When we first learn to ride a bike there are a lot of new skills and sensations that may not be very natural to begin with.  Practicing will make learning easier.

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When we start or stop a bike there is so much opportunity for disaster.  Falling sideways, becoming unbalanced or getting all tangled up.  Usually ending in a memorable “ouch” moment.  A number of things need to be coordinated and balanced for this skill to become fluid and graceful.  Fortunately over time it becomes a skill we don’t give much thought to… until today when I would like to take YOU or your lovely kids to the next level of starting and stopping –  up out of the seat.

If you are learning to ride a bike for the first time take note of these starting & stopping tips;  

Starting

  • choose a flat even surface
  • looking ahead at where you are about to go, not down at your bike
  • make sure you are in a suitable gear so you don’t have to push really hard on the pedals to get the bike going

Stopping

  • look ahead and choose a point to stop at, then focus on it
  • smooth, even, gradual braking using both hands
  • get your feet ready by moving your pedals to 12 & 6 o’clock

Most people learn to start and stop on a bike with the seat low so they can reach the ground while still seated when the bike is not moving.  This is a safe and sensible option and one that applies to kids learning to ride as well.  With time on the bike comes a sense of balance and control so you may not need to have your seat low to feel safe. You can also expect physical changes as you spend more time on your bike – your legs get stronger therefore your bike seat position could get higher.  Why?  This will give you more power as your legs will be able to move in a more naturally lengthened way.  Read more about your bike seat and what height it should be at, here.

Low seat, notice the very bent knees even at the bottom of the pedal stroke

The seat height has been raised so the leg is only slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke

My question to you is would you like to raise the height of your seat?  This would mean that when you start and stop on your bike you will have to get out of your seat because a raised seat means you won’t be able to reach the ground with your feet easily.

Starting & Stopping – Get Up Off Your Seat

STEP ONE – If you feel like you’re ready to start and stop like this, a great way to prepare is to practice taking weight into your feet. Next time you’re out riding – stand up on the pedals then move the pedals into the 12 and 6 o’clock position while you are up out of the seat.  Make sure you are going fast enough to glide along when you go to stand up.

STEP TWO – Your next step is to practice the sequence below on a quiet street or cycle pathway.

Get into the “ready” position

  • straddle your top tube so your body is just in front of the seat
  • take all your weight onto one foot (usually your less dominant side)
  • with the opposite foot move the pedal to a 10 o’clock position then rest this foot on the pedal

You are now ready to start”

  • push off with the grounded foot as you begin to pedal with your 10 o’clock foot
  • at the same time move your body up and back onto the seat.  Make sure your up movement is enough to avoid getting any clothing caught on the nose of the seat.
  • you have created some forward momentum and balance so it should be natural to place your push off foot onto its pedal and start riding.
womens boyleg goUnders

Can you get up off your seat when you ride?

“Ready” – out of seat, 10 o’clock foot, eyes ahead

“Start” – moving up & back, grounded foot landing on pedal

Coming to a stop  (see the photo sequence below)

  • move your pedals to a 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock position
  • engage your brakes and slow right down.  Always look ahead at what’s coming and where you want to stop safely.
  • when you are practically stopped take all your weight onto the 6 pedal as you move your body up off the seat then as you stop completely, step down onto the ground with the 12 o’clock foot
  • now place your 6 o’clock foot onto the ground as well with your body straddling the bike in front of the seat

Prepare – pedals move to 12 & 6 o’clock

Move up off your seat with weight on 6 o’clock pedal

Foot from 12 o’clock pedal prepares to land on ground at stopping mark

Both feet on ground, bike has completely stopped

Once you have the confidence to start and stop this way you can now consider raising your seat height.  See our story on adjusting your seat if this sounds like something you want to do.  Even if it’s just a little at a time.

Why would I want to do this?  As I said at the beginning a higher seat height will give you better leg length, which will give you more power.  What does this mean for your riding?  It simply makes it easier.  Your big leg muscles will be able to generate a stronger push.  Expect to be able to ride greater distances before your legs get tired.  How you ride on hills will change.  Expect to go up bigger hills and get further up hills before stopping or be able to ride up hills in a different gear.  This transition to a higher seat height can make a huge difference to where and how long you can ride for.

Remember the kids.  Their legs are growing constantly so please check the height of their seats regularly.  They too will benefit from learning how to get out of their seat to start & stop.

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