Tips to Take Your Kid Mountain Biking
Your child has mastered pedaling and balance and now they are starting to feel more adventurous. What's next? Off-road riding is a fun way to change up routines, add entertaining scenery, and get out into nature. It’s also a way to improve bike handling skills, increasing young riders’ safety and confidence anywhere they want to ride—whether it’s on or off the pavement.
When to Go
You can begin taking kids out on the trail as early as on the woom 1 or woom 1 Plus balance bikes, but woom 2 riders are at an especially good stage to gradually introduce dirt and gravel surfaces.
Where to Start
Gravel park roads and jeep tracks, crushed granite running paths, and smooth singletrack trails are all great intro experiences for riders new to off-road riding.
What’s Different About Off-Road
On gravel and other loose surfaces, braking and turning require greater caution. Explain to your child that the bike will feel different and sometimes act differently on gravel and dirt; movements and actions must be slower and more controlled to prevent sliding. It’s best to start at slow speeds and even grades until your child is comfortable with the new setting.
Teach your child to stay on the trail as much as possible. This helps avoid punctures while also imparting the lesson of good trail stewardship. Bonus: if there’s poison ivy around, your child won’t be the one to find it!
Ways to Make It Fun
Turn an off-road ride into an opportunity for exploration; let your child lead and pick which way to turn. Stop to check out cool bugs and pretty views. Kids will also enjoy a special waypoint or end destination like a park, swimming hole, climbing tree, or picnic.
Kids love learning by doing—as you guide experiments with off-road riding, tackle new challenges and teach new skills (the opportunities are endless). Children also have a way of learning amazing techniques on their own, of course. They may even teach you a thing or two!
What to Bring
Since off-road riding can often take you miles away from the nearest water fountain or snack machine, pack plenty of food and water. Your child should be wearing a good-quality helmet, bike gloves, and closed-toe shoes. Other useful extras: smartphone, bug spray, sunscreen, bike bell, hydration pack, waterproof bag, baby wipes.
woom offers both a traditional hybrid line of bikes (our woom 1 through 6) as well as the OFF series of mountain bikes. Our traditional hybrid bikes are capable of light trail use on fire roads, gravel roads, and easy singletrack. If your child is just getting started riding offroad, any of the mainline bikes will be more than enough to get them going and learning. However, if your child is getting more adventurous and looking to start really testing and expanding their skills, woom also offers the OFF line of mountain bikes. These bikes feature carbon forks (or airforks in the near future) for decreased weight and better handling, wide tires for more traction, expanded gearing for easier climbing, and hydraulic disc brakes to help on steep descents.
The key question to consider is the primary use of the bike: how often will your woom be on the trails? Will you also use it for commuting to and from school by road? The wider tires on a woom OFF will help when riding loose dirt, gravel, and rocks on trails but may add extra weight and rolling resistance on your bike ride to school over asphalt and concrete. The v-brakes brakes on a regular woom are great for light trail use and rides around the neighborhood, but when on steep descents where tight control is necessary, the hydraulic disc brakes on an OFF make those descents much easier. Consider the pros and cons of each bikes features and what type of riding you think your child will do most.
Happy trails to you and your family!
At woom bikes USA, we offer lightweight, high-quality woom bikes for children of all ages, starting at one and half and going up to 14-year-olds. View all of our bikes and accessories here.