Kid's Motorcycle Gear
June 4, 2013 - San Diego, CA
As a parent, there almost always comes a time when your child will ask to go for a ride on your motorcycle. For many parents, the knee jerk reaction is an immediate "never." And that answer isn't too outlandish, as riding a motorcycle is always inherently dangerous and a parent's immediate response is to keep their child out of danger. Yet some parents, with the proper skill, preparation and kid's motorcycle gear, have found that their children can be some of the best passengers they'll ride with. If you're going to be riding with your child, here are a few guidelines to get you started, or just get you thinking about the possibility.
Your Riding Skill
Before you can even begin to debate on whether or not your child is ready to ride, be completely honest with yourself on whether or not you are ready to take on that responsibility. Really evaluate your riding skills both with and without a passenger. How comfortable are you riding with an adult passenger? When was the last time you took a refresher MSF course? When riding with a child, you need to really be on the top of your riding game, so put aside all pride and allow yourself to truly be honest about your skill level.
How Old is Old Enough?
Deciding at what age your child is ready to join you on your motorcycle is very much so up to you and your child. Each kid and teen can be very different in maturity and size. While some children may be ready to ride the second their legs are long enough to hit the foot pegs, others may not be ready to ride until they're much older. But no one knows your kid better than you do so, before allowing them to join you, really sit down and evaluate how ready they are. Are they good at following rules? Do they have a good attention span? Or do they get anxious or bored easily? If you think they may be at the age where they can handle the responsibility of being on the back of a motorcycle, sit down with them and explain the risks then evaluate how well they understood those risks. If you have any doubt in your mind that your child is ready, wait until you're completely sure.
Many states also have some motorcycle age regulations. Check with your local legislation to make sure that your child meets the age requirements to be on the back of a motorcycle.Get a list here: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/State-Laws.aspx.
Kid's Motorcycle Gear
You choose the motorcycle gear that you wear with complete understanding of the risks and responsibilities of riding. Whether you wear a half helmet or a full faced motorcycle helmet, it's a cognitive decision to take on the risk of injury. Your child, on the other hand, doesn't have the ability to completely understand those risks, or to make that decision, which makes it even more important for you to make sure that they are 100% protected in the event that something happens. Cover them from head to toe and don't skimp on your kid's motorcycle gear.
If your child is going to be riding with you, get them a good, full-face youth motorcycle helmet. Even if you wear a half helmet, having your child wear a full face helmet is always a good choice since it not only protects them in the event of a crash, but also protects them from debris or bugs. And just as you want any motorcycle helmet that you wear to fit well for comfort and safety reasons, it's just as important that they're helmet fit them. Get a youth helmet that is sized correctly. Don't try to cut corners by having them wear a spare adult helmet. Not only will it be uncomfortable for them while riding, it also provides less safety. BikeBandit.com has some DOT approved full-face youth motorcycle helmets that are both relatively inexpensive and will give your child the most protection possible. My favorite is the Scorpion EXO Youth 400-Y Solid Full Face Helmet. This helmet gives your child all of the same protection that you would get in the adult version and is from an extremely well trusted brand.
From there, get your child a good youth motorcycle jacket such as the Tour Master Youth Jett Series 3 Motorcycle Jacket. This jacket offers the same protection as its adult version but shrunk down to fit a child perfectly. It includes a 600 denier Carbolex shell and CE certified padding. And while it may seem easier just to have your child wear the extra adult version that you have hanging in your closet, these won't hold the armor in the right areas or may allow it to move around in the event of a crash. Well fitted kid's motorcycle gear is very important in keeping them safe.
BikeBandit.com also has a few great pairs of children's motorcycle gloves. Why are these important? Not only do motorcycle gloves protect your hands in the event of a crash, they protect your hands form the elements and debris while riding. Your child deserves the same from their kid's motorcycle gear. Though there are plenty of youth off-road motorcycle gloves on the market, the best for any street riding with your child are going to be the street youth motorcycle gloves. Off-road gloves are often made with thinner materials and built to last on impacts at slower speeds. But your kid's digits need the same protection as yours and I recommend the Scorpion EXO Youth Skub Motorcycle Gloves that give great all-around street protection in a size that is perfect for children.
When it comes to pants and shoes, there are a few options. The Scott Adventure Motorcycle Pants are new this year and come in a size that makes it great for kids. But, while they offer 600 denier nylon, they are a little pricey. Depending on how comfortable you are, these pants can be swapped out for some thick jeans that give all around coverage. In other words, make sure any pants that your child wears are long enough to cover their legs and ankles completely when in the riding position. Riding shoes and boots get a bit trickier as there aren't a lot of street youth motorcycle boots on the market. But you still need to make sure that your child's ankles and feet are adequately protected so make sure they wear ankle high, sturdy shoes.
At this point, you're probably doing the math and realizing that kid's motorcycle gear is going to add up. With a proper helmet, jacket and gloves alone, you'll be spending around $250. But if you're not willing to invest that much in your child's safety, then you may not be ready to take on the responsibility of taking them for a ride. On that same note, if your child refuses to wear all of this gear when riding, they too are probably not ready to take on the responsibility either.
Riding Belts and Handles
Another thing to consider is your child's ability to hold on. Depending on how old they may be, they may not be able to comfortably reach around you to hold on and, even then, children do have shorter attention spans and may lose focus and let go. Do some research on belts with handles that make it easier for kids to hold on or consider a belt that holds them on to you (though there is some debate of the safety of this as well).
Practice Makes Perfect
If your kid is all geared up and you think your riding skills, both alone and with an adult passenger, measure up, take your child for a few practice rides. Keep them short at first, taking it slow around residential neighborhoods and side-streets, gradually going longer or faster. Stop often, when safe to do so, to ask your pint-sized passenger how they feel or to give them feedback on how they're doing. It might also be good to come up with a signal beforehand that allows them to tell you if they feel scared or unsure such as a tap on the shoulder or extra squeeze. Remember that you want this to be enjoyable for your child as well as for you, so be very aware of how they react to riding. If they decide that they don't like it after all, be understanding and talk to them about it. Find out why and try to work through it. And remember, riding isn't for everyone, so they may just decide that they don't want to ride. But if you make them feel safe and secure and take it slowly, you may find that they learn how to responsibly ride, enjoy it and become one of your favorite life-long riding buddies.