Before your child jumps on their bicycle and starts pedalling, it is important that their bike is as ready as they are.
Here are a few guidelines, courtesy of the Cycle Tour Media Office, to make sure your child’s bicycle is in tiptop shape and that they understand the basic safety measures.
Pump up the wheels properly. Make sure wheels are tightly fastened and in line with the bicycle’s frame.
Always keep the bicycle chain as clean as possible. If you don’t clean and oil the chain regularly, it will be much harder to pedal. If it’s filled with mud, get your child to hose it down. Oil the chain after you have wiped it down with a wet rag.
Brakes have a very important function – they stop you from crashing! If your child can only brake by pulling hard on the brake lever, it’s probably time to replace the brake pads and cables. Safety tip: When your child brakes, remember that you want them to stop and not fly over the handlebars. The trick is to try not to brake with the front wheel, but rather squeeze the brake lever gently while braking with the back wheel.
Seat and handle bars
See that the seat is level – not tilting up or down. Adjust the seat and handlebars to your child’s height. Make sure that all bolts are securely fastened.
If your child hasn’t used their bicycle in a while, it may need a good clean. Get your child to hose it down first to get rid of sand and loose dust. Wipe down the frame, handlebars, seat and other parts with soap and water. Don’t put the bicycle away while still wet as this may cause rust. Get your child to go for a ride after washing their bike to blow off the water.
Safety tips on the road
- Always wear a helmet. Helmets are compulsory – they will protect your child if they fall. The Child Accident Prevention Foundation says children younger than 10 are prone to head injuries as their heads are heavier than the rest of their bodies. Buy a helmet that fits just right. A helmet that’s too big and wobbly won’t offer much protection.
- Be seen. Dress your children in bright, reflective clothing and put a light on their bicycles. Don’t allow them to ride in the dark.
- Teach them to use hand signals. These will help motorists know what they are doing. The two main signals indicate an intention to turn or to stop. Just make sure your children can control their bicycles with one hand, while they are making the signal.
- Single file. Remind your children to ride in single file.
- Follow the rules. Always obey road rules such as stop signs and traffic lights.
- Avoid traffic. Younger children should never ride in the traffic, and children should preferably ride on demarcated cycle lanes and routes.