The Importance of Starting Early
As we all know, riding a bike is great fun and fantastic exercise, that improves cardiovascular development while building stamina. But there are less obvious benefits too. Riding a bike increases a child's coordination and balance, which is something that every adult wishes they had more of.
Learning to ride a bike takes time and effort, which is a great lesson for kids. While trying to master riding, they soon discover that you need persistence and patience to learn any new skill. It will also give you an excellent example to refer to when they need a little encouragement to keep going. The rewarding sense of achievement and increased confidence they will have when they cycle away on their own is hard to beat.
TOP TIPS FOR INTRODUCING YOUR CHILD TO RIDING A BIKE
You may have visions of your little rider being the next Chris Hoy or Rachel Atherton, but you need to start with the basics. Riding a bike can be dangerous, so you need to make sure a few things are in place before you start your lessons.
Kids bikes come in all shapes and sizes; therefore, the first thing to do is to make sure the bike is right for your child. It has to be the right type, and most importantly, the correct size. If the bike is too big or too small, it can make riding it more dangerous. The next thing you need to do is to make sure that your child is kitted out with the necessary safety equipment. A helmet is essential, and you might want to buy some elbow and knee pads to protect them in the inevitable first crash. Don’t forget the Technical Jersey, shorts and gloves! : o )
When your child gets to grips with the bike and has a little more independence, you might want to set some ground rules. For example, they are not allowed to ride unless they are wearing proper shoes, decent riding clothing and all their safety equipment. Also, you need to teach them about riding around in public in the safest way possible.
Balance Bikes are key.
Balance bikes are a great way to start your child off on their cycling career. These are bikes without pedals designed to teach toddlers from 18 months how to balance on two wheels. It won't take long before your child is riding and jumping their balance bike without help. Balance bikes are much more beneficial than tricycles or bikes fitted with stabilisers/training wheels. They allow them to progress to their first pedal bikes more quickly.
Balance bikes are also much safer than tricycles and bikes with stabilisers/training wheels. Three wheels are difficult to maneuver and can get stuck or tipped over on rough surfaces. Balance bikes focus on balancing rather than pedalling, which builds children's core stability while teaching them to cope with an unexpected loss of balance.
Balance bikes are more efficient than bikes fitted with three wheels too. Therefore your little rider will travel further before getting tired, and you have to push or carry them home.
Let your Little Rider ‘Ride Shotgun’
By fitting a child bike seat on to the front of your bike, your child will experience many benefits. These are installed at the front over the top tube of your bike, just behind the handlebars.
As the seat is mounted at the front, the seat creates an incredibly interactive experience for your child, as they can see everything that is going on. It also makes life much easier for you, as you can see your child without needing to stop or turn around. You can also have a conversation without yelling at the top of your voices.
An example of a great front-mounted child seat is the Kids Ride Shotgun. This is fully adjustable and easy to put on and take off. These types of seats are much better than rear-mounted ones, as the weight distribution is more centred, making it safer. You need to be a reasonably competent rider to use one of these seats, as it can be a bit awkward to start with. You also need to be aware of the additional risks involved in the event of a crash. But all-in-all, kids and adults love these seats, and they provide great opportunities to teach your child about riding a bike.
Give your Little Rider a Tow
Mountain biking with your kids is lots of fun, but it can come with challenges. They may love riding the downhill and flat sections but struggle with uphill climbing, which can mean they don't want to carry on. But, being able to tow your child overcomes the issue of their relativity low endurance when riding the trails. This is a simple but effective solution for keeping your child interested in riding their bike.
Kids Ride Shotgun makes a great tow rope that attaches to your kid's bike's stem while the other end loops over your saddle. It works with any bike combination and allows your child to have lots of fun for longer, thanks to some help from your pedalling power.
Let your Little Rider Enjoy the Ride
If you don't like the idea of riding with a child seat mounted to your top tube, or your child isn't quite ready for a tow rope, maybe a trailer is a good option for you.
Trailers are becoming very popular with cycling families. They attach to the rear of your bike, allowing you to tow your kids along. With a trailer your child is at less risk in the event of a crash or a fall. This is thanks to its low profile design and low centre of gravity, reducing the likelihood of it tipping over. The extra size of a trailer allows your child to be comfortable and even have space for toys.
The Best Ways to Get Your Kids Riding Bikes
Inspiring children to ride bikes at an early age is a fantastic thing for a parent to do. The benefits and life skills riding bikes give children are invaluable for their development. As you can see, there are a few different methods available to parents of prospective little riders to try. Pick any of these, and your child will be smashing the trails with confidence in no time.
Do you need help choosing which method is best for you? The Little Rider Co Army is full of likeminded Little Rider Families willing to help – Jump in and ask for a recommendation, or to share your Little Riders adventures.
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