Did you know Bike to School Week starts today?
Everyone who rides a bike remembers the skinned knees, grazed palms and high-speed encounters with tarmac that come with those first forays into pedal-powered joy.
Combining the multitude of skills that allow you to steer, balance, brake and pedal – sometimes all at once – involves time, patience and (yes) sometimes even the odd bump and bruise, too.
Of course, before long it all becomes second nature. Just like walking, once you’ve learned how to ride a bike, you never forget – and that’s where the fun starts!
If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and getting your kids into bikes, check out our top 5 tips to make the going that bit easier on yourself and your budding Wiggo.
And remember – to celebrate Bike to School week, we’re giving away a FREE Met helmet worth £25 with every purchase of a new kids’ Frog bike. Find out more about Frog – and our offer – here.
1. Start them early
You can get children used to the idea of bikes as soon as they can sit unassisted – wrap them up warm, strap them into a tow-along trailer buggy or a bike seat and away you go! Chances are, you’ll tire of the experience – and the exercise – long before they do, so if you find towing a buggy too much of a drag, consider hiring one of our motor-assisted bikes to give your legs a break and take the sting out of the hills.
2. Balance bikes not stabilisers
De-stabilisers would be a more accurate name, because – if anything – these paradoxical pieces of cycle accoutrement encourage instability.
Instead of stabilisers, start your littlun on a balance bike from as young as two years old. With no brakes or pedals to confuse them, and no mucky chain for you to fret about, they can concentrate on developing the key skills of balance and coordination. When the time comes to move on to a bike with pedals, they’ll have the tricky business of balancing down to a tee, and find the transition a cinch.
3. Be prepared to spend on a decent bicycle
Picture the scene: dad cruises along on his svelte, stealth carbon trail weapon. Meanwhile little Jimmy is sweating cobs as his tiny legs strain against the pedals of some scaffold-tubed steel monstrosity. It’s a recipe for disaster – the perfect way to ensure you put the kids off cycling for life.
The plain fact is, if you want to get them into riding bikes, you’ll need to invest a bit of money in one they actually enjoy pedalling. Look for a lightweight aluminium frame fitted with decent components that won’t fall to bits the first time it rains. As well as road and mountain bikes for children, we stock kids’ bikes from British brand Frog – check them out here.
Yes, there may well be a sharp intake of breath at the initial outlay, but a decent bike will hold its value far better than an el-cheapo lump of lead picked up for peanuts – you can always sell it on to fund the next purchase when it’s time to go up a size. Speaking of which…
4. Size matters
A common mistake parents make is to buy a bike that’s too big for their child, thinking they’ll grow into it over several years.
Of course, they will grow into it – but by that time it’ll be long abandoned at the back of the garage, covered in cobwebs. Whether you’re an adult or a child, a poorly-fitted bike is no fun to ride. The solution? Come into the shop and get fitted with the help of experts.
5. Fun and safety
All the above adds to up to making sure your child has fun on his or her bike – but it’ll count for nada if you choose a route beyond their abilities. You may relish the challenge of trying to beat your friends’ PBs on a categorised road climb – but the kids will be wishing they were back at home with the XBox.
Look for easy-going, smooth-rolling terrain. Traffic-free riding is ideal when they start out – for their own safety and to avoid shredding your nerves. With the right route, and older children, considerable distances are quite doable – consider the Taff Trail, Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal and around the Elan Valley. Our sister company Drover Holidays has a number of child-friendly cycling tours.