Don’t know much about bikes? We’ve got you covered. Check out our easy guide to kids’ bikes!
Riding a bicycle in Singapore is fun. Watching your child ride a bike for the first time… eh, not so much! Yep, it can be somewhat nerve-wracking for a parent to see their precious cargo balancing on two wheels! But, don’t let your fear deter your kids from learning how to ride a bike – it’s a rite of passage and skill every child should learn. By choosing the right kids’ bike for the maiden voyage, you can minimise your heart palpitations and scraped knees. So, here are a few pointers to selecting your child’s first bicycle here in Singapore.
TYPES OF BIKES
Balance bikes are all the rage nowadays. These two-wheelers are great for teaching the kids the basics of balancing. They allow the littlies as young as 18 months to start running around on a bike, before they’re confident enough to graduate to a proper two-wheeled bike. And yes, most of the time they won’t even need to go through the training wheels phase at all!
Coordination and balance skills differ from child to child, so it’s essential to evaluate a child’s readiness individually. In general, children below the age of four are less coordinated and will need a tricycle, balance bike or training wheels to get around. Got a kid aged four and above? You can introduce them to riding without training wheels if they’re confident and willing to go for it! Although, if you’re buying a kids’ bike, they should already come with back-pedal and coaster drive functions.
Once the young ‘un has gained enough confidence to ride a two-wheeler, they can graduate onwards to a bigger sized bike! There are plenty of specialised and general bike stores in town for the kiddos to pick a bike of their fancy.
Most kids’ bikes today are made of aluminium, which makes them significantly lighter and less prone to rust. For smooth turns and easily replaceable stems (the part that holds the handlebars together), go for an alloy threadless stem, as it can be quickly changed when adapting the bicycle for different sizes.
A typical bike will also have a steel seat post that uses hex nuts to crimp the saddle, or an alloy post similar to those found on adult bikes. You’ll want to avoid getting a steel seat post with a separate clamp head on a tapered steel shaft, though – these are harder to adjust, will rust easily, and may loosen over time. Eek!
ESSENTIALS FOR SAFETY
Kids’ bikes are usually fitted with coaster brakes (which act on the back wheel), while bigger ones will also come with handbrakes or both sets of brakes for the front or back wheel. For very young children with limited hand strength, their bikes should come with coaster brakes. Here’s an easy way to test whether the handbrakes are easy for your child to use: pull the brake lever with your pinky finger!
Also, it’s worth mentioning that it’s important to teach the kids good braking skills so that if they ever tackle a downward hill on your next ride, they’ll be able to stop without injury!
Kneepads and elbow pads
Bruises and scrapes on the knee from falling off a bike hurt a ton – even as an adult! So, you’ll want to get kneepads and elbow pads to protect the kiddies as they ride around the park. They normally come in a set with a mesh bag to keep them all together, and you can easily grab a pair when you’re out shopping for the tykes’ new bike.
We cannot stress this enough: bike helmets are a must, no matter where your kids are cycling. Even if you’re cycling with them in tow! There are two types – hardshell helmets and softshell helmets. The most important bit of a helmet is the thick layer of firm polystyrene that can crush on impact and absorb the force of a blow.
The main difference between the two? Style and comfort – softshell helmets are lighter, while hardshell helmets tend to be heavier and warmer. Though, there are options which have air vents to combat humidity.
But that’s not the most important bit: make sure you fit your kids’ helmet well! The helmet should fit snugly around the head, and cover the forehead up to 1 inch above your child’s eyes or eyebrows. And take note, helmets should be replaced every three to five years and not purchased second-hand, even if it might save money.
FITTING A BIKE
Picking the right bike is important, y’all! If the bike is too big, the littlies might find it tough to pick up the skill, and might not enjoy riding at all. And if it’s too small, they’ll grow out of it much faster than you’d like them to – meaning, you’ll have to buy a new bike.
Your best bet? Bring the kiddos down to the store for a “fitting” to ensure that you’re buying a bike that fits them perfectly. Plus, you’ll get to learn all the safety features of the bike, too.
Bicycles are like shoes: find a good fit now and you’ll have a good run in them. And no doubt, you’ll want to choose a good quality kid’s bike that won’t fall apart or rust easily. And though you might be tempted to get the best bike with all the features for your little one, not all of them are necessary on a kid’s bike! Take the gearshift, for example – it’s a skill that the young ‘uns can learn on bigger bikes when they’re older.
PICKING A BIKE
Looking for an affordable bike option? There are plenty of options for you on the market! But, be warned: they tend to be heavy and are difficult for little hands and feet to manoeuvre. So, riding them may not be very enjoyable… It’s worth investing in something safe, light and comfortable.
Nowadays, bikes come in all sizes and colours! Whether the littlies want a basket in the front or a bike with their favourite cartoon characters on them, there are plenty of variations in style. In fact, it’s probably hard to pick just one!
And, don’t forget the accessories! Beyond bells, baskets, drink bottle holders and tassels, there are some amazing add-ons out there that bubs will love to personalise their kid’s bike with.
Right… So now that you’ve picked your bike and gotten the essentials (plus a couple of accessories on the side), here are some general riding tips to guide you and your little one before you head out.
GENERAL RIDING TIPS
Take some time to educate your little biker about safe riding tips before they start tearing up the bike path. After all, we all love a considerate cyclist! Some useful techniques include teaching the kids to dismount when crossing the road and ringing their bell to alert pedestrians of your presence on shared paths. And, if you’re riding in the evening, make sure you equip their bikes with lights or ensure that you wear reflective gear.
An important thing to note: Singapore, unfortunately, doesn’t have dedicated bike paths on roads, so stick to the Park Connector Network to explore your neighbourhood.
Need some ideas on where to go riding? We love taking the bikes to East Coast Park, but here are some other bike-friendly places that might tickle your fancy. And psst, if you don’t have a bike of your own, you can also rent one from a bike-sharing company, too.