Cycling with Young Kids
"How do I get my child started in cycling?" It's one of the first questions bike-riding parents ask.
Happily, kids and bikes seem to be drawn together by a natural kind of magnetism. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can quickly strengthen that bond into a lifelong pursuit.
A Child's Bike Progression
To start kids early, don't wait until they can pedal. Connect a child carrier to your bike, strap in your child and go for rides regularly. Be enthusiastic. If you want your kids to be fired up about cycling, you need to set the example.
As they become more comfortable and their bodies become better equipped to handle physical activity, progressively move children to bikes that offer greater degrees of independence. Self-sufficiency is a great motivator for most kids.
Tip: Get your child used to wearing a helmet while still at the ride-along stage. It's easier to instill this essential safety step in a child's early years before peer pressure sets in.
Up next: various bicycle options to get your child comfortable with cycling.
Step 1: Child Bike Seat
Step 2: Bike Trailer
Step 3: Balance Bike
Step 4: Trailer Bike
A trailer bike (sometimes referred to by the brand name Trail-a-bike) allows your child to pedal and feel independent, though he or she is still relying on you for balance and control. This single-wheel bike attaches either to your seatpost or on a rear rack so it can pivot for turning. A trailer bike is good for 4- to 7-year-olds. It also allows you to cycle farther than your child's stamina might otherwise allow.
Step 5: Training Wheel Bike
Step 6: Kids' Bike
Another Option: Tandem Bike
A bicycle built for 2 is another option for the beginning cyclist. Using conversion kits, adult tandem bikes can be modified so a child can pedal with you. Some manufacturers make child-adult tandems that allow you to control steering, braking and gearing while both of you get to pedal.
Learning to Ride
Check out our popular video for an easy way to teach kids how to ride:
Once your child initially gets the hang of a riding a bike, what's next? See the REI Expert Advice article, Cycling as a Family: Riding Tips for our suggestions.