For children to get the most out of cycling, it’s important that they have the right bike. The first thing that probably comes to mind is that it must be the right size – and, of course, a bike that is too big or too small can compromise any child’s development and enjoyment of cycling.
However, there’s another aspect that is just as vital – having the right type of bike. Just as not all kids’ bike brands are the same, so too, individual models have crucial design differences to cater for young riders at different stages of their cycling development. Then, as riders get older, they might also want a different type of bike for a different purpose. This is where Bike Club comes in – we can help you make sure your child has exactly the right bike for their specific needs.
So let’s have a look at the options.
(Incidentally, while we’ve included the typical ages suitable for each type of bike below, these are not hard and fast – every young cyclist develops at their own speed. Your job is to recognise what they require and when, because they’ll develop better if they’re having fun on the right bike, at the right time!)
Balance bikes – absolute beginners (ages 1-4)
On the face of things, balance bikes are ultra-simple machines – although the best ones, such as the range of balance bikes we offer members have been meticulously designed to fit small bodies perfectly. Balance bikes have a frame, two wheels, a saddle and handlebar, and sometimes a rear brake. But there is no method of pedal power. Instead, riders use their feet to push themselves along, with the chance to lift their legs and coast when they’ve got up some speed. This helps them to learn the basics of balancing in the saddle. By removing the need to balance and pedal at the same time, balance bikes allow new riders to separate the learning-to-ride process into two manageable chunks. Then, once they’ve learned how to balance, they can move on to…
First pedal bikes – starting to pedal (ages 3-6)
With balance sorted, the transition to a first pedal bikes is magically seamless. We’re not exaggerating to say that a proficient balance biker can be up and pedalling away on their first pedal bike – without stabilisers – in a matter of minutes. High-quality first pedal bikes, like the ones available to Bike Club members are lightweight machines with size-specific parts that allow little riders to enjoy their first taste of pedal power. They come with front and rear brakes but, most importantly, they also feature a chain-driven rear wheel (although the chain may be hidden behind a chainguard to limit the potential for oily hands and legs!). The drive system is super-simple, with just one speed, but it lets young riders get used to pedalling before they start riding a geared bike, such as…
Hybrid bikes – the master of all trades (ages 5/6+)
For young riders who are eager to explore the world by bike and without limits, a hybrid bike is the best answer. The awesome hybrid bikes that our members can choose from have been designed to be a halfway house between a mountain bike and a road bike. That means they can take on almost any challenge, whether it’s riding on the road, through a park or even woodland trails. They’re also perfect for daily journeys, such as to school or round to friends’ houses. In terms of cycling development, children’s hybrids tend to mark the point when young riders encounter bicycle gears for the first time. So now that they are used to balancing, pedalling and braking, they can start to play with swapping the chain from cog to cog to become a more efficient cyclist.
Road bikes – speed demons (ages 5/6+)
If your junior rider dreams of racing at the Tour de France, and may even be keen to join a cycling club, then a road bike is a fab choice. Road bikes are recognisable by their drop handlebar design – which helps to provide more enthusiastic and speedy riding – and are built to be ultra-lightweight and absolutely efficient, so that every pedal stroke is turned into forward movement. The incredible Frog and Islabikes road bikes that we supply really are like miniaturised versions of the machines that professional cyclists use, with quick-shifting gears, skinny tyres and superb components designed to work perfectly with athletic young bodies. They’re the perfect companion for aspiring racers who dream of cycling glory.
Mountain bikes – tough mud pluggers (ages 8+)
Finally, if the road isn’t your little cyclist’s favoured terrain, and they want to take on some off-road challenges that go just a little beyond what a hybrid can comfortably achieve, then a mountain bike is the obvious answer. The tough and adventurous off-road machines that Bike Club members have access to, come with specially specified parts, such as ultra-powerful disc brakes, wide and grippy tyres, super-sturdy frames, bump-softening suspension forks, and easy-pedalling wide ratio gears. They’re designed so that young mud-pluggers can take on – and beat – any challenge. And the challenge for mum and dad? Cleaning everything when they get home!