Road biking is just as great and accessible for kids as it is for adults and although the words ‘kids’ and ‘roads’ don’t normally go that well together, as long as some simple safety rules are followed you don’t have anything to fear about letting your kids try their hand at this sport.
Whether they fancy themselves as the next Victoria Pendleton or Bradley Wiggins or just enjoy a leisurely ride on a Sunday, investing in a quality, well-fitting road bike and sending them on a road cycling safety course could be all it takes to make them truly fall in love with the sport.
If you’re not a road cyclist yourself you’re likely to feel slightly daunted by your kids wanting to pedal out on the roads and may be confused as to what gear they will need; but don’t worry, all your questions will be answered in this guide.
Kids Road Biking for Beginners
It is of course important that no matter how street savvy you might think your kids to be (or how street savvy they think they are), they don’t go out on the roads without the proper training. Make sure your children have a thorough understanding of the highway code for cyclists, download a copy of the Cycling Highway Code for Young Users to aid you in your teaching and their learning.
Proper one to one road training is also a fantastic idea both for them and for your own peace of mind. Bikeability runs a number of courses all around the country and are renowned for their coaching and training. To find your nearest Bikeability course, check out its website.
Kids Road Bikes
Available in red, black or white Frog Road Bikes feature short drop child-specific handlebars with Microshift short-reach brakes. They also come with a choice of two sets of tyres: Kenda Road and Kenda Cyclocross. The new range will be available for purchase from August 2014.
The perfect introductory bike to serious road riding, the Moda Minor is sure to keep your kids miles ahead of their friends. With 18 speeds it certainly is a nippy bike and the simple colour scheme will appeal to both boys and girls. But the best thing about this bike if you have more than one child, is that the components are all of such high quality that you’re likely to be able to hand it down to the next kid when this one outgrows it, making it an investment rather than an extortionate expense.
Islabikes’ premium road bike, the Luath is designed for road racing, cyclocross, touring and triathlons. The Luath Kids Road Bike is available both in 24 inches and 26 inches suitable for eight years plus and nine years plus respectively. The Luath Junior Road Bike also comes in two sizes, the 700 small for eleven years plus and the 700 large for thirteen years plus.
If you’re after a racing bike that performs just as well on gravel as it does on smooth roads the Kona Jake 24 is the perfect choice. The lightweight frame affords easy manoeuvring for kids of all sizes and the adjustable-reach levers are ideal for smaller hands that may struggle to reach the brakes on other road bikes, especially when going downhill.
Boasting the same incredible level of performance as adult Felts, the F95 Jr is a great choice for those little riders not quite big enough yet for 700c wheels but who are determined to keep up with mum and dad on the roads. The short reach handlebars and levers also help make this bike comfortable and easy to use.
Where to Buy Kids Road Bikes
There are loads of brand new kids road bikes to choose from at Halfords, Wiggle and Evans Cycles. It is also often possible to purchase a bike directly from the manufacturer such as Frog bikes and Islabikes.
If you’d prefer to purchase a second hand kids road bike, although it’s unlikely that you’ll find one on Craigslist, there are often a few bargain bikes listed on eBay and Gumtree. Just be sure to check that the bike is in full working order and safe for your child to ride before you commit to purchasing it.
Kids Road Biking Gear
If your son or daughter is desperate to have their own road bike, it’s more than likely that they’ll be after all the gear too. After all, you’d never see Victoria Pendleton racing across the finish line in her dungarees and flip flops would you?
Kids don’t have as much choice when it comes to cycling clothing as adults but companies are beginning to offer children’s ranges too and if you’re child is tall for their age or are more teen than tot, they may also fit into adult’s extra small jerseys and shorts. Of course kids clothes are usually that little bit cheaper, so go for this option where possible. Islabikes have their own basic kids apparel and Evans Cycles also offer a good range from the top brand names.
Finding a Suitable Road Biking Route for Kids
While your kids are getting to grips with road biking you’ll want to pick their training routes carefully so that they don’t end up cycling down any dangerously busy roads. Sustrans provide a number of maps and routes, many of which are family friendly. Use their website to find routes near you or purchase a copy of Clive Forth’s The Great British Road Rides Guide for an alternative selection of great road rides all around the country that the whole family can enjoy.
Kids Road Biking Events
One way to ensure that your child becomes hooked on road biking once you’ve splashed out on that fancy bike, is to get them to sign up to some kids road biking events so they can enjoy the social and competitive side to the sport. Ride It! organises sportives all around Britain, many of which are open for younger riders and families too.
British Cycling also organises Go-Ride races specifically for novice cyclists under 16 years of age looking to get into competitive road cycling. For more information on Go-Ride races, check out British Cycling’s website.
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