Let’s face it, riding on a motorcycle looks cool and your kids or your neighbors’ kids may have at one point asked if they could ride with you. So here’s a scenario. Let’s give this guy a name, probably Joe. So Joe decides to take one of his kids for a ride on his motorcycle. He gives the child a helmet that’s four times bigger and lets him sit in front. The child’s little hands desperately hold on to the gas tank as Joe speeds off.
So what’s wrong with this picture? Plenty of things. What will happen when Joe has to make a sudden stop or is rear-ended? That’s right; the kid will be thrown off the motorcycle. Or, Joe will have to find a way to hold on to the kid with one arm and control the bike with the other. If it was a scene from a movie (think fast and furious), he’d probably do both but he is not acting in a movie. When the kid goes flying off the bike, his oversize helmet won’t do much to protect him from the impact of the crash.
This little story might make you dread riding with your kids on your motorcycle but if done safely, riding with them can be loads of fun. Here are a few tips to ensure you keep your kids out of harm’s way:
- Buy a fitting kids’ helmet
- Don’t carry your child in front of you
- Get them proper clothing
- How to balance
- Teach them basic safety skills
There are far too many instances of kids wearing adult sized helmets, which simply come off during a crash. Your kid’s helmet should fit snugly. It’s recommended that you buy a full coverage helmet with a chin-bar. The chin-bar and the rest of the shell should have expanded polystyrene. If the helmet does not have a face shield, at least ensure that you purchase some goggles.
The downside of buying a helmet that fits snugly on your child is that they will outgrow it very fast but this isn’t a reason to scrimp. When you fasten the helmet on your kid don’t be surprised when they complain but that doesn’t mean that you fasten the chin strap loosely. Remember that facial scars can be just as devastating as a facial injury so making your child wear a bicycle helmet just won’t cut it. The helmet you buy for them should also meet DOT standards.
It is illegal to carry a child in front of you on a motorcycle and with good reason. Not only will it interfere with the operation of the motorcycle but your child can easily fall off. It’s much safer to carry your child on a seat that’s firmly attached behind yours on the motorcycle.
You know how hot or cold it can get when riding on a motorcycle so make sure you buy proper clothing for your kids to wear. A good riding jacket made of heavy leather or thick denim, has heavy duty stitching and zippers and zipped cuffs should suffice. This provides significant protection to your child in case you get into an accident.
Leather gloves are also important for your kids because they protect their hands from scratches in case you get into an accident. A number of companies manufacture kid-specific gloves. Just like the helmet, your kid’s gloves should fit snugly. You should buy a pair that has a strap so that even if the gloves are a bit large you can fasten them using the straps.
You should also purchase motorcycle pants for your kids. A pair of heavy weight jeans will suffice and don’t forget to buy a pair of boots that rise above the ankles. The shoes should fit well and if possible, buy a pair that doesn’t have shoelaces. If a shoelace gets stuck in a chain, disaster can happen.
Now that you’ve bought all the necessary gear, the next thing you need to work on is how they will balance on the bike. We’ve already established that putting them in front is dumb. By the way, there’s a high chance your kid could fall asleep on longer rides so that also needs to be addressed.
You could tell them to hold on to you as tightly as they can but this solution has a problem. If your child has tiny hands, they might not be able to hold on to you. So what exactly is the best solution? Well, you can buy a belt for both you and your kid. The belt has handholds your kid can hold on to when you are on the road. However, this is not a great solution for kids who are below ten years. Kids that age have a problem remembering to hold on all the time.
A child’s riding belt is the best solution. It’s basically a harness that goes between the child’s legs, over their shoulders and around their waist so they can’t wriggle out. It’s easy to get them in it and the quick release buckles are at the back so they can’t release them. The belt also goes around your waist so the child is secured to you. They won’t be able to fall off the motorcycle unless you do.
This one needs a little patience because kids forget very easily but with practice, these safety tips eventually stick. Before every ride always remind your kid to get onto the bike from the left side and not the right side. Remind them to always be conscious of the exhaust pipe and to keep their feet off the wheel.
Of course you need to take things slow when you start riding with your kids. It’s better to ride on roads with little traffic at first so they can get used to the idea of being on a motorcycle. Some people argue that riding with your kid on a motorcycle is dangerous but here’s the deal: if you can make it safe for you as a parent, you can also make it safe for your kids.
This is a guest post by Jackie Kalyonge who is the owner and blogger at Jadite Inc.