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Pitfalls when kitting out the family

Family cycling on forest path

Photo: Paul Hami

Cycling with the family can be a great way of combining fun, quality time and exercise in one activity. However, there are a number of things to think about when buying bike equipment for the entire family.

If you get it wrong, it can mean that trying to get them to enjoy cycling as much as you do falls flat on its face. Not to worry, though. Having a good time on the bikes with the family takes a little thought and planning, but BikeRoar has been there and learnt some of those lessons the hard way. We're here to share that wisdom.


What to wear - and what not to

Skin tight cycling clothes are great for riding with friends and the cycle club, but suiting up as Team Velo Family in full cycling gear is not the way to go. There is no need for the kids to be aerodynamic, and for your partner, wearing bike clothes might very well feel like driving around in a pair of tights with an in-built diaper while wearing a way too tight top. This does not make for a happy ride. Nor do clip pedals that will have them crashing like lemmings.

Kids and partners should wear comfortable clothes, and these days there are a good few brands around that make both cool and comfortable cycling gear. When it comes to biking equipment there are a couple of pieces that should be included. A helmet is a must for everyone, and cycling gloves will prove their worth at the first crash. If members of the family are complete beginners it might be worth it to invest in gel covers for the saddles.


Equal equipment? Yes and no

While everyone should be wearing helmets - and probably gloves - it's not necessarily a good idea to have everyone riding around wearing the same gear. For example, it might be best to buy an oversize backpack for you to carry. You might end up being the family camel, carrying extra clothes, food, water, etc. but this means that your children and partner are free to enjoy the ride much more. Think of the extra weight as a form of training and it will feel like less of a burden.

Other things that might be worth getting include a set of tools.


Electrifying your ride

Imagine the following scenario: You're going out on the bikes with the love of your life and that person doesn't really seem to be enjoying the ride at all. Actually, the only reason they're not yelling at you for dragging them out on this mountain with a 4%, 500 yard long incline is that they're breathing too hard.

The solution might be to go for an electric bike, where the batteries give them some extra speed, or a helping hand up a steep climb. This will make the ride much more enjoyable for everyone.


Remember the differences

A classic pitfall is buying a road bike and then wanting to ride with the kids who are on their little bmx bikes. This results in some angry and tired children. There are various solution to this problem, depending on the kids' ages.

A bicycle trailer is probably the best idea if you have children between zero and five. They are along for the ride, but if you hit a shower or windy conditions, this lets the little ones remain safe and warm while you battle the elements.

If you have kids between five and ten, the best solution might be a trailer bike. These latch on to the back of your own, making it a tandem where the child can chose to pedal along or not.

For the older children it's time to get them out there on their own, and from ages around 8-10 and up, 20 to 30 mile rides should be possible in a day. Just remember to take a lot of breaks along the way. This will also make your backpack much lighter.


Any other tips for getting the most out of your rides with the family? Let us know in the comments below...



1Author: Marc Prosser
A total convert to all things cycling after (mis)spending his youth running around after a football. Loves all things bike, but has a special interest in road racing. Favourite bike would be a Pinarello Dogma black - so completely black that it would make Johnny Cash proud. Favourite cycling team: Saxo Bank. Favourite rider: Jens Voigt.

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