MTB for Beginners - Teaching Kids Basic Mountain Biking Skills
Mountain Biking is fun. And if your kids are showing signs of wanting to get off-road or just do some cool tricks in the local neighbourhood like riding up and down gutters, over little bumps, etc, then you want to give them a few tips on riding efficiently and getting more out of their bikes. Ultimately this means MORE FUN!
Assuming your kids are confident riders - they can brake, steer, pedal and take off competently. And they are good at looking ahead and assessing the path ahead, being able to stop immediately - then here's a few tips...
1. Understand the basic 'default' mountain bike riding position
Bicycling Australia magazine has published a great technical artilce about 'picking the right line' on a mountain bike trail. That's fairly techincal for a more experienced rider than a kid starting out, but in that article they talk about the 'default position' for mountain biking:
"Get comfortable with the 'attack position'; stand with your pedals level, elbows bent and weight centred over the bike. This should be your default position on the bike when tackling anything moderately technical. You need to remain fluid and relaxed; no death-grip on the bars! This go-to position allows the bike to move around underneath you – don't fight the bike – and leaves you poised to tackle the terrain ahead. - See the full article at: http://bicyclingaustralia.com.au/2015/04/go-straight
2. Start kids learning to mountain bike at the local pump track
These places are great and there's more and more popping up around Australian suburbs. Kids will find the local pump track a safe place to start, taking things at their own pace. They'll start to ride up and down little hills and as they get speed, they might start to actually use the skills mentioned by Bicycling Australia mag, noted above.
Even balance bikers can play at the pump track and this means they learn good skills early on that will benefit them hugely later on.
3. Learn to ride mountain bike skills in your own back (or front-) yard
You often learn the most skills right outside your own house. And this is so apparent for many kids - riding up and down gutters, along lines in the driveway, skidding on the grass or on the road, etc.
Check out the video below of Milla, aged 8, riding down the front steps of her house on the 510MTB.
"Riding right outside your own house is often where you learn the most skills", says Damien Enderby - ByK Dad, MTB Champ and owner of BIKE and Fitness.
4. Join some other like-minded young mountain bikers or get training
Get involved at the local mountain bike club - just google one for your area or checkout a list of registered clubs here: https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/find/club/
We've written an article before that gives all the options for learning new skills on your bike - check it out here: http://www.bykbikes.com/bike-riding-tips/bike-skills-courses-for-kids-learning-to-ride.html
5. Ride the right size mountain bike for kids
Kids learn to ride with greater ease, have more control on the bike and have a lot more fun if they are the master of their domain. Choosing the right kids mountain bike will ensure their learning experience is enjoyable and they have the opportunity to really take their riding skills to the next level.
For the 2016 range, we are releasing two new sizes in our Kids MTB Range: the 250MTB for 3 - 5 Year Olds, and the 350MTB for 4 - 6 year olds:
5. And finally, lobby your local businesses and/or council to build one of these...
How cool is this? A bike park or 'bike playground' we like to think. This is in Bangkok, Thailand, and is built by a local company who wanted a fun place where their Bike Club members and others from Bangkok's urban cycling community could ride safely while developing necessary skills.
The park layout consists of two bike paths that occasionally intersect one another. One path is paved with asphalt while the other is made mostly of wood bridges, berms, and elevated sections. Total distance of the entire paved path is only about one kilometer, but the idea is to enjoy several laps of the park while changing up the experience by alternating between the MTB course (wooden path) and the City course (paved).
- Interview with Damien Enderby
- Bicycling Australia MTB Tips: http://bicyclingaustralia.com.au/2015/04/go-straight
- Damien's favourite mtb magazines: Mountain Biking Australia Magazine, AMB (Australian Mountain Bike), Enduro Mag
- Some great articles on beginners guides to mountain biking: http://www.active.com/mountain-biking/articles/beginner-s-guide-to-mountain-biking