The best way for children to enjoy cycling is to tailor it to their needs.
Look at their “minibodies”. Their chubby little hands don’t have the size to pull a far-away brake lever, nor the strength to press on a poorly installed brake. If the bike doesn’t have them as standard, buy some cheap V-brakes, which will cost you little money and remember that if someone needs extra security … that is your “little one”.
1º- Children don’t brake with one finger like you, they usually do it with three or four fingers so the lever must be very close to the fist. Use the proximity screw until you can see that it comfortably engages the brake.
2º- With the side screws that are in the V-Brakes you can adjust the hardness. Loosen them as much as possible making sure the cams snap back into position. To improve smoothness, apply solid grease to the entire brake cable.
We are in favor of children’s bikes not being equipped with gears because in the hands of a child they are home to continuous mechanical mishaps.
If the bicycle is equipped with gears and it is still unclear to the child, you can “freeze” the gears until you see that they are needed.
1º- Select the sprocket that you are going to leave fixed, looking for a gearing that the child can move easily, preferably towards the larger sprockets so that they don’t get discouraged on climbs.
2º- Loosen the gear cable and raise the gear by hand to the chosen sprocket. Tighten the cable and adjust the derailleur with the turnbuckle until it is necessary.
3º- Then, by tightening the maximum and minimum screws, you will leave the change fixed so that it neither goes up nor down.
4º- If you do not clarify, go to your nearest store so they can do it in a few minutes.
When children have to overcome an obstacle, they leave all the work to the bike.
This assumes that the wheels receive quite strong and continuous impacts, because they do not help reduce any impact at all.
Frequently check your tire pressure and try to make sure it is always around 2.5 Bar, otherwise you will permanently puncture.
In the case of children, the same height standard as for adults cannot be applied at which, sitting on the saddle, you rest your heel on the pedal with your leg fully straight.
Children need a more comfortable and, above all, more stable position, so the correct position is the one that allows them to touch the ground with their toes while sitting on the saddle.
If they’re scared, lower the saddle to a height where they can support the soles of their feet, as the posture underneath becomes unstable.
With improvement and more confidence without them realizing it, raise the saddle a half inch at a time.
Master Class in first pedaling
The best way to protect children is to teach them to do it themselves.
The best learning school is the “BALANCE BIKE”, or bicycles without pedals that are halfway between a ride-on and a bicycle. They are super light and quickly internalize the notions of balance and weight distribution. After learning with a “balance bike”, the transition to a bike with pedals is quite natural and it is possible for them to pedal on their own in the park with a friend’s bike, on their own initiative and without anyone else’s help.
If yours takes a little longer to ride safely, we guarantee it means nothing for the future and just needs a little more time.
The exercises shown below are designed for children who already know how to pedal and change steering on their own.
Just when they have learned to ride a bicycle with pedals, they fall into dangerous confidence of absolute control fueled by the wonderful feeling of freedom and autonomy that their two-wheeled friend gives them.
What we’re going to do is keep on playing, in a game where parents and children join in together and in which they unknowingly acquire quite a few skills that give security on the bike.
We will look for an esplanade or a very wide road without traffic and there you’ll teach: braking, grip, control and balance.
Stop, stop! NO!! Brake, brake!
The first lesson for you, as parents and teachers, is the correct expression of: Brake! Just as important, if not more, than knowing how to ride a bike is knowing how to stop it in time. As a rule, when you tell your children to stop the bike, they don’t do it so much because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know how to do it fast enough. First, make sure that the brakes on their bike are working properly and that the brake levers are adjusted to the size of their hands.
To increase your responsiveness and your ability isn’t compromised, let’s play a few braking games.
1-Always brake with both hands
Teach them to brake with both hands, focusing on the rear brake so that the front wheel is never blocked and becomes unstable. Ask them to show you how they brake with both hands and repeat the exercise. This applies to all exercises: even if they don’t get it quite right and need correction, reward them with words of encouragement, so that at no time it becomes a chore. If they get bored, let them rest on their own pace, take a walk around the area and try again later.
2-Progressive and compensated braking
Draw a street about two feet wide and put a bike’s bottle at the end. When entering the street you have to start braking and knock the bottle down in a single blow.
This way they will learn to calculate the braking distance. Do it in parallel with them.
Once controlled the braking distance with both brakes, try to get them to do the same by braking only with the rear brake. They will soon see that the rear wheel slides a lot and will unconsciously use the front wheel to brake in front of the bottle.
This is how you learn to brake in a balanced way and in the correct braking order.
3-Sudden braking at the sound of the voice
Surprise them with random warnings and don’t make them brake suddenly when turning, children are quite obedient when it comes to play and can fall. Thus, when they have to stop suddenly for an unforeseen event, they won’t lose control and will know how to stop quickly.
A straight road
It often happens that a child when cycling is distracted by staring at something, remaining completely abstracted and that is when the “magnet effect” occurs.
It doesn’t just happen to children, it happens to all of us, when you turn your head while riding a bike, it throws your balance off and that’s when you turn the handlebars in the same direction you turn your head.
The only way to get around this is just visually, i.e. repeated but momentary head turns.
To teach children not to stare at an object that is outside their field of view while cycling, and certainly not if they have to turn their head, we cycle parallel to the child and ask how many fingers are on our hand.
The first time you observe how they spin, be very careful not to let them fall on you.
Explain how to look at intervals and practice on both sides.
In just a few steps you’ll see how they pick it up.
One of the most common bike falls occurs when a child ventures down a small sidewalk, let alone cross a pipe on the ground, and does so diagonally.
Teach your child to look for obstacles from the front, never diagonally, as the wheel will slide over the kerb and your kid will fall to the ground.
Look together for a few stones, pineapples… and make a slalom circuit.
At first put the stones at the same distance and let them slalom a bit at their own pace and once they control the distance, encourage them to increase their speed.
The next step will be to vary the distance between stones and now you will have to put compensated braking and cornering grip into practice.
The stopwatch trick encourages them a lot and even if their times don’t improve, we’ll use our adult trickery to make them into believing they’re improving.
It is advisable to wear long garments because it would not be surprising if, by practising and practising… the kid ends up on the floor.