November 10, 2014
Riding with Your Kids - Kids' Motorcycle Gear Guide
Riding with your kids can be a great experience for both of you, but safety and preparation are paramount when taking this big step. With this motorcycle gear made just for kids, you can make sure they have a blast while staying safe!
Every rider who is also a parent has at some time been asked the question: "Mommy/Daddy, when can I go for a ride on your motorcycle?"
For some parents, the response is an immediate "never." Even though it's a little hypocritical, many parents would never consider putting their children at the same risk as they put themselves into whenever they throw a leg over their bikes. This is a totally understandable position; let's face it, motorcycling is dangerous.
But kids will always want to do what the "grown-ups" do; it's part of the fun of growing up. Not to mention, riding with your kids can be really fun for parents, too! So the other school of thought is to go ahead and let them share that experience with you. It's a big responsibility, but introducing a child to an activity you're so passionate about can be truly unforgettable for them, and will be a great bonding experience you'll both always share.
So if riding with your child is something you want to do, the most important thing is to make sure they are both mentally prepared and physically protected enough to hit the road with you. If you're thinking about going riding with your child, here are a few things to think about first, along with some great options for kids' motorcycle riding gear, to make sure they're as safe as possible on their motorcycle adventure!
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 (check out these Quick Tips on Riding with Passengers for helpful advice on this topic.) When riding with a child, you need to really be on the top of your riding game, so be honest with yourself about your skills and take some time to improve them if you need to.
How Old is Old Enough?
Deciding at what age your child is ready to join you on a motorcycle ride is a big decision, but one that's completely up to you and your family. Every kid is different. Some are very mature and take directions well, and would make the perfect passengers; others, not so much! Nobody knows your child as well as you do, and nobody is as responsible for his or her safety as much as you, so it's ultimately your decision.
(A handful of states do have passenger age restrictions however, so you'll want to check here first. In most cases, these laws prohibit passengers under the age of five from riding a motorcycle. Check out the AMA's State Motorcycle Laws page to see if this applies to you.)
If you think they're ready, it's helpful to sit down and have a conversation with them to see if they feel they are too. If they really want to ride, this is a great opportunity to teach them about the responsibilities that go along with it, like following directions, thinking about safety, and wearing proper protective gear. This way, you can not only show them a fun time, but teach them some valuable lessons in the process!
Kid's Motorcycle Gear
When you choose to ride, you make your own decisions about what gear to wear and how to ride, and the consequences of those decisions are entirely your own.
But a child doesn't have the ability to fully understand the risks or consequences involved with riding a motorcycle; it's up to you to do that for them. You can't control everything that happens on the road, but what you can do make sure they're covered from head to toe in quality riding gear to keep them as protected as possible, just in case.
Getting them their own gear isn't only about protection, either. It also makes them feel really included, and can give them a sense of ownership and responsibility for their own gear. Riding a motorcycle might be fun for a kid, but getting their own helmet or riding jacket to take care of will give also them something to really cherish, and make them feel really "grown up" too.
First things first when getting your kiddo geared up for riding – a quality motorcycle helmet. For kids, we recommend DOT certified youth full-face helmet, which run in small sizes just for them. This is not only for the additional protection it will provide your child, but it also helps to keep wind and bugs out of their faces, which could cause them some discomfort while riding.
Most importantly when buying a kid's motorcycle helmet (and really, any motorcycle helmet in general) is that it fits properly. All the impact protection and shock absorption built into a helmet won't work if the helmet is loose enough for it to shift around the head. Some kids have heads big enough to fit properly into adult Small or Extra-Small helmets, but typically, you'll want to avoid cutting corners by just plopping an extra adult helmet onto your child. It will be uncomfortable for them, not to mention provide far less protection.
The HJC Youth CL-Y Solid Full Face Motorcycle Helmet is our most popular option for young riders (also available in graphic versions.)
Along with the helmet, a kids armored motorcycle jacket is a great way to make sure they are both comfortable and protected while riding. The Tour Master Youth Jett Series 3 Motorcycle Jacket is a great choice, offering the exact same protection found in the adult version, like 600D Carbolex shell and CE-rated padding, just shrunk down into kids sizes. Just as with the helmet, avoid giving kids adult gear to wear; it will be too baggy for them and could impede their movement, along with being unable to keep armor where it needs to be to protect them.
The Tour Master Youth Jett Series 3 Motorcycle Jacket has all the features of their full-size textile jackets, but in kids' sizes.
Also high on the list of kids gear is a pair of gloves. These are important not just in the event of a crash, but they will also keep their hands protected from the elements, road debris, and even in case they just take a little spill getting on or off the bike. A couple great options are the Scorpion EXO Youth Skrub Motorcycle Gloves or the Cortech Youth DX 2 Motorcycle Gloves, and both are less than $25.
Riding gloves for little hands, the Scorpion EXO Youth Skrub Motorcycle Gloves.
When it comes to pants and shoes, you have a few options. For the best possible protection, you can opt for dedicated youth motorcycle pants like the Scott Adventure Motorcycle Pants, made of tough and abrasion resistant 600D nylon in kids sizes. If this is out of your budget, make sure that, at the very least, your child wears some thick denim or work-style pants to give some protection from abrasion, road debris, and hot exhaust pipes.
For maximum protection of your kiddo while riding, check out these Scott Adventure Motorcycle Pants, made completely of ballistic nylon and leather.
As far as boots go, there aren't many street-specific motorcycle boots for kids on the market. You can get around this by opting for kids off-road motorcycle boots, or simply get them a pair of sturdy work-style boots to wear while riding. The important things to look for are thick durable leather construction, over-the-ankle height, and a retention system to keep laces strapped down (kids tend to be less aware of untied shoelaces, but this can be a big problem when riding a bike.)
After adding up the cost of quality kids motorcycle gear, you might be put off by the total cost; just a helmet, jacket and gloves can put you well over the $200 mark. But if you plan to introduce a kid to the world of riding, this is an investment you need to be prepared to make. If you're unwilling to get them the right gear, you might not be ready for the responsibility; and if they're unwilling to wear it, they might not be ready for it either.
Riding Belts & Handles
Another consideration when riding with kids is their ability to hang on. With smaller bodies and arms, they might find it tougher to reach all the way around you to hold on securely. A good workaround is to use a belt with handles attached specifically for this purpose, like the Passenger Safety Handle belt from 2WheelRide, which have handles located on the sides that little hands can easily hang onto.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you and your kiddo have all the gear you need, and you are already experienced enough riding with passengers to know what to expect, you're ready to take ‘em for a spin!
Keep the first few rides short and slow to make sure they really are completely comfortable being on a bike, especially with the sensation of leaning, which can be unnerving for first time riders. Stop often and ask how they're doing, and give them feedback on how they can be a better passenger too.
If they're uncomfortable, see if you can figure out why and talk them through it. You might find that they take to it like a duck to water, or get really scared and can't wait to get off; either way, figure out how they're feeling, and take it from there.
Just like with any other passenger, the key to allowing them to enjoy the experience of being on a motorcycle is to make them feel safe. If your child feels secure riding with you, follows directions, and really enjoys the experience as much as you do - you may have just found a new favorite riding partner!
Overall, being able to share an activity you love like riding with your child will be unforgettable, and can lead to a lot more great experiences together (not to mention it's great leverage to use to convince them to finish their homework or clean their room!)
What do you think is most important to consider when taking your child riding with you?