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. In this guide, we take a look at the main stages of the journey, the cycling options for kids of different ages and the key things to bear in mind when you’re planning a bike ride with your kids.

Preparation is key!

Before you set off on a cycling adventure with your children, there are a few things to consider in order 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 on your journey as soon as possible.

It's also vital to teach your children about road safety if they’re 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 (e.g. 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’s 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 recommended 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 overly ambitious. Go too long and you might tire out little legs and put your new riders off; go too hilly and they may get frustrated and 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’re hesitant about taking 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.

Mini passengers

Cycling with a 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 will also help to protect 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’re 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 offers your baby less protection from the elements.

Once you’ve fitted your seat, you’ll need to get used to the extra weight on the back. Practise by putting something heavy in the seat and going on a trial run. 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.

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Balance finders

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.

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Little learners

When you think your child is ready to learn how to ride a bike with pedals, there are several ways you help them on their journey.

Stabilisers bring added stability to kids’ bikes by fitting onto the rear wheel axles outside of the frame. Adjustable and easy to fit, these small wheels can help kids to build on what they’ve learned from a balance bike and grow in confidence. When they’re ready to go it alone, the stabilisers are simple to remove.

Another option is a bike handle. A bike handle attaches to the rear wheel of your kid’s bike and allows you to act as a stabiliser while they learn to ride. They’re easy to attach and the adjustable height means you don’t need to worry about having to spend hours hunched over with an aching back!

We fit both stabilisers and bike handles in all of our stores, so that you can be secure in the knowledge that your child will be safe and protected while they learn to ride. Simply pop down to your local Halfords and one of our colleagues will be happy help.

For more information about how to help your child to ride their first bike, have a look at our handy guide.

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Independent riders

As children grow and learn to ride on their own, it may be time for a new bike. There are lots of options to take into account when it comes to choosing a new bike, such as the bike’s wheel size, your child’s age and height, and the bike type.

Our guide to finding the right size child’s bike has a full breakdown of what you need to be on the lookout for and here’s a quick overview of our general recommendations:

  • Balance bike: First bike
  • 12” wheels: Ages 3-5
  • 14” wheels: Ages 4-6
  • 16-18” wheels: Ages 5-7
  • 20” wheels: Ages 6-9
  • 24” wheels: Ages 8-11
  • 26” wheels: Ages 9-12

For a more detailed, comprehensive guide to buying a bike for your child, take a look at our Kids' Bikes Buyer’s Guide.

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Staying safe on the road

Safety is always paramount when it comes to getting your kids kitted out for the road. We have a wide range of kids' bike helmets at Halfords in different colours and designs to appeal to your young rider.

As well as a helmet, you’ll want to have a think about protection for hands, elbows and knees – particularly during the learning-to-ride stage! Here at Halfords, we’ve got a great range of knee and elbow pads. We’ve also got kids’ gloves and fingerless mitts to keep those little hands safe and reduce the vibration through the handlebars, with many options to choose from depending on what type of riding your child is doing.

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Making riding fun

Help your kids to have fun and bring a touch of their own personality to their bike with our selection of decorative bike accessories. From woven bike baskets to star spokies and a cool motorbike noise maker, our accessories will allow your child to put their own stamp on their beloved bike.

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