It’s not just in Ottawa that bike shop owners and employees will give you many reason why kids should learn to ride a bike—and I can tell you it’s not for the purpose of making more sales either. Learning to ride a bike is considered to be a key developmental milestone for any child.
It’s true that it’s never too late to learn how to ride a bike, but it’s also true that it’s a lot easier to learn when you’re a kid and it’s a skill that will stay with you and benefit you for the rest of your life. Here are a few reasons why we think it’s important for kids in Ottawa, and anywhere, to learn to ride a bike early.
It helps develop their motor skills and coordination
Of course as with most physical activities, learning to ride a bike comes with a few bumps and bruises. But, learning to balance, steer, and pedal all at the same time has huge impacts on a child’s motor skill development which can be transferred to other activities as they grow. Starting them off on push bikes and striders when their old enough helps them with balance and makes for an easy transition to training wheels and pedals.
It teaches responsibility
Riding and owning a bike isn’t always simple, it comes with a lot of responsibility like keeping it clean, properly stored, and locked up when it needs to be. It can also be a great way to teach your kid basic mechanic skills when something is broken.
With the responsibility of owning and riding a bike also comes the independence and freedom. As your kid gets older, they won’t need to rely on parents for getting around short distances and the positive attitude that comes with this independence will be carried on through their other activities.
It provides many mental health benefits
It’s been proven in studies around the world that children who ride their bikes to school or who ride regularly are more focused and alert in the classroom than their non-bike-riding counterparts. Learning and continuing to ride a bike can also be a huge confidence booster which positively impacts children’s mental attitude for the rest of their lives.
It teaches them to be active
The truth is, nowadays, less and less kids are playing outside, getting fresh air, and staying active. Technology is becoming more and more accessible to children and it’s taking over their interests, their attention spans, and forming bad habits. Cycling is an easy way to spend time as a family while staying active. Not to mention that the impact of kids seeing the people they look up to stay active by riding helps them establish healthy exercise habits early on.
It will help them be environmentally friendly
Sure the rise of viral videos and campaigns around bettering the environment teaches kids about the impacts of our actions as a population. But, teaching them to ride a bike shows them how they can have a positive impact on the planet themselves. Using cycling as transportation helps reduce CO2 emissions and pollution, but also reduces traffic and parking congestion. Putting your kids into an environmental mindset early on is imperative to helping communities become more green.
A few years ago it was almost unheard of to know someone who owns an e-bike. Since then they’ve grown in popularity and it’s not uncommon to see a few riders sporting e-bikes on the pathways across North America. Here are our top 5 reasons why you should get an e-bike today.
They Help you Explore Your City
With a city that spans as wide as Ottawa does and offers views and scenic areas like the Parliament Buildings, Dow’s Lake, the locks by the Chateau Laurier, and so much more, it can sometimes be hard to travel around to take them all in.
An e-bike can help you avoid traffic and the pains of trying to find parking, all while allowing you to take in the sunshine and get up close and personal with the nature surrounding the expansive bike paths neighbouring the rivers that take you almost anywhere you need to go in Ottawa.
Go Further and Longer
Not to mention get there faster. E-bikes are great for those of us that don’t necessarily want to exert ourselves while taking in the sights. That being said, electric bicycles offer many of the same exercise benefits that regular cycling does. And, if you want to, you can still give it your all, you’ll just be going faster and further than those on ordinary bicycles.
Great for Hills
If you’ve talked to other cyclists in Ottawa, you’ve probably been asked if you’ve been out to Gatineau Park yet. Although most will agree it’s completely worth the effort to get up the hills, it can be a little daunting to us regular folk who aren’t used to the effort necessary to pedal up an incline.
The variety of power modes available to assist your pedalling on an e-bike make facing those climbs a lot easier–not to mention, you still get to take full advantage of the downhills.
Great for Crosswinds and Headwinds
That small motor backing you up will make a huge difference when nature decides to work against you, not for you. A headwind can really put a damper on your ride—unless you’re riding an e-bike that allows you to change a few settings and keep riding as if the wind is at your back.
They’re Fun to Ride
Sure regular bikes are fun to ride as well, but e-bikes give you that extra push, that extra boost while you’re riding which can make it much more enjoyable. Let’s face it, e-bikes will keep you from having to put in that extra effort, which will allow you to be more relaxed and take in your surroundings.
Would you rather be the guy suffering on the bike path or the guy with a smile on their face cruising by?
Although taking your bike to the shop for small repairs isn’t always necessary, if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, a simple fix could turn into a bigger problem. Luckily, our bike mechanics are always happy to help with any problem big or small and offer advice to get the job done right next time. Here are three of the most common at-home bike repair mistakes:
1. Too Much Air in Your Tires
Yes, overinflating is a thing. While your tires have a maximum pound per square inch (psi) indicated on the sidewall of your tire, it doesn’t mean you should always take it to heart. Most tires will specify around 120 psi but inflating your tires to the maximum pressure could cause your ride to be a little bouncier than is comfortable. Of course, this depends on a number of factors like the type of tubes and tires or terrain you’ll be riding on. Lowering your tire pressure by 10-30 psi could improve your comfort level and reduce the chances of getting a flat tire. If you aren’t sure what the optimal psi is for you, ask your bike mechanic—and always make sure you’re using the right type of tubes and tires.
2. Overtightening Bolts
While you’re probably just trying to make sure all the bolts are secure on your bike, overtightening can be a real issue—especially if you’ve taken the plunge into the wonderful world of carbon frames or components. Your first instinct, when faced with loose bolts, is likely to reach for your Allen keys or wrench, but your best bet is to invest a little $ into a torque wrench. Making sure you tighten your bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications could cost you less than the damage caused from overtightening.
Pay attention to your pedals too, bolts aren’t the only thing you have to worry about overtightening. Installing pedals too tightly or without grease could cause a lot of grief when you try to remove them later on.
3. Using the Wrong Lube
This one is pretty common for those of us new to at-home bike repairs. Despite what our dads might have told us, WD-40 shouldn’t be your go-to lube for everything, especially bicycle chains. (Unless you’re using their relatively new cycling-specific products mostly only found in bike shops.)
Using non-bike-specific lube for your chain will cause it to collect dirt and gunk it up in no time. Make sure you’re using appropriate wet or dry lube and keep it clean by wiping it down with a clean rag after every ride. It might seem tedious, but your bike—and your mechanic—will thank you. Not to mention your chain and drivetrain will remain in working order much longer.
Check out this video on how to keep your chain in top shape: