Choosing a Motorcycle for Kids
Whether you’re a parent who is considering giving in to your child’s pleas for a motorcycle or a relative looking to dote on a grandchild, niece, or nephew, choosing a motorcycle for kids is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The leap between riding a regular two-wheeled bike and riding a motorcycle is a large one and it’s important to ensure that all of the major considerations in choosing a motorcycle for kids have been examined. This article will touch on some of the most important aspects of selecting an appropriate motorcycle for a child.
Consider the Child’s Skills and Maturity
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that a bike doesn’t necessarily make a good rider. Just like a standard bicycle, a motorcycle requires a certain amount of skill in regards to balance and a healthy, practical sense of inertia and coordinated movement. The ability to pedal, steer, lean, and brake, many of which are done at the same time, are learned traits that a child should definitely have mastered on a regular bicycle before jumping onto a motorcycle. It’s also important to consider the child’s maturity level. Granted, there are some five year olds that can ride a dirt bike like they were born doing it, but this really isn’t the standard skill level for most kids in that age range. One must ensure that the child has the capability to understand that a motorcycle is a machine that must be used properly, otherwise someone could get seriously injured. The child should be willing and able to follow his parents’ (or trainer’s) instructions dutifully and exactly. It’s great for a child to have fun while riding, but it’s important that he or she first pays attention to the instructions that will make him or her a safe motorcyclist.
As a parent (or the person buying a motorcycle for kids), you should begin by doing some research on popular youth motorcycles. Create a list of some of the top contenders on the market that also fall within your budget. Once you have a decent list to work from you can begin doing some digging on each bike’s safety rating and general engineering/production quality. It may sound like tedious work, but it’s best to know as much as you can about a motorcycle before handing it over to your kid. You wouldn’t want to purchase a motorcycle only to find out, too late, that it has had several major recalls for faulty components and/or safety issues! Conducting an internet search on any models that you are taking under consideration is a great place to start. Motorcycle USA has a section dedicated to motorcycle recall descriptions listed by make and model.
Consider Bike Size
When it comes to buying a motorcycle for kids, it can be really difficult to ignore the parental/thrifty voice in your head urging you to go with a motorcycle that might be a little bigger so that the child will be able to get the most use out of it. In truth, this can be really dangerous. When buying for kids, one has to realize that the motorcycle’s size needs to be suitable for the child’s current size if he or she is going to start riding soon. Placing a child on a motorcycle that is too large or too small can be very dangerous because it hinders the child’s control and range of movement. Ideally, the child should be able to sit on the bike with his or her feet touching flat on the ground. If the child has to stretch for his or her toes to reach the ground then the bike is too large. On the other hand, if the child’s knees bend when he or she is flat-footed on the ground then the bike is too small.
Choose the Most Suitable Type of Motorcycle
In addition to safety ratings and the size of the motorcycle, one must also consider the different types of motorcycles. For instance, will the child mostly be riding on pavement, rough terrain, or a mixture of both? Motorcycles are often designed with a certain type of terrain in mind so that the bike can physically handle the rigors to which it will most likely be exposed. A street bike, for example, would be less capable of handling the shock and unevenness of off-road terrain whereas an off-roading bike’s capabilities would be virtually wasted if it is strictly driven on the street. All-terrain motorcycles, on the other hand, are a great option for kids who will be exploring a mixture of street and off-road environments.
Gas vs. Electric
You might also have the chance to choose between gas-powered versus electrical motorcycles. There are perks and downsides to both options so you’ll have to weigh them based on the needs of the child that will be using the bike. Consider that gas-powered motorcycles are more powerful than the electric variety, but does your child really need access to higher speed capability? If the child will be doing off-roading then a gas-powered motorcycle would be the best option simply because of the horsepower that these types of engines can offer. If the child will strictly be riding the bike on street terrain and you like the idea of him or her being able to easily recharge the bike’s battery, then an electric motorcycle may be the best option in this case.
The process of choosing a motorcycle for kids shouldn’t be rushed. Be sure to take your time and do enough research to bring yourself down to a few really good choices. It’s also a good idea to take the child with you when you go to make the purchase so that he or she can sit on the bike and get a feel for the size and shape of the motorcycle. If purchasing second-hand, make sure to have the motorcycle inspected by a qualified mechanic before committing to the purchase.