Have you noticed how just how hectic today’s world is? I swear, people are getting so busy that no one has time for family traditions anymore. But if there’s one rite of passage that you can’t afford to miss out on, it’s teaching your kids how to ride their first bike.
Not only will it encourage them to love the outdoors, but you’ll also be giving them a valuable skill that will last them a lifetime. To do that, you have to get the right bikes for the little guys.
However, it’s not just a matter of popping into your local bike shop and picking out the shiniest scrambler. You’ll need to consider a number of factors to get just the right one. Hopefully, selecting the perfect set of wheels should be a cinch thanks to the following tips for buying your kids’ first bike.
Tip #1: Get the Right Bike for the Right Age
Kids of different ages have completely different levels of motor skills. As such, getting the wrong type of bike for their age might prove challenging and unsafe for the little guys. To make your work easier, we’ve laid out what type of bike fits what age according to leading paediatricians and bike experts.
Ages 1 to 2 – Tricycles
This is the best option for some of the youngest riders on the planet. A tricycle or trike gives your toddler the chance to develop some balance, leg strength, coordination, and independent play skills without any dangers of toppling over.
In addition to having a longer seat that will serve your kids for years, tricycles also have sealed wheels that are quite durable and very low maintenance.
Ages 2 to 4 – Balance Bikes
Once your child has mastered the tricycle, they’re ready to start working on their balance in a safe way. Balance bikes allow your kid to get a feel of a two wheeled bike without having to pedal. Instead, the child propels forward in a Flintstone-like fashion by pushing off with their feet.
These strider bikes have the advantage of letting your kids learn balance, improve their strength and overall coordination while still keeping their feet strategically underneath.
Ages 4+ – Two-Wheelers
By now, your children are already professional bike riders. Once you upgrade them to a regular bike, they probably won’t even need you to teach them a thing. However, you can get a bike with training wheels just to be safe. But you can bet that they’ll be coming off in just a few short days.
Tip #2: Choose the Right Size
Apart from the above factors, the size is without question one of the most important factors to consider. Getting the size wrong could have dire consequences.
For example, a bike that’s too big can be heavy and dangerous for your toddler to use. Similarly, something too small is bound to get damaged or outgrown pretty quickly.
When determining what size is right for your child, there are three rules of thumb that you should use as a guide. One, your child’s feet should be able to touch the ground without having to stretch when they’re seated.
Secondly, they should be able to grip at the handlebars easily without leaning over too much. And lastly, the child should be as comfortable as possible with a normal riding posture.
Tip #3: Consider the Bike’s Features
Today’s range of bikes come with so many features and components that your kids almost need a license to get some of these scramblers on the road. However, there’s also nothing wrong with keeping things simple for younger kids.
Below are a few of the most common components and some information on whether they are best for your child.
Generally, there is no need for suspensions if it’s the kids first bike. Younger children are very light with springy arms and legs, so there’s really no need for surplus suspension. So as cool as they may look, shocks are best reserved for riders above the age of nine.
The younger your kid is, the more difficult it will be for them to work the gears. If your kid is between 5 and 7 years old, go for an alloy chainset with only one ring to save them the trouble of front gears. But if your kids are below the age of 5, then don’t even bother with the gears.
iii) Frame Construction
The material used to construct the bike will have a significant impact on their enjoyment and safety. Steel may be very durable, but it’s also extremely heavy for a three-year-old to lug around. For toddlers, go for an aluminium bike since they are much lighter and easier to manoeuvre.
iv) Brake Type
Generally, young kids do not have enough strength in their wrists and fingers to engage the brakes. Not only is this dangerous, but it can also hurt their confidence as well. Some of the leading kid bike brands use soft touch brakes, V-brakes, pedal brakes and coaster brakes to make stopping easier and safer for younger children.
Tip #4: Insist on Getting ALL Safety Accessories
While you may appreciate the importance of safety gear, your child doesn’t. That’s why it’s important to teach them why they need to wear safety accessories every time they go bike riding. Of course, there’s the usual items such as helmets that are actually mandatory in some areas.
A solid helmet will help prevent serious injuries and can even save your child’s life in the event of an accident. Just make sure there are some vents to prevent too much sweating and well-padded straps for a secure and comfortable fit.
Other accessories to get include shoulder, elbow, and knee pads that will also keep them safe if they fall. However, make sure that these accessories are not too bulky. Overstuffed knee and elbow pads could restrict their movement and natural feel of the bicycle.
There you have it folks! With these tips, getting your kids first bike should be nothing more than a walk in the park now. Ideally, an expensive bike will always perform better and last longer than a cheap one.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should be discouraged if you can’t afford some of those fancy kid bikes. As long as it’s safe, any bike for the little lads is better than no bike. Because in the end, the only thing that matters is mastering the art of riding, and having loads of family fun along the way.