Guide to Riding with your Kids

Cycling with your little ones is a fantastic way to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise as a family. Whether you have a babies, tots or young children there are plenty of different ways to work cycling into your day-to-day activities or explore exciting new places as part of a fun family day out.

Preparation is key!

Before you set off on a cycling adventure with your children, there are a few things to consider to make the trip a fun, safe day for everyone. First, it's important to make sure that all of your bikes are in good working order. At Halfords, we offer free bike checks for the whole family, so take your bikes into your nearest store. If your bikes need any repairs or servicing, we can arrange this for you so you can get started as soon as possible.

It's also vital to teach your children about road safety if they are going to be riding their own bikes on the road. Lead by example by following the Highway Code, instilling good habits into your kids and teaching them about being courteous when cycling, for example allowing pedestrians right of way and giving a gentle ding on their bike's bell if the route isn't clear. When cycling with kids, it is advisable to take up a position behind them; if there are two adults, one can travel in front and one behind.

Make sure you have the right kit and equipment for the journey when riding with kids. Helmets are an absolute safety essential for children, as well as reflective clothing and bike lights even on clear days -every little helps when it comes to being seen.

A cycling kit including a bike lock, pump, tyre levers, puncture kit, spare inner tubes and a multi-tool is also highly recommendable and pack a mini first-aid kit with plasters, painkillers and antiseptic cream in case of any minor injuries along the way.

Check the weather forecast before you head out and take plenty of layers and waterproofs if it looks like it might be cold, windy or rainy. Gloves are essential in the winter and sunhats and sun cream in the summer.

Lastly, don't forget the supplies! Hungry and thirsty little riders are not happy riders. Make sure you take plenty of water, at least a bottle per person and take regular drink breaks to ensure no one gets dehydrated. Some good snacks for a quick energy boost are flapjacks, fruit, nuts and fig biscuits.

It's all in the planning

When planning your outing, consider the length of the journey, the route you will take and breaks and entertainment along the way to make it enjoyable for all of your budding cyclists. For the first few outings, it's a good idea not to be over-ambitious; go for too long and you might tire out little legs and put your new riders off, go too hilly and they may go in a huff and they may be put off cycling altogether. If you're carrying a mini passenger, remember kids get heavy quickly so your ride will be that little bit harder, even for the regular rider.

Choose a route that involves cycle paths if you are hesitant to take your family on the road or want to be able to relax and not have to worry about the traffic.

If your children are old enough, why not involve them in the planning process. This will give them extra enthusiasm and motivation for the outing. You can decide where you want to go and what activities could be involved in the trip together. Break up the ride with a stop at the playground, a fun game or some cake at a cafe if they are getting tired and need a pick-me-up.

Mini passengers

Cycling with baby? There are a couple of different options available to you.

Bike trailers are a great way to travel with your little ones. They can be attached to the back of your bike and can accommodate one or two children. Bike trailers are also a good option in terms of protecting your kids from the weather, thanks to the range of covers and wind guards available.

Kids bike seats are also a great option keeping your overall bike weight down. They are suitable for children from 9 months to 3-4 years and can accommodate a weight limit of approximately 18-20kg. They can be mounted to the front or back of your bike or fixed to a rack in some cases. A child seat is ideal for outings in the nicer weather but offer your baby less protection from the elements.

Once you have fitted your seat you will need to get used to the extra weight on the back. Practise by taking a trial run putting something heavy in the seat. You may also need to practise getting on your bike without kicking your new passenger, so lean against a wall for the first few times and get on slowly.

Little learners

Balance bikes are an excellent way to give your little one the feel of riding a bike without having to deal with pedals. A balance bike will enable them to get the hang of balancing whilst moving along. Children can start by pushing the bike along with their feet then progress to pushing and lifting their legs up in the air and gliding along. This means that the transition to riding a normal bike is normally faster than learning on a bike with stabilisers. When you think your child is ready to learn how to ride a bike with pedals, take a look at our handy guide on How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bike.

Trailer bikes are also a good option for cycling with a toddler if you want to get from A to B more quickly. Kids won't be able to travel very far on a balance bike so these are best for a leisurely ride in the park or around the block.

Independent riders

For children who are old enough to ride on their own, the first task is finding the right children's bike. Opt for a bike which is 13kg or less and has 20- and 24-inch wheel bikes so that they can use their bike around the town and off-road. As a guide, a 14- or 16-inch wheel bike is suitable for children aged four to six, a 20-inch wheel bike is suitable for five to ten year olds, and a 24-inch wheel bike is suitable for children aged eight to twelve. One gear is best for new riders, three for your child's second bike and seven or eight speeds for pre-teens. For a more detailed, comprehensive guide, take a look at our Kid's Bike Buyers Guide.

Safety is always paramount when it comes to getting your kids kitted out for the road. We have a wide range of kid's bike helmets at Halfords in different colours and designs to appeal to your young rider, all tested in accordance with European Safety Standards. We also have a great range of functional yet fun kid's cycle clothing including jerseys and waterproofs so they are layered up and ready to face the great British weather and gloves and bike pads for ultimate protection.

Cycling makes a great family activity for children of all ages with the right planning, preparation and equipment. Check out our extensive range of kid's bikes to find the perfect choice for your little one.