Calvin hops on his bicycle again. Hobbes tells him that people say once you've learned to ride, you never forget. Calvin believes that. After he again crashes, he says it works on the same principle as electroshock therapy.

I doubt that people never forget to ride a bicycle. If my grandfather, who hasn't ridden a bicycle in over 30 years, were to hop on one and start riding, I would be immensely surprised. Are there any sources that either confirm or deny that learning to ride a bike is permanent?

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    People who experience physical brain damage (e.g., as the result of a serious head injury) could lose certain memories or skills. It can also happen with people who've lost a portion of their brain tissue (e.g., brain surgery to remove a tumour) or have experienced a stroke. Jun 1, 2011 at 5:52
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    I went for 5-10 years without riding a bike, and instantly started riding with no problems. Just an anecdote, not an answer.
    – Apreche
    Jun 1, 2011 at 11:56
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    Another personal anecdote - didn't ride a bike quite a few years, then started riding a motorcycle. No problems. Well, I did crash a couple years later, but that was unrelated to forgetting how to ride. :/ Jul 15, 2011 at 23:33
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    Last year I rode a bike after 18 years to show my son, and it took less than 5 seconds to get oriented.
    – CMR
    Jul 17, 2011 at 16:34
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    I will say that, when I mount a bike, it takes me several seconds to attain balance, and similarly it takes several seconds to stop and dismount, whereas when I was biking daily those activities barely required thought. Jun 19, 2022 at 14:37

2 Answers 2


I had come across this article about research on this:

Why you never forget how to ride a bike

It is more like you pick up the unused skills quickly.

I associate things like this to muscle memory. Also, when riding a bike or driving a car, sometimes you might actually be thinking about something else. (I have done it many times, though dangerous!) After you reach home, you have very little recollection of the ride. You just drive!


Destin Sandlin of the Smarter Every Day YouTube channel, purposely taught himself how to ride a backwards bike (i.e. turn the handlebars left to go right), which caused him to forget how to ride a normal bike. So yes, in certain situations you can forget.

  • That's a matter of reflexes. Jun 28, 2022 at 12:53
  • Actually you’re slightly misquoting it. The WHEEL turns to the right when you turn the handlebar to the left. However, EVERYONE rides a bicycle by turning left and going right. It’s called countersteering and quite a surprise for people to find out they’ve been doing it all along. It’s impossible not to. Jun 29, 2022 at 6:35

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