Top tips for cycling with young children


You don’t need to wait until your kids are old enough to ride themselves to start enjoying the benefits of cycling as a family. Apart from a child bike seat or trailer, the most important things you need are a bike, the right clothes and a few basic tools. Sustrans have some great tips for cycling with a young family.

Get the right bike

If you need to buy a bike for cycling with young children, there are a few things to consider:

  • Weight - remember your toddler will add an extra couple of stone to the bike so choose a light model
  • Comfort - forget fashion, choose comfort first
  • Type of bike - you may need to consider that a fully suspended mountain bike would not accommodate a rear-mounted child seat and indeed a road bike would mean you can't use a centre-mounted bicycle child carrier, for example
  • Setting up your bike - your local bike shop can help with frame size, handle bar position and seat adjustment to make sure you get the most from your pedal power without straining your body.

Be prepared!

If you already own a bike, check it's roadworthy before heading out with your little one on board. Make sure:

  • the tyres are pumped up with plenty of tread
  • the brake pads are in good condition and aren't rubbing against the tyres, and;
  • the chain isn't rusty or broken.
  • You have reflectors on the front and back, a bell, and a front and rear light if you intend to cycle in the dark.
  • You take sun screen for you and your child.

Clothing and accessories

  • Make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing
  • All your toddler really needs is a good-fitting cycling helmet and a lightweight, waterproof all-in-one.
  • A sturdy back pack or pannier to carry equipment is useful. Take a good lock too - whatever the value of your bike, you don’t want to lose it.
  • A pump, puncture repair kit and some bike oil for your chain will be very useful.

On the day

  • Check the route beforehand; plan some options for short cuts just in case. Club cycling routes clearly indicate if there are hilly stretches, busy roads, difficult junctions, which are best avoided with young children.
  • Let the slowest cyclist set the pace.
  • Make it interesting; plan plenty of refreshment breaks - little and often is better than one long break half-way. For younger kids, have a few games, like I-spy, up your sleeve to play along the way and stop at a playground or park, especially one with a café or ice-cream van!
  • Keep children warm. If they're sitting still they won't be generating heat like the person doing the pedalling. Even on a fine day, take some extra layers.
  • Take snacks and drinks to keep their energy and spirit levels up.

For more cycling advice, plus exciting cycling events read our tips and ideas or more information on family cycling, visit the Sustrans website.