I took my two eldest boys out today for their first road bike ride. Both C (my eldest) and T (middle) had very different experiences today, but both allowed the grey the matter to think loads about different things.
1. Bikes. There really isn’t many decent
Bikes out there for the budding young cyclist to use. T’s 650c wheeled Felt is pretty sweet, light, but needs some tweaks. Firstly I’d say that the chainring
Sizes are all wrong. It comes with a 50/34, yep, massive gears for an eleven year old. I’d say in an ideal world you’d want a 48/46 on the front with a 32 as an inner. This would. Just make so much more sense, especially with a 9 speed set up on the back. Also having a 12-25 on the back isn’t ideal and a 14-27 would make more sense.
Reach adjustment on the shifters would be great, and believe it or not, because the small hands of a child struggle to pull the levers so the brakes are not effective enough so affecting the confidence levels of the child riding.
I think in many ways actually what a child requires from a bike is a bit of a ‘Unicorn’ in that it really needs to be a one bike to rule them all. I reckon a Cross bike with the ability to fit guards would make more sense. I think a lot of big manufacturers could learn from Islabikes http://www.islabikes.co.uk/why_islabikes.html as they are taking a great approach to getting kids on bikes.
2. Clothing. There isn’t enough on the market to give a real good choice to the parents looking to outfit their kids on their cycling adventures. I appreciate that a lot of the fabrics will be the same, and in the UK we have the benefit of Zero Vat, so this can make them not as cheap as most parents would like, especially as kids can be fickle as riding maybe only a short lived passion. The difficult thing is that incase this is the first steps on a long lifelong journey you really want them to be pretty good so that they work as best as they can.
I think Clothing Brands need to look differently to this small segment and not look at it being a cost area. If brands viewed this as an investment or a marketing strategy I think we’d see more companies building a line of products that in reality would hardly ever need to change. If parents can buy the brands they follow religiously so that they can buy a mini me version I think that this would only help.
Having completed this ride with my boys today meant so much to me and I know it did to them. And at the beginning of the holidays I’d have loved to have been close to finishing 500km to bag the Festive500 patch, I wouldn’t have swapped any of my time for what I’ve had over the last few days, especially today.
I’ve heard the word ‘Legacy’ used in the UK, both pre, during and post Olympics and I think that equipping our kids with the option to take up our short on the level that can totally engage on their level will give us most importantly a generation that can find freedom in the great outdoors, now that would be a great thing.