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The Ultimate Checklist Before Your Child’s First Bike Ride of the Season

There's no better feeling than hitting the road for that first family bike ride of the season. Even if spring has not yet arrived in your part of the country, it's never too early to start thinking about getting your child out on a bike.

Because they're always growing, you may be finding yourself getting a new bike for an older child or a first bike for a toddler, and repeating the process year after year. If the old bike you pulled out of storage is no longer a good fit, it may be time to hit the store and buy a new one.

Bringing your child or children with you to pick out their bike is important. In partnership with Canadian Tire, we help you prepare for riding season with minimal hassle via this handy checklist.

Make sure the wheels are the right size

When it comes to ensuring a good fit, there are several important measurements. First, you can measure the height of your child and match that to the size of the wheel. Another is the child's inseam because kids' bikes are measured in wheel sizes, from 12 to 20 inches. A quick way to measure the inseam is to have the child stand against a wall in sock feet. Place a large book between their legs, with the spine snug with the child's crotch (this is like the bike seat). Then, measure the distance from the top of the book to the floor. That will help you determine wheel size.

Make sure the seat is at the proper height

When it comes to fitting the seat, have the child stand over the bike frame. Adjust the seat so younger children can touch the ground with their feet. Older, taller kids should be more on their tippy toes when they are sitting on the bike so when they pedal, their feet don't scrape the ground.

Make sure the helmet fits properly

Having your kids choose a colour and style they like will get them excited about wearing a helmet. Canadian Tire has plenty of cool helmets for kids, from those with spikes to those shaped like a cute animal. Bringing your little one to the store will ensure the helmet fits properly before buying. Straps should be done up to ensure the helmet sits firmly on the head and creates a V-shape under the ears. The straps should fit snugly under the chin, with only enough leeway to put a finger or two in. The helmet's brim should cover the forehead with only a two-finger distance between eyebrows and the helmet. That way, your child can see properly but in the case of a fall, the forehead will be protected.

Determine whether or not training wheels are needed

If you have a toddler, this might be the first year venturing into bike shopping. Now, more than ever, there are a variety of choices for first-time cyclists. You can try a toddler bike with training wheels, or you can choose a balance bike. These bikes have no brakes or pedals, and a child learns to balance while riding, and stop with their feet. Many proponents say balance bikes eliminate the need for training wheels entirely. If you do choose training wheels for kids just learning (usually ages 3-5), put them on the bike and gradually raise them as your child gains confidence. If you believe this is their year to finally take them off, experts recommend temporarily removing the pedals and training wheels to allow them to get used to the idea of balancing.

Make sure they know the rules of the road

No matter what your child's age, they need to be prepared by knowing the rules of the road and they need to know how to be safe. School-aged children can register for bicycle safety courses offered by organizations like Can-Bike or Pedalheads. The tantamount skill for younger children – assuming you will be right alongside them as they bicycle – is how to come to a stop, whether it's using their feet on a balance bike, back brakes on a toddler bike or hand brakes on an older-kid bike.

Help your child to become a confident cyclist and enjoy a new sense of adventure with support from Canadian Tire.

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