It goes without saying that you need a bike to go cycling. Of course there are plenty of places you can hire them, from specific hire shops and National Trust sites, to the famous Santander Bikes in London. But if you can afford to buy your own bikes, and you have somewhere to store them, it’ll be worth the investment. Here’s why you should invest in your own bikes:
Family leisure cycling isn’t just about introducing your children to two wheels, but often your partner too. Firstly, make sure you both have bikes in good working order. If you haven’t been on a bike since you were a kid, you might need a refresher on some essentials such as how to use the brakes correctly, gaining your balance when you first set off, and even what to wear. If you’re buying your first adult bike, don’t be afraid to try a few out in the shop to find the one that feels right, and that fits you well. This will be super important for a comfortable ride, especially over longer journeys. It’s also worth ensuring you both have some basic bike maintenance skills, like how to fix a puncture, so you can keep all the bikes in the household running smoothly.
Fortunately you don’t actually need much else. You don’t need special cycle clothing unless you're going to be cycling regularly, or for long rides. Loose fitting layers that won’t get caught on the chain are fine, as well as strong flat shoes such as trainers, and maybe some gloves if the weather’s a bit chilly. Oh, and a helmet for safety, especially for the little ones.
What are the best bikes for family leisure cycling?
Before you take the whole family down to the bike shop to get kitted out, start by deciding what kind of riding you want to do. There are many kinds of bikes, and knowing where you’re likely to ride will narrow down the options. How often will you ride? How far? Will you stay on paved surfaces, or explore the countryside? Here are some of the the different types of bikes on the market:
You also have touring bikes, which are perfect for long rides, and carrying luggage. Folding bikes, which are a favourite among commuters, and those short on space. Electric bikes, which give you that extra bit of help, so you can travel further and ride for longer. And there are also female specific ranges, which are better suited to women’s body types.
What should I consider when buying a children’s bike?
Choosing a bike for our child is an important decision. If it’s their first bike, you’ll want to make sure you give them a good introduction to the world of cycling. You’ll need something safe, and comfortable, and one that fits them properly, without being too heavy. Parents are often tempted to buy a bike that their child will ‘grow into’, but this could put them off bikes altogether. Here are some other things to consider when choosing a bike for your children:
It’s also best to go for single chainrings until your child is a bit older (at least over 8 years old) as double chainrings add weight and complication. And avoid suspension until around this age too, as it adds unnecessary weight, and they often aren’t strong enough to use it.