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In reading this question, it's occurred to me that I don't know the difference between the following constructions:

自転車に乗るのは思ったより易しくない
自転車に乗るのは思ったほど易しくない

Is the difference really just as the literal translation suggests? That より is "not as easy" and ほど is "not easy to the extent" (but potentially still easy)?

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~より~ない is just comparing two things and showing their relationship. We can't tell to what extent they are. 自転車に乗るのは思ったより易しくない: The speaker tried to ride a bike, and it was simply more difficult than they expected. Not sure if they could or not.

~ほど~ない is also comparing two but also implying its extent. 自転車に乗るのは思ったほど易しくない: The speaker could have ridden a bike, though that was a bit more tricky than they thought.

Usually, ~より~ is used with a positive form of a word, so this time 思ったより難しい is more natural. ~ほど~ can only be used with a negative form.

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  • To clarify, AほどBない always means that B is true, but not to the extent of A?
    – Riolku
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 3:09
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    Yes. For example, 冬は夏ほど暑くない sounds strange.
    – Daigo
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 4:33

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