Is There a Right Way to Ride a Bike?

bikefallThe video clip below in this post is from Smarter Every Day, created by Destin Sandlin.  It  was viewed by over 8,000,000 people, and is one of the most fascinating videos I have ever seen.

Sandlin’s conclusion about the amazing bicycle experiment got me thinking.

Are the patterns of balance and timing that allow us to ride a bike learned… or are they an inherent part of the way our brain was wired from creation? Continue reading to watch this amazing clip and let me know what you think about the conclusion.

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Sandlin’s conclusion is that we learn to ride a bike a certain way and then become fixated on that method to the extant that we are almost helpless to learn a new way to ride.  His conclusions imply that it might be good for us to examine our habits and life patterns to see if we are so locked into doing things one way that we are resistant and even incapable of change.

That idea is something we should certainly consider. Are we so addicted to “We’ve always done it this way” that we are blind to other ways of thinking or new ways of doing something?


What if we are created to instinctively keep our balance by turning a bike in the direction we want to go, leaning in that direction to keep our balance etc. What if the new bike is designed to operate contrary to natural physical laws of balance. In that case, the lesson to be learned would be this:

Although building and riding a “backwards” bike may be fascinating, it would be a waste of time to learn a new and more difficult way to ride when all along we were wired to do it the “right” from the beginning.

I really liked this post but I would love to see Sandlin conduct another experiment that might help me solve the dilemma. Why not teach two young children who have never ridden a bicycle to ride two different kinds of bicycles?

One child would learn to ride for the first time on a “normal” bike and the other would learn to ride on Destin’s “crazy, backwards” bike.

My (unproven) assumption is that the child with the “crazy” bike would have a more difficult time. Why? Because those algorithms and elements of balance are natural to the way we are wired and the “crazy” bike operates contrary to those natural elements.

I am fascinated to hear what you think.

Either way it is good to examine our lives to see if indeed we are stuck in a rut and might need to examine alternative ways of doing things. But it also good to be sure we are not wasting time and energy fighting the natural and “right” way of doing things.

I will read every comment. I want to know what you think. [reminder]





  1. I bet you’re right about two children learning to ride the two different kinds of bike. But what if learning the “crazy” way messed up the child’s sense of balance, etc. for other things afterward? Who would risk it? A while back you shared an odd phenomenon about reading: As long as the first and last letters are right, we can still read and understand the word even if the letters in the middle are scrambled. I doubt that anyone could learn to read in the first place with that scrambling. A few people–Da Vinci, for one?–can/could write simultaneously with both hands, in opposite directions! There’s so much to learn about how we learn–and could learn!

  2. I remember seeing a video a loong time ago where they put goggles on a man that reversed left and right. He had the same reactions however it was just his eyes. Add all the other features that are used riding a bike and the problems grow exponentially. See you in ME in July.

  3. I have to tell many years ago I did a temporary stint for the Post Office delivering mail, as a substitute. I had to use my own car, in my training, they trained me how to drive my vehicle to deliver the mail. understand like you I am in the Smoky Mountains, The instructor sat in the back and told me to sit closer to the passenger side of the front seat and not the drivers seat! I had to straddle the middle to reach the gas and break and stretch my left arm out to grab hold of the steering wheel, I was in the passenger seat driving up a mountain delviering the mail out the window of the passenger side. now you know there are curves in these hills! one hand was all I could use to control the wheel! all the mail boxes are on the right side of the road going up! if anyone was to tell me you can drive a vehicle up the side of the mountain from the passenger side I would have said you were crazy. You would be amazed what you can do if you put your mind to it…Lots of Postal worker have a weekly visit to their chiropractor!!!! Mind boggling experience.

  4. That was amazing! Now I kind of understand why its so hard and it takes so long to change negative thinking to positive thinking. I liked when it said something about how we might need to rethink how we think.

  5. Hi, I’m a unique person. I’ve studied this in a different manner. I hope to be the first circus artist and Funeral Director ever. They’re strangely similar because they both called onto me to do. I believe there are 360 degree’s of options, pointing in infinite directions for our life to go towards. but with one certain ending. I’ve become aware of the space around me by experiencing Newton’s third law of motion like my life depended on it. I’m an experienced Unicyclist riding three different concepts of what is balance. Please let me know if you’d like me to open for your July 17th performance

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