When mom and dad start riding motorcycles, it simply is almost impossible to prevent the children from following in their footsteps.
It’s important to go about it the right way to ensure the safety and enjoyment for everyone. Let’s look at a few key elements that you need to consider.
Off-road vs on-road
Depending on the age of the child, off-road riding as a first introduction can be very good for their skill level growth. Off-road motorcycles are a bit more user friendly when starting off. In case a motorcycle falls over, the damage is minimal. An on-road motorcycle generally have more fairings and therefore can be a bit more expensive to repair if a child loses his balance. They are, after all, still learning. Off-road motorcycles also teach excellent skills that can be used on a road bike at a later stage, if necessary. On-road riding, however, is a little different. It takes an on-road rider longer to adapt to off-road riding than vice versa. Off-road teaches the importance of body positioning when both standing and seated, and how to control the motorcycle if the rear-end wants to step out.
Rider safety gear
Unfortunately this can be an expensive exercise. Gear for small children costs more-or-less the same as grown-up gear costs. Also, kids grow so quickly and therefore riding gear may not fit anymore within the first year. The absolute minimal gear that needs to be considered is: motocross boots, chest protector, helmet, goggles and gloves. The pants and shirts can be bought bigger but aren’t that expensive. A suggestion is to look at second-hand riding gear for the kids until they reach an age where their growth is a bit slower. However, if your budget allows for new kit, you can always donate your child’s used kit to another little trainee.
There are always safety elements to consider when it comes to bike riding. Kids need to understand how important it is to tighten their riding gear and to always wear all of it. They need to know that they must never stick a finger into a chain and/or other places in the engine or other parts that can be dangerous. Teaching them the direction of a track is imperative. Understanding how to pull away and stop is first priority. Kids will need to understand basics of when to give more petrol and/or less; which brakes to use when. For example, it’s important to learn how to use their front brake properly – they need to understand that it needs to be gentle and not to use the front brake while turning. They need to know how to make an emergency stop, if and when necessary. Also ensure that if your children get training that it’s from an expert only. Whatever they learn, can have a direct impact on their safety.
Choosing a safe environment where your child can ride is extremely important. Make sure that there are no cars or big bikes that can ride/drive across the area where the children need to ride. Ensure that the children are all going in the same direction to avoid head on incidents. Always check the terrain first to ensure there are no wires or obstacle that can harm them. It’s also recommended that you walk or ride the area/track with your child to show them where to be careful. For example, if there is a tight corner or big water puddles and/or big jumps where they can get hurt, they need to be made aware of it before they start riding.
Good supervision is without alcohol and close to the area where the child is riding. Supervision is also important in case he/she falls over or even stalls the motorcycle. They may need help to start the motorcycle. In case someone is hurt, assistance needs to be immediate. Grown-ups also need to assist with the fuelling process as this is not recommended for the children to do, unless they are old enough to understand the risks involved.
Introducing your family to motorcycling is extremely exciting. If done the correct way it is a sport/hobby that you will be able to enjoy safely with your family for a long time. Be responsible and safe and share the love of motorcycling around. It makes for some of the best birthday parties and weekend getaways!