Are training wheels old school for learning how to ride a bike? - AmericaNowNews.com

Are training wheels 'old school' for learning how to ride a bike?

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Most people remember learning to ride a bike with the aid of training wheels, but some people say that's the wrong way to learn.  

Mark Abrams works at BikeSource, a bicycle shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He says the way most adults learned to ride a bike doesn't necessarily mean it's the right way.

"The training wheels are for the parents, they're not for the children," Abrams said.

In his opinion, training wheels are for parents who don't want to watch their kids fall off their bike.

Abrams says all that does is delay the learning process because the hardest part about riding a bike isn't learning how to pedal.

Instead, it's learning how to balance a bike and training wheels essentially prevent you from mastering that skill.

"At no time does a bike lock itself vertically underneath you," said Abrams. "Therefore, it's kind of misleading for a child to ride on a bike that's just rigidly vertical."

To correct decades of four-wheeled dependency, bring on the balance bike. It has no pedals, but it does have little ledges for your child's feet to rest. 

Parents can upgrade to a bicycle when their child is able to coast without crashing. They learn to make turns by shifting their weight.

Encouraged by the unique design of balance bikes, but not their price tag, some parents try to engineer the best of both biking worlds.

"I can make that a balance bike, it's just that simple," said Kevin Thompson. 

By removing the pedals on 3-year-old Stella's current model, she has something of a balance bike with pedals that can be replaced later.

It's a crafty idea, but pro shops caution that balance bikes are specifically constructed for little riders. They are low to the ground to make it easy to dismount and recover.

If your child is already riding their bike with training wheels, it's important to use these learning aids as intended.

First, start with a half-inch space under each wheel.

A little wiggle will start moving those muscles, forcing a child to balance and stay upright.

After a week or two, add another half-inch as a new goal to keep the training wheels from hitting the ground.

The wheels can come off when the child starts learning to turn, and only the inside training wheel touches.

"I don't know that one is right or wrong, it's just what the kid likes," said Thompson.

He's right.

Both methods can teach children how to bicycle in just a few weeks as long as there's room to wiggle in their training wheels or bike on balance alone.

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