They say that a family that plays together stays together. At least that’s the case in our family. I find that if my husband and I can find activities than not only we, but our young girls like to do too, we all spend more time together. And enjoyable, quality time too.
For us that activity has become bike riding. Throughout the craze of roller-blades, wooden balance bikes, skateboards and scooters, bicycles have been the one staple that you must have as a kid.
It’s a rite of passage. The keys to being a kid, no longer a baby. And probably the first major investment you’ll make for your child as a parent. It’s their very own belonging – something to call their own.
Whether you grow up in the country (as I did), live in the city or in the suburbs, your very own bike has been the ticket to freedom and independence for children for generations.
I have wonderful fond memories of spending hours every weekend on adventures with my sister on our bikes. We’d ride wherever the path or track took us, sometimes getting lost, but always having so much fun exploring on our bikes.
The benefits of bike riding really are endless. Not just for escaping the screen and getting outside, but the fine motor skills developed when learning to ride and becoming a skilled rider are so beneficial to kids. Once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget. It’s healthy, it’s a great means of transport to the playground, shops or school, its inclusive so anyone can do it, and low impact too, so is easy on growing muscles.
But this isn’t a review about the many benefits of bike riding for kids. To us as parents these should already be pretty clear. It’s about ByK bikes and why they are so unique and the best choice of bike for your kids.
We are currently going through the ‘first bike’ journey with our eldest two girls, and I want to share our experience because there is much more to it than I’d expected. With a 4 year old and a 5 year old who had progressed from the balance bike stage (and didn’t want a bar of the department store bike we first bought – more on that later) it was time to get them a proper bike. So, we headed straight to the local bike shop.
Fortunately for us that local bike shop is Melbourne Bicycle Centre, the home of ByK bikes for toddlers right up to teenagers. The team are so informative and helpful when it comes to choosing the right bike for your child, and can help you make the right choice about which bike is best suited to them.
There are so many factors to consider when choosing a bike for your child. Their age and their height are the obvious factors; but size, ability and confidence will also influence the bike you choose. Whether your child has already ridden a balance bike or a scooter will also influence their ability too.
Kids learn to ride well and have more control on their bike if they feel confident, so whilst it was tempting to buy a bigger bike that would last, we soon discovered there is no point in our kids having a bike they will ‘grow into’ if it’s too big for them now. The larger size may be daunting to them, will be harder for them to control and isn’t as safe for your child.
In fact, if they’re not confident on their ‘big’ bike it may actually turn them off bike riding altogether. So the bike you bought-to-last has been a failed investment, both financially and psychologically.
The department store bike with training wheels we initially bought for my eldest daughter was definitely a failed investment. So heavy, she found it hard to get going and the bike just wouldn’t roll when on a flat surface. Initially, I believed a heavier bike would provide more stability for her when learning to ride, but with small wheels and a much heavier frame it just proved too difficult for my then 3 year old to pedal and turn. Whilst it was small just like her, the very heavy frame meant she had to use all her effort to get going (most of the time we had to push her) and she had to pedal constantly to keep it moving. She became tired and frustrated very quickly and after two weekends lost interest and went back to her balance bike.
Having a hard to pedal, heavy bike meant that she wasn’t enjoying bike riding, and we were faced with the problem of her losing interest altogether because of her first experience on a bike. (It currently sits in the garage collecting cobwebs!)
Not all kids are the same and not all kid’s bodies are the same. Different heights, shapes, arm length, strength, leg length and so on means it’s hard to find a ‘one size fits all’ bike to suit everyone, which is exactly what we’d found at the department store.
Where standard kid’s bikes are just smaller versions of adult bikes, ByK bicycles are designed specifically for children. The shorter arm to shoulder length of a child, still-growing and developing bodies and different length arms and legs, as well as smaller hands are all factored into the design of the ByK bike.
When we arrived at our local bike shop and saw the huge range of ByK bikes on display she instantly went over to a pink one and said “THIS ONE! This is the one I want!”
After chatting to the helpful team about the benefits of ByK’s and the differences between it and regular bikes, we too were sold. With a frame weighing less than a kilo, long wheel-base for more predictable handling at high speeds, as well as smooth running tyres to allow less pedalling for little legs, it’s no wonder kids love it.
When choosing a model we took into account my daughter’s riding ability, previous experience on her balance bike, her height and slight build to get the correct size bike for her: the E350 ByK.
After one ride around the store that was it – she was off! It didn’t take long before our middle daughter just 14 months younger starting begging for her own ByK too.
Designed by father of four Warren Key, who customised a bike for his son who was born with an impaired hip, making riding a bike difficult. Since then, ByK bikes have exploded onto the cycling scene for kids as the THE bike to have. And for good reason!
Apt in name, ByK bikes are lighter, longer, and designed specifically with children’s development and growth in mind. You notice this as soon as you see it; it looks different to any other bike on the market. As they are longer and lower than other kid’s bikes, the ByK’s centre of gravity is lower helping kids to be more stable when riding.
Made from aluminium, ByK’s are so much lighter than regular bikes for kids as young as two years of age to ride and control; as well as pick up, turn, manoeuvre into bike sheds at school and near roads, crossings and intersections. And when you have little ones learning to ride, these factors are so important.
As Warren Key says:
“The key elements that make ByK Bikes so different is that we have lowered the balance weight of the bike and the rider deeper into the wheels. This makes the centre of gravity lower and the rider more stable. At the same time, we have reduced the rolling resistance and the overall weight to improve control. The frame design is unique in its length, and ByK Bikes are also safer than any other children’s bike we know. It is incredible to think we have been able to help other kids too, and may have changed the way kids bikes are designed forever.”
Our middle daughter has a completely different body shape to her big sister. Not as experienced or as agile, but nearly as tall and strong as our elder daughter the E350 ByK was also the right choice for her.
It has certainly changed my eldest daughter’s perspective on bike riding. She absolutely loves it and wants to ride every chance she gets. And now my middle daughter too is now so keen on bike riding she wants to ride everywhere we go!
They have so much fun now riding their ByK’s that we couldn’t resist but get our youngest daughter, now 2, a ByK balance bike. As her older sisters both learned to ride on a balance bike we are so impressed with a balance bike’s ability to teach them balance, stability and confidence on a bike, that we know it’s going to work for her too.
It’s only a matter of time before she’s on it and keeping up with the rest of the family. Staying together by playing together…
ByK have a great article on their website called 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy A Kid’s Bike to help you make the right choice.
Read more on the inspiring and down-to-earth interview with ByK designer and founder Warren Key and SHOP the whole range of Byk Bikes at Tini Trader Market Place