Rad Tools for Responsible Riding: A Story About a Bell
Getting your little one on the mountain bike isn’t always easy. There will be days they will be eager to ride and other days where you’re fighting an uphill battle, yeah we intended the pun.
To help you out, we chatted with two parents who work with Prevelo - a family-owned, high-performance kids’ bike brand based in Southern California. We asked these parents to send us tips to make riding with your kids more enjoyable and help build mountain bikers for life.
Prevelo Parent: Dan Honeycutt
Dan is a teacher and his youngest son, Elliot rides for Prevelo. Be sure to check out all of Elliot’s tricks and sweet moments on his instagram channel - @honeycuttelliot. The Honeycutts ride as a fam, and inspire each other to feats such as the "one-hander." One of Elliot's other riding hacks is the built-in snack pouch.
Dan and Elliot Honeycutt. Photo credit: Austin White
Snacks - Speaking of snacks, bring lots of snacks and stop frequently to eat them. Set goals for when snack breaks will happen like at the top of this climb, bottom of this hill, etc. It’s fine if you take a ride and half of it is spent snacking and playing in the dirt or creek. Enjoy the time outside together! It sure is better than sitting at home in front of a screen.
Climbing Assistance - Give your kid assistance when climbing. Use a tow strap like a tow-wee, push them while riding next to them or whatever it takes to make it easier and more fun. Most kids find climbing hard and not enjoyable (we all know the feeling). Get them to fall in love with biking first by doing the fun part (down) and making the not fun part (climbing) easier. Eventually, they will be willing to put in the work on the uphills to earn the down. I recently got an e-bike for the purpose of shuttling my little grommie up the hills and it has been a game changer. It makes it so much more enjoyable for kids and parents as we can get in more riding which equals more fun and more progression.
Dan and Elliot Honeycutt. Photo Credit: Austin White
Seat Mount - If your kid is small enough and five or under, put them on an off-road bike seat that mounts above the top tube of the bike (like a Mac Ride or Shotgun). Using these seats, parents can bring their little kids on legit singletrack starting at one year of age. This helps instill a love of riding because of the bonding time with your child riding in front of you, allowing you to talk and laugh with them. They also pick up on the lines you take and experience what is possible on a bike. In our experience, this translates to superior riding skills when they start riding on their own. As Elliot got older, we even previewed the trails with him in the bike seat, talking through sections and moves, and then he tried those sections on his own. It inspired confidence because he'd already ridden it (with me), and talked through the obstacles. As the father of a 4 year old shredder, I am convinced the off-road bike seat has been the biggest factor in developing Elliot's confidence, skills, and line choices he makes on his own bike, and a huge help in passing on my passion for riding.
Honeycutt family. Photo credit: Austin White.
Prevelo Parent: Julie Schoenfeld
Julie is a marketing and design professional. Her two kids Joni and Charlie ride for Prevelo. Julie posts great videos of her own riding, her work, and lovely moments with her kids adventuring on and off the bike. Give her a follow on Instagram at @julie_raisingwild. Joni (kid rider) spends a lot of time on the bike with her fam (including her little brother Charlie, pictured), and can pull a silly-good "no-footer." (Trick progressions... so great.) She's also been an avid climber for year and year (notice no "s..." she can still count her age on one hand).
Photo Caption: Joni and Charlie (Julie's kid riders).
Treat Them Like Adults - Listen to your kid like you would an adult friend. If they say they’re scared to ride something (even if they’ve done it before) listen to them and help them learn to trust their instincts. You can get off your bikes, look at the features, and discuss the best line; and then let your kid decide if they want to give it a go or skip it. You can offer to spot them or give a little push to get over a bigger obstacle, but avoid the “you can do this” pressure. We all have off days on the bike, even kiddos so be mentally prepared to follow their lead when they want to take it easy.
It’s Not All About the Riding - No ride is too short. Kids are enamored with the most random and amazing things. If your kid gets 100 yards down a trail and has to stop and play with sticks for an hour then that’s ok. It’s all about getting out and building a positive experience around biking in nature, whatever that ends up looking like.
Joni and Charlie playing on features.
Go with Gravity - Go with gravity as much as possible. Even the best kids mountain bikes are proportionally much heavier than adult bikes. So make riding fun and not a grind by finding ways to go downhill as much as possible. I like towing my kids up wider gravel roads when possible to access single track descents. You can even get creative with mini-shuttle rides.
Joni flowing downhill.
Protective Gear - Always wear knee pads and gloves! Do not let your kid ride without gloves. As much as we all hate watching (or helping) a young kid get their fingers into gloves, they’re an absolute must for mountain biking. Gloves and knee pads (or long pants) make little spills way less painful and give your kid more confidence to try new things.
Little Ripper Ms. Joni, rocking some sweet PPE and #Shredly, eating a snack.
Snacks - Pack snacks, so many snacks, and make them fun and special. A well-timed pack of gummies can save the day.