7 tips to initiate your child into cycling

Alexandre Langlois
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Kids and bikes go together like summer and watermelon when they’ve been properly nurtured (the kids, not the watermelon). Same as the best bike in the world won’t make its rider a pro, kids need to be shown the benefits of riding a bike without being forced to enjoy it.  

Start with a properly sized kids’ bike because a bike that’s too big will be hard to control, which can frustrate or discourage a young rider who may assume that they’re the problem, not the bike. A bike that’s too small can cause the rider to unnecessarily waste energy (and wear out faster) if they’re working extra hard to turn the pedals.  

family cycling in park

We know from experience how a badly fitting bike can be a real deal-breaker and so, to prevent that, we’ll help you determine the correct bike size for your kiddo with a free video consultation. 

Once you’ve got the proper bike setup, the rest is all about having fun!

 After reading this article, you should know how to:

1. Learn the bike and safety basics
2. Enhance your kids interest for bikes
3. Make cycling a fun experience for both you and your child

The suggestions we’ve included here are barely the tip of the iceberg because there’s more than one (or seven) ways to ride a bike. Explore, go off-road, point your wheels toward your favorite destination, try out the bike park…let these ideas spark a sense of adventure – and enjoyment – in your young rider.

Before going out, here’s the tips

1.Learn your ABC’s together 

A bike that runs well and safely is going to give your kid the best experience and encourage them to want to do ride again and again.

  •  A is for air – Before you head out for a ride, check the air pressure in the tires to make sure they have adequate air. The recommended pressure is usually printed or embossed on the sidewall and should be obeyed. Too much air can cause the tires to lose traction and control, too little air can make pedaling hard and make the tires prone to puncture.

  • B is for brakesCheck the brake pad wear to make sure there’s enough braking material to provide stopping power. Give the brakes a squeeze and release to make sure they’re working properly.

  • C is for chain – If the chain is dirty, apply a little degreaser and wipe it down with a clean, dry cloth. Then apply a thin stream of lube to the chain and massage it into the links. If the chain is dry, wipe off any dust and debris and apply lube in the same way.

2. Customize the ride

Stickers, decals, markers, colored tape, or even more elaborate tassels, spoke beads and skins, colored tires, and mini lights allow young riders to personalize their bikes and helmets. Kids love to take pride and ownership of something they’ve created and want to show it off. 

Get everyone involved and put those bikes on display with a parade to a public destination like a playground or a park.

3. Follow your kiddo’s interests

If they like animals, plan to ride past a farm, incorporate what they’re reading (or listening to, or watching) into your route, for example, a big field can be either a moonscape or a medieval battlefield (with the bike as a lunar rover or a horse). 

If they like to cook, go pick fresh ingredients or ride to a local farmstand and get inspired by what’s available. When you indulge in what they like to do, riding becomes a means to an end (and something to add to the list of “likes”).

kid in park going uphill on bicycle

4. Team up with another family 

Join forces with friends who have kids more or less the same age as yours. This shares the load and allows the kids to ride together without the adults interfering too much in their fun.

5. Get dirty! 

Check if your bike park or trail network is open on rainy days. Suit up in your raingear and go hunting for mud puddles. Let them know it’s OK to get wet and dirty once in a while. 

kid cycling in mud

When the tables are turned and kids have permission to do what many of them tend to do anyway, they satisfy their curiosity and can move on to the next attraction.

6. Pick a fun destination 

Propose going someplace you know your kiddo would love and get there by bike. This takes the emphasis off the ride and places it on the destination so that riding becomes simply the way to reach your goal. Build in rewards, like these:

-Playground

-Pool, beach, lake, or water park

-Ice cream

-Library

-Friend’s house

-Picnic

-Special event

kid eating ice cream

7. Create a nature ninja scavenger hunt 

Find logs, rocks, or something constructed to ride over, discover a fun hill to ride down, see who can balance on their bike the longest, or build an obstacle course out of found objects to ride through (then rearrange it and ride it again). 

Encourage them to take risks within their abilities where they can sharpen their skills and improve their dexterity. Not only does this inspire creative play, but kids also get the chance to challenge themselves on their own terms.

kid cycling on bike path

After the ride

Maintaining and cleaning your bikes is one of the best and easiest ways to keep them in great working condition and even save money on future repairs. 

After each ride take a clean cloth and wipe down the frame, fork, and handlebar (including brake levers and headset). Spend a minute or two (that’s all it takes!) cleaning the chain and gears with degreaser and a clean, dry cloth. 

Apply lube to the chain and massage it into the links to let it sink in before the next ride. It’s a good idea to thoroughly clean your bikes after you’ve been splashing in puddles or once per month (depending upon how frequently you ride). This will prevent corrosion and help your bikes last longer.

Final words

Riding a bike is more than just a way to get from A to B – it offers kids a blank canvas upon which to unleash their creativity. We could totally overwhelm you with tips for getting kids into cycling because the ideas are nearly limitless and there are lots of ways to fall in love with cycling. Instead we’ll leave you here – at the virtual trailhead or crossroads – with these tips and suggestions to initiate your child into cycling.

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