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Buying your child a bike: things to remember

Everyone remembers their first bike and who taught them to ride it. If the time's come to pass on all you've learned to your little one and buy them their first set of wheels, we've put together a handy guide to help you out.

Picking the right pedal bike

When it comes to kids' bikes, the choice can be overwhelming. The right type for your little one will depend on factors like their age, height, weight and obviously taste.

  • If they've already mastered riding a balance bike, swapping for a bike with stabilisers might lead them to develop bad habits, so avoid them if you can.
  • Starter bikes should be light with the correct proportions. This means an upright riding position, BMX-style handlebars, 12 or 14-inch wheels, short cranks (90-100mm) and a low stand-over height.
  • Gimmicky bikes – like those built to mimic a motorbike – might look cool, but are best avoided as they might have been built with style over substance.
  • Test the brakes, making sure they work effectively and are simple to use. Back-pedal brakes are good for starter bikes as new cyclists often try to stop by pedalling backwards. That said, V-brakes are still very effective, so the choice is yours.

Next up, the helmet

It's so important your child wears a helmet while riding to protect their head, especially when they're getting to grips with the bike, as there's likely to be a few wobbles! A helmet that doesn't fit right will be uncomfortable, but that might be hard to tell if they've never worn one before.

  1. Measure their head. Wrap a measuring tape around the head, an inch above the eyebrows, making sure it's level all the way around.
  2. Try out some helmets. With your measurements, visit a cycling shop and try on some of the helmets, seeing how they sit on their head. A helmet that fits properly will be level, with around an inch gap (or two fingers) between the helmet and eyebrow. The straps and other adjustments should be firm, but not too tight.
  3. Check if it's too big/small. A helmet that's too big will move around a lot on the head (make sure the straps are snug under their chin). If the helmet sits unusually high on the head or leaves visible marks on the skin when it's removed, it's too small.

Bike security

Both kids' and adult bikes are a hot pick for thieves, whether they're a high spec or not. You're bound to plan lots of family bike rides once you're little one has mastered the basics, so be sure to invest in quality locks.

Cycling Weekly suggests aiming to spend 10% of the value of the bike on a quality lock, with cable-chains and D-locks being the most popular options for bigger bikes. D-locks might be too heavy or big for kids' bikes, so a quality cable lock should do the trick.

Boosting your child's confidence

Bikeability is the only government-recognised cycling scheme in the UK, helping kids to perfect their pedalling skills and build their confidence on the road. Some schools have signed up to the scheme, but if yours hasn't, you can find a course provide near you and book some sessions.

Cycling is great fun and encourages your child to lead a healthy lifestyle. With these top tips, they'll own a brilliant first bike that'll help them become a pedalling professional in no time!

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