Beginner’s Guide to Family Biking

Are you interested in biking together as a family but not sure where to begin?

Family biking is a great way to spend quality time with your family while getting a little exercise in as well! Biking is also a fun way to connect with the outdoors all while making fun memories!

There are many things to consider when you begin introducing your family to biking and it can easily become overwhelming. Read on to learn more about some of our favorite tips and tricks to help your crew become a successful biking family!

Where Do I Begin? Introducing Your Child to Family Biking.

Bike Trailers

As soon as your kiddo can hold their head up, we suggest looking into a good quality bike trailer to pull behind your bike.

This can be such a fun and special way for many kids to experience the joy of bike riding at an early age! There are so many things to think about when choosing the right bike trailer for your family.

Use a Bike Trailer for Family Biking

When you are ready to pick one out, our TOMM team has already tested a ton of them, so be sure to check out our bike trailer reviews here!

Bike Seats

Another fun alternative is a mounted bike seat for your child to ride with you on your bike. Mounted bike seats come in front-mounted and rear-mounted options.

A front-mounted bike seat is a fun way for kids to experience bike riding and offers more opportunity for conversation and interaction with the parent. Be sure to hop over and read our reviews of the Do Little Bike Seat and the Shot Gun Bike Seat as it will help you determine if this would be a good fit for your family.

Bike Seat Options for Family Biking

The rear-mounted bike seats have a lot more options and functionality to choose from. There are plenty of options out there, including the new Burley Dash. Be sure to consider age ranges, weight and more when shopping for bike seats that will meet your family’s needs best.

When Do I Introduce Them to a Bike of Their Own?

There is no perfect age for starting kids out on bikes. We do recommend beginning to introduce them to a bike of their own from the time they can walk and propel a balance bike.

Of course there are many factors to take into consideration as every child is different. Some kids hop on that bike and have no reservations. And some are a little more hesitant to begin bike riding…and that is okay!

If you have a kid that doesn’t like biking just yet, you are not alone. In fact, we have an entire post on handling the reluctant biker. Just remember to be patient and don’t give up!

Learning to Ride a bike

What Kind of Bike Should I Get For My Child?

Training Wheels vs. Balance Bikes

Back in the day, kids typically learned to ride bikes with the help of training wheels. That’s just what everyone did.

Have you ever helped a kid transition from training wheels to no-training wheels? It doesn’t make my list of fun things to do, that’s for sure.

There are so many reasons why it’s best to get away from training wheels. But how else are you supposed to teach your kid to ride a bike?

Balance bikes are the way to go! They are a complete game changer for teaching kids to ride a bike.

Balance Bikes

The difference in the two methods is that balance bikes actually teach the child to learn to balance FIRST before you introduce pedaling which makes it much easier for the child.

Be sure to read our tips and tricks for starting a toddler on a balance bike as this will help answer common questions as you begin. Then you can begin looking into our list of Best Balance Bikes for Kids that our TMM team has thoroughly tested!

And if your child is starting to learn to ride a bike at an older age, keep in mind that Balance Bikes aren’t just for Toddlers. Learning to balance before pedaling really is the best way for anyone to learn how to ride a bike!

And when they are ready to start learning to pedal, here are some great tips on how to teach a kid to pedal a bike.

Learning to pedal

Bike Styles

There are SO many different bikes to choose from. So where do you begin?

First things first, take time to do some research and think about your goals. Will you mainly be on flat surfaces like greenways and pavement? Or do you plan to do some trail riding or mountain biking? Maybe a little of both?

There are so many variations and options that it easily can become overwhelming. 

REI has some great options for kids on the move! This a great place to start as you begin learning more about all the different options of bikes that are out there.

And of course one of our favorite brands of kids’ bikes is Woom! They are lightweight, easy for kids to maneuver and quickly will help build their confidence. Be sure to read more about why we love WOOM here.

Woom BIkes

There are tons of other great brands of bikes out there, but our advice is to make sure to get a quality made bike that is easy for your child to use. The type of bike really can make a big difference in your child falling in love with biking!

Bike Sizes

And one of the most important things you can do is make sure you get them the right size bike. It can make all the difference in the world!

Since height can vary drastically from child to child, be sure to take time to measure your child’s height and inseam as well as taking into consideration their age. Most bike websites have a decent size and age chart for reference when shopping for bikes.

If you are unsure of what size bike you need for your child, be sure to stop by REI or your local bike shop and talk with an expert to help you get the perfect size for your child. 

What About Bikes for Adults?

And of course you can’t forget about getting yourself a good quality bike! While there are many types and styles to choose from, the same rings true for adults as it does kids…the quality does make a difference!

Family Biking on Trail

If your goal is to set your family up for long term biking, then definitely consider buying yourself a quality bike that will last for years to come.

Take time to stop by some local bike shops or REI and try some of their bikes out. Think about the different kinds of styles and types of tires as well. The tires and bike style make a tremendous difference in the ride. (And again, don’t be afraid to ask for help!)

How Do I Keep My Family Safe While Biking?

Helmets are NOT Optional! 

From day one, be sure to reinforce the importance of wearing helmets any time your kids are riding their bike. There are plenty of statistics and research that show how helmets have saved many, many lives.

We recommend having a helmets are not optional rule for riding bikes. No helmet…no bike riding. (And that includes the adults!)

Wearing Bike Helmets

Of course we are always on the lookout for testing and trying out the best bike helmets for kids, so be sure to do a little research and get a quality made helmet for everyone in your family.

And take time to learn how to properly fit and adjust a child’s bike helmet. This gets easier with practice and once you teach your kids, it will soon become second nature!

Biking Rules and Etiquette

Just like driving a car, biking comes with rules, too! There is nothing like getting out on the trail with lots of other bikers and not knowing what the rules are! (Talk about making you a nervous wreck!)

Take time to go over common trail rules like riding on the right side of the trail, proper passing etiquette, and other things to watch for. The more you bike with your family, the easier it will become. 

Family Biking Safely

But preparing your child and talking about proper trail etiquette will prevent those embarrassing moments of riding down the trail yelling at your kid to “Get over!” because they are about to run over someone. (Not that this has EVER happened to any us…) 

Practice Pre-Ride Safety Checks!

One last thing to do before you head off on your family bike ride is to do a pre-ride safety check. Teach your whole family to do the ABCDE Pre-Ride Check system (Air, Brakes, Cranks & Chain, Drop and Energy) and this will give you an ease of mind when out on the trail.

Be sure to read more about safety checks and basic bike maintenance for families here!

Bike Accessories Make Family Biking More Fun!

There are so many great bike accessories out there that not only add extra functionality but also make biking even more fun!

From hydration packs, to bike gloves and bells and SO much more, be sure to check out some of our favorite bike accessories for kids to make family biking a fun and memorable experience.

Where Do We Ride?

Another thing to think about as you plan your family biking excursion is: Where do you plan to ride?

While some are fortunate enough to have trails and neighborhoods right out their back door, some of us have to be a little more intentional in finding local places to ride as a family. 

Maybe ask around where families in your community ride. Check the local park trails and even call your local park offices to see where they suggest starting out. 

Take into consideration the mileage and distance before you commit to a trail. Maybe start with a shorter distance at first and as your whole family becomes more confident you can begin venturing a little further each time!

But don’t underestimate how far your little ones can ride, you might just be surprised how far they can go!

How Do I Transport Our Family’s Bikes?

Once you have some locations of great places to go bike riding as a family, now you have to figure out how to transport the bikes there! This can easily become one of the biggest obstacles for families wanting to pursue family biking. 

It only takes a time or two of becoming frustrated loading up bikes into a less than ideal car situation to make you want to throw the towel in on family biking.

Why does it have to be so difficult to transport the bikes sometimes? And if you are just starting out, you want it to be simple and easy, right?!? Here are a few ideas for transporting those bikes.

Bike Racks 

If you choose to invest in good quality bikes, then you definitely will want to make sure you get a good quality bike rack that will support them! 

Be sure to take some time researching a bike rack that will meet your family’s needs. While you will find these in various price ranges, just keep in mind that you do get what you pay for. 

There are lots of options for bike racks out there. Some common things to look for are things like – roof racks, racks that require a tow hitch, how many bikes it will carry, etc.

One of our favorite bike racks is the Kuat NV 2.0 Base and Kuat NV 2.0 Add-On if you need to haul more than two bikes. It is durable, easy to use and comes highly recommended by many biking professionals across the board!

While they are not very easy on the wallet, they are one of the most stress-free bike racks that we have found and will completely take the frustration out of hauling bikes.

Yakima and THULE also carry a great line of bike racks as well. While there are plenty of other options out there, be sure to do your homework and get one that will meet your family’s needs (and price point!)

Other Options for Hauling Bikes

Of course there are plenty of ways to haul bikes, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. If you aren’t able to invest in a good quality bike rack right away (that’s okay…we took a year to save up for the one we wanted!), think outside the box and see if you can come up with other ways to transport bikes in the meantime.

Do you have a pickup truck? Some find that transporting their bikes in the bed of the truck works for them. If you have a truck or vehicle with towing capabilities, I have even seen families use a trailer to haul all of their bikes.

And while it isn’t ideal, we have even driven two cars separately in order to get everyone AND the bikes to the location.

Final Thoughts on Family Biking

Family Biking on the Road

If you truly have the desire to make family biking a priority in your family, you will figure out a way to make it happen. It definitely can be a financial investment to get quality gear, but in the long run the family memories that will be made along the way are priceless.

What are your biggest obstacles to start biking together as a family? Do you have any tried and true tips for encouraging others for family biking?

We also recommend checking out Buddy Peg’s Youtube channel for more great tips and tricks.

Be sure to leave a comment below or join us in our Outdoor Family Chat over on Facebook! We would love to connect with you!

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  • Michelle is an East Tennessee native that lives near the Great Smoky Mountains right outside of Knoxville, TN with her husband, Matt and their three kids – Jack, Eli & Maggie. You will often find Michelle and her family out hiking, playing in the mountains, bike riding, or trying out any kind of outdoor adventures they can find in and around the Smoky Mountains area. They also enjoy traveling as a family and love sharing their tips that they learn along the way to encourage families to make more memories together over on their family blog, CaddyWampus Life. Connect with them on Instagram: @CaddyWampusLife

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