Have you considered getting your kid a motorcycle?
Not sure where to start? I find myself in a uniquely qualified position to advise on this topic. Some of my most vivid memories from childhood revolve around our family riding trips. Riding motorcycles has been a lifelong passion that has never left me. In fact, I love it so much that I started working in the motorcycle industry when I was seventeen and am still doing it today. I had the good fortune early in my career to work for American Suzuki in the Sports Promotions department. During that time I worked with hundreds of the top young racers all over the country. Now with two young boys at riding age, it is time for me to pass on some of the knowledge I’ve picked up along the way. As we prepare to become our own little racing family, I thought I would offer some tips and resources to help you get your kids riding as well.
Why should kids ride motorcycles?
You may have heard about why kids should not ride motorcycles (it’s true, it is not as safe as the cacoon of your living room enjoyed while playing a video game), but are there compelling reasons worth considering? I think so. Let me explain. First, because they won’t be able to wipe the smile off of their face after a good ride. It is so much fun for kids to have the freedom to make decisions on their own. And on a motorcycle, they are the only ones behind the bars. It provides a real sense of independence in youngsters. It is true there is a certain amount of risk versus reward with riding motorcycles. However, the pure joy that I felt as a kid riding with my dad and brother were unmatched by most other things I can remember as a kid and I want that experience for my kids, too.
There is also the adrenaline factor. When you ride a motorcycle things are coming at you fast and you have to be in the moment. Our bodies know this and release adrenaline which helps increase mental concentration, provides muscles with much-needed oxygen, and sends blood to major muscle groups including the heart and lungs. Vision, hearing, and other senses are improved and sensitivity to pain is reduced. All said, adrenaline helps keep us safe when we ride.
But it doesn’t stop there, it causes a dump of dopamine into the nervous system which at the end of a ride leaves the rider with an incredible feeling of well-being and in an airy state of happiness. It is a feeling that is really hard to replicate anywhere else in life.
In the longer term, there is a sense of competence and confidence that builds as a child’s riding skills improve. There is also a feeling of belonging, being part of something bigger. The motocross community is really something special. It is full of good-willed people and clean-living professionals that are well-suited to be mentors to our children.
Things to consider before putting your kids on a motorcycle
Before you put a kid on a motorcycle to “see if they can do it” you should consider a few things. In my opinion, there is no perfect age to start riding. It really comes down to the child’s mental and physical ability level. Consider whether or not your child can take directions from you and act on them. If they are headed for danger, can they stop or turn on command. It requires them to have comprehension and coordination to be safe. I’ve seen kids ride much younger, but generally speaking 4-6 years of age is about when kids reach that level of maturity. A good indication that they are ready is if they can ride a bicycle. A good first motorcycle for kids that age is a 50cc motorcycle.
What motorcycle riding gear do kids need?
Let’s talk about riding gear. During the learning process, it is almost guaranteed that there will be some crashing involved. We will call it low-speed tip-overs. These are no big deal if kids are wearing the right riding gear. But without gear, it can become a big deal fast, potentially sidelining their desire to ever ride. I’ve created a list below that is linked to some high-quality protective gear to keep them safe as they learn the ropes.
- Chest Protector
- Knee/Shin Guards
- Riding Pants
- Padded Impact Shorts
- Riding Socks
- MX Boots
How to teach kids to ride motorcycles?
Let’s explore what riding motorcycles is all about. In the beginning, teaching a child how to ride means finding a flat safe area for them to figure out how to control the motorcycle. They can practice riding under acceleration, deceleration, breaking, and work on turning. Once these concepts are mastered, it’s time to take them to the trails and slowly introduce new obstacles for them to try. Even at these early stages, you can start talking to them about looking farther ahead, making good line choices, avoiding rocks, ruts, roots, etc. Once your little guy/gal has the skills to control their motorcycle, they are ready to head out to a motocross track. Many of the major motocross facilities have Peewee Tracks with small rolling bumps and groomed turns. They are perfect for building the skills kids need when they move over to the big tracks. If you’re looking for more of a hands on training approach The SLMX School offers motocross training for all ages and skill levels.
Unlike many sports, motorcycles can be ridden year-round and tracks are usually open rain or shine. Of course, really bad weather can keep tracks closed, and depending on where you live, riding can be a little more seasonal. In states like California, Texas, and Florida it is usually pretty easy to ride all year round. In southern states, a little rain is usually a good thing because wet dirt means good traction, and good traction equals fun riding.
Looking for a Peewee MX track?
I’ve linked to a list of tracks in California that cater to kids below.
- Argyll MX – 4813 Cook Ln, Dixon, CA
- Barona Oaks Motocross Park – 1800 Wildcat Canyon Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040
- Cahuilla Creek Motocross – 50100 US Highway 371, Anza, CA 92539
- Cal City MX Park – 24510 168th St., California City 93505
- Club Moto – 7727 Altamonte Pass Road, Livermore, CA 94551
- Diablo MX Ranch – 50 Camino Diablo Brentwood, CA 94513
- DT1 MX Park – 2300 W. Paige Ave. Tulare CA 93274
- E-Street MX – 981 Shad Rd, Marysville, CA 95901
- Glen Helen Raceway – 18585 Verdemont Ranch Rd, San Bernardino, CA 92407
- Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park – 20700 Cereal St, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
- MMX Racing – 981 Shad Rd. Marysville, CA 95901
- Perris Raceway – 1205 Burton Rd, Perris, CA 92570
- Sunrise MX Park – 1101 Race Road, Adelanto, CA 92301
If you have been considering getting your kid into motorcycle riding I hope this has helped. Like I said at the beginning, riding has been a life long passion of mine, if you have any questions about how to get your kids started please contact me. I love talking moto!
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