8 Essentials for Family Bike Night

Riding bikes as a family is one of our favorite outdoor activities. Just like hiking, we’ve evolved a lot this summer from both kids riding in a bike trailer pulled by my husband, to at least one, if not both, of our girls wanting to ride their own bikes. This transition has changed the distance of our rides and the gear that we need.

If you are interested in spending more unstructured time together as a family, biking is a great option. Here are a list of things to consider before heading out:

We temporarily added poms on the side of Cecy’s bike for our neighborhood 4th of July parade.

1: time

Sometimes it is a challenge to find time in our busy schedules to go on a family bike ride. It typically takes us only 15-20 minutes to go on a bike ride with our kids if we are riding around our neighborhood. I would budget 1-2 hours for a trail ride depending on travel distance and loading bikes.

2: Helmets

I’m always shouting towards my kids to put on their helmets. I want to make it second nature for them, like putting on your seat belts. I think it helps if you let them pick out their helmet in a favorite color or movie character.

3: Bikes

I don’t believe it matters what bikes you are riding on a family bike night. If you are looking for suggestions, we are happy with our bikes:

  • My husband rides a road bike that he purchased from a site called bikesdirect.
  • I have an old hybrid bike similar to this one.
  • My 4.5 year old rides a Co-op kids bike from REI like this one.
  • My 2.5 year old has a KaZam No Pedal Balance Bike like this one from amazon.

Of all of these bikes, we have been most amazed by how fast our older daughter picked up riding bikes (without training wheels) by practicing on the balance bike. Now, our little one is taking off riding the balance bike and getting better each day.

4: Bike Trailer with Connecting Pin

We have a Schwinn 2-seater bike trailer similar to this trailer. My Mom found a great deal on it at a garage sale. (I think we spent $15). We ordered an extra bike coupler like this one, so that we could easily connect the trailer to both my husband’s and my bike.

Schwinn Bike trailer

5: pack to carry phone and car keys

We’ve been using a simple drawstring backpack (like this pack) to carry our phones and car keys in. You can also purchase a bag that fits directly to your bike like this bag from REI.

6: water bottle

Keeping water conveniently accessible is the easiest way to keep hydrated. For me, that means getting a water bottle that fits into the water bottle cage on our bike.

7: Bike rack

We purchased a Saris bike rack from local bike shop Phat Tire for our anniversary present this year. This has been a great tool that allows us to go biking on trials throughout our area.

8: Proper clothes and shoes – AKA no princess dresses

My girls love dressing up in princess costumes. My oldest refused to wear t-shirts for the longest time, but I’ve convinced her that riding bikes in fancy dresses isn’t the safest idea. We were able to find some cute ‘princess approved’ active wear at Old Navy and Target. Her favorite t-shirts are flip-over sequin shirts. We also want our girls to wear good athletic shoes instead of flip flops or bare feet when they are riding their bikes. For this age, I buy Velcro which helps make sure the laces don’t get wound up in the wheels. These purple Puma’s are on sale right now at DSW, and they are adorable!

Sunglasses are also helpful when it’s bright outside and to keep bugs from flying into everyone’s eyes.

EXTRAS

Like any outdoor sport you get into, cycling and bicycling has unlimited gear to add to the experience. For example, we enjoy having a GPS watch to track mileage, but I wouldn’t consider this an essential item.

For our family, biking has created a fun bonding experience and we can see our girls’ self-confidence grow as they improve on a new skill. Biking is a good way to enjoy nature, explore our new home town, learn to communicate safety rules-of-the-road, and get some screen-free time together. Plus, it’s great exercise!