Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to ride a bicycle

I see adults asking how they can learn to ride a bicycle. Here's how:
  • Get a bike, preferably one that's just a little too small for you if you can.
  • Remove the pedals with a wrench. Most bike pedals take a 15 mm wrench, and the left side pedal is reverse threaded. That means "lefty loosey" is the opposite of what you need to do on the left side pedal.
  • Drop the saddle down as low as it will go on the frame. The idea is that when you sit on the saddle, your feet can touch the ground.
  • Find a reasonably smooth open space. The best is a slight hill with short grass, but you don't want anything steep. You want to start at the top of the hill.
  • Sit on the saddle with your feet on the ground, then push off with your feet so you're scooting along on the bike like on an old fashioned hobby horse.
  • Don't try to steer yet, but get a feel for the brakes.
  • As you scoot and pick up speed, let your feet off of the ground. You should get a feel for how to balance the bike after a couple of tries.
  • Once you have the balance down, take very gentle turns to get a feel for steering. This won't be intuitive for you, but steering comes by leaning the bike. Don't make sharp movements with the handlebar or you'll flop over.
  • Once you're confident, replace the pedals, adjust your saddle to a correct height, and before you know it you'll be trackstanding and riding no handed with the best of us!
If you learned to ride as an adult, I'd love to know how the process went for you.


  1. Fritz,
    You might want to clarify if that's the left side pedal as you sit on the bike or face the bike.

  2. Good point -- I'll edit. I was going to write "non-drive side" but I don't think most people know what that means.