People who had positive bicycling experiences as children are much more likely to bicycle as adults. People who had a painful or frightening experience on a bicycle as a child tend to not ride as adults. This is why it is important to do everything possible to ensure that our children have a fun and safe experience on their first bicycle rides.
The experience starts with the bicycle itself. Adults often think that because the child is going to outgrow the bike, putting money into a bicycle is not worthwhile. To fully appreciate the error in that thinking, just try riding a bicycle in bad repair that doesn’t fit. It is worth making the investment and then selling or passing the bicycle on to a friend or relative once your child outgrows it. If we make that investment in our children, more are likely to continue bicycling for life.
A positive trend in teaching new riders is to introduce them to a bicycle without pedals. One can either remove the pedals from their bicycle or purchase a bicycle designed for scooting only. Important note: when removing pedals, the left pedal is reverse threaded (righty-loosy, lefty-tighty -say that three times!).
The BikeTexas Kids Kup Races are held in conjunction with the TMBRA (Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association) Spring and Fall Series rides. We meet many parents and guardians at the Kids Kup events, and several of the parents have their children on the balance bicycles. The children are able to ride fast and on their own. The difference between them and the children on training wheels is amazing. Training wheels tend to tip when turning, and seem to cause delays in learning proper steering and balance.
One grandfather spent $159 on a top quality scoot bicycle for his grandson. “We wanted to get him something that would teach him balance without wobbling on training wheels. This did the trick. He was 2 when we got it, and it took only about 5 minutes to show him how to use it. Now he won’t get off of it. It is very stable and he flies around on it like a pro.”
The quality of a bicycle also is important in many ways. Inexpensive bicycles’ brakes are weak because they are made from thin stamped metal. Don’t be fooled by the name brand parts that are visible. A $59 bicycle with the same Shimano derailleur as a $259 bicycle has skimped on the parts you don’t see so easily such as the hubs, bottom bracket, headset and more.
Next month, look for an article on helmets and helmet fitting.