The word Bike is often used as a short form of bicycle. In some countries, simply cycle means bicycle!

Learning to ride a bicycle - for Adults!

NB: This is not a copy paste from anywhere! I learnt to ride a bike at the age of 30+ years! This is my own experience how I managed to ride.

First answer this - is your bike a free-wheeling? Free wheeling means when you push the bike without pedalling, its pedals should NOT rotate.
If your bike's pedals do rotate while pushing it, your bike is not free-wheeling. If you bike is not free-wheeling, it is recommended that you remove the pedals initially and re-attach them once you learnt to balance.

You now need to remember following points

Step 1: Seating

While seated on bike saddle, your feet must be able to touch the ground. Not full flat feet touching is required, at least you should reach ground with part of your toe. This is necessary to prevent falling of the bike if you lose balance.

Step 2: Finding a place to practice

Find a long stretch of land (~ 200 meters or more) so that you can gain some speed without stopping. Try in a time when there no other people/cars around. It is strongly advisable to find a place which has some slope. Even a gentle gradient is fine - as long as you can glide in your bike without pedalling (by the force of gravity). Most long footpaths have a slope on one side - so they are ok for practicing (as long as you don't have pedestrians near by)

Step 3: Start to ride (balancing)

Place your bike on road (or footpath etc.) and sit on the saddle with your both feet on ground on a slight downward slope. Now push off the bike with your feet as far as possible so that you start to glide. Don't operate handle bar in this instance. On first few occasions, almost immediately after starting you'll lean on either side. Prevent falling of completely with one of your feet. Do NOT start to pedal at this time. Repeat this step (gliding by gravity) over and over again till you manage to coast without falling/leaning down. By the reflex of your body, you'll also start controlling the handle bar slightly (if you turn it too much, you'll fall). At this time, you'll almost start activating bike's self correcting geometry (provided you gather some speed). The bike will automatically slow down once you've run out of sloping area (otherwise if you want to stop while coasting, pump (press & release quickly) rear brake (or both brakes but NOT front brake alone) few times. It will slow you down so that you can make complete stop with your feet. Repeat this step many times till you manage to coast confidently without losing balance.

Step 4: Start Pedalling

Once you managed balance while coasting, try pedalling. In this step, it will be useful if anyone holds the back of your bike (so that you don't fall off) while you start pedalling with your feet. Even if someone holds you for 10 minutes (s/he has to run along with you), that's enough. By that time you'll learn how to pedal while maintaining balance.

Now start pedalling on level or very low incline. Use a medium gear (say 3rd if you have 5 gears on rear cassette). Keep the front gear into medium position (if you have gears in front sprockets as well).

Even when you think you've learnt to ride, you'll still fall of initially when you just started pedalling. Prevent complete falling of with your feet. These are all part of learning :)

Step 5: Direction change

Start practicing slight direction changes at first. When you're in speed, you can change direction by slightly leaning on the side where you want to go (often without rotating handle bar). However, initially you still need to rotate the handle bar slightly (don't rotate too much else you'll lose balance).

Step 6: Practice & more practice

By now, you'll have some confidence of riding alone! Practice and enjoy your new freedom. Once you managed basic tricks, you might need to raise the seat a bit for comfortable pedalling.

Good luck :)

The parts of a bicycle

Bicycle gear system

There is no hard and fast rule of selecting gear. But unlike a car, gear in a bike is never on neutral! You should change gear only when the bike is moving (not when it is stand still). Some folding bikes don't have front gears (only on rear). For normal riding on level ground, you may leave the gear M-3 setting. For hill climbing better to use M-1 or M-2. For very steep hill, L-1 or L-2 can be used.


The pace at which rider pedals is known as "cadence". Most regular cyclists maintain a cadence of 50 - 100 per minute.


(c) Saikat Basak www.enselsoftware.com October 2008