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Like swimming your first length or playing your first chord on the guitar, learning to ride a bike is one of those lifetime landmark achievements you will never forget.
You might set off with a feeling of trepidation. You might wobble a little. Then suddenly it all comes together. You realize that you can balance, steer and pedal simultaneously. The feeling of empowerment is intoxicating.
For many youngsters, this newly-acquired ability induces a Donna Summer-esque state of independence. The world is instantly made more accessible. Just a wee ride to the park at the bottom of the road with a couple of friends to share juice and sandwiches becomes a great adventure.
‘I hate walking to school because it takes over half an hour. I love cycling to school because it takes just 10 minutes.’
Roddy Devlin, aged 10.
The great thing about cycling is that unlike some childhood pleasures (CBBC, farting jokes, dolls’ houses) bike riding isn’t a phase you grow out of. 30 years after you get your first bike you can relive that buzz whenever you ride. That’s why giving children their first bikes and teaching them to ride is like gifting a lifetime standing order to the elixir of youth.
Like any skill the younger you start cycling, the more proficient you’re likely to become. Both Chris Hoy and Steve Peat earned their bike handling chops on kids’ BMXs before either of these champions went near a track bike or a mountain bike.
Clearly, introducing them to cycling is one of the best things you can do for your kids. As with adult bicycles, choosing the right kids’ bike can make the difference between cycling becoming a lifetime pleasure, or just a passing phase.
Kids’ Bikes – Selected and Built With Care
At the Bike Co-op, we select our kids’ bikes with the same care we devote to choosing our adult bike ranges. To make the most of its potential, every kids’ bike we sell is thoroughly assembled and checked over in our own workshop before you collect it (or have it delivered) to ensure its safety. With a little care and maintenance, any children’s bike you buy from the Bike Co-op should be fit to pass on to a wee brother or cousin in years to come.
To find out what we have learned over years of fitting kids onto bikes, visit our Kids’ Bike Buying Guide.
Keep warm. Stay cool.
You have learned from experience that comfort on a bike is largely dependent on dressing the part. We’re not sure which is worse: being underdressed on a cold day or overdressed on a warm day. If you’re taking the youngster out, take a bag with an extra fleece, rain jacket and gloves just in case. Carrying a bag means you’ve got somewhere to stash the excess clobber if the wee one gets too hot.
Mudguards prevent the youngsters and the bike getting filthy. Fitting mudguards to a youngster’s bike helps reduce your laundry loads.
Even parents who reserve the right to ride without head protection usually agree that helmets are mandatory for kids. With so many styles to choose from, Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op make it easy to get your youngster into good helmet-wearing habits.
Kids need gloves for cold days, obviously. Lighter weight summer cycling gloves or fingerless track mitts are recommended when it’s warm because they improve grip, they help prevent blisters and they help break a fall should you take a tumble.
‘I’m thirsty.’ We’ve all heard it, so when you go out, carry a CamelBak or bottle-full of your bairn’s best-loved beverage.
What’s your children’s favourite piece of cycling kit? Let us know and we will add it to our Riding Recommendations.
10 tips for bike rides with kids
- Check the bikes the day before. Whatever state your bike is in, make sure the wee one’s is sound.
- Take a friend. It’s more of an adventure if your child has a chum riding along too. Lets face it, most kids would rather be out with their mates. Your role is to buy the ice cream and oversee from a discreet distance.
- Don’t go too far. If the kids have a good time on a short ride, they’ll look forward to the next time. If it’s a slog, they won’t.
- Check the route beforehand. Getting your kids lost doesn’t inspire confidence.
- Factor in bail-out shortcuts and loo breaks.
- Avoid very hilly routes, busy roads and difficult junctions.
- Have a break from the bike – bring a ball or a Frisbee. If you’re riding to the beach bring a bucket and spade or a fishing line.
- Let the slowest rider set the pace. This is usually the youngest rider. In a few years time, you’ll be begging them to be gentle with you.
- Short people = short attention span. Make the day interesting. Plan refreshment breaks around exciting places such as the local troll bridge.
- If there are no obvious cafe stops en route, bring your own scran. Kids love picnics, camp fires and barbecues.