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I want to gift my son a bike for his next birthday. What should I keep in mind?
My 5-year-old son has been hinting at the gifts he wants for his birthday this year. I usually laugh it off, but I’m obviously noting down everything he wants. He’s pretty particular with the details too. Recently, all he talks about is his “red bicycle small”.
I think he’s ready for his first bike. Sometimes he rides our neighbor’s kid’s bicycle for a few minutes while playing. But as a typical mom, my nerves kick in at the thought of him riding outside; I worry for his safety. I also want to set him up with the right bike for his age.
What important features should be top of mind when buying him his “dream bike?” What safety measures should be in place when teaching him how to ride a bike? How do I make bike rides fun for him without worrying too much?
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When we were shopping for my son's first bike, we consulted with an expert at the local bike shop who advised that safety, stability, and longevity were the three most important factors to consider when buying a bike. Kids obviously grow quickly and can out grow a bicycle in a matter of months if they have a growth spurt, so it is important to consider this when making your purchase - you want the bike to be small enough so that they can ride it comfortably, but big enough that it will last for a while before needing to upsize. If there are a lot of kids with bikes in your area, you can look at ways of trading bikes within the community as kids get bigger.
Your local bike shop will be able to help you find the right size bike for your son. Remember to check that he is able to properly reach the brakes as for small kids, the stretch to pull the brake levers can sometimes be quite a challenge. If he has experience on a balance bike, he will probably be riding in no time, but a good pair of stabiliser wheels provide plenty of peace of mind for a nervous mom (and you can remove these one at a time if he is a bit unsteady).
I would definitely insist on a helmet and possibly some elbow and knee guard if he is the adventurous type. If he is going to be riding on the street under supervision, a shirt in a high visibility colour will help motorists and other road users see him well in advance. In our area there are plenty of small trails and bike tracks that are geared towards younger cyclists and these are great for confidence building.
I think that 5 is a good age to begin learning to ride a bike, but it should also come with plenty of conversations about road safety and personal awareness. It is also a good idea to involve your son in caring for his bike right from the beginning. He can help to wash the bike, keep the chain lubricated, and even assist in repairing any punctures.
I hope your son is able to start his cycling adventures on his "red bicycle small" soon!
I think its so important to keep in mind that their first bike needs to be sturdy but not heavy so it becomes a fun and easy riding experience. plus when they fall, its not too frustrating to try and lift the bike up over and over again! This might also mean purchasing a bike without gears to start off to be lighter weight and fit with a chain guard to keep little feet and hands safe.
Depending where your son will be riding, perhaps a high vis shirt and definitely a cool helmet!
It's also a good idea to talk through the road rules when practicing riding, even around the house and even role playing when to stop or look both ways at a crossing etc. I'd also be learning about how to keep the bike in good working order and helping your son check things like the chain and pedals each time he gets on to ride.
First and foremost, make sure you deck him out with a cool helmet and knee and elbow pads. You can find all sorts of cool looking ones online or at your local department store. The cooler they look, the more they will be willing to wear the gear. Training wheels are a must, obviously. Don't get a bike with hand breaks, foot breaks only. I made that mistake as I went for color of bike over it's specs and teaching him to use the hand breaks was the hardest part.
The first few rides will be the toughest on your nerves but the more he rides, the more confident he'll become, the better and more relaxed you'll feel. Of course, even the best of riders still have accidents but if he's deked out in his aforementioned safety gear then you should have nothing to worry about!