An Open Letter To Bike Shops - Bike Month - 2019

May 01, 2019

An Open Letter To Bike Shops - Bike Month - 2019

Dear Local Bike Shop,

It’s bike month. We love you. And we want you to be successful.

So here’s our bike month challenge for YOU.

Remove all the training wheels on your sales floor immediately and forever.

Here’s why…

You, local bike shop, are the epicenter of cycling culture in your community. If you’re not, you’ll soon be out of business. Sorry to be harsh… it’s just reality.

We NEED you to be the epicenter of cycling culture and you NEED that to survive. We’re all in this together!

As the epicenter of cycling culture in your community, you guide people and develop beliefs about what biking is, and what it is not. The beliefs you help instill in your customers lead them to actions and behaviors.

Remember when you believed in Lance and the result was all those carbon ultegra road bike sales?

Beliefs drive Behavior

We need you to broadcast the beliefs that lead to more people on bikes. More people on bikes starts with more kids on bikes.

When you display training wheels on your sales floor you are silently broadcasting the wrong beliefs. And it actually reduces the result we all want.

We know you don’t mean it, and we forgive you for your past sins.

Yes, bikes do display easier when they stand up on the training wheels. And you’ve got bigger fish to fry then try to figure out how to display those annoying little bikes. But do you really?

Each bike with training wheels displayed on your sales floor says something to EVERY customer who walks in: Training wheels are a standard part of learning to ride. They're normal.

kid with training wheels on his bike

This is wrong! We need to change this.

Unless a person has a disability, the very best way to learn to ride is to take the pedals off and learn balance first, without training wheels. Come on... you know this. Your shop sells balance bikes!

What do the training wheels ‘train’ for anyway? They train for leaning the wrong way and developing anti-balance, that's what.

Listen, this is not T-ball where propping up the baseball on a pilon helps to develop a proper swing. Using training wheels to learn to ride is like using a golf tee to teach a kid to hit homers.

But there’s another, bigger issue. Riding a training wheel bike is way less fun. Less fun lowers the likelihood a child will continue to love biking and stick with it.

Have you ever watched a kid high side a turn on training wheels like Ricky-Bobby… ooof.

After running pre-school age bike classes for hundreds of families across the country, we're here to tell you there are a ton of kids who go from confidently riding a balance bike to riding training wheel bikes to falling out-of-love with biking.

Why?

Well, one of the reasons is because bike shops never told them not to. When a parent walks in to buy that first 12”, 14”, or 16” wheel pedal bike, it just ‘comes with’ training wheels.

Happy, happy, joy, joy! Hey kid... here’s your properly hobbled bicycle with training wheels installed and fun removed.

Ok, we know there’s another issue. Parents can be uninformed and tired (parenting is hard work!). Just like it’s easier for you to display a bike with training wheels, it’s easier for parents to plop a kid on a training wheel bike and move on.

"I just gotta reply to this one last email..."

You might also hear from a parent in your shop, “we need to use the training wheels to help them figure out the pedaling motion.”

In our experience, that’s a misconception. 

Every week in our classes we teach kids, who have learned to balance on two wheels, how to then pedal without training wheels. It only takes a bit of patience.

Training wheels are not the same as using a practice potty when graduating from diapers… let the kid sit on the bike throne all by themselves!

So bike shops, do it today. Take action.

Go out on your sales floor and remove ALL the training wheels. Figure out how to display a small bike that doesn’t fit in your regular display stands. Install kickstands if you have to. We beg you.

We’re not saying deny training wheels if a customer wants them. Keep them in the back and have them available ‘upon request’. Heck, make a sign that says that!

We believe the very best way to learn to ride a bike begins with balance. Training wheels available upon request but not recommended.

As the epicenter of cycling culture in your community, you must take a stand here. It’s really a simple ask.

Of course, a bit of training for your staff on how to teach a child to balance and pedal without training wheels would be a huge bonus. This is totally in your wheelhouse. Ouch.. bad pun.

We thank you, and the mechanics building the bikes while skipping the training wheel install thank you too!

PS. If you still wonder if there is an over-focus on training wheels in the bike industry, check out this section of a "How To Ride" article from a bike shop website:

Once your child has mastered the balancing part of biking, it is time to learn about steering and braking on a big kid bike with training wheels! It is important for the child to learn the functions of the different mechanisms of the bike having to worry about tipping. The training wheels offer the necessary stability to begin safely practicing pedaling, braking, and steering. 



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