Bikes are often on the present wish-list, but as children grow so quickly its often tempting for parents to buy a cheap one. Unfortunately cheap bikes are poorly made and often as heavy as an adult bike. This means they don’t last and are difficult for a child to learn on and use. As a result they often end up unused and rusting before being consigned to the tip.
From the age of around three, there are several ways for your child to develop and gain confidence before going solo on two wheels. Trikes are a good way to get used to pedalling without having to learn to balance. Tag-alongs, attached to the back of an adult bike, are great when you want to take children along on a ride with you. Balance bikes, with no pedals, help a child to learn how to balance and steer without having to worry about pedals and gears.
At some point however your child will need to learn how to cycle a ‘proper’ bike. Stabilisers are often attached to a child’s first bike, but they can delay them learning how to balance the bike so, if used, gradually raise them off the ground as they get more confident.
The national cycling charity, Cycling UK, provide a useful guide to buying bikes for children www.cyclinguk.org/guide/buying-right-for-your-child but here is a quick summary of their top tips:
· Buy a bike that fits your child now.
· Make sure its not too heavy.
· Suspension is dead weight and unnecessary.
· More gears aren’t better.
· Semi-slick tyres make the bike easier to pedal.
· Handlebars should be higher than the saddle.
· Brakes should be easy to use.
· Cheap bikes are a false economy.