Buying the first bike for your child can be an exciting experience for both your child and for you, as a parent. While learning to balance and coordinate are factors too look out for, as is comfort, every parent is also concerned about the safety aspect.
This is the reason why even balancing bikes, which have no pedals or wheels, still have a handbrake!
Since safety of the children is paramount, handbrakes are often the most important feature that parents look into when buying a bike. If it is the first bike that they are buying, then handbrakes take on even more importance. Since the child will just be developing coordination and balance, and this is a gradual process, parents want to make sure that in the event of any slip-up, the handbrakes are strong enough to stop the bike and prevent any accidents. It is light of this that it is important to know how to adjust your child’s first handbrake.
Why is it important to have a handbrake on a balancing bike?
A balancing bike’s purpose is to ease your child’s way into the thrill and excitement of the world of cycling. It helps to develop your child’s confidence, coordination, balancing skills and steering control. By the time your child has mastered the balancing bike, he will be more than ready for a tricycle or bicycle because of all the experience he has gained from the balancing bike.
Of course, being able to control the handbrake as well as being able to apply it in the nick of time is a crucial skill that is required for cycling. The earlier you child is able to practice this, the better it will be for him when he graduates onto bikes with greater speeds. Also, a handbrake on a balancing bike makes it safer for your child when he is going down an incline.
Will a very young child be able to use the handbrake?
A child as young as 2.5 years old can and does learn how to stop their bike using the handbrake. A balancing bike is primarily to teach your child balance, but once they have mastered that, they can go onto mastering how to control their bike with the use of the break.
When they first start, it will be instinctive for them to use their feet to stall the bike. Once they have started balancing well, you can show them how to use the handbrakes as well.
How do you test your child’s first handbrake?
Since a child is still developing the strength of his grip, a brake that is easy for an adult to control might still be difficult for a child to control. So one way to test how a brake will feel like in the hands of a child is to try controlling it with your little finger. If it feels too hard even then, it would be better to get it adjusted. If it feels just right, then there might be no need to adjust the brakes. If your child’s first handbrake is too hard to pull or too distant from the handlebar for a comfortable grip, then you need to adjust the brakes.
How do you adjust your child’s first handbrake?
The equipment you would need for this are a wrench, a screwdriver, and a cable puller. Here is what you have to do:
- You will find the handbrake has a bolt. This would have to be loosened first (not taken off completely). This will help you modify the reach of the brake lever.
- Close to the handlebar, on the lever, there will be a bolt. Turning this bolt will move the lever closer to the handlebar. Adjust the distance that will be easy for your child to reach.
- Using the cable puller, pull the cable while you tightening the bolt.
Even after adjusting the lever to be close enough to the handlebar, if your child still finds the handbrake lever hard to pull, you can adjust this by pushing the spring found on the wheels inwards, on both sides. This should be done just right as if the springs are pushed too much, the brakes will not have enough tension to stall the bike.
Learning to ride a bike on a balancing bike first can give your child a head start when it comes to learning to balance on a bicycle later. While a tricycle was often the preferred first bike for parents earlier, popular wisdom points to the balancing bike being the first bike of choice for parents of preschoolers and toddlers. There are children as young as 1.6 months of age on a balancing bike as well as children as old as 6 years of age.