For kids that love bike riding and have a thirst for adventure, mountain biking is a great activity to introduce them to. Mountain biking is “a healthy, fun, and low impact way to build fitness, gain confidence, and enjoy time outdoors,” said Ross Rushin, mountain bike instructor and mountain bike assistant brand manager at Trek Bicycle Corporation.
So what’s a good age to start? “It varies,” Rushin noted. “They can start when they’re comfortable with basic bike riding skills: riding in a straight line without swerving, using the brakes to stop, and controlling speed.”
For mini shredders that are trading in the smooth pavement for rocky terrain, they will need to get a bike that can handle the trails. We picked expert Rushin’s brain for some suggestions, as Trek is synonymous with making some of the best mountain bikes on the market.
“With kids, it’s really more about getting the right fit by choosing the right size wheel,” she pointed out.
- For boys ages 3-4 or 3’0”–3’5” tall, Rushin recommends a 12” wheel bike like the Precaliber 12.
- For children ages 4-5 or 3’4”– 3’10” tall, the Superfly 16, a light frame, durable kids’ mountain bike with a 16” wheel is a great choice.
- For boys ages 6-8 or 3’9”–4’4” tall, Rushin recommends a 20” wheel bike like the trail-ready, durable Precaliber 20.
- For older boys, ages 8-12 or 4’4”–4’9” tall, a 24” wheel like the Precaliber 24 is a great option.
- For children ages 8-12 or 4’8”–5’2” tall, Rushin suggests a 26” wheel bike like the Fuel Ex Jr or Superfly 26.
Now that your mini shredders have their rad bikes, it’s time to learn the proper riding technique. Rushin offered up some helpful tips so riders can have an enjoyable experience while tackling the trails.
- Learn the “ready” or “attack” position: Stand bent at the waist with pedals level, knees and elbows bent, and weight centered over the bike. Think: Heavy feet, light hands.
- Look where you want to go. Your bike follows your eyes.
- Learn to shift and use the gears: Higher numbers go faster, and the lower numbers make it easier to pedal—especially uphill!
- Use both brakes equally.
- Relax and let your legs absorb any bumps.
While your young riders are honing their technique, remember to keep learning fun! Don’t “go too far too soon. Keep rides short and fun,” Rushin explained. Adding: ”Don’t increase difficulty too quickly.” That way kids remain engaged and not discouraged.
And don’t forget to take plenty of breaks to hydrate with water and refuel with some snacks.
By now, you’re probably thinking, “But how do I keep my kids safe? We’re concerned about your kids’ safety, too. That’s why we asked Rushin for some safety tips, which includes a checklist all riders should follow for a safe adventure on the trails:
- Conduct pre-ride safety checks with “ABC Quick.” If you answer “no” to any of these questions, take your bike in for service before riding.
- Air: Are the tires inflated?
- Brakes: Do the brakes work?
- Chain/Crank: Does the chain move smoothly? Is the crank secure?
- Quick releases/wheel axles: Are these closed and/or tight?
- Always wear a (bike) helmet.
- Always ride within your limits.
Along with a quality bike and helmet, having the right protective gear is essential. Thankfully, G-Form has got your kids covered. Literally. G-Form makes protective gear for kids (starting around age 8) that provides them with the protection they need while they enjoy the sport that they love. The brand’s padded gear includes shorts, shirts, elbow pads, kneepads, and shin guards. These innovative products keep mini shredders safe by using a “proprietary rate protective technology that allows the pads to provide soft protection and superior impact absorption,” explained Robert Burleson, G-Form’s global marketing manager. (I have the adult gear and it definitely makes me feel safe and riding more comfortable without adding any bulk. It’s lightweight and so flexible that you’ll forget that you’re wearing it—until you’re grateful that you did!) And what’s sweet: They’re waterproof, machine washable, and can be used for multiple sports.
With these expert tips, your mini shredders will be maneuvering through twists and turns and negotiating rocky terrain in no time!