How To Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult

Not everyone had the same opportunities or inclination to learn how to ride a bike as a child. But that doesn’t mean you have missed your chance.

You can learn to ride a bike as an adult!

It is never too late to get into cycling, whether it is for fitness, fun or as a way of commuting. So in this post, we will look at what you need to do to learn to ride a bike as an adult.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to get your bike ready.
  • What you need to do before you learn to ride a bike as an adult.
  • About the basic riding skills you need to practice.
  • And 5 steps to learn to ride a bike as an adult.

Are you ready to change your life for the better?

Let’s get into it!

How To Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult 1

How To Get Your Bike Ready

Before you even put a foot on a pedal and learn to ride a bike as an adult, you need to do some preparation. The first thing you need to do is make sure your bike fits you.

If your bike is too big or too small for you, it won’t be enjoyable to ride. If it is far too big for you, it may be dangerous or even be impossible for you to get on two wheels.

To make sure the bike is a good fit for you, swing your leg over the top tube, and stand with it between your legs. You should be able to stand over the bike with your crotch clearing the top tube, but not too much.

If you can’t stand over your bike, you will need to buy a smaller sized bike.

The next step is to adjust the saddle so you can sit on it with your feet just touching the ground. But, you should also be able to put your hands on the handlebars comfortably without stretching too much.

While you stand over your bike, you should make sure that you can reach the brakes easily. If you can’t, you may need to adjust their position so you can stop when you need to.

Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult

4 Things You Need To Do Before You Ride

1. Make Sure Everything Works

Thankfully, when you learn to ride a bike as an adult, this is one thing you are more clued up about compared to children.

The last thing you want to happen is a mechanical failure while learning how to ride a bike. Therefore, it is worth giving it a service before you give pedalling a try.

If you are nervous about servicing your bike, take it to a bike shop. The shop’s bike mechanic will be able to give your bike the once over, ensuring nothing untoward happens while you ride.

However, it is worth learning some basic bike maintenance skills for the future.

2. Learn The Controls

It is common for new riders to forget which lever does what, especially when nervous or in a panicked situation. So, it is a good idea to get to grips with the controls in advance.

Forget about the gears for the moment, but you need to know what the brake levers do and how they feel.

If you are in the UK, Australia, or anywhere where cars drive on the left side of the road, the brakes will be different to the rest of the world.

In these countries, the left brake lever stops the rear wheel, and the right lever stops the front wheel. It is the other way round in other parts of the world. Therefore, you need to be aware of which setup your bike has.

Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult

3. Practice Mounting And Dismounting

You are not ready to ride yet; you have one more thing to get used to before going for it. It may seem trivial, but even when you learn to ride a bike as an adult, it is worth practising getting on and off the bike.

It is pretty common for inexperienced riders, even those who learn to ride a bike as an adult, to fall when mounting and dismounting their bike. This can be painful, but it is always embarrassing, especially if you have an audience.

So, to get on your bike, lean it over towards you. While you do this, apply the brakes, so the bike doesn’t roll away from you. Then swing your leg over the bike to mount it.

Do the reverse to dismount the bike, always remembering to keep the brakes on to make it easier.

4. Get Over Your Fear!

If you want to learn to ride a bike as an adult, you have to go through the same process as a child would. Just because you are starting later in life, it doesn’t mean that learning to ride a bike is more difficult.

The only extra thing an adult needs to overcome is the hesitation that we have from self-preservation. Most adults develop this over time, while kids have less of a concept of danger, but you can get over this feeling.

But once you put this feeling aside, a step by step approach will get you riding a bike in no time.

However, if fear is something that just won’t leave you alone, consider buying some adult training wheels!

Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult

5 Steps To Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult

Step 1 – Find Somewhere Safe To Practice

When you learn to ride a bike as an adult, you need somewhere safe to do it. Stay away from busy roads and built-up areas, as you will need lots of space.

Head to a park or an empty car park with fewer obstacles. In these open spaces, you can concentrate on getting to grips with your bike without the worry of trying to avoid things and people.

Step 2 – Master Braking

You need to learn how to brake correctly, as it will boost your confidence while you learn to ride a bike as an adult.

Before you get on your bike, walk next to it and apply the brakes, bringing your bike to a stop. When you pull on the brake levers, make sure you apply the pressure evenly on both of them.

Doing this will teach you how much force you need to apply to stop when you ride. Also, as we mentioned earlier, pay attention to which brake lever operates the front and rear brakes.

Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult

Step 3- Learn How To Glide

Once you are confident that you can brake effectively, it is time to start rolling. This step involves you sitting on the saddle and scooting along with your feet.

The idea of this exercise is to get used to balancing on two wheels. Push off with your feet, and roll your bike for as long as you can.

You will need to put a foot down to correct your balance. But this is your chance to reset and start again. Each time you put your foot down, aim to glide a little further on your next try.

Remember to keep your head up and look where you are going. Also, keep your feet clear of the pedals, as you are likely to get bruised shins.

Once you get to a point where you can glide for several seconds, you are well on your way to start pedalling.

Step 4 – Practice Turning While Gliding

After you have mastered gliding in a straight line, it is time to start using the handlebars.

Start rolling, but this time turn your handlebars slightly to get a feel for how responsive the steering is. As you get more confident, you will be able to steer more and lean your bike to make tighter turns.

Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult

You will only be doing this for a few seconds at a time, but this is a valuable exercise for learning how your bike moves.

A typical problem novice cyclists have, is that they tend to look at the floor or down at their bike. Doing this is a bad habit, as you need to look where you want to go.

Keeping your eyes up and in the direction you want to go will make turning much easier. It will also help you to keep your balance and stay safe.

This is a good point to also practice your braking while on the bike. Especially if you manage to glide on a downhill slope.

Step 5 – Start Pedalling

After a few tries of gliding, while keeping your head up and practising your braking, you are ready to give pedalling a try.

Put one foot on the ground and the other one on the pedal. Your pedal should be at the two o’clock position. This position is ideal for getting some momentum as you push off.

Next, push down on your pedal and lift your other foot off the ground as your bike moves forwards. Then, place your other foot on the pedal.

Learn To Ride A Bike As An Adult

You will soon realise that the faster you pedal, the more stable your bike will be. But, at this early stage, don’t go too fast, and be ready to put a foot down.

Once you have gained momentum and balance, try riding in circles in both directions. Doing this will build your confidence and bring more awareness to how your bike handles.

You may be able to set up a slalom course with cones or whatever is lying around. Start with setting the course with the “cones” wide apart, and bring them closer when you get used to weaving around them.

When you feel comfortable riding around like this, raise your bike saddle slightly. Your feet should reach the pedals, with a slight bend in your knees. This is the position you will ride in from now on.

Go back to riding circles and around your slalom course. Concentrate on keeping your eyes on the direction you want to go.

It’s at this point where you need to learn how to use your bike’s gears. Your gears will help you ride uphill more efficiently and save your energy.

Congratulations, you are riding a bike!

Now you know that anyone can learn to ride a bike as an adult!

Keep practising until you are confident enough to ride on the roads. When you stray out of the car park, try to go out when the streets are quiet. These times are safer and less intimidating.

Once you get to grips with riding a bike, you may want to choose a specific cycling discipline. Check out the 10 types of bikes, and learn how to choose the best one for you.

One of BikeTips' regular content creators, Tom lives in the French Alps. When he isn't writing, he can be found charging downhill on a mountain bike or snowboard. Tom's other passion is fitness, which goes a long way to help him make the most of the Alpine lifestyle.

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