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Mountain Biking With Kids: 4 Important Tips

Mountain biking with kids is a great family activity, especially if you are a keen biker yourself. But with associated costs and some potential safety risks, it’s important to prepare yourself and your child with the basics to get started properly.

In this post, we cover top tips about equipment and safety, basic skills and what to expect from your child when they’re learning.

Read on to discover our top 4 tips for mountain biking with kids…


1. Invest In Their Safety

Your child’s safety is paramount and it’s something no parent will compromise on. So before you get going, you’ll need to consider buying, renting or borrowing the following equipment…

A helmet

Protecting your child’s head with a high quality, properly fitted helmet is the first step to ensuring their safety whilst exploring the trails on two wheels.

For maximum protection, we would recommend a full-face helmet for when they’re riding.

Check out some top recommendations for children’s mountain biking helmets here.

A child in a full face mountain biking helmet
Just like any sport that comes with the risk of falling or crashing, no matter how big or small, a helmet is a must.

Knee Pads and Elbow Pads

Accidents happen and often with beginners, they may come in the form of scrapes and bruises.

Common areas to fall on are elbows and knees. Check out some top picks of elbow and knee pads for kids here.

Gloves

A set of mountain bike handlebars with gloved hands

Gloves are another essential wardrobe item for your young rider.

Similarly to elbows and knees, hands often tend to bear the brunt of the impact during falls.

You can find some popular gloves for kids by visiting this post.

Protective Eyewear

Goggles or glasses are an essential piece of safety kit when mountain biking.

They prevent dust, bugs or other debris from getting into your eyes, as well as protect from UV rays and shield against high-speed winds. Brands such as Fox, Answer and Suncloud are good brands to investigate.

Neck Braces

Although often seen as advanced safety equipment, neck braces are important for absorbing any shock and helping to avoid your child’s head jolting in a sudden movement.

If your kids are new to mountain biking, this might be something you consider renting or borrowing as it’s a bigger investment.

Have a read of this post to find out a bit more about neck braces and why they’re important.

Appropriate Clothing

Although they might be working up a sweat, we’d recommend getting your kid in some long sleeve tops and full-length trousers where possible. Avoid baggy clothing that could get caught in spokes or around handlebars.

Fox offer a good range of children’s mountain biking clothing that you can check out.

If you’re hesitant to invest straight away, consider looking to buy second hand off sites like eBay or Facebook Marketplace – or borrow off a fellow rider.

Practical Shoes

Mountain biking shoes are available to buy in kids’ sizes, however, this is another investment that parents may be hesitant to commit to at an early stage.

Whilst your little one is learning the basics, you might want to start out by just making sure they have some sturdy trainers with a decent grip on the soles and enough ankle support.

Additional Safety Equipment

It’s a good idea to take a first aid kit biking with you with some simple items like plasters, bandages, anti-bacterial wipes, and some antihistamine. Don’t forget to pack sun cream for hot days and make sure you have plenty of water to hand in all weather conditions.

Discover chalets for a mountain biking holiday…

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2. Select The Right Bike

There are a few things to consider when choosing the right mountain bike for your child. The basics include:

  • making sure their feet can reach the floor
  • opting for a bike with larger wheels, as they can cope with the impact better
  • choosing a lighter bike as they’re easier to ride
  • ensuring the seat height allows for the balls of their feet to touch the ground when they’re sat on the saddle
  • checking their hands can comfortably reach the handlebars with a slight bend in the elbow
  • looking for a bike with 7-9 gears maximum so you don’t overwhelm them with too many functions

Check out this handy video below to learn more about selecting the right mountain bike for your kid…

3. Practise The Basic Skills

It goes without saying, your child needs to be fairly confident riding a standard bike normally first, so make sure they’re able to ride along flat and are well balanced when doing so. 

Once they have the basics under their belt, the next step is controlling their speed down a slope. Teaching them how to use their brakes to not only stop in case of an emergency but also slow down and stay in control is paramount.

Next, have them practise standing up on the pedals for short periods of time and build it up gradually.

Once they’re confident standing on the pedals, you want to get them familiar with turning.

Turning is a bit more critical when it comes to mountain biking as opposed to cruising on the flat.

With many obstacles to manoeuvre in the mountains, such as trees and rocks, being able to turn at any given moment is a must.

Try and ride together as much as possible to improve their confidence initially and remember, nothing comes easily at first, but once kids feel more confident and make fewer mistakes, they’re more likely to enjoy the sport!

If you don’t live in the mountains or near a bike park, try heading to a skate park or using pavement kerbs to get them used to the steeper slopes and bumps on the trails.

Check out this quick clip on beginner mistakes and how to avoid them below to familiarise yourself with what to look for.

If you aren’t a mountain biker yourself, then you should consider getting your child some tuition with a professional who can help develop their skills safely.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

Good things take time. No one can expect their child to master mountain biking overnight! Here are some things to remember so you can set some realistic expectations…

  • If you’re an experienced rider, just try to remember that your child isn’t (yet!).
  • Pace the ride appropriately, be realistic about how far your child can physically ride, they are smaller and not as strong or adapted to the sport as you are. Don’t put them off before you’ve got them hooked!
  • Even if you’re not a rider yourself, try to be patient with your little ones as they learn. There will be setbacks, but positive encouragement is key!
  • No one wants to deal with a tearful child having a strop because they’re too tired, hungry or sore. Pack snacks, take breaks when needed and most importantly, know when to call it a day.
  • Aim for the correct skill level, the last thing you want to do is overwhelm them and crush their confidence.
  • Don’t make it all about the biking, have somewhere fun to visit along the way and make it a fully immersive and fun experience!
  • Recognise their hard work, give praise, reward their perseverance and end the ride on a downhill so they can finish on a great note!

Wherever you live, you’re sure to have a fantastic time mountain biking with children and watching them progress!

If you’re looking to try an active family holiday with plenty of mountain biking on offer, why not head to the French Alps? Some of our top destinations are home to great trails for all abilities.

Browse some of our accommodation for your next family mountain biking holiday by clicking here.

About Author

Hi, I’m Amy. I am a Copywriter and Editor for OVO Network. I have lived between the French Alps and UK and love to share my knowledge of the area with readers!

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