Buying Your Child’s First Bikeby Laura Driver
Buying your child’s first bike is a milestone, I can remember my first bike, can you? Around the age of three is a great age to get your child their first bike.
A balance bike, with no pedals or chain is the perfect way to help your child gain confidence before they graduate to a bike with pedals. Little ones are able to master their balance while also being able to put both feet on the ground.
Another way to help your little one gain confidence is a Tag-Along. The back half of the bike is attached to the back of an adult one. Your child can ‘ride’ without worrying about keeping up with the option of pedalling too or just freewheeling.
Stabilisers can provide support to the back of a pedal bike and are an easy way for your child to learn to ride but they won’t be mastering balance and it could take longer for them to learn. If you do opt for stabilisers make sure you gradually lift them off the ground to provide less and less support to encourage the development of balance.
Gaining confidence and learning to ride needs to be an enjoyable experience so the most important thing is to buy your little one a bike that fits them now rather than one they can grow into. Most bike shops are happy to give advice and will let your little one try different sizes.
Things to consider are;
- Wheels on a first bike will usually be 12 or 14in in size
- Handlebars should be high so your child is upright
- Standover height should be low so if they wobble or come off they won’t have too far to reach the ground
- Choose an aluminium frame, which is light and easy to manoeuvre
- Simplicity – one gear and no fancy features. Your child can always buy their own accessories or put stickers on their bike to make it individual
A helmet won’t prevent accidents, but it can provide protection if your little one does fall off their bike. Always buy a new helmet that conforms to one of the recognised safety standards such as BS or CE, fits well, and is comfortable. If your helmet takes a bash, always replace it as it won’t offer the same protection. When putting a helmet on your child, be careful not to pinch their skin; just place your forefinger between the clip and the chin.
Graduating to road cycling
When your child starts school they will probably want to cycle. They can cycle on the pavement for now, as long as they pay attention to people walking and cars coming out of driveways. But from about age seven they may want to cycle with you on the road – at this stage, it’s a good idea to sign them up for Bikeability training. There are three levels to teach your child control, road sense, and confidence - and give you peace of mind.