike?
Truthfully, the answer to this question varies from person to person. From children to adults, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 5-7 sessions. It really all depends on your confidence and motor skills, but I feel the best way to learn is to be patient and, most importantly, don’t give up!
Can you teach yourself how to ride a bike?
Short answer: Absolutely!
Longer answer: Absolutely, but it takes some work!
A good way to start learning on your own is to get comfortable with yourself and the bike first. Getting to know all of the functions of the bike (like the brakes and pedals) is essential for self-taught cyclists.
The second step for self starters is finding a quiet, flat area with little to no traffic and distractions. This could be a parking lot, an alley, or even a sidewalk that you’re familiar with. Once you’ve found a good spot, you’ll be ready to ride!
Now that we’ve answered the basics, it’s time to get down to bicycling business.
So, How do Adults Learn to Ride a Bike?
- Safety first!
- Practice balancing.
- Learn to brake.
- Try coasting.
- Now try it all with peddles!
- Practice turning.
Safety (And Comfort) First
Guts. Gumption. Great gear. Every cyclist must have all 3 to truly succeed. We all know safety is important, especially when biking - so before you get on the road, make sure you have 1) a size-appropriate bike, 2) a helmet, and 3) a bike seat that suits you. That last one is often overlooked, leading to a lot of sore posteriors.
To avoid unnecessary aching while you learn to ride a bike, the Bikeroo Oversized Bike Seat is where it’s at - the extra padding promotes an even distribution of pressure, and it has a universal fit for both outdoor and stationary bikes.
This can be one of the most difficult parts of learning to ride, but once you’ve mastered it, you won’t forget. To start, you should lower your seat to where you can comfortably place both heels on the ground, and remove the pedals. Get on the bike and walk around on it until you’ve formed a steady stride, then quicken your pace to get more comfortable with moving quickly.
Learn to Brake
Brakes are the best friend of all bicyclists, from beginners to experts. After you’ve gotten yourself familiar with them, try walking around on your bike and practice braking at various speeds.
Once you get more comfortable, you can go a little faster and brake a little harder. Try moving around in a figure 8 motion and braking to help your balance. Soon enough, you’ll be a brake master!
We’ve gotten through walking on the bike, now it’s time to coast! While seated, begin to take small steps so you’re moving forward on your bike. After that, start to take longer strides, as if you’re running on the bike. As you get more used to striding, pick your feet up off the ground and balance the bike. The more speed you pick up, the easier it is to balance.
Make sure to look ahead towards where you’re going, and keep your body upright. Looking down or to your sides or slouching too much might cause you to lose your balance!
Add the Pedals
When you’ve gotten the hang of balancing and coasting, you might feel comfortable enough to put the pedals back on the bike to practice (I recommend you keep the seat lowered so you can still place your feet on the ground). After the pedals have been put back on, you can learn how to move from a stopped position.
Here’s a great way to start bike riding as an adult:
- Sit down on your bike with one foot on the ground, and the other foot on a pedal at the 1 o’clock position.
- Press down hard on the pedal with your foot.
- The pressure will give the bike forward momentum. Keep your foot on the pedal as it moves.
Keep practicing this until you feel more comfortable. Try not to look at your feet too much, as that might throw your balance off. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately find the pedals with your feet, you can always put your feet back on the ground! No need to worry!
Now that we’ve added the pedals, we can add in some turning and steering. Bring back the figure 8 pattern, but this time with your feet on the pedals. Make sure to make wide turns first, then as you get used to it, make them smaller.
Here’s a good tip - try not to pedal while you’re turning, or you might go too fast and lose balance. Anticipate it, coast accordingly, and you’ll be good to go.
...And that’s that!
Add these 6 simple steps plus time and patience, and you’ll be riding through the streets like a pro. I know it might be a little intimidating, but once the initial fear is gone, riding a bike becomes a fun, environmentally friendly method of transportation and exercise.
I won’t lie - While you learn to ride a bike, you might fall over once or twice. You might even get a couple looks from your nosy neighbor. But remember that there’s no shame, no worries, and no time like the present to start. So what are you waiting for?
Time to get riding! You can do this!
Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor