Looking to put your toddler on two wheels? Get rolling with these expert tips.
Teaching your kids to ride a bike for the first time is a big deal. Although balance bikes might have rendered the days of wobbly stabilisers, awkward seat holding and veering into trees obsolete, there is still plenty for parents to consider before buying one and getting their little one’s cycling journey underway.
With that in mind, Karen Wood, Director at Strider UK, has shared some top tips for picking out the right bike and ensuring your children enjoy their first experience of life on wheels:
Get the balance
Balance bikes are the best method of choice for beginners of any age. With nothing complicated to confuse them, your child can straddle the bike, and start by standing and walking it along. They will never need stabilisers.
Check the fit
Measure your child’s inside leg to determine what seat height they need. An 18-month old needs the seat to go as low as 28cm to be able to ride it. A 5-year old will need a seat height of 48cm. Choose a bike with adjustable seat and handlebars so your child doesn’t outgrow it.
Weigh it up
Bikes need to be light enough for young children to handle, especially if they’re starting out as a toddler. Anything over 3kg is getting heavy, especially for a young rider.
Kick the tyres
Not literally of course, but look out for puncture-proof tyres and sealed bearings, which will mean the bike can be used over any terrain. An EVA polymer is also a better option than hard plastic tyres, as it offers a smoother ride and good grip.
Make sure the bike has a footrest. Ideally placed in the same position that pedals would be on a regular version, to ensure that your child learns balance in the correct position. When they get a bit of speed up, it is more comfortable with feet resting on the bike than dangling in the air, especially over bumps!
Don’t hit the brakes (if the bike has any!)
Young children can’t reach lever brakes, or don’t know how to use them correctly and they can cause more accidents than they are designed to prevent. The best method is to learn to slow down with their feet and stop quickly in an emergency. Some bikes do offer an optional rear foot brake if they start wearing through their shoes too quickly.
Be a cheerleader, not a coach
Praise your child for any amount of time they spend on their bike. In the first few days it may be just 5 minutes. Let them be independent and encourage them. Better still, get on your bike with them!
Strider run a series of races, family days out and events across the UK to give kids a chance to learn from watching others. Your youngsters can race from 18 months right up until their 6th birthday – all participants get medals and a trip onto the podium.