Tips for Family Cycling
For Yourself, Consider A Bike With Flat Handlebars
Whether you’re using a childseat, a trailercycle or a trailer to take your kids along, you’ll probably want to do so on a bicycle equipped with flat handlebars. These are higher and wider than dropped bars and provide more control against the destabilizing forces of the additional weight you’re carrying. You feel this the most with a tag-along. If Junior squirms around a lot, it can be quite difficult to steer a straight course.
Set Some Rules
If you’re having trouble controlling the bike because of a rambunctious child in the seat behind you, consider setting some rules. Usually, if you tell them that they can’t ride unless they ride safely, they’ll get the point quickly and behave. Or try bribery; promise a treat at ride’s end if all safety rules are obeyed! Trailers are much more forgiving in such situations, because kids can even play a favorite card game or amuse themselves with other safe-to-travel-with playthings inside the confines of a bike trailer.
One common mistake when using childseats is relying on a kickstand to support the bicycle and your child. While this might occasionally work, it’s a dangerous habit because the kickstand is designed only to support the bike’s weight. Add the heft of the childseat and passenger, and the machine is more likely to fall over than to stand up, which can result in serious injury. Please remove your child from the seat at stops unless you’re holding the bicycle upright.
Keep in mind that the weight limit for childseats is approximately 40 pounds. When children get this big, it’s time to remove the childseat and consider a trailer or a tag-along.
Pulling a bicycle trailer requires practice and planning. Keep the additional width of the trailer in mind as you plan routes to avoid roads and paths that may be too narrow. And, unless you’re a strong cyclist, consider what hills and headwinds you might encounter because these are a much bigger challenge when you’re toting papoose and caboose.
One of the great things about bicycle trailers is excellent resale value. When your young ‘uns are too big to ride in the trailer, run a classified ad in the local newspaper and you’ll sell it quickly for a good price.
Training Wheels Are Okay
A lot of parents wonder if training wheels are a good way for kids to learn to ride their first two-wheeler. We’ve had excellent luck with them. Proper installation (we’re experts) and sturdy training wheels (ours are super-tough) ensure easy handling, optimum safety, and a positive learning experience. We do not offer training wheels on our rental bikes. Bar Harbor during the peak of tourist season is not a the best place to have your child learn how to ride.
When buying a bike for your child, don’t make the mistake of purchasing one that’s sized too large. That’s a common tendency because it’s natural to want the machine to last as long as possible for your growing youngster. The problem is, if the bike’s too big, it’s going to be scary and dangerous to ride, which could turn your kid off to biking altogether. We’re experts in bike fit and we can help you pick out a bike that’s safe and that will provide a great first biking experience. And, don’t worry about Halfpint outgrowing the bike. Our bikes are sturdy enough to last through several children. If you don’t have a sibling, niece or nephew to pass the bike on to, ask us about your best options for selling the bike.
Helmets And Children
One of the great benefits of buying a helmet from us for your son or daughter is that we can adjust it to your child’s head while you watch. This serves two important purposes: the helmet gets adjusted for optimum safety and you learn the key adjustments and how to make them. This knowledge comes in very handy because kids occasionally like to play with the straps and buckles, altering the fit. So, it’s important to regularly check the helmet’s fit and correct adjustment problems to keep your child safe and comfortable.
When making adjustments, don’t cinch the chin strap too tightly. While this might feel okay at first, it will probably feel tighter and cause chafing and discomfort on a ride. Watch where the side straps align, too. They should pass next to, not over, the ears. The buckles should rest just below the earlobes.
Always check, too, that the helmet rests squarely on the head so that the helmet’s brow juts forward to protect the forehead and face during a fall. Some helmets include bumped-out brows or visors for this purpose. The front edge of the helmet should rest at or near the top of the eyebrows. One of the first mistakes a child often makes when putting on his own helmet is to tilt it back, exposing his forehead to the dangers of a fall, so always double-check this before rides.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the helmet is a protective device that requires proper care to do its job. Teach your child to treat his helmet with respect because if he abuses it, it may not be able to offer total protection in an accident. For example, repeatedly dropping a helmet on a hard surface or leaving it in a parked car on hot summer days are mistakes that can seriously reduce a helmet’s protective qualities.
For more information about helmets for adults and children, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.