Most of us remember our first bicycle. Chances are it was handed down from big brother or sister, carefully repainted or polished to look 'like new', and was your pride and joy. Those early childhood memories were your first real taste of freedom, of exhilaration and adventure.
To every child, cycling is an integral part of growing up, like obtaining your first job. It represents a transition to a whole new level.
Nowadays, the array of choices facing Parents as consumers is astounding. From which style of bike to ride, which type of accessory to buy, how best to transport the bikes, the need for a helmet, and so on it goes….
As soon as a baby is old enough to crawl and walk, there will be a distinct interest in things that spin. A bicycle wheel, a spinning pedal, a greasy chain even, will have your little one poking, prodding and turning. The education has already started...
Bicycles for children under 14 years old should be strong enough to withstand abuse, reliable, simple to maintain and most importantly safe. A parent should consider these points when looking to buy a bicycle for their child and should also make sure that the bicycle is appropriate for the age of the child.
Here are our top tips for parents buying a child's bike:
Scientific evidence has shown that the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes is a helmet. Before you purchase a helmet, make sure to try it on and ensure that the helmet fits your head securely and snugly.
In the case of a severe blow, your helmet is designed to absorb shock by partial destruction of the shell and liner. Your helmet should be replaced immediately, even if it appears undamaged, as the damage may be invisible.
ALWAYS ENSURE THAT YOUR CHILD WEARS A HELMET WHEN RIDING A BICYCLE!
(Editor's note: Dunlop children's bike helmets have a micro-adjustable head ring to ensure that the helmets always fit correctly.)
Buying a bicycle unassembled is time consuming and potentially unsafe. Always try to buy a bicycle that is already assembled.
If it's your child's first bicycle, your child should be able to place their feet almost flat on the floor (not completely flat) whilst still sitting on the bicycle. This will help your child feel in control; if children feel unsafe and are frightened in the first few days of riding, it could take some time to coax them back onto their bicycle.
When you buy a child's bicycle make sure that the seat is at it's lowest position so that you have about 25-30 cm of seat post left: this will ensure that you can keep the bike for longer.
A child's hands are not as strong as an adults and so back-pedal brakes are preferable to hand brakes on a child's bicycle. These brakes work by pedaling backwards and so eliminate the problems encountered by small children whose hands cannot operate handlebar brakes effectively. Back-pedal brakes are much more child-friendly and are a safer alternative to traditional hand brakes.
Lastly, always read the safety manual before you let your child ride their new bicycle! It contains important safety, performance and service information and should be kept for your reference.
Information supplied by M5 Sports Group