Getting out on your bikes as a family is good for your health and a great way to explore new places. But for a successful bike ride – and for encouraging the whole family to look forward to the next outing – it’s worth taking a look at these top 10 tips.
Bikes that fit each member of the family well and are in good working order will be more pleasurable to ride. While it’s likely that you, as the cycling family leader, will be riding a nice lightweight, good quality bike you should also think about what the other family members will be cycling.
A bike that is too big or too small, too heavy or difficult to ride will only be frustrating for that person.
Always ensure you have chosen the bike for your kids and partner because it’s the right one for them, rather than it being your own preferred style of bike or because it was a cheap bargain or a hand-me-down that will “just do”.
Investing in bikes that are good quality will lead to more enjoyable bike rides and an increased enthusiasm in cycling for each family member. Many kids’ bikes also command good re-sale prices, so you should be able to recoup some of the outlay in the future.
Wear the right kit
As with bikes, it’s likely that the adults will have all the fancy cycling kit yet many children do not. But not only does cycling clothing look the part, it also serves to make the riding comfortable.
So if you wear padded cycle shorts and a lightweight helmet as an adult, you might want to think about offering the kids the same. A comfortable young cyclist is far less likely to whinge on a family outing.
View our selection of children’s cyclewear here.
Everyone can tag along
Tag along bikes or attachments that turn young children’s bikes into a tag-along on the back of an adult’s bike are a great solution for families with really young children.
If mum or dad is the fittest, add the tag along to their bike to give them more exercise (or to slow them down a bit!).
Bicycles made for two
A tandem bike can make a great two-wheeled vehicle for a dad and child or mum and child, or both. Some successful family cycling holidays have been completed on tandems.
Using a tandem means that a child is never left behind and the parent can gain extra fitness form powering the front of the bike (if that’s what they are looking for!).
Short and sweet
Start with a short bike ride that is suitable for the youngest or least fit in the family. You can then aim to build up the distance and take in more hills as you all become increasingly bike fit.
The slower build up in terms of time and distance will be encouraging for everyone in the family, rather than discouraging for one of two riders who might then refuse to go out again.
If you are the fittest why not plan to do more miles after the family outing or reserve a day each weekend when you accept that you will be riding with the family rather than beasting yourself over 100 miles.
Bribery does work
Promise the kids that they can have an ice cream during a bike ride or a café stop at the end of the bike ride. Having a goal in mind and a treat does amazing things for little legs.
Plan an adventure
Exploring new signposted routes or trails or planning your own route with a map and compass makes a cycle outing far more fun for kids (and many grown ups).
Why not promise to take the ferry to an island one weekend or take a break in a new location and discover places on two wheels? Pack a picnic for a lunch stop, or visit a café or tourist attraction during the bike ride.
It’s more likely that kids will get on their bikes for a family ride when there is a sniff of an adventure.
Hit the trails
Off-road cycling is usually safer for families and you will find there are different graded routes to suit a range of abilities at the many mountain biking centres across the UK.
Cycling on rougher terrain also adds excitement to a bike ride because you need to negotiate uphills and downhills and a range of natural obstacles.
Brush up your skills
A growth area is bike skills parks (often located close to urban areas or at mountain bike centres). These offer a fun way to brush up on off-road cycling skills and because everyone can enjoy them at their own level you can easily spend a few hours at one skills park with a family group.
Enter an event
A growing number of events offer races that are suitable for families or for adults and kids separately but on the same day. Enduros, bike orienteering, MTB events, track races and time trials are some of the events that can cater for children as well as adults.
*Kids under 16 and accompanied by a paying adult
Happy family riding!