Terrified non bicycling female: adult trike or...?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Terrified non bicycling female: adult trike or...?

    I'm asking this for a friend of mine, whose wife has never learned to ride a bike and partly because of PTSD associated with a particularly horrible (trust me) childhood car accident, is terrified to learn.

    He wants to know about the practicality of an adult trike and if there's anything I would recommend.

    I'm guessing recumbents are not going to fly with his wife, so are there any conventional upright trikes that don't suck?

    Alternatively, any ideas for very unthreatening ways of an adult female trying to learn to ride a bike? I suggested a small-wheeled bike with a low saddle and the pedals removed so that she can learn to scoot along like a kid on a run bike.

    She is particularly scared of going over the bars, so a coaster brake might be helpful since it would emphasize rear wheel braking.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  2. #2
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    Trikes have very poor manuverability and are really meant for low speed (walking speed). I think it would be a poor fit if he hopes to get her out riding with him.

    I would recommend a crank forward configuration. Here is an example.

    The crank forward would make her feel less likely to go forward and it positions the rider much closer to the ground which makes foot to ground contact easy, and probably would feel less intimidating regard hight off the ground. The down side is I have never seen one with a coaster brake so she would have to start off learning on something a little more complicated.

  3. #3
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    Would a tandem mountain bike be a possible solution?

  4. #4
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    Most of Electra's lineup is designed with the ability to put your feet down flat on the ground. That will be a huge help in being more comfortable to learn. Basically, I would suggest finding someone calm to teach her and make it in an area that is safe to learn like a nice firm grassy field or bike path around a flat park with lots of grass on either side. Let her progress at her pace, if you push too hard you will loose her for good.

    I guess it's important to mention that she has to be the one instigating this learning and it can't come from someone trying to push her to ride a bike or it won't work. If she's not interested in learning at all, you won't be able to push her past the initial terror involved.
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  5. #5
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    I was out on a ride yesterday and saw a adult female on a cruiser(26" wheels) with training wheels. More that one way to sovle a problem. Another way might be a tandem.

  6. #6
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    The bike is for commuting so a tandem is not an option.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  7. #7
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    JPark - 3.5- don't listen to dremer

  8. #8
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    The scariest part for a beginner rider is not being able to touch the ground and be on the seat at the same time. Electra, and many other companys have bikes that allow for proper leg extention and the ability to put your foot down quiclky, without having to negotiate the seat. Have her spend an hour on one of these without someone yelling at her, and she will most likely find out right away if she will be able to do it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum
    Most of Electra's lineup is designed with the ability to put your feet down flat on the ground. That will be a huge help in being more comfortable to learn. Basically, I would suggest finding someone calm to teach her and make it in an area that is safe to learn like a nice firm grassy field or bike path around a flat park with lots of grass on either side. Let her progress at her pace, if you push too hard you will loose her for good.

    I guess it's important to mention that she has to be the one instigating this learning and it can't come from someone trying to push her to ride a bike or it won't work. If she's not interested in learning at all, you won't be able to push her past the initial terror involved.
    Agree with this.

    I wanted to add that, supposedly, those pedal-less push bike things for little kids are better than training wheels or tricycles for learning to ride a bike. Starting an adult on something with a low enough saddle for her to put her feet down is basically the same concept. A pedal bike has the advantage that when she wants to, she can raise the saddle.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    I agree with what's been stated. I think two keys would be 1) being able to put her feet flat on the ground 2) maybe having only a rear brake when learning.

    All that being said, it may just be something she never does... no need to force it on her.
    --NC
    2008 Kona Cowan // 2005 Kona Cowan // 2009 Giant Modem // 2009 department store IronHorse // 1970s Schwinn roadie

  11. #11
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    Also, get some gloves. It will help take the sting out of any tumbles.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum
    Most of Electra's lineup is designed with the ability to put your feet down flat on the ground. That will be a huge help in being more comfortable to learn. Basically, I would suggest finding someone calm to teach her and make it in an area that is safe to learn like a nice firm grassy field or bike path around a flat park with lots of grass on either side. Let her progress at her pace, if you push too hard you will loose her for good.

    I guess it's important to mention that she has to be the one instigating this learning and it can't come from someone trying to push her to ride a bike or it won't work. If she's not interested in learning at all, you won't be able to push her past the initial terror involved.
    Another +1 on this insight.

  13. #13
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    Def would NOT recommend trike. My sone uses one because of disabilities. Taking corners at anything faster than continental drift speeds causes the whole thing to tip

    They also weigh about the same as a continent
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  14. #14
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    Agree with everything above.
    If she wants a trike for the stability I would suggest a "tadpole" style, two wheels in the front with one in back. Like this: http://www.bicycleman.com/recumbents...rike-trail.htm
    These things are very fun to ride, it's like being in a go-cart. Only caveat is most use disc brakes on the front wheels with no rear brake (there's not much weight on it so they lock easily) and you can do stoppies if you really nail the brakes.
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  15. #15
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    wow. must be hard. does she really want to learn how to ride? if so, then i agree with the feet on ground with a lower seat but still being able to pedal correctly.

    i also wonder if you can use the same concept of a balance bike for kids. maybe take the pedals off and let her just get comfy with balancing first and use her feet so she doesn't fall over. i don't know, just a thought. good luck!
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  16. #16
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    It can be done - someone on the women's forum learned at 50, and now is starting trailriding. Don't know what technique she used, perhaps search & PM her.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
    It can be done - someone on the women's forum learned at 50, and now is starting trailriding. Don't know what technique she used, perhaps search & PM her.
    There's a difference between getting a late jump start on learning and being terrified about learning. I think this case requires a different approach.
    --NC
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  18. #18
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    What keeps sticking with me is the above comment about this being done for commuting. Lots of experienced riders don't feel comfortable sharing the road with automobiles. So the idea of someone terrified of bikes who was also had a really bad car crash experience becoming a commuter seems like a longshot.

    A few years ago I helped a neighbor with a foster child who was about 13/14 years old and really spooked about riding a bike. Like others have said, something like a Townie where feet can be on the ground easily is a big help. Then get some practice on a greenway or rail trail where there are absolutely no distractions or obstacles. To someone who is really scared, a kid or a dog 50 feet away feels like an impending threat just trying to wipe them out. Things really clicked for us when we got on a very gentle incline and did some coasting drills with feet out to the side. After getting used to the balancing part, we slowly added pedaling and went from there. It was a very slow process and I think it was months after learning to ride before they finally got her out in a public place where there was some activity around.

  19. #19
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    Cruiser. Nice and heavy, bars not super wide. I gotta agree with finding a greenway or other flat bike path.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kattrap
    Cruiser. Nice and heavy, bars not super wide. I gotta agree with finding a greenway or other flat bike path.
    I would make sure wherever this is done it's secluded or at least not packed with people. From experience teaching an adult n00b, other people around made bad habits extremely bad (to the point of walking the bikes back to the car).
    --NC
    2008 Kona Cowan // 2005 Kona Cowan // 2009 Giant Modem // 2009 department store IronHorse // 1970s Schwinn roadie

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabe23
    What keeps sticking with me is the above comment about this being done for commuting. Lots of experienced riders don't feel comfortable sharing the road with automobiles. So the idea of someone terrified of bikes who was also had a really bad car crash experience becoming a commuter seems like a longshot. .
    I was thinking the same thing.

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  23. #23
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    terrified non bicycling female

    I was in exactly the same boat... still am on many fronts (only been going out for a month as an absolute beginner). I am blogging about my experiences on trekgirls.blogspot.com.... get your friend to have a look if she wants some confidence building. If I can get out there on the trail anyone can!

  24. #24
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    If the goal is to get her riding, and if that's my wife I'd get her a big fat monster tire like Sury Pugsley with and adj post and pad her up then take her to the park and have her learn to ride on soft grass. It would be slow riding but that's the whole point she'd keep pedaling at maintain balance but still go at relatively slow speed win win. All else fail I'd still get to keep the Pugsley another win

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