How do you get your family biking safely and happily together? In this video and article, I’ll be covering my tips to start biking with your family and the top mistakes or missteps I see people taking when trying to family bike.
In my bike shop, I help families bike more often together, sell kids their first bikes, help them pedal those first bikes, and sometimes I help families bike so much that they are inclined to sell a car.
Right now there is no better time than ever to start picking up biking as a family activity and I wanted to share with you some tips and things to avoid to make this the most successful it can be.
Prep or prepare beforehand
This is ideally maybe 3-7 days beforehand but even 24 hours before is better than nothing. Try to avoid getting this idea late Friday night for a Saturday morning.
You’ll want to check over everyone’s bike and I’ll link to my video on basic bike check overs. Pump up tires, check that the helmets still fit, the bikes still fit and they are essentially ready to roll. Give yourself time to fix any problems like flat tires or broken helmets. Sometimes tires inflate initially and then go flat in 12 hours, so check them a day or so after you have inflated them.
See our bike safety check-over, good for any kind of bike!
The first ride is a short one
I suggest to set yourself up for success on the first 3 trips, yes 3 trips. What does this look like? Shorter trips, and ideally individual trips with each kid.
The first “bike ride” I want to be literally around the block a few times with each INDIVIDUAL child and adult if possible. Make sure seat heights look good, another link to this below, everyone feels comfortable on the bike and everyone is up to speed about communicating, where to ride in a group, and how to operate their individual bikes safely.
Now give yourself and your family high fives. You could consider that a warm-up lap or your first full ride, just know you are setting yourself and your family up for success.
Make it about the destination
The second and third trips I want to be really destination-focused. Is there an ice cream ride within 5-10 minutes from your house? A park with turtles, or maybe your child's school? Make these first few rides about the destination so this ride isn’t a chore or viewed as an activity but instead a fun vehicle to get them there. Slowly extend the trips, and vary the destinations but try to always have a destination in mind with your family, especially with smaller kids who maybe don’t have the concept of “enjoying the ride.”
Always be prepared
I sound like a boy scout but here are the few things I always have with me as we venture from home or drive and then bike.
Snacks - so important here, pack 2x more than you think.
Water - have extra on your bike to fill up everyone’s bottles
Basic first aid kit - bandaids solve 4-year-old tears, and bee stings can happen.
Basic flat changing kit with tubes for each size bike - I typically add this one if I’m outside my neighborhood but make sure you know how to use it before you need it. Inside my neighborhood I know I can call a friend to get us if needed.
Don't push it, bud
The next thing that can really ruin relationships with the bike is pushing a bike ride on to your family. Too often I hear “we can’t stop because you are on a bike ride” or “we need to ride 10 minutes more.” Stop worrying about how far you go and focus on what you can show your family from the seat of a bike.
Make sure you bikes fit and are safe
Finally, the last thing I see that can really frustrate families are bikes that are too small, too heavy, or flat tires. Here's a video to my kid's bike safety check over that can help with this but make this enjoyable and not some type of heroic experience.
I would love to hear from you, what are some of the key things you do to have the best riding experience with your family? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, if you are looking for a new kids' bike, you can check out my kid’s bike sizing guide! Until next time, thank you for watching, make sure to tell a friend about this video to get them started in family biking!