I’ve spotted a few posts on cycling forums recently, from parents looking for information on cycling clothes for their children.
What are the essentials? The bare minimum for any cycling, even riding around the garden or up and down the street, would be:
If your child is wanting to ride a bit more than just around the garden or the park, then you might want the following:
* Padded shorts
* Cycling top
* Thin base layer (to wear under cycling top)
As they become more keen they might need:
* Padding cycling tights
* Long sleeve cycling top (for layering)
* Cycling jacket (wind and/or water proof)
* Range of gloves (mitts and long finger)
* Cycling shoes
* Thin skull cap (for wearing under helmets on cold days)
This might sound a lot, but think about what your child would need for taking part in other sports? Sure you can kick a football about down the park in jeans, t-shirt and trainers, but if you want to play football properly you need the right clothing. The same applies for cycling.
But you really don’t have to spend a fortune these days. Kids cycling clothes used to be really expensive, with limited choice. But the arrival of Decathlon into the UK from France has paved the way for inexpensive, good quality, children’s cycling clothes. My children have Decathlon shorts, tights, gloves and jackets — all the items which are grown out of quickly or easily ruined in a crash. Quality is just fine for the money and all the features you would expect are there. We offset the savings by spending more on cycling club jerseys, which tend to have a higher cost associated.
I’ve noticed that Islabikes are now doing children’s clothing, alongside their bikes. I’ve not seen any but I’m assuming the quality is good (perhaps better than Decathlon but the cost is greater too).
Children’s cycling shoes are particularly difficult, but I’ll cover that in a separate post.
The availability of junior road bikes has been up and down over the past 10 years or so. There was a time when manufacturers (Giant, Bianchi etc) had a single 24” wheel version of an adult road bike in their range.
These were great bikes; aluminium frames, well put together and a good component spec. Many are still being used by young cyclists today, and will continue to be used for years to come. Over time many manufacturers stopped making them, I expect as the demand was not there as kids wanted MTBs and road bikes were not cool. You could still find junior road bikes from Felt, Kona (cyclocross bike), Fuji, but they were rare and priced accordingly. Islabikes stole a march on the market and became the place to get a small wheel road bike if you wanted one.
Fast forward to now and road bikes are cool again. Manufacturers who stopped making their one junior road bike in the range are starting up again. Yes, they are still expensive, especially when compared to an equivalent (or better) specced Islabike. But the more kids road bikes on the market the better in my opinion.
After much thinking of options we bought my daughter an Islabike Luath 24 off eBay. It is the older silver colour scheme, which strangely she seems to prefer.
The bike was in great condition when I bought it, and the only addition has been pink handlebar tape(!) and a set of cyclocross tyres. The girl has used the bike on the track and at 2 cross races, and she loves it.
It has been interesting to compare the Luath with the Moda, and see the differences. Using my trusty bike weighing scales, the Moda is a few grams lighter, which surprised me. The Moda has a double chainring, which is a waste as with age gear restrictions he can’t put it in the large ring anyway. The Luath only has one front ring, and one shifter, compared to the Moda, but is still a fraction heavier.
I thought I might have a little more time before looking for new Junior road bikes. But alas, not to be.
My daughter now wants a new road bike, after racing at Hillingdon last weekend on her brothers old 20” wheel Peugeot. Still a great bike, but under-geared and heavy for the ups and downs. Fair enough I thought, and she is tall enough to go up to a 24” wheel. This has started discussions in the house over what to do:
* The girl really wants a Giant T-Mobile 24” wheel road bike. I suspect because it is black and pink, more than a desire for that specific model.
* There is the option for her to have the boys Moda Minor, and he has a new one. But I don’t want her to have his hand me down bikes all the time, and a new bike just for her, will encourage no end.
* Looking on eBay Moda Minors are going for more than we paid for ours, so I might sell the boys and get him something like a Felt or Scott 24”. Or an Islabike if he fancies doing cyclocross.
Starting to cast the net again for what is out there. Plenty of new bikes, such as the ones from Raleigh, playing on the Olympic theme. Pity they are not that good in spec and are heavy.
How to bring in the reach on road bike levers for children.
Children’s hands often cannot manage road bike brake levers, especially on the drops. Here is a simple trick I found for bringing the reach in, by using some zip ties. It works a treat.