EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S FIRST PEDAL BIKE
Riding a two wheel pedal bike is one of the most looked-forward to milestones of childhood. But often, this milestone is missed or delayed due to inadequate information or resources.
In this post I interviewed Stuart A Blair – South Australian Triathlon, Duathlon, and Aquathlon State Champion!!! Stuart was very generous in providing his expert advice on cycling and I hope you will use his answers as an invaluable resource in selecting your child’s first pedal bike.
Below our interview you will also find 5 easy, creative bike activities, a magical way in which Adèle acquired her first pedal bike, plus some very useful tips for your child’s first pedal bike.
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WHAT TO LOOK FOR AND AVOID WHEN CHOOSING THE FIRST PEDAL BIKE?
- Look for quality – a first pedal bike must be mechanically sound no matter what age of the learner.
- Young children must have a bike that will adjust to their rapid growth (examples: an adjustable seat post and handlebar, replaceable wheel sets from solid rubber tires to wheels with inflatable tubes and tires).
- Be sure that the child’s helmet fits well and does not move around when riding.
WHAT IS THE EASIEST WAY TO LEARN HOW TO RIDE A PEDAL BIKE?
- There are two sides of the fence with their use. Old school thought and practice was to simply place the child on a bike and push them in the backyard. Trial and error and the odd tumble but eventually the ‘newbie’ would master the art of riding a bike. I was introduced to the method by my father and after 30 or 40 minutes, I was pedaling a bike without crashing! The newer school of thought is more reserved in their approach ex: tricycle, balance bike, bike with trainer wheels, and ultimately, a bike with no support.
- Initially, you can remove the pedals from the bike which will allow the child to get the feel of the bike and assist in the development of balance, coordination, and confidence.
- A flat, quiet street is recommended rather than a park or grassed track as grass will add much drag to the ride which can decrease the child’s momentum during those early attempts.
- Fun is the key at this stage prior to placing the pedals back on the bike for the first full ride. Check the child’s bike position and ensure that a full revolution of pedaling can be conducted with ease whilst maintaining a hold of your child. With each attempt, allow for less assisted involvement but maintain a vigil at the side of your child in case there is a loss of control or balance.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF RIDING A BIKE?
Riding a bike augments a child’s sense of:
- coordination, and over time, will increase the level of
- strength and their
- self-confidence and
CHILD’S PEDAL BIKE MAINTENANCE – HOW SHOULD YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR FIRST PEDAL BIKE AFTER RAIN?
- Maintenance is relatively simple… As soon as the ride is over, hose the bike down using a special bike cleaning formula that you can purchase from the bike shop.
- Dry the bike and wipe down the chain.
- Oil the chain and check that all bolts are tight.
- Of course, look at the tires for any sharp objects that may cause a puncture.
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR CHILD’S FIRST PEDAL BIKE SAFETY?
Rider safety is the priority. Constant supervision in a relaxed fun environment is the key with plenty of encouragement being offered.
- Helmet at all times
- Bright colored clothing
- Water bottle during hot and/or long rides
- Ensure tire pressure is maintained each ride
- A sound knowledge of rider/road safety rules
WHICH PEDAL BIKE ACCESSORIES DO YOU NEED?
- Cycling gloves
- A spare tube
- Basic tool and puncture kit
- Tire levers to remove a tire in case of puncture
HOW DO YOU PICK A CHILD’S FIRST PEDAL BIKE SIZE AND TYPE?
The bike frame must not be too big. The simple formula is for one to stand over the top tube of the bike frame, seated, with both feet flat on the ground. A good bike shop will conduct a bike fit at the time of purchase.
DO YOU KNOW OF ANY INSPIRATIONAL CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT BIKING
“The Best Bike Ride Ever” by James Proimos and Johanna Wright
and “Duck on a Bike” by David Shannon
STUART A BLAIR BIO
Stuart A Blair represented Australia at Triathlon and Duathlon World Championships and is a South Australian Triathlon, Duathlon, and Aquathlon State Champion. He is also a Keynote speaker at literary events, French festivals, pop culture festivals, and comic conventions around Australia; and is currently on his National Speaking Tour – Tintin Unmasked. His area of specialization is classic European comic book literature and 1950’s and 60’s television and film. Stuart’s presentations are enjoyed by audiences of all ages!
5 CREATIVE BICYCLE ACTIVITIES
Here are some of our favorite creative bicycle activities. We’ve used these successfully both with kids who love cycling as well as to encourage those who were scared at first.
- Decorate your bike with straws, paint or stickers. If you use straws, all you have to do is cut them into shorter pieces so that they are the right length for your bike’s spokes. Then, cut them vertically so that they can just snap onto the spokes.
- Ride in puddles, especially big ones. For a worry-free ride, dress your child in waterproof clothes.
- Draw with wet bike wheels on a dry sidewalk. Alternatively, you can set up a shallow tray of paint and spread out a roll of paper (or paper towels). Then have your child ride through the tray and directly onto the roll of paper, making a colorful bike track painting.
- Ride on a line. It can be painted lines of the road, or your child can create a trail of leaves to ride on. In the photo below Adèle is riding on a line created by beautiful spring flowers which fell from a tree.
- Deliver mail to neighbors on a bike. Adèle likes to drop off surprise origami gifts or hand-made “get-well” cards to kids around the neighborhood.
ISLABIKE VS WOOM & ISLABIKE VS FROG
On one of our trips, Adèle discovered a book by Marco Campanella called Topo Tip. Oggi è il mio compleanno! (Topo Tip – Today is my Birthday!) In this picture book, a little mouse wishes for a pedal bike which he receives as a surprise gift for his birthday.
Since reading this book, Adèle got obsessed with the same idea. First, she borrowed a pedal bike from a neighbor (who was away for the weekend) and used every available moment to practice riding. Then, she used Creative Visualization daily to feel that she already had the bike. If you read my articles about gifts, you probably know that we prefer experiences over things, so getting a bike for her birthday was not something we wanted to do. But she was so determined and showed so much genuine interest in cycling, that we found a way to make her wish come true without compromising our parenting values.
After weeks of research and speaking with professionals, we decided to get Adèle Islabikes Cnoc 16 bike. I am not affiliated with Islabikes in any way, but we love this bike so much, I just had to write about it!
First of all, we also considered Woom and Frog bikes, but while they are equally excellent options, both were too big for Adèle. Islabikes was the only one that fit just right and came in the color she wanted. Also, Islabikes has AMAZING customer support. I even called them on the phone a handful of times, and each time was greeted by very friendly and helpful people.
The bikes we wanted seemed out of our price range, BUT after much research and consideration, we decided to invest in an Islabikes Cnoc 16 for the following reasons:
- Bikes which are well-designed sell at a high price secondhand.
- Bikes which are well-designed last longer and can therefore be passed on to younger siblings.
- Bikes which are well-designed are more ergonomic and safer.
- Bikes which are well-designed go along with both Montessori education philosophy as well as KonMari way of living. We strive to only buy things that “spark joy” and that are beautiful in order to invite more beauty and joy into life.
WHY ARE ISLABIKES GOOD?
- When the bike arrived, my jaw opened wide. It looks absolutely beautiful. When people see it, they comment about how it looks like a smaller version of an adult racing bike. The seat is comfortable and looks like it’s made from exquisite leather. There is a lot of attention to details like accents of color on the inside part of the wheels, for example. Everything looks so well crafted and you can tell that love and care was taken into building and assembling each piece of this bike.
- The bike came assembled with the exception of pedals. We had to make a few minor adjustments, but it was all extremely easy and well illustrated with the instructions and stickers. The only extra accessory we purchased was a prop stand (kickstand), and the bike arrived with it attached as well.
- This bikes is one of the lightest you can find on the market. The lighter the bike, the easier it is for a child to ride it and to pick it up when it falls. I wanted a light bike also for myself – in case I’d have to carry it or push it up the hill.
- Islabikes Cnoc 16 has an extraordinary break system. The hand breaks are not only easy for your child to press, but they make the bike stop immediately. This gives your child extra confidence.
- Islabikes Cnoc 16 is very ergonomic and Adèle is very comfortable riding it.
- It’s extremely easy to learn how to ride! EVERY SINGLE CHILD who tried Adèle‘s bike rode it either immediately or within 15 minutes and then ran to take stabilizers off their own bikes! 😉
TIPS FOR YOUR CHILD’S FIRST PEDAL BIKE
- When teaching how to ride, put the palms of your hands against your child’s upper arms. Don’t hold them, but instead allow your child to balance against your palms.
- Until your child is very comfortable riding, do not add any extra accessories like mudguards, baskets, etc. We decided not to get any mud guards at all because Adèle always wears waterproof clothes when riding anyway. If your child’s bike comes with extras, remove them to make the bike as light as possible.
Is there anything else you think I should add to this article? If so, please let me know. Also, remember to bookmark this post or save it to Pinterest to encourage your child’s interest in cycling.