Bicycles: Starting your kids off right!

Bicycles: Starting your kids off right!

There is an unprecedentedly huge selection of bikes for kids on the market today, from balance bicycles to help toddlers find their cycling legs, to simplified racing and mountain bikes, and even BMXs!

Start them young!

What child doesn’t love the gift of their first bike? It is the beginning of a lifetime of experiences in the great outdoors, and starts the habit of health and exercise early in life. 

There will only ever be one opportunity to give your child the lifelong memory of their first bike, so here are some things to consider helping you make the right choice.

Whether you are looking at starting off your tiny tot on the smallest of balance bikes or getting an older child their first “real” bike, the amount of options available to young riders is immense in its scope. So how do you narrow it down to the right one? 

In a nutshell

Be sure to check the weight, so that you don’t burden your child with unnecessary load to carry. Bikes with a lower centre of balance are preferable for helping kids learn balance. 

These little bikes often have longer wheelbases too, to assist in the distribution of weight, which helps the child to stay on the bike. 

The long and the short of it 

The wheelbase can be determined by the length of space between the seat and the handlebars. The shorter this area, the shorter the wheelbase. For optimum balance and road-holding, rather start off a young, beginner rider on a longer wheelbase.

The balance bike, a small bike with no pedals, but which teaches a child to function on only two wheels, has proven revolutionary over the past few years.

 Some brands even produce adaptable balance bikes, to which pedals can be added as children grow and improve in their cycling skills.

Starting your child off on a balance bike will help them to develop important cycling skills, like finding and maintaining their balance, as well as learning how to steer.

Ingraining these important skills early on can greatly contribute to how quickly your child will be able to move on to a pedal bike, without the need for training wheels. 

Stop and go

Very young children can generally be quite comfortably be started off on a 12” wheel. The ideal bike type for absolute beginners are available with different kinds of brakes, whether the traditional lever-operated kind, or the kind that operates by backpedalling, known as coaster brakes.

Making it fit

As is the case with most personal items, it is always best to try it out in person. That means taking your kid to the store, and physically getting them to try different bikes. 

The sensory component in decision-making is invaluable, from touching the handlebars and feeling out the seat, to the ever-important first test ride! 

Most cycle shops have excellently trained sales personnel who will be able to assist and offer advice on most questions you might have.

See other tips and tricks for parents in our ‘hacks’ section.

Kate Dyson

Kate is the Founder of The Motherload, the 'owner' of one husband, two daughters, two cats and one rabbit. She loves wine, loathes exercise and fervently believes in the power of women supporting women. Find me on instagram: @themotherloadhq

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