The best way to go about getting your child onto a pedal bike
The best way to go about getting your child onto a pedal bike
On this edition of the Ask Coach Parry Cycling podcast we look at where you would start if you need to get your child from a stability bike onto a pedal bike. We get some valuable advice from our cycling expert Devlin Eyden, who chats about the size of the bike you choose for them. He shares with us the huge benefits starting them on the bike as soon as possible, to get their balance right, it gets their hand/eye coordination right, gets them concentrating on pedaling which are all benefiting your child.
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David Katz: Welcome to today’s edition of the Ask Coach Parry Cycling podcast, joining us yet again is Devlin Eyden, our resident cycling expert and myself, Mr Active, David Katz and a bit of a personal question thrown in there today because my son’s needing to develop from his JDBUG from his stability bike onto a pedal bike and it’s always a big question that everybody has, where do you start, what do you need to get and do you look at getting a bike that possibly can take them for three to four years? I have no clue, Devlin, this is new to me, getting bikes for kids, so I’m going to throw this out to you, you’re the expert, where and when to start with your kids?
The importance of the right size bike for your child
Devlin Eyden: David yes, great question and it is something that we’re faced with quite often. I think starting from an equipment point of view, as you mentioned, so something moving away from the stability bikes, start looking, it is important to get a bike that actually fits your child. You don’t want to get something that is too big thinking that they can grow into it because it’s really difficult for them to ride and will also be difficult from a safety point of view, just to make sure that they can maintain and control the bike around.
In saying that I do understand as well the sense of little ones are growing very quickly and all will have a different rate of growth, but it is important that the bike fits them and they can get the most out of that bike rather than getting something too big to try and last a lot longer. In the same sense, when your child is riding a bike that might be too small for them, so they’ve outgrown the bike, it is also time for them to progress to the next size because trying to get them to ride a bike that is too small for them, can also potentially pick up little injuries and again come down to a safety thing in terms of handling the bike.
There’s various models out and various brands out, so I wouldn’t necessarily try to look at particular brands. In terms of riding and getting going point of view, I do think start as early as possible. Cycling is not an impact sport at all, so it’s something that your child can do from a young age and in saying that as well, the younger the better from developing their balance and their coordination. I’m all for getting little ones on a bike as soon as possible, to get their balance right, it gets their hand/eye coordination right, gets them concentrating on pedaling and all that sort of thing, so that’s always going to be a win.
Cycling must be a fun activity for your child
At the same time, the whole idea is for it to be fun. They need to be enjoying what they’re doing and that’s why I say they need to be able to handle the bike quite well and not feel that they’re falling every time they’re riding the bike. When we start talking moving a little bit older and people who want to start, if you want your child to start moving into cycling properly and potentially racing and training and that sort of thing, as mentioned, keep it fun to start. In terms of serious training, I wouldn’t start them too young. I wouldn’t start them on any structured training programs too young, I’d focus more on just enjoying spending time out on the bike, probably from about age 13-14 you can then slowly start looking at a little bit more structured training program and then training for potentially racing.
There’s all sorts of age categories in any of the races you get as well, but it is important that if your child is going to be on a structured training program, to then make sure that the program starts at the correct level for their ability. You’re not going to put them on a 20 hour a week training program for instance, if the child is 14 years old. I think progression in the training program is key here, you want to make sure that your child stays injury-free, so we’re not getting any burnout and pushing your child into any injuries and then making sure that they are getting enough rest as well, with any structured program, as they get older. I’m still a big advocate though of multiple sports.
Multiple sports is key for your child
At a young age especially, get your child doing many sports and for me cycling needs to be fun. A lot of people get into cycling because their parents cycle and their parents take it very seriously and then before you know it, that child gets over cycling quite quickly as well. Multiple sports allows for more coordination, more gross motor skill development as well, learning ball skills. I see it from time to time, a lot of kids that cycle and that’s all they’ve been doing for many years and they don’t play any other sports, but they’ve got very little hand/eye coordination, very little ball skills as well. I think that’s important for a child and for anyone really, growing up as well, is just to make sure that you have got that coordination and that gross motor skill.
Ultimately, as I mentioned, the whole idea of why we ride is for fun and to have the enjoyment. As long as they’re enjoying what they’re doing, start them off nice and early and get them progressing and enjoying it.
DK: Devlin as you say, variety is the spice of life. One of the things I remember very fondly of primary school was that actual fact, as you said, you try all different sports. Unfortunately back in the day, cycling/mountain biking wasn’t really one of them, so it’s been a great addition to school sports programs and those balance bikes, those stability bikes to start the kids on, I can swear by it, it works wonders for them.
Devlin Eyden, thank you very much for your time and if you would like to get some personal one on one time with Devlin, all you need to do is join our really engaged group. Sign up for the online community.
To do so, go to coachparry.com/join and it gives you exclusive members-only video content, video coaching and access to our private Facebook group.
From Devlin and myself, Mr Active, David Katz, we’ll catch up with you again next time.