For free family fun in the fresh air, bike trips are the best! But how to cater to the smallest members of the team and make it fun for everyone? Keen biking dad Eamonn Lowe explains the options and shares his tips for family adventures on wheels.
Options for young ones
When a walk is too much of a stretch for little legs, but you’re keen to embrace the spirit of adventure as a family, it’s time to sort the cycling arrangements and get well-fitted helmets for all. Along with bikes to suit all sizes, there are various solutions for the littlest members of the crew so that no one misses out.
SEATS – For ages around 1-4
Seats allow you to share your biking adventures with littlies and chat easily about what you see. Most are mounted on the frame or rack at the back of the bike, although seats mounted at the front (top tube or handlebars) are becoming popular. When seated in front of you, the bike is nicely balanced (safer) and the kids can see more of their surroundings as you whiz along.
BALANCE BIKES – For ages around 18m-4y
Balance bikes give wee ones a taste of freedom and independence. Kids can walk or coast along and use their feet as a brake. Balance bikes support that transition to a pedal bike and help kids learn steering and balance. Super fun and surprisingly fast, although not ideal for longer rides.
TRAILERS – For ages around 1-5
Trailers are stable and easy to steer but take some effort to pull. Great for roads; not so good for twisty trails. They can carry more than one child and offer some room for gear, for instance, a balance bike. The cover provides protection from the elements and prevents kids throwing items over the side.
That feeling of freedom young ones get from biking is hard to beat. But the reality is biking can be tricky and tiring.
You don’t need to go far
Our kids enjoy a ride around the block as much as excursions into the back country. Little legs love little adventures so you don’t need to go far to find something fun. Riding to the beach or playground, or to the dairy for an ice cream, gives little peddlers a purpose and incentive. Make a day of it: stop to play and have a picnic. It’s just shared time at the end of the day.
The right amount of challenge
That element of challenge gives young ones the satisfaction of conquering the ups and downs and improving their skills. But remember, it’s important that no one is stretched too much because motivation levels will crash big time if they are.
Pack some food then double it
We used to bring ‘just enough’ food, which was playing with fire. Now we pack heaps so that the kids are sussed – knowing that we can be out for ages. They always eat more than we think.
Don’t over think it
Recent bike technology can be overwhelming. A lot of people, I reckon, ride more bike than needed. Get a bike – two wheels, sound brakes – and a correctly fitted helmet. Go do skids! The latest and greatest isn’t necessary for kids to have a good time!