With the Tour De Yorkshire and UCI World Championship bike races heading to Doncaster this year, plus the new cycle track at Doncaster Dome under construction, Doncaster is a hive of activity!
We are currently progressing to riding a bike without stabilisers…it’s not going especially well. I met up with Andy Sheldrake from Mini Wheelers recently, who has been teaching children across Doncaster to ride their bikes for several years. I have read elsewhere that choosing the right children’s bike is the first thing you need to do to help your child not only learn to cycle, but love cycling forever, so I asked for Andy’s expert advice and here are his top tips for Mumblers on choosing the right bike!
Andy’s Top Tips on choosing a bike for your child…
- Weight: This is very important, as if it is too heavy, a child will find it much harder to push the pedals and get it moving – the lighter the better
- Size: Not too big or too small! A bike is the right size when your child can comfortably sit on the seat and rest the balls of both feet on the ground and reach the handlebars with a slight bend in the arms when sitting on the seat. Your child should be able to grasp the brakes and apply them with enough pressure to stop the bike.
- Wheels: Go for air tyres from the start over pneumatic wheels, as these roll better and are much better when riding on different surfaces such as woodlands.
- Keep it simple: Try to avoid bikes with added design features that may add extra weight i.e. suspension and don’t worry about gears especially for a first bike. If you do get a bike with gears, one set is plenty.
Frog Bike, available to buy at Don Valley Cycles
When it comes getting a good reliable bike for your child we highly recommend brands such as Frog (Don Valley Cycles in Doncaster is a stockist), Isla bikes, Ridgeback and Cuda Bikes, which specialise in children’s bikes. Although these bikes are more expensive than bikes you will see at high street shops such as Smyths, Sports Direct and Halfords, you get what you pay for with the lightweight features and components which make them much easier to ride. These bikes tend to not lose a lot of value either if looked after as they are easily sell-able or ideal to pass down to younger siblings once ready to move onto another bike.
Carrera Cosmos, available to buy at Halfords
Another recommendation is the Carrera Cosmos bikes which come in a variety of different designs and colours and are sold by Halfords, which for the lower price compared to the brands mentioned above, posses similar components and are very lightweight. We have seen lots of children age 4-6 riding these at our classes.
We often post recommended bikes on our Facebook page MiniWheelersUK, which also features a closed group where we post updates, advice and second hand bikes for sale. We also share information about local cycling opportunities for children in Doncaster such as the Go Ride coaching sessions run by Doncaster Wheelers Cycling Club and high profile events including the upcoming Tour De Yorkshire and UCI world championships – events we are very much looking forward to!
Teaching your children to cycle…
When it comes to getting children cycling independently our main tip is to AVOID STABILISERS as not only do they make a horrible rickety noise but once removed a child still has to learn the most important aspect of riding a bike, balance, as they are learning to pedal first. By using a balance bike, this whole process is reversed so a child is learning balance first before introducing pedals. When you think of it like that it makes you think why are stabilisers actually still widely used? For older children a good way to develop balance and control is to remove the pedals for this stage and get them scooting around using their feet before introducing pedals which is the method we use for older children at our courses and our 1:1 lessons.
How Mini Wheelers can help get your children enjoying life on two wheels this year…
Our fun, structured courses are designed for children 2 ½ to 7 years to learn to cycle and beyond and these are made up of 3 levels:
Level 1 – Balance bike beginners is the perfect starting point for children 2½- 4 to gain confidence and skills using balance bikes. Upon completion children will successfully be able to ride a balance bike and can then move onto our popular level 2 course.
Level 2 – Transition to pedals is for children 4-7 and is aimed at riding a pedal bike confidently and safely as well as developing gross motor skills and dynamic balance.
Level 3 – Wheelers in motion is for children who have just learn to ride or need a refresher with the aim to gain confidence and improve riding skills to make them an all round better, safer cyclist.
Thanks to Andy for these really useful tips!
To find out more about how Mini Wheelers can get your child cycling confidently and safely, get in touch via their website or facebook page.