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The training wheels truth
Conventional Wisdom (The Myth)
When it comes to teaching bike riding automatic reaction of most parents is still to rely on training wheels that come bundled with children’s bicycles. Training wheels caught on easily when they appeared on the market because they made instant intuitive sense to everyone.
People still believe training wheels teach children how to ride a bike. Others assume that training wheels hold bicycles upright and prevent children from falling while somehow over time children get the hang of balancing without training wheels. Both notions, of course, are untrue.
What Training Wheels Actually Do
A bicycle in motion is always falling either to the left or to the right. It stays up only if the rider takes corrective action to keep it upright. The corrective action is turning into the fall and continuing to pedal. If a rider does not do exactly that he/she won’t be able to stay in balance.
But training wheels actually discourage children from turning into the fall, encouraging them instead to turn away from the fall. Turning away from the fall causes a bike to go even further into the fall, causing a crash.
Children riding with training wheels usually do not learn that they cannot ride if they turn away from falls because training wheels bounce bike back upright unless its is moving too fast. If a bike is moving too fast it can vault over training wheel, throwing the rider into a very hard fall.
Scientific Reality (The Truth)
Children learn to ride in spite of training wheels, rather than because of them. And that truth is harder for most people to believe than the myth that training wheels teach bike riding or that training wheels somehow help children learn bike riding.
This truth will become an obvious one when you watch the the videos at this site. A written explanation of how a rider keeps a bicycle in balance is available at How And Why Bicycle Stays In Balance.
Training wheels can help children get used to pedaling a bicycle albeit at the risk of picking up training wheels bad habits and dependencies. A better, no-risk alternative for practicing pedaling as well as learning to use coaster brake is a tricycle.