At Strider, we spend a lot of time talking with families that are out cycling with kids. Cycle Sprog is a great guide to cycling with families and they can help you to choose your child's bikes. Here is Karen Gee who started it.
"I started the Cycle Sprog website (www.cyclesprog.co.uk) with my husband Chris Jones in 2012. We had two young boys and did all of our day to day travel by bike, using trailers and bike seats. Each time one of the boys grew we looked for information on the best way to evolve our bike setup or to keep them warm and dry. I was getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of information available online. One day we were searching for gloves suitable for our 2-year-old, and I said: “You know, someone should set up a website about cycling with kids”. Chris looked at me, said “Go on then”, and Cycle Sprog was born!
How has it grown?
Over the years Cycle Sprog has evolved from a small collection of posts about cycling with pre-schoolers to a comprehensive resource about family cycling. We review kids bikes of all sizes, as well as children’s cycling accessories and clothing. We feature routes, holidays and other useful topics such as buying and selling kids bikes second hand or how to explain the Tour de France to your kids.
As our reviewers have got older they’ve become rather discerning and are always impressed by bikes and products that are designed with them in mind (it’s surprising how many kids bikes have heavy frames and adult sized components which makes pedalling, steering, braking and changing gear difficult). Cycle Sprog reflects this by focusing on reviewing good quality kids bikes and accessories. Buying a kid’s bike of whatever size is an investment, and parents want reassurance that the bike is capable of lasting for as many offspring as needed, before hopefully being sold on to recoup part of the original cost.
Why is Cycle Sprog so popular with parents?
Cycle Sprog is the UK’s only online information resource dedicated to family cycling, written exclusively by parents for parents. We ensure that our posts are written in plain English, so you don’t have to be an experienced cyclist to read them. It’s a wonderful feeling when someone gets in touch to thank us for having inspired them to start cycling with their child, or sends us their favourite family cycling route for us to publish so others can enjoy it too.
The website is really popular with parents wanting to start cycling with their kids, as we have lots of friendly advice on a wide range of topics, from balance bikes and trailers to hiring bikes and the best places to ride. Once they’ve found us, parents find our write-ups of routes and family cycling holidays inspirational and trust our reviews when they need to buy a new kids bike or cycling accessories. I think this is because we ensure all the products we review are used by kids and get feedback from them and their parents. I also write regular blogs on family cycling, ranging from amusing anecdotes to political rants, depending on what’s been going on that week.
How has the experience been for you?
Setting up and running Cycle Sprog alongside a demanding job and two young boys was incredibly hard work – there were a couple of times we had to agree to put it on hold or risk burn out. However, we have a loyal band of followers, reviewers and contributors who keep urging us on.
Organising reviews can be one of the most challenging aspects of what we do. We’ve had to deal with all sorts including weather, tantrums and punctures, but the end result is always worth it.
Visiting new places is always fun – we’ve been cycling with the boys in so many places, including Holland, the French Alps, Canada and the US, as well as all over the UK. There’s always somewhere exciting to go, or a great new product to review.
Why you cycle as a family:
Ever since I was at high school, I’ve used cycling as my main means of getting around. Whilst I can drive, I don’t enjoy it and am conscious of the impact short car journeys have on the environment. Once I had children, my concern with the state of the world they were inheriting grew. At the same time, I also realized that cycling was an easy and cheap way to keep fit and that my boys loved going places by bike. It’s been wonderful watching them experience each stage of cycling, from sitting in a bike seat to using a balance bike and then pedalling for the first time. As they grow older, I’m hoping cycling is something they will want to continue to do with me, so we have a common bond through the difficult teenage years and beyond. The boys are now riding red-rated mountain bike trails and I’m having to keep fit and agile to keep up with them!
Advice for families wanting to start cycling
Going on an organised group cycle ride is a good way to get the confidence to go cycling with your kids. British Cycling, Cycling UK, local cycle clubs and councils all run family cycle rides. It’s good to have someone else planning the route, so all you need to worry about is getting there on time and riding.
Getting cycling tuition for your kids is another great way to get them enthusiastic and capable – both my boys have been lucky enough to be able to attend British Cycling Go-Ride clubs, which has really benefitted them. We weren’t fortunate enough to have any Strider events near us whilst they were growing up, but this is another great way to get youngsters riding.
When we cycle on roads, I always plan out routes so I know where we can cycle safely and where we need to get off and push due to traffic. When we used a trailer it was very annoying to come across barriers on the route that the trailer wouldn’t fit through.
Starting to cycle with your kids whilst they are still in bike seats and on tagalongs helps to give them a good awareness of cycling, and if you ride on the roads their traffic awareness develops early.
When we’re out at the weekend on off-road family cycle rides, I make sure that the route is achievable. Distance, terrain and weather can make a big difference to whether a ride is successful or not. I always take plenty of snacks and water to help us get around the route, and something fun to do mid-way or at the end is always an incentive.
What advice do you have for parents needing to upgrade from a Strider bike to a pedal bike
Remember that the same things your child loves about their Strider are what you need to look for on a pedal bike. A bike should be lightweight, designed specifically for children (think small brake levers, saddles, cranks and pedals), well constructed and be able to handle whatever the child asks of it.
It’s surprising how many parents buy a bike that is so heavy they struggle to pick it up themselves, and then wonder why their child doesn’t enjoy riding it."
We have more useful advice on buying a kids bike on the Cycle Sprog website:
Why not enter to win a 12" Strider Pro with the Baby Rocker, suitable from 1 year old and then extends all up to their 6th birthday.