Victoria says a birthday or Christmas isn’t necessarily the best time to pick a bike for your child. She explains, “Parents can be fixated on the present, and the deadline. A lot of people also have a price limit, so will go to the shop and buy a bike that fits the budget. Neither of these variables necessarily take into account the development stage your child is at.”
Victoria recommends buying a good-quality, well-designed bike such as an Isla or Frog. She says; “Think about how well it will work for your kids. If you only want to spend, say, £150, it’s much better and much greener to buy a second-hand, good quality bike than a cheaply-made model. A lot of bigger manufacturers build to a price point, so use components that won’t last as long. I would like a bike to be in a decent condition to be passed on to my second or third child. Because I have environmental standards, I want that bike to last as long as possible before it ends up in landfill. A decent bike has a decent second-hand resale value, too.”
It’s also important to choose a bike that fits. Victoria says, “Your child should easily be able to get their hands around the handlebar set-up and to the brakes, they shouldn’t be leaning forward too much, and their feet should rest flat on the ground. Better designed bikes help children to ride with more confidence, and there are no extra barriers in the way.”
Expert children’s bike designers, Islabikes, advise that kids learn on a balance cycle, with no pedals. They explain, “This way the child learns the act of balancing and steering without the added complication of simultaneously pedalling and having to take their feet off the ground.” They don’t recommend that a child uses stabilisers to learn, and say, “Stabilisers hold the bike in a rigid upright position and prevent the cycle from naturally leaning. Therefore, if a child is learning to ride a cycle with stabilisers they are essentially riding a tricycle which requires different weight distribution. If a child tries to turn with stabilisers they have to move their bodyweight to stop a stabiliser wheel from lifting off the ground. On a cycle the child learns to lean with the bike.”
It’s worth hunting for a good place to teach kids to ride. Islabikes say, “Ideally, you want to find somewhere that is relatively flat with a smooth tarmac surface in a quiet, open area and, obviously, away from traffic and obstacles.”
However long it takes to get your kids out and riding, the end result will be worth it. Cycling is a healthy, green, economical and fun way to spend time together as a family, and one of the best lifelong pleasures to which you can introduce your children.
Find more advice, route ideas and campaign information at cyclinguk.org