If your child is riding confidently and has mastered balancing, braking and steering, it may be time to introduce gears.
We fit twist-grip shifters because we believe they are far easier to understand and use than thumb shifters, especially for young children. Studies have shown that the range of hand strengths among five year olds is incredibly wide. This means that your child may not have the hand strength required to change gears initially but with time gear-changing should develop naturally.
Our intelligent and holistic design approach enables us to create a better gear changing experience for children. The twist-grip shifter is just one of a range of components that makes our Beinn range so good to ride. The chainring and wide ratio cassette provide a very easy bottom gear. We specify SRAM derailleurs as they require less force to change gear. And of course, all Beinns come with Islabikes’ unique custom-made parts, such as size-specific brake levers, handlebar, stem, saddle and exclusive lightweight wheels.
Here are our 5 tips for supporting children to change gear.
The child needs to be holding the grip shifter firmly and ideally have a straight forearm and wrist. They will then need to rotate their wrist forward or backwards until they hear one click. It is important that your child gets into the habit of changing gears one at a time from an early age. After every gear change the child needs to return their hand to the original position.
It’s a lot easier to know how and when to change gear if you understand how the mechanism works. Stand by the non-drive side of the bike and lift so the back wheel is off the ground. Push the pedals forward with your hand and ask you child to use the twist-grip shifter to change gears one at a time as above. They will see the chain move up and down when watching the cassette. Once you have done this a few times swap places with your child and ask them to push the pedals, they will feel the resistance in the drive chain as it becomes easy or more difficult to push the pedals around. It can be helpful to explain when the gears are suitable for cycling on flat, downhill or uphill routes.
For smooth, bike friendly gear changing ensure the child is pedaling forward. It’s good to practise in a large, open area so they can move up and down the gears without worrying about obstacles or cornering.
Different gears are better suited to different situations. As your child develops they will begin to gain an understanding of which gear is comfortable at each stage. With more practice and varied cycling experiences your child will become more adept at changing gears. A fun game you can play with your child is to call out a gear number for them to change to as you ride alongside them.
But don’t forget, parents can also play a part in ensuring your child’s bike works as well as possible. Make sure you regularly inspect the gear cables and clean the bike so that it’s free from the mud and muck that will make shifting trickier. Periodically having cables replaced as part of a service will ensure optimum gear changing performance. If the bike is regularly used in muddy or wet conditions, you may need to change them more regularly.
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