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Can You Forget How to Ride a Bike? (No, Here’s the Reason)

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

can you forget how to ride a bike

People tend to forget things over time. When it happens, it may take them a while to refresh and relearn the skills and knowledge they lost. However, can you forget how to ride a bike?

Naturally, we can never forget how to ride a bike. Learning this skill is deeply ingrained in our neural system, since it is classified as procedural memory. A few factors play a role in our brain and memory that preserve our knowledge of this skill.

Can You Forget How to Ride a Bike?


An individual can never forget riding a bike. It is a skill embedded in our brains as part of our long-term memory.

Long-term memory is divided into two parts: procedural and declarative.

  • Declarative memory focuses on the memories we can recall, our first and current experiences.
  • Procedural memory focuses on understanding things and procedures we recall and recreate.

Riding a bike is part of our procedural memory, mainly involving performance-based knowledge. Compared to declarative memories, remembering procedural memories is easier and more efficient.

Biking involves many complex steps.

  1. It utilizes the body’s endurance, coordination, balance, and other motor skills that involve different parts of the body.
  2. When observing a person riding a bike, we know that cyclists tend to start over and over when learning. The muscles and the brain instinctively remember when to put the steps in action, and soon these steps become implanted in our neural pathways.
  3. The procedures involved are all kept in mind while learning them step-by-step. This is known to be part of our muscle memory. It improves and stays with the years and experience a cyclist has gained.

But Why Do You Never Forget How to Ride a Bike?


In the case of kids and adults learning to ride a bike, they are also making optimizations to improve and become more comfortable when riding. This allows them to internalize and remember each step.

As part of Implicit Memory, procedural memories allow you to recall and recreate actions and skills you have learned and experienced.

Even without thoroughly restudying or thinking about it, your implicit memory helps you perform them.

Despite this knowledge, it’s still unclear how procedural memories stay intact much longer than declarative memories. Even in circumstances that heavily compromise the brain, the possibility of our brains retaining procedural memory is high.

  • So, to put it simply, riding a bike is an unforgettable skill. It’s something you remember for the rest of your life. From practicing, and adjusting your skills, to the repeated times you ride a bike, you are able to remember cycling as part of your long-term memory.

When Do We Need to Relearn How to Ride a Bike?


Although the risk of forgetting how to ride a bike is low, it isn’t impossible.

Some people may encounter physical or mental problems that render them clueless about riding a bike. They may wonder: “Why can’t I ride a bike anymore?” It’s not easy to forget, but it’s both alarming and possible.

There are a few situations wherein our procedural memory becomes damaged. Physical impairments are often a big cause of forgetting these functions, such as in the case of brain damage or strokes.

Interestingly, amnesia affects declarative memories rather than procedural ones, while Alzheimer’s can lead to a decline of both.

Anyhow, you can still relearn how to ride a bike. With a guide, slowly ease in and start with the basics such as pedaling then move on to more challenging steps.

Though it’s possible and a skill you can relearn, you should bike with caution when you encounter this problem. You may experience dizziness, nausea, or falls when learning how to bike post-injury.

Frequently Asked Questions


How can I tell if I have forgotten how to ride a bike?

It is still near impossible to forget how to ride a bike. However, you can tell if you experienced any brain-related injury that impairs functioning. After encountering serious brain injury, you may feel clueless about several skills and functions related to cycling.

How long does it take to relearn biking skills?

Similar to initially learning how to ride a bike, relearning riding a bike after many years may take up to a week. However, it may depend on the cyclist’s situation. If they have help from a friend or coach, regaining the skill may require a few hours only.

Can you count riding a bike as muscle memory?

Yes, in fact, muscle memory is actually a type of procedural memory. The science behind this memory lies in our internalization and repetition of practicing how to ride a bike. The more you practice and gain experience, the more you’ll be able to remember.


Can you forget how to ride a bike? Most people wonder about this question, whether it’s a myth that we couldn’t or if we could after a long time. Yet, it’s no surprise that after many practices and internalizations, you can never forget how.

So, even if people claim: “I haven’t ridden a bike in years, I must’ve forgotten,” our memories and instincts can still remember and perform the procedures involved in riding a bike. It’s a skill that will stick with you for the rest of your life.

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