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From: (Jobst Brandt)
Subject: Re: kid bike and training wheels
Date: 25 May 2000 18:59:24 GMT

Minh Gardin writes:

> My friend was unsuccessful in attaching training wheels onto his
> son's bike.

That's probably a good thing because "training wheels" do not train a
beginner to ride a bicycle because bicycling is a balancing exercise
similar to walking and running.  In fact training wheels make a
bicycle into an unstable tricycle.  With them the principal training
is to operate pedals, something that most children do anyway.

> His son is 7 yrs old, but never learned to ride a bike before.
> His bike has 5 gears at the rear.

In most cases, children who fail to learn bicycling in a couple of
short sessions, indicate more about the capability the teacher than
the child.  I believe that training wheel syndrome is bad for the
child's self esteem and retard a "can do" attitude.

> A bike mechanic at a store tried to put the training wheels on by
> removing the rear-gear shifter cable, removing the rear derailleur,
> then putting the training wheels on.

The child is old enough, so stop the mechanical approach and practice
bicycling instead.  If not now, when?

> But there was not enough space on the axle for the right wheel.
> The reason for removing the rear derailleur is to make room for
> the training wheel.

That's good.

Jobst Brandt      <>

Subject: Re: Teaching children to ride a bike
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Message-ID: <phfNb.8567$>
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 17:48:05 GMT

It seems to me children who don't easily learn to ride a bicycle may
not be inspired by other children "on the block" who have already
achieved this mobility and may not have seen their parents ride.  My
experience, both as a child watching siblings learn to ride in a
single session, and as an adult doing the same with my children, makes
me think that this is the case.

Training wheels make an unstable tricycle of a bicycle, tricycles
having been banished from our toy repertory for falling over when
ridden too fast in curves.  The method most commonly used by
successful teachers is to hold onto the saddle such that the child
cannot tell whether the parent is still holding on, or at least has
the hand where it could help in the event of instability, while
pedaling along.

I have not seen this method fail with normal athletically inclined
children in the 4-5 year old range.  It seldom takes more than one
session to get the child riding solo.  Of course there must be a
trusting child-parent relationship for the child to believe this is a
reasonable endeavor.

Jobst Brandt

Subject: Re: decline in number of bike shops
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2001 06:11:24 GMT

Mark Buell wrote:

> Ah, I am a cyclist, and once was a dedicated cycling activist.  That
> might happen again, given the time.  But for now I won't let my 9 yo
> son ride his bike to school.  Not without me.  Because the risk, for
> him, is much much higher than it was for me, when I was a child.
> Drivers are far, far more aggressive.  Speeds are much higher.
> Scofflawry is off the scale: an everyday, unnoticed minor annoyance,
> rather than a serious social undercurrent.  So we drive him to
> school.

You are not doing your son any favors.  One of these days, he will
have to fend for himself and keeping him on a tight leash may protect
him from an immediate threat but in the long term disarms him for life
when he leaves home. Children should be aware of the hazards of life
an learn to cope with them as soon as they are able.  Nine years is
definitely old enough although I believe most children can do that
when younger.

The school in our neighborhood is also attended by children from the
other side of the local freeway from the low rent district.  These
children know that crossing on and off ramps on a four lane overpass
presents great hazard, the sidewalk crossing four ramps.  Their
parents not having time to drive them, they fend for themselves by
crossing to a two foot concrete median at the traffic light in their
neighborhood and riding their bicycles down the center getting off at
a similar crossing near school.  There have been no serious injuries
from these children even under this hostile environment showing it can
be done.

The most fearful bicyclists I have met were ones who spent their youth
(while under parental guidance) cloistered from reality.  They will
most likely never catch up, this being something one learns best in
formative years.  Life is dangerous and the sooner you can cut the
apron strings the better armed your offspring will be to enter life.

Besides, health reports point at this as a major cause of obesity in
America.  All exercises are "too dangerous" so people sit in front of
their TV and eat themselves to an early death.  Death from obesity is
gradually taking over from cigarettes as leading cause of death.

Jobst Brandt    <>

Subject: Riding bicycles to school
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2001 22:56:44 GMT

Peter Cole writes:

> There is an elementary school at the end of our street. The parents
> driving kids to school are one of the largest sources of speeding
> traffic. The school forbids students to ride bikes to school. All
> the parents agree it's too dangerous, despite the fact that it's a
> residential area and none of the streets are major roads.

That's one example but the well-to-do families that live in the "high
rent" district in the foothills of silicon valley have managed to get
school buses to take their children to school, except that when I ride
past where the children are waiting, there are as many idling SUV's
nearby with parents who don't trust their children to wait for a bus.

This is spooky.

Jobst Brandt    <>

Subject: Re: bike theft and lower sales.
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2001 23:14:36 GMT

Alan C. Acock writes:

> One problem which may contribute to reduced sales is bike theft. I
> use to think this would help sales, but after having a few bicycles
> stolen I can say you really need to love cycling to deal with the
> sense of violation you get when your bike is stolen. Local shops say
> that a lot of people just quit cycling after a bike is stolen.

The reason the stolen bicycles are found by the owner is that police
and others who might do more, take bicycling as child's play and those
who persist in riding them deserve what they get.

Locally, a friend had his custom made racing bicycle stolen.  It had a
California State bicycle registration and a city sticker on it.
Nothing was heard even though the police said they were on the
lookout.  One day, at the police bicycle auction of unclaimed found
bicycles in an effort to buy a bicycle for his son, he found his
bicycle, with California State license and city sticker still on it.

No explanation was available for this obvious failure to pursue
reasonable means for locating the owner.  At that time we were cited
for not registering a bicycle, so I paid my fee and got the blue and
silver aluminum foil sticker that I secured to the seat tube just
beneath the top tube.  It is now long gone and no one even knows where
to license a bicycle.  I suppose the police department has a rule book
with such information.

The agency that performed this function has no listing for bicycle

Jobst Brandt    <>

Subject: Re: Girl riding 3 blocks solo? was: Do your kids ride?
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 22:18:21 GMT

Boris Cinkler writes:

> Does the so called "American life style" give the feeling of being
> a prisoner in ones own house?  As far as I can remember from my
> childhood in a communist country, I used to get out solo above age
> three.  At ten I went out all day on my bicycle, without fear.

> Are you really willing to pursue a big house and SUV while depriving
> your children of a childhood?  Do you believe in that kind of
> compromise, to give up freedom for few bucks?  Essential part of
> growing is the possibility of making ones own social contacts
> without much tutoring by parents.

There are many fables about people who build castles only to isolate
themselves, building fortifications to protect their possessions.
Because our youth spend most of their free time watching mainline TV,
on which such social and moral issues are not discussed, and their
parents don't eat meals with them where their table talk might give
their children a perspective on life, the lesson is not being learned.

From missing childhoods, today we see adults playing "monster truck"
with jacked up SUV's with huge wheels, or Mr Racer with aerodynamic
fins and racing tires.  Children do these things in the sand box but
usually get over them before adulthood.  Today we place obstacles
along roads to prevent adult SUV drivers from "going off road" and
making mud holes of road shoulders.

I think you have a perspective of life in the affluent world that is
not perceptible to those involved... gated communities etc.

Jobst Brandt    <>

Subject: Re: Towing another bike?
Message-ID: <WqNma.5728$>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 06:14:14 GMT

Erik Freitag writes:

>> Take an old front hub, tape it or somehow attach it to a rack on
>> the back of your bike Duct tape, zip tie, etc.).  Remove the front
>> wheel from your daughter's bike and attach that somehow to her
>> bike-- use a bungy and strap it to the side of the bike.  Then
>> mount her bike's front forks onto the old hub you fastened to your
>> bike and use a quick release to hold it on.  Does that make sense?

That sounds like leading the child around by the hand so to speak.
Let them learn how to skin their knees and elbows on a tricycle.
Riding on a sidewalk with neighbors and their pets also teaches a
child about right-of-way and contention.  When it's time for a
bicycle, no training wheels and away they go.  This has worked for me
and my three brothers as well as their children.

>> I came up with this solution so I could ride the bike I have my
>> son's child seat attached to with my race bike towed behind.  That
>> way I can go to races that are close by with my son and leave him
>> in the care of a team mate who races some other category while I
>> ride.

You might like that but think of the child development and lack of
problem solving as a trailer to an adult.  The child needs to work up
to traffic and its hazards some time and sitting in a car next to a
parent is one way we learn, both about vehicle interaction and a
natural introduction to driving a car later.

The so called "Chinese driver syndrome" as it is known around the
university here, is that academics from China and other far eastern
countries, who have never or hardly ever ridden in a car must learn to
drive from first principles and subsequently drive as if looking up
answers to traffic situation in a large rule book.  We may find this
odd but not all people have the pleasure of growing up essentially
behind the wheel.  The same is true for bicycling.  Many Americans are
terrified of riding in traffic and are the antithesis of bike
messengers in traffic.

>> Jobst, does that fit your vision of how children should be raised?


Jobst Brandt
Palo Alto CA

Subject: Re: Riding with kids
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Message-ID: <GX57b.19782$>
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 2003 20:49:42 GMT

Peter Cole writes:

>> Truly, a young person's early and independent bike riding can be a
>> good way to learn how to survive in a tough world and can be done
>> well only without any supervision.

> That's plain crazy.

Oh?  When are you going to let your children off the leash.  It's often
a sheltered youth that causes big crashes in later life.

Jobst Brandt

Subject: Re: Teaching my daughter to ride a bicycle... a novel ;-)
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Message-ID: <LEs%d.11648$>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 05:07:55 GMT

Tom Medara writes:

> Trail-a-bike was the worst thing we could have done to my son.  I
> think it set him back years.  We had him on the thing when he was
> four years old, but he wouldn't touch his own bike until he was
> eight.  On the TAB he didn't really have to pedal or balance.  Dad
> did all the work.  On top of that, his range was much further with
> me than he would ever have gotten on his own.  I actually had to ban
> him from the TAB to get him to ride his own, and even that didn't
> work for a long time.  I'm guessing it has more to do with the
> personality of the kid than anything.

I wasn't going to guess about this although it has been my opinion for
a long time.  I also believe it depends on what the youngster sees.
In our neighborhood other children had bicycles and mine wanted to
become as mobile as they and also as mobile as those bikies that I
would push off and ride with on long weekend rides.

When my younger one was 5 we rode (he on his miniature SA 3-speed) up
Page Mill Rd, a classic mountain road in this area.  Six months later
the boys rode 25 miles to the coast (San Gregorio) and back.  The
picture I have of that return home shows the glow of accomplishment in
their faces, a great adventure.  My younger son joined me on a tour of
the alps in 2001 and showed that he had lost nothing in the meanwhile:

The other problem is that the classic tricycle is pretty much gone, it
being too dangerous in the eyes of many parents.  I think these
parents equate skinned knees as a failure on their part to look out
for their children.  I believe otherwise.  A skinned knee in early
youth is part of what teaches people their limitations and protects
them from doing far more seriously damaging things later.

Remember, superficial child injuries only hurt as much as adults get
excited about them.  Typically the child runs home and begins crying
when entering the house.  That's the time to treat it as routing and
clean up the scrape.  Old fables are full of such injuries and of
course some more serious ones but we don't read them to our children
to protect them from the violence.

Ride bike!

Subject: Re: Teaching my daughter to ride a bicycle... a novel ;-)
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Message-ID: <JjG%d.11724$>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 20:41:13 GMT

Tom Sherman writes:

>> The other problem is that the classic tricycle is pretty much gone,
>> it being too dangerous in the eyes of many parents.  I think these
>> parents equate skinned knees as a failure on their part to look out
>> for their children.  I believe otherwise.  A skinned knee in early
>> youth is part of what teaches people their limitations and protects
>> them from doing far more seriously damaging things later....

> This Danish company seems to think that tricycles are good for small
> children:

Wow, those are miserable and miniature tricycles, guaranteed to not
exceed 5mph for safety.  I'll stand by my earlier contention that the
tricycle is dead.  That manufacturer is condescending as you can get
with that product line.

Subject: Re: Teaching my daughter to ride a bicycle... a novel ;-)
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Message-ID: <ZYG%d.11731$>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 21:25:13 GMT

Rich A? writes:

>> Wow, those are miserable and miniature tricycles, guaranteed to not
>> exceed 5mph for safety.

> They're small because the kids that ride them are small.  And given
> the pedals are connected to the axle, they're the same speed
> tricycles have always been.

That's odd.  The children on my block can handle a far larger front
wheel than the ones pictured.  Tricycle speed is largely dependent on
wheel size.  The ones on that web site show children in the saddle
with their feet on the ground and a pedal stroke less than 3".  I
think you haven't seen a useful child's tricycle or maybe children are
getting smaller in this part of the world.

> Our kid's two.  We looked at trikes this weekend for him.  He rode
> one at the LBS when I was picking up a new tube and he loved it.
> I'd have probably impulse-bought it if it had been assembled
> properly (turning the handlebars didn't always turn the front
> wheel!).  We looked at another at Target and he loved it, although
> he didn't quite get the pedal thing.  When it gets warmer, we'll for
> sure get one.

Maybe you could give us a link so we can see this tricycle.  I haven't
found any advertised that I would buy for a child.

> And there were some Grandparents there looking at trikes for their
> grandkid as well.

> So they're not quite dead yet...

Good luck!

Subject: Re: Teaching my daughter to ride a bicycle... a novel ;-)
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Message-ID: <WgI%d.11739$>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 22:54:46 GMT

Rich A? writes:

>> Maybe you could give us a link so we can see this tricycle.  I
>> haven't found any advertised that I would buy for a child.

> I don't have a link.  But it looked pretty much like this one.

> Small legs require a short pedal stroke, and two year olds have
> small legs.  I also have fond memories of standing on the platform
> with one leg and pushing with the other.  I'm guessing he'll only
> use it for two years and then we'll get him on a bike.  I've seen
> some real small kids riding some real small bikes.

You'll notice that the tricycle pictured could have a wheel twice that
size for the leg length.  If the saddle were moved forward, the wheel
could be even larger.  The tricycles in my family were from 2-3 foot
diameter main wheels and were able to go fast enough to make
tricycling down the block faster than walking there, and of course
easier.  There should be some return for this mechanism, not just the
novelty of having wheels.  We have wagons for that... oops they're
also scarce.  Of course you know wagons are dangerous because with the
handle turned 90 degrees the wagon can tip over if you happen to be
sitting up front.

I recall how children automatically found a way to hitch their wagon
to the back of a tricycle and truck their friends around the block
without adult assitance.

Subject: Re: First generation not to live longer than their parents
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc
Message-ID: <1it%d.11655$>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 05:51:57 GMT

Bill Baka writes:

>>> Damn.  I'm well above MENSA

>> Bill's IQ, much like his downhill speed on a tricycle at age 6, is
>> greatly exaggerated.

> So tell me, how good was your sense of speed at age 6? I think I
> actually did about 25 MPH given the hill I was on. It is still there
> and I have been on it again in 1993. When you don't dare put your
> feet on the pedals because they are spinning like a saw blade
> waiting to get your feet, it is fast by the standards of a 6 year
> old.

I seriously doubt that because tricycles are so unstable at above
running speeds that they cannot be held on a straight course.  It is
not panic that cause tricycles crashes in such rides but instability.

For this reason someone built the first tricycle low-rider that had
the fork mounted upside down in a conventional tricycle frame.  That
design became the common plastic tricycle at toy stores and the rest
is history... no more tricycles as we knew them 25 years ago or more.

> As to IQ, ...

So why don't you try to make a contribution to the subject instead of
making claims of ability.  There are many unexplained and interesting
aspects to the bicycle because it has been left technically behind by
a power driven society.  You can only prove your worth here by
contributing.  On the internet you can't prove claims unless you
explain what it is, how it can be done and what its advantages are.
Basically the scientific method of research.  It is amazingly self

I think you might be amazed at how intensively the archives are
perused to find a contradiction in something I have posted.  I see
that every once in a while when something is dug up that I wrote years
ago.  You should be able to contribute valuable insights on this forum
if you are interested in bicycling.  So what is your field of interest?

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