In the lead up to Ausbike we touched base with our friends over at BikeExchange.com.au to find out the best ways to get your child ready to ride. We chatted to Jason, one of the BikeExchange.com.au owners, who had some great tips to share.
Beginners Love Balance
If you’re looking for the perfect introduction to two wheels, look no further than balance bikes. These are a really great way to build a little person’s coordination skills and give them an excellent sense of how they would move on a bike. Balance bikes are not intimidating at all – they rely on a child’s feet to push the bike forward, as well as to literally balance and keep the bike upright. This is a great segue into a bike with training wheels, which can sometimes be a little scarier for a young novice.
Finding the Right Fit
It is important your child’s bike fits them now, not down the track. If the bike is not the right fit now, then your child is never going to feel really comfortable. A badly fitting bike could turn a child off riding for many years to come. The best place to purchase a bike that is right for your first-time rider is at a bike shop. However, if you get hold of a great hand-me-down or you’ve bought your child’s bike elsewhere, then I’d recommend you still take the bike and your child down to a friendly local bike store, and just get an expert opinion on how everything is set up. This is also a great opportunity to make sure everything is screwed into place and that the bike is safe to ride!
Getting the Right Gear
Helmets are mandatory for all riders in Australia, regardless of their age, so make sure your child has a new and fully approved helmet. I would never recommend a second-hand helmet as you just can’t be sure if it has already received a hard knock, and therefore had its protection compromised. A bell and some lights are also a great way to teach your child from an early age how to be a safe rider.
If you can, avoid the empty car park and instead take your child to the nature park so they can get a feel for their new wheels. Or if you have some backyard space then even better. Spills are inevitable, unfortunately; they happen to the very best! But your child is more likely to get back on their bike following a spill on some soft grass versus unforgiving asphalt. Ideally opt for someone quiet so your little one doesn’t feel like their riding is on display for all to see.
You’re Doing Really Well – Keep it Up!
Encouragement is key. I don’t think many of us took to a bike like a duck takes to water on that very first ride. There is usually a healthy dose of fear involved as a child moves from training wheels onto a big kid’s bike – encourage them all the way and let them know that bike riding is all about getting back up and giving it another go. Once they get the hang of it, their sense of achievement goes off the Richter scale! Most of all – enjoy the time riding with your child. Bikes and childhood go hand-in-hand and can be such a wonderful time for your little one as well as for you!