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  1. #1
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    Crank forward bike for older kids / children with poor balance?

    I have a son who has difficulty getting the hang of biking

    He is 8 years old and autistic/socially awkward, specific to cycling he is clumsy/has poor balance
    Because he is the size of a 12 year old (4ft10") he seems even further behind. Kids bikes and training wheels are way too small at this point.

    So far any bikes I have tried have left him feeling out of control, and he lacks the leg strength to pedal a bmx properly (out of the seat).
    The idea is that the ability to set his feet down would help him be way more comfortable on the bike. Ex: cruiser, or crank forward setup.


    Is there any crank forward bikes for kids other than the 40+lb "Chopper" bikes department stores sell?


    Can anyone suggest a bike that could be found cheap/used easily so I don't have to spend hundreds only to find it's just not going to work?

  2. #2
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    Rooby, I can understand your situation, as I also have an 8 yr old who has been diagnosed with Aspergers. He is also quite tall for his age and is not the most coordinated kid. Unfortunately, we missed the balance bike window, and while he was doing ok on his 16" with the training wheels, the bike was getting way too small, and he was not getting the pedaling/balancing thing down -- the training wheels were not helping at all, and when I moved them around to force him to balance, it just resulted in him riding at an angle until he crashed. As a result of those efforts, he would not get back on the bike for about a year, and I was afraid he would never do it.

    Here is what worked for us. I found a cheap 20" bike out of the classifieds and removed the cranks altogether, essentially making a 20" balance bike. I found a parking lot with a gentle slope -- just enough for him to maintain speed, but not enough that he would go faster than he was comfortable with (and that I could run). We went to the parking lot on a Sunday evening when it was vacant, and did some laps. Fortunately, the parking lot was long enough -- about 100 meters -- so he could really get the hang of it. Him being able to have his feet down, but not touching the ground, really seemed to give him confidence. Getting the balancing thing down, without having to pedal or be pushed from behind, seemed to make it click for him.

    I felt like I was back at football practice running wind sprints, but after 20 runs down the parking lot, he was able to make it the whole way without putting a foot down or needing me to stabilize him. We went back and practiced again a few more times, and he had it down. We then got him another 20" bike (I destroyed the cranks on the first one in my hacking them out), and he was pedaling that in a matter of 5 minutes.

    He has progressed to the point that I have a 24" mountain bike in the shed to give him for Easter (I am hopeful that the hand brakes wont throw him for a loop). Really looking forward to it!!! Keep trying, you'll find a solution.
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
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  3. #3
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    Sounds like a good plan, we live next to an elementary school.
    There is an actual bike program for kids like him but it's tough to get into.

    Crashing has delayed progress for him as well.

    Thanks for the help/pep talk.

    Shane

  4. #4
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    Plus rep to both you guys.

  5. #5
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    I once volunteered for a group that teachers kids with disabilities to ride bikes. They replaced the rear wheel with a curved rolling pin looking thing. This allowed the kid to practice balancing without the fear of falling over. Once the kids were comfortable with the bike they put the regular rear wheel on and the kids were off. I watched about 15 kids learn to ride a 2-wheeler in about 3 days. Maybe you could just buy one of those wide curved rear wheels?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by LovePA View Post
    I once volunteered for a group that teachers kids with disabilities to ride bikes. They replaced the rear wheel with a curved rolling pin looking thing. This allowed the kid to practice balancing without the fear of falling over. Once the kids were comfortable with the bike they put the regular rear wheel on and the kids were off. I watched about 15 kids learn to ride a 2-wheeler in about 3 days. Maybe you could just buy one of those wide curved rear wheels?
    I have searched for such an item on the accessibility suppliers but nothing yet,
    One good bit of hope, my neighbor happens to own an adult tricycle, the single speed kind so he can work on co-ordination and leg strength first. Also, solves the first bit - overcoming fear of speed/crashing.

  7. #7
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    Crank forward bike for older kids / children with poor balance?

    Electra has some pedal forward bikes in kids sizes. Not sure how small they go however. I also am not sure if you will have an easy time finding one used.

  8. #8
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    Sucess!!! I bought a 24" Norco parklane trike used, my son (now age 9 w/ autism) loves it and is finally excited to bike.
    He can now work at the mechanics of pedaling, he already figured out the brakes very easily.

    The seat doesn't even have to go very far down -but I'm going to need a setback post. (he's 4'10", with the seat low enough his knees are too high.)
    Need to tilt the handlebars back - He loves to crank it really hard left/right which is too easy to do right now.

    Highly recommend a trike for those with similar concerns

    Only regret - try to find one with 20" wheels, the 24" ones are borderline large for handling.
    The Positive - shifter is great for scaling back the speed for kids.

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