First things first, if you want your children to start cycling training, you should make sure you’re a good role model first. It’s much easier to be a part of your child’s cycling experience if you enjoy it too. Your child will appreciate your support and you will get fit in the process!
Once they’ve started their cycle training journey, how can you help them improve and become the next big thing? Here are some tips for parents with children getting into cycling.
- Encouraging your children to cycle
- Balance bikes
- First bikes
- Larger bikes
- Junior bikes
- Factors to consider
- Plan rides
- Join a cycling club
- Getting stronger and faster
- Coping with a child that is cycling mad!
- Progressing to the teenage years
One of the easiest ways of encouraging your child to cycle is to start young. Even children as young as 18 months can begin to enjoy the freedom cycling offers.
From around 18 months, children can enjoy balance bikes. Balance is one of the hardest skills in bike riding. Apparently, children who learn to enjoy balance bikes can pick up pedal cycling much quicker and become more confident riders sooner.
Between the ages of 3 and 5, children will need bikes with wheels measuring 12” and 14” approximately. This will mean they can get used to brakes and pedals while being safe and comfortable. For children who have had a balance bike, you can probably skip the stabilisers altogether.
From about 5 years old to 8, you’re looking at 16” and 18” bikes. These come without stabilisers and are designed for children with heights between 112cm and 127 cm.
From around age 8, your child’s growth will slow and you can begin to invest in a good junior bike. These will have gears and you can start choosing the style of the bike too – road, mountain or hybrid.
You might want to think about cost, organising rides, becoming a member of a cycling club and your kids growing!
Most parents will consider cost before beginning something new and potentially expensive. Buying a decent bike doesn’t come cheap. Bicycles that are cheaper, usually are not as good. Since children grow quickly, they might grow out of a new bike after a year so it’s easy to understand why many parents buy cheaper bikes. If you want your child to do well and enjoy themselves, you should invest in the best bike you can afford. Better bikes usually re-sell really well too. Don’t be scared of buying a second-hand bike either! A high-quality bike will be better to ride and won’t need as much maintenance.
Why not try and organise group rides with other families? Your children will have a great time and you’ll have some additional company in the form of their parents too.
Whether you go as a family or in a group, make sure you plan your rides carefully, especially if it involves cycling on open roads.
In terms of safety training, consider signing your child up for a Bikeability scheme. Often these are run at school, so keep an eye out for information or ask around.
There is a huge cycling club scene in Britain and many cycling clubs have junior sections. Being a member of a club is also a great way to meet like-minded people and can also be a source of second-hand bikes. Clubs can also provide support when kids get older and become less likely to want to ride with parents. Having a team or club (and the kit that goes with it) can give children a real sense of belonging that can really keep their passion ignited.
When children are young, all that matters beyond being safe is enjoyment. Once children reach the age of about 11, they will get stronger and will begin to have more stamina. They will also become interested in getting better at around this age. Choosing the right club that can provide this support is important. Find a club that has low-pressure support and lots of riding opportunities. The British Cycling website has a list of clubs.
Even with a local club, if your child is cycling mad, he or she will want to ride all the time! This is perhaps when you need to embrace the cycling lifestyle as a family. Going to school, the local pool, grandparents’ houses, friends’ houses, the shops, the park, etc. can all be potential bike riding opportunities. Don’t forget, it’s a great idea to support your children by doing this with them, you reap the benefits in terms of fitness too!
As children age, their need for independence grows. It can be worrisome for parents to let their children have more freedom when it comes to cycling alone. Instilling the basics of road and cycle safety from a young age is vital. Don’t underestimate how many times you will need to remind your child of road safety information. They may roll their eyes at something but it is really important that they remember how to stay safe for the times when they begin to cycle alone and you’re not there to remind them.