Cycling is a great activity for the whole family.
Bikes offer teenagers more freedom and independence, which is increasingly important given that children are afforded far less roaming distance than a generation or two ago.
For younger children, learning to ride a bike without stabilisers is definitely one of life’s early milestones. Smart trikes, a pushchair with pedals, are often the first cycle a baby experiences. Many combine a shopping bag and sunshade and can be converted as a child grows and is more mobile.
Toddler balance bikes are a relatively new idea in the UK. They don’t have pedals or a drive chain, so it’s all about foot propulsion and learning to steer. Most balance bikes are designed for children of two and over and are made of wood or metal. Choose a balance bike that allows your child to put their feet flat on the floor. Look for a height adjustable model so your child gets some use out of it before progressing on to a pedal cycle.
It’s best, if you can, to buy your children’s
bikes from a specialist cycle shop which
can make sure that you buy the right size and that the
bike is suitably lightweight but robust. Don’t buy by age range as this is often both too wide and unreliable.
Measure your child’s height and inside leg before going to choose a cycle as this helps the shop staff narrow down your choices depending on wheel size and wheelbase. Wheels, and hence bike sizes, normally start at 14 inches and then go up in two inch increments, with the largest being 26” or 27”, sizes which also suit many adults. Buy the biggest wheel size that your child can comfortably fit on. This tends to be about the same as their inside leg measurement, but just like clothing, sizes vary according to style and brand. You also want to look for a short crank and narrower pedal tread, both of which make a bike easier to ride for children.
Often, kids’ bikes are designed to be cheap, but that means that they can be too heavy and badly designed. Specialist brands like Frog Bikes and Islabikes combine thoughtful design with attractive colourways.
If you buy second-hand or get a family hand-me-down, it’s worth having a service and safety check at specialist dealer. Safety equipment like helmets and elbow pads should always be bought new in case prior damage compromises safety performance.
Rather than riding on the roads, there are plenty of safe places to ride, from disused railway lines and the beach boulevard to BMX parks and mountain bike trails to enjoy as a family. You can find more of these at visitabdn.com/what-to-do/great-outdoors/cycling/.