Video: How To Get Kids Hooked On Mountain Biking - How To Bike with Ben Cathro

Feb 14, 2024 at 19:39
by Pinkbike Originals  

HOW TO BIKE
SEASON 3 EPISODE 5


There is nothing quite like mountain biking. The exercise, skill progression and occasional adrenaline boost make for an experience that everyone can enjoy, no matter their age.

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pinkbikeoriginals avatar

Member since Feb 15, 2012
1,097 articles

90 Comments
  • 72 1
 I just started the MTB club at my high school and i want to appeal to beginners but idk how i can keep them in the sport, I think i can translate some of the things from this video into older kids. First group ride is today, wish me luck Smile
  • 15 0
 Laughs.... laughing at yourself and with your friends is a key ingredient in bringing people back Good luck!
  • 65 0
 Kids can be super self conscious about everything and think everyone sees everything. Make it not about gear as much as possible and model that whenever you can be it flat pedals or riding in “normal clothes.” They don’t have to buy or wear or do x to be mountain bikers. They’re mountain bikers today just by showing up.
  • 8 0
 @bhuckley @blinglespeed: Thanks, I will keep those ideas in mind!
  • 14 0
 Totally. Explain how the most amazing rider in Whistler is always, without doubt, the teenager riding the most clapped out 10 year old ex-rental bike in jogging pants and a k-way jacket.
  • 7 0
 The best part is when they get faster than you. I watched my son go from crashing head over heels the first time he went over a jump at 7, nailed that same jump finally at 10, we had to let him overcome those fears at his own pace. Then at 16 kicking my ass down Prevost and Whistler, and watching him gap Crabapple hits a year later!
  • 4 0
 @blinglespeed: all you said, and focus on incremental progress. When I coached, we had a philosophy of moving participants along the progress chain only once the skill they're working on was coming naturally and with little to no apprehension.
  • 4 0
 More downhill than uphill at the beginning. Shuttles are great. Once they are hooked, then get them to start earning their lines.
  • 6 0
 @locaroka @mikedk @Bomadics @bishopsmike @blinglespeed @bhuckley Update: All the beginners impressed me a lot! If anyone had a hard time it was me, my asthma kicked in mid ride but i still enjoyed it thoroughly.
  • 1 0
 I just recently started one at my high school and I figured out that everyone wants it to be so formal that it’s not much fun. I try to organize rides but the school wants everyone to have physicals and all sorts of other BS
  • 2 0
 @Acarder: I think its the opposite at mine, it took a while to get approved but now were basically allowed to do whatever we want once we have the waivers.
  • 4 0
 Having gone through years of biking with large groups I think everyone needs to understand, some people when things get out of hand continue to problem solve and believe they will be ok, typically they shake off the vast majority of crashes, if they have them at all. Others freeze when they start to panic, they get injured a lot and can go from easy cruising on a blue to broken bone in no time.
You can't take the latter group and expect them to dirt jump/DH/Enduro ride. You have to accept that there are categories of riding with different focus and what is fun for the first group is dangerous for the second, what is challenging and enjoyable for the second group (XC typically) can be dull for the first group. All riding is great, but understand boundaries and encourage enjoyment even if it is found from achieve something you don't naturally care about. The guy that doubles up a set of easy Berms isn't the example everyone needs to follow to have fun.
  • 1 1
 @blinglespeed: Why would anyone be self conscious about flat pedals?
  • 53 0
 My approach was simple....we never actually went mountain biking. We just spent lots of time together doing fun things, talking, listening, and having adventures...we just happened to be mountain biking when we did it.
  • 2 0
 Fantastic advice here!!
  • 7 0
 You want to go find some lizards? Works every time (for a 5-7 year old anyway)
  • 8 0
 @deez-nucks: That would hook me in immediately lol (20 year old)
  • 3 0
 I can’t say enough good things about a Mac ride (or something similar) my son didn’t even like going on trails all that much, but some of the best memories of my life were riding around the hood with him.
  • 34 0
 Get your kids into mountain biking and then they won't have any money for drugs.
  • 19 1
 Excited for this series! Perfect timing for me to watch and get stoked as my wife and I are expecting our first this spring!
  • 12 0
 Congrats in advance!

Biking with kids is better than ever these days, lots of lighter bikes with kid-sized brakes and shifters, legit MTB balance bikes, trail a bike type things, bike trailers and better cockpit seats.

Cockpit Seats: Since that's where you'll be starting, take it from me... you don't want one of those seats with a highback... they just get in the way. We had a Yepp and the highback was too high and too reclined, so the kids heads would constantly be bouncing against my chest... reach was an issue.

What you want is one of the crossbar seats, like the kidsrideshotgun.com... much more natural position for them and for you... plus they aren't strapped in, so if you do end up in a dicey situation (believe me it can happen when you least expect), you can grab/protect the kid easier than having to reach around a chair.

Trailers: we had a Thule (double chair) that was absolutely great for city rides (and it doubled as a running stroller), but wasn't great on trails... too wide. (and super heavy). It still got plenty of use though, just not for my original ambitions. I did see a dad on a single-wheeled trailer, zipping through some single track... it looked very impressive. I think I just found a review of it here (and in comparison to a more traditional Thule or Burley it came out on top.

enduro-mtb.com/en/mtb-bike-trailers-for-kids

Have fun...
  • 2 0
 @bhuckley: Thanks for the awesome advice! I am for sure excited to share my biggest hobby and passion with my kids, the same way my parents took me for bike rides when I was little. the advancement of all these ways to bring your kids along with you is a massive upgrade from the plastic chair on the back of my dad's road bike staring at his back.
  • 4 0
 +1 fot the shotgun. I have a v2, I didn't expect easy installation/good materials or even to work for me (didn't know if my 18 months toddler would like it) l but i was shocked how easy to setup, well made and natural for the little one was since the first ride. The best part is that i can do a one hour ride (with ot without my wife, extra bike points there!) and having even more fun than a solo ride lol. Is a very special moment to ride with your kid.
My only advice is to avoid too harsh trails (the weight and balance of the bike gets a bit weird) and the last 20 minutes of the ride i prefer to stay close to home in case the little one gets too tired/sleepy.
  • 2 0
 @bhuckley: I found the Yepp brilliant for when my daughter was tiny, and gave me peace of mind to have her strapped in securely and protected between my arms. As she has got bigger and older, the move to a Shotgun seat has been a massive success, she absolutely loves it and has learned when to stand and attack, and when to sit and chill.
  • 1 0
 @bhuckley: Good advice! I have the Yepp (not ideal but quite good for 1-2yo) and Shotgun standard and pro models. These are way more versatile, roomy and allow for a much better bike handling. Just bear in mind that with any of these seats installed, the use of a dropper post is, at least in my opinion, mandatory. Balance cat get tricky with a kid on the bike when stopping Same goes for the pedals, be sure to be fast unclipping or ride flats
  • 17 0
 Taking notes, thanks @ben-cathro!
  • 1 0
 Don't forget weehoo. Better than a trailabike. Lower center of gravity. Adjustable for kids size.
  • 12 0
 100% to all this Ben mentions. I have two boys, now 8 and 6 , they were both riding on their own by 3-4. The balance bike is an absolute must and stay away from training wheels. We would take them on longer bike rides through casual trails in the woods with their balance bikes and then their pedal bikes.
When they were on their balance bike we'd let them ride on their own for a bit til they got tired, then saddle em up either in the Burley or the onboard Yepp seat. I helped em in easy friendly places to learn to pedal and they've been doing it on their own ever since.
We also let em watch really great YT content, they love Sam Pilgrim and love watching Rampage and Darkfest.
Keeping it fun is the absolute key. Nice video Ben!
  • 10 0
 This is the content I love to see. My son has been ripping the shotgun seat with me since he was 14 months old. My daughter did her first ride at 13 months. At 2.5(ish) and 16 months now, they rip around the house on their balance bikes chasing each other, and they both lose their minds on the shotgun seat.

You cannot imagine the joy in your heart when you're ripping down your local trail with your toddler screaming things like: "Outside line!" or "Foot out, flat out!" on every turn.

Fatherhood is freaking rad.
  • 3 0
 kiddo is 15 months almost and nowhere near a KRS seat. She is however on a Thule Yepp Mini (basically a KRS but more of an infant seat) and we've gone on a few rides this winter. It's fun getting her out and about. She is pretty quiet but takes it all in.
  • 3 0
 mine yelled out "pedal to the metal" when he was on the trail-a-bike behind me. hahah! he watched a lot of monster truck videos
  • 1 0
 @swedishfishmx: Luckily both of my kids are in the 99th percentile for height, and have had freakish neck strength since they came out of the womb. As I understand it, 14 months is pretty early for being able to reach the foot pegs on the KRS.
  • 2 0
 @julianw: Hahaha, I love it. My son tells me to "Go fast!" when we're slogging up hill. I hate having to admit that I'm already giving it all I got, pushing us both up the mountain.
  • 8 2
 Ben is great. Had no idea he was a father. Makes him even cooler. Super stoked on this content.
Y’all should get Jackson Gladstones parents to give some tips. They seem to have nailed it.
  • 6 1
 Great video! As a father of two little rippers, my two cents...

1. I know everyone is all in on the balance bikes these days, but I don't think it matters. Both of my kids started on 12" bikes w/ training wheels and I had no issue transitioning them to a 2 wheel 16" bike.

2. Buy them nice bikes! No wants to ride a s**tty bike on a trail, not even kids. Kid bikes are easy to flip and you'll get a lot of your money back on the resale that you can roll into the next bike.
  • 4 0
 My two cents: I'm one of those guys big on balance bikes, one kid made a quick transition to pedals, the other didn't want to leave the balance bike (which was fine). We weren't so happy with training wheels, especially on trails... if they've spent any time on a balance bike, it's a matter of a couple of weeks (and some investment of your time) to get them on pedals. But everyone's mileage varies... just get them on something! (early)

As for bike quality and resale... completely agree, it's absolutely worth it to invest in a LIGHT mtb-specific hardtail for your kiddos... skip the heavy suspension (IMO) and focus on weight, weight, and easy to use brakes/shifters. We did Spawn, but there are so many out there now... however at the time we started with a 16" Specialized Riprock and it was 26 pounds!!!! The equivalent 16" Spawn was 16 pounds... huge difference for the kids.
  • 4 0
 @bhuckley: completely agree with you on the suspension comment, especially on the 16" and 20" bikes. The kids weigh nothing and will benefit more from a light bike then one with suspension. Both of my kids are on 20" Giant STP mountain bikes now but I went with the plus sized tire option (20x2.6) instead of the suspension. I can run both of their tires at 9 psi and the extra grip gives them a lot of confidence on the trails (or wherever)
  • 4 0
 @SATN-XC: Yes I see so many poor kids on hardtails with heavy coil forks that do nothing. Rigid with plus tires up to 20” is the move. Both of mine are/were on the REI drt with 2.6’s. Just have to remember to air them back up for hard surface riding cause holy rolling resistance Batman.

I got my oldest a 24” Forth hardtail. Affordable, solid spec where it counts, and light for the cost. Definitely noticed speed increase dramatically with the larger wheels and air fork.
  • 3 0
 Yeah, it doesn't matter. Neither of mine had any ability or interests with a balance bike. They had a ton of fun on pedal bikes with training wheels, and have graduated. More important to get them engaged and having fun rather than get them on the ideal training path.
  • 4 0
 I would add:

3. Find that family with similar budget and lifestyle with their youngest kid 1-3 years older than your oldest, I had 2 families call me when they spit out gear out the back end.
  • 2 0
 @bhuckley: totally agree on the weight issue. Suspension for a 6 year old is in most cases just a burden. My two kids had 20” and 24” hard tails with rigid forks with 2.6” wide high volume tires which provide lots of cushioning with very little weight. In our case they were Commençal Ramones bikes but many brands offer this kind of bikes. I think they are great. Lighter, cheaper, and easier to maintain.
  • 4 0
 My son is 4 and is just starting to pedal his 16" Specialized Jett,after riding his Vitus Smoothie 12" balance bike from 1.5 years old.
When he started on the balance bike it was a bit high for him,so I bought some cheap 10" wheels from Decathlon and it worked great.
I've been blessed with a little guy that's all I could have dreamed of,loves to ride and to be outside. Maybe he won't love bikes when he'll grow up,but these have been years to remember as long as I live.
  • 5 0
 Just riding around the neighborhood with your kids will do wonders... That's all my parents did, now I'm 36 and heading out for a ride as I type this LOL
  • 2 0
 Great advice. It's not always easy to find kid friendly trails.
  • 1 0
 @funkendrenchman: We always just cruised the sidewalk, or sometimes the slow neighborhood roads.
  • 2 0
 100% my daughter turns 4 in a few months, but family chill rides around the neighborhood worked wonders for us. We let her lead... because she insists... but it's flat enough and the rolling resistance isn't too high so she's gotten great at just riding around.
  • 2 0
 This is what we do too, but we are quite lucky as we have a traffic free path to the next town so we can just use our bikes when doing regular stuff. Sadly it's becoming unusual for kids to just ride bikes here.
  • 2 0
 My daughter is 4,5 years old, she didnt wanted to ride a balance bike, she dont like to ride a starter bike with small frame and 4 wheels. I have conviced her to ride in a bike chair but not for long yourneys. I am struggeling a lot to show her the bike world and how much I love i, but I know that I need to play it smart and dont push since I dont want to force her to enjoy my things. However I hope that at some point she will take her pink helmet and say "are we going for a ride?".
  • 2 0
 I can’t make it out to ride trails with the kid too often any more (now we have a baby) But a hardtail with a shotgun seat makes a nice urban jungle cruiser to nearby parks. - they’re totally into it if you can get em on some swings. And if you find the ice cream man… bonus !!!!
  • 1 0
 That shotgun will be essential when the baby gets older, so you can continue riding with the older one. My 5 year old mountain bikes, but I'll still put her on the Mac-Ride when the older one is doing longer/harder trails.
  • 6 0
 Keep it fun, don’t force it on them, get a half decent bike.
  • 2 0
 Trailer....expensive but worth EVERY penny as it has uses beyond just hauling kids. I have the Burley Cub... seats two kids with cargo space in rear and suspension. Even with the kids on their own bikes now, I sometimes still roll with the trailer as a support vehicle (holds cooler, food, park gear, etc.). Also, if we go too far and one of the kids get tired, they can transfer to the trailer and I simply shove their bike in the back.
  • 2 0
 I agree that bike trailers are a great investment. In addition to carting the kids everywhere by bike or by pushing it (running/walking), I also use it for our weekly groceries and other shopping. I rarely ever drive the car now.
  • 2 0
 Turned 7 and she is on her first e-mtb, Commecial 24 meta, 100km in the first week, she loves riding every day, she has been riding since she was 2 on balance bikes and we spend 3000km riding around on a benno e-boost in the summer to adventures with her bikes all in tow, now she wants to race everywhere we ride throughout squamish.
  • 2 0
 I have a 2 and a 4 year old for year old has been pedaling on his own since just before he turned 3. I left the push bike around and available at all times inside and out he just became more and more interested then just started riding around on it. I did the same thing with his actual bike just started putting out with his push bike and he started trying on his own. We had one set back. He wouldn’t ride a bike with a coaster break. Lucky you can ordered the Commencal Ramones with mechanical disc breaks front and rear without the coaster break. I swapped them for some old levels and they work great. My 2 year old is on the push bike and already interested in his brothers bike. I also highly recommend Commencal’s new push bike with a rear hydraulic disc break. Has made it much easier. So anyway I found that not pushing this issue and encouraging the interest really does work. And don’t do training wheels we did with our oldest who’s 12 now and he wasn’t off of them until he was almost 6. The other two never had them and were cruising the neighbor and pump track at 3
  • 3 0
 I am guessing you all must be in a parent/mountain biker Pinkbike subset. Lots of good friendly advice, and no keyboard warrior ego drama. That is nice for a change. Thanks
  • 1 0
 To complement this great video:

Get a cheap light tiny balance bike... I bought a commencal one which is sick, but also only really fot my son once he was 2!

I would not trust any trailer off-road, as Ben mentioned those things are just waiting for an opportunity to flip over!!!
  • 3 0
 Odd. He didn’t mention taking them on an Everest climb while yelling at them the whole time to keep up. Maybe that’s in one of the next videos.
  • 1 0
 nice! I'm looking forward to later episodes but this brought back some fun memories (and remembered a couple of mistakes). And yes I bought a matching Production Privee balance bike months and months before the nipper could ride it at all, I regret nothing!

Currently we are on hiatus after finding out (via an OTB that caused no real damage but a lot of psychological upset) that the progression from green trails being too easy to blue trails is not as straightforward as I'd hoped. Would love some tips on coaxing 'em back from reluctance to confidence - so far I'm letting time be the healer and not applying any pressure.
  • 1 0
 The Strider rocking horse base was a huge benefit for us. Both my kids would hop on that, wait for the greenlight at events on the TV, or until I said go, and they'd pump/rock trying to keep up with the riders in the race.
Transitioning from that to balance bike off the base was great.

Another great thing we did with our older daughter was when she got her pedal bike, I simply put a piece of 2x4 vertical under her BB so she could practice pedalling and have to balance a bit without crashing like she would trying to pedal on her own. 15 minutes of that and then she went to the grass yard with a small downhill and she was riding and pedalling down that on the same day she got her pedal bike.
A few little bails, but amazing start at her 3rd birthday.
We also opted for hand brake right away. Went well.
She occasionally tries to ride the neighbors bike (training wheels and coaster brakes) and she can't do it. She just crashes over. Which supports how skipping the training wheel stage is a good idea.
  • 1 0
 By the time my kiddo was 3years old she was peddling on two wheels, all thanks to practice on the balance bike. Combined with making sure she remembered a handful of science facts that she'd blurt out randomly at the park, though she had zero understanding of, made her look like a gad damn genius.
  • 1 0
 Great video Ben! Next step is to join us on a Western Spirit family tour! We've got itineraries for families with little ones that allow them to have fun on trails and at camp while parents get to do some fun rides with and without them. Best of all our guides do all the heavy lifting at camp and all meals so you can relax a bit. westernspirit.com/trip-types/family-trips-for-younger-kids
  • 3 0
 And don't put your kid on a assisted motorbike.there not bikes..you will only be doing them a disservice.. society is already gone the way of the Bozo..
  • 2 1
 you sound like your old man, when your kids ski they are on old wooden skis and cranky old boots, or parabolic with nice boots? Kids are out for fun, making it fun is key,
  • 4 0
 Can you do the same video but for hooking your partner into Mountain Biking?
  • 1 0
 Assuming you're a guy and she's a gal (just based on statistical probabilities), and based on what seems to work in my relationship and for friends of ours - pointing her to women's rides and women's clinics, arranging group rides with other couples, treating rides together as dates. And don't ever put yourself into a position of being her coach.
  • 1 0
 Love this Ben Cathro! I also wrote a Fathers Guide to teaching your kids the joy of Mountain Biking >> steller.co/s/a-father-s-5pSJwtvypcg All three of my Groms have taken to it and we have so much fun together.
  • 3 0
 Wish I saw this video in 1990s when my kids were born. Being a parent wasn’t easy for me and mistakes were made. Lots of great advice here.
  • 2 0
 Going on my 3rd Mac-Rider. We've had some great times on that thing with my boys. I'll be getting my daughter on in a year, while my boys rip some trail. All about fun. And snacks.
  • 1 0
 I started biking with my son when he was pretty young - he was trail riding at 4 to 5 years old. My daughters started riding their early teens. Things I have learned - bring snacks, the ride is for the kids - not me, eventually you will struggle to keep up. I am also a director of youth MTB team - the same lessons learned apply for the team. Never stop Chasing Good Times in the Woods!!!!
  • 1 0
 Hey pinkbike! It seems you don't use headphones when editing. You probably should, so we don't have to listen to this trash.

Here is a video on how to fix the sound issues.

Sound in one ear: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfHcnr7XGbE

Normalize audio levels: www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3vTEFQV0uo

Dialogue compression: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs9gZtggR0c
  • 1 0
 As a new dad only 4 months in, I'd love to hear some perspective from other parents who ride on how long it took to be able to get back to riding bike parks and doing real riding again. Sometimes it seems like ill never have time to do anything more than a quick hot lap on the local trail ever again. I don't know if theres any room in this series for that but it would be cool to hear from other trail parents on how they get their trail time in and still progress.
  • 3 0
 Perfect timing! My son turns 1 on next week. Any advice on helmets for 1 year olds?
  • 2 0
 My kids used nutcase helmets until they were big enough to move into an xs mountain bike lid.
  • 2 0
 Giro helmets
  • 2 0
 Abus Smooty
  • 5 1
 Easy answer - put them on e-bikes!!! Big Grin
  • 2 0
 Hey, Ben... Don't you think putting the rear brake on the right hand (also the right place LOL) can somehow help kids to get comfy with all the brakes thing?! :-)
  • 1 0
 Nah, that's the way are in the UK, even kid's bikes. I learnt to ride in the Continent so my brakes are "swapped" to the locals. Nobody asks me if they can ride my bike, hahahaha!!!!
  • 3 0
 keep the rides short session features as much as possible stop for ice cream and treats post ride
  • 1 0
 Wait until they're 15 and they hit Oakley line at Dyfi like it doesn't matter. They then take you down El Hippo saying "just follow me" and laughing every time you panic.

@weeksy08 on Instagram for entertainment
  • 1 0
 I tried so hard (definitely too hard) to get both kids and my wife into mountain biking. Here is a short video of how that went for me

www.instagram.com/mahalomydude/reel/C1NGuJkxqDk
  • 2 0
 I read “ how to bike with Ben Cathro “ can I bike with Ben sitting on my top tube.
  • 2 0
 @ben-cathro Could you please show how you mounted the little bike on your backpack?
  • 1 0
 Also interested in the technique!
  • 2 0
 My kids are nested in a chamois so far. Fair enough.
  • 2 0
 Bikes that fit. Make sure their bikes fit.
  • 2 0
 Get em in BMX
  • 1 0
 This as well
  • 1 0
 "Don't tell your mom" hahahaha







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