Older Kid, Young Cyclist: What They Need To Lead

They grow up so fast, don’t they? It seems like just yesterday you were debating between making their first bicycle a balance bike or a bike with training wheels (For the record, we suggest a balance bike). Now they’re riding a “two wheeler” with gears and wanting to explore all around the neighborhood with their friends. As much as we want to hold on to them a bit longer, it’s bittersweet to watch them be eager to gain more independence. But, with that independence comes some responsibility.

While they may be older children, they’re still young in the world of cycling and still have quite a bit to learn about riding on a road (although some may claim they already know everything). It’s crucial to find a balance between teaching them what they need to know and letting them learn the other things on their own. Doing this will make this stepping stone a much easier one to scale. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of things  they need to know before they grab on to that independence.

  1. Gear Shifting
    • First thing’s first, if they are struggling with shifting gears, it’s normal. With some extra help we know they’ll be able to handle climbing hills better. Check out our tutorial video about Teaching Your Child How To Ride A Bike and skip to about 2:38 in to it when we start talk about shifting.
  2. Rules of the Road
    • Be sure your child knows that they must follow the same rules that cars have to follow on the road, and that even the professional cyclists follow these rules. This means stopping at “Stop” signs, taking the proper precautions at a crosswalk, being aware of “Low Shoulders”, and following the correct traffic pattern for their “side” of the road. Here’s a great article on our Learning Center with greater instruction for the more advanced young cyclists: Basic Guide To Road Cycling
  3. Crossing the Street
    • They may already know to look both ways and listen before crossing the street. If not, then be sure they understand how important it is. Pedestrians have to look both ways, cars have to look both ways, and so do cyclists. We often use the phrase “Stop, Look, and Listen” to help remind them to look for others as well as listen for them too before crossing a street or intersection.
  4. Cycling Etiquette
    • We have a great article about this in our Learning Center for adults. For kids, you should modify some of the rules. For example, they probably shouldn’t wave to strangers, but things such as not littering and not cutting in-front of other people are excellent lessons in road etiquette.
  5. General Self-Awareness
    • This skill is something that they’ll strengthen overtime. You can give them a head-start by teaching them to keep their listening ears on while riding. If they see a car coming, instruct them to pull over and wait for it to pass. If they’re tired, let them know it’s okay to stop riding and walk for a bit. We also highly suggest giving them a water bottle to keep them hydrated. For more tips, we have 2 informative articles about the 5 signs it’s time for a break and how to stay cool while riding in our Learning Center.

Something else you should consider is matching your growing child with a bike that suits them. As with any sport your child is interested in, having great equipment that fits them well will give them more confidence in what they’re doing, help them feel more excited about trying out something new, and will give them the tools they need to keep succeeding as a young cyclist.

Our favorite is the Fuji Ace 650.

Imagine a solid road bike scaled down to fit a growing child (10 years old and up or about 4’9″-5’2″); that’s the Fuji Ace 650. It’s loaded with all the components found on an adult road bike to give them the feel and riding options a seasoned cyclist would have. The Fuji Ace 650 is not your average kid’s bike from a big box store. It’s the kind of bike that could inspire a child to want to one day race in the Tour de France. Here are some of it’s awesome features and why they were chosen for your child’s next bike.

  • It has a strong and lightweight alloy frame and fork.
    • Most kid’s bikes come with a steel frame, which is great for younger kids who are prone to falling over or laying (or more likely, throwing) their bike down when they’re done with it. Alloy was chosen for the Fuji Ace 650, because it’s lightweight yet still durable. Meaning, it can take on soft blows from impacts and is lightweight enough to maneuver with ease.
  • It comes with a smooth and worry-free Shimano drivetrain.
    • The drivetrain is a huge component that sets “big kid” bikes apart from “little kid” bikes, and the Fuji Ace 650 comes with one of the best for beginners. Shimano drivetrains are well known for their reliable shifting and for being low-maintenance. This one has 14 speeds. A good range for young cyclists.
    • If your child is still struggling to understand the benefits of shifting and how to use it, don’t fret. It’s completely normal. For help in teaching them, check out our video on Teaching Your Child How To Ride A Bike.
  • It has a drop bar with Shimano Shifters and Fuji Aero brake levers
    • The cockpit on the Fuji Ace 650 is pretty cool. The drop bar will get your young cyclist used to riding in the position that most professionals prefer. The Shimano shifters picked for the Fuji Ace 650 are easy to use for beginners. And the Fuji Aero brake levers not only look official, they also provide reliable handling for young cyclists.
  • The brakes and wheels are made to handle how a young cyclist rides
    • The Fuji Ace 650 has age-appropriate brakes and wheels too. The brakes are the dual-pivot brakes they probably have on their current “almost-big-kid bike”. These brakes are low maintenance and provide the reliable stopping power needed for young cyclists. The wheelset and tires are also age-appropriate. The rims are double-walled for extra strength while riding on pavement or while doing some light off-roading, and the tires are Vera Invictus 650 x 23 road tires, which will give them a grippy tread and a dependable density.

There is a learning curve for young cyclists. They’ll eventually come to cultivate the basics of how to ride like the pros, and these components on the Fuji Ace 650 are exactly what they need to help get them there. As a person who loved cycling as a child, I wish there had been a bike like the Fuji Ace 650 for me. My off-brand bike from a big box store was okay, but it couldn’t have held a candle to having a real road bike like the Fuji Ace 650.

What was your first road bike? How many years had you been riding a bike when you got it?



0 thoughts on “Older Kid, Young Cyclist: What They Need To Lead

  1. Great info here. Loved all the links and specific teaching points. Will definitely be revisiting this with my 3 year old!

    1. Hi Ross!
      Thank you for your feedback. We’re glad you enjoyed this blog post and that you’ll be revisiting it with your 3 year old when they are of age. We post one every week, so stay tuned for more!

  2. Please start carrying cycling gear in kid-appropriate sizes. My 8 year old has been cycling (like…going for long rides, not just riding around the block) for several years. He completed a Century ride when he was 7 on a Fuji Ace 24 and is racing triathlons with adults. His shoes, gloves, and helmet are from Performance but we have to buy shorts and jerseys from somewhere else because you don’t carry youth sizes.

    1. Hi, Russell!
      Thank you for your suggestion. We have forwarded this to our team in charge of clothing here at Performance. We are always appreciative of feedback from our customers on how we can improve and better serve you. Thank you for being our customer, a cycling advocate, and mentor for the next generation of cyclists.

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