Motorcycles and Kids: How Young is Too Young?

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October 19, 2010 | By: Patrick Garvin

For many of us, our passion for motorcycles is a gift from our parents. In fact in a recent blog post, J&P’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle tech Jake Herring said this about his introduction to motorcycles:

A couple of days after I was born, I was zipped up inside my old man’s leathers and cruising around Southern California.”

An evaluation of our interests and hobbies would probably reveal that much of what we do for fun is likely influenced by our parents, grandparents or guardians.  We’ve all heard the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and for the most part, this is true.

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are the times I followed my dad around the garage as he worked on projects. I watched him work on various machines and I’d stand as close as possible, making note of his every move, like a dog waiting for scraps to fall from the dinner table. Occasionally he’d look at me and ask me to help, passing me a wrench or a screwdriver. In those moments I felt six-feet tall and would often brag to mom about the man I was.

It should come as no surprise then that many of us want to share our riding passion with our children, whether it’s working in the garage or breaking in a new riding partner. With bikes made for even the youngest child, and safety an ever-growing concern, we have to wonder just how young is too young? Is there an appropriate age to introduce children to riding and the world of motorcycling? Do you take your son/daughter on as a passenger? And at what age do they get their own bike and ride solo? One eager J&P Cycles employee has already purchased a bike for his son who is only two years old. He’s just waiting for the day he’s ready to ride.

Motorcyclists know that riding comes with inherent dangers — made worse in recent years by cell phones and iPods stealing the attention away from drivers of automobiles. As parents we are charged with the care and safety of our children. With the changing environment, it’s more important than ever for parents and guardians to instill in their children a respect for the road.  Motorcycling’s next generation will likely be taught and inspired by the current one, and that means we must train them right.

For those of you who have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, at what age did you introduce them to the riding?  What do you teach them about the bike, motorcycle parts and the passion that can go into a bike? Send in your comments and share your thoughts on motorcycling, kids and safety from the perspective of a motorcyclist and parent. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments: 8 Comments | Categorized Under: Announcements

Comments (8)

just bought our 2yr old granddaughter a yamaha pw50 with training wheels. she has all her gear and safety gear and is now riding in the grass on our property. once she has the “go/stop” down, we will work on turns, and last speed. if she stays with it she will progress to the crf50. her mom rides a crf150r and competes in motocross. it’s in our blood. grandpa has a 1983 honda cbr1100f and 2013 ninja. grandma has a 2008 ninja. wont take the granddaughter on the street bikes until she is old big enough (she’s tiny for her age), mature enough and strong enough to understand how to hold on to the driver all by herself. can’t wait till she progresses on her 50′s from the grass to the pee wee track. She LOVES it!

We started our grandchildren riding on the back at age 3 with some safty straps. The first rode on 300 mile camping trips through out Michigan.

I grew up on the back of my parents’ bikes with my sister. When my daughter turned 7, I took her for short rides on my bike. By age 10, she was taking long trips with me. Now at 13, she’s chomping at the bit to get her driver’s license so she can go take the safety class and possibly (maybe!) get her own bike. We’ll see – it’s not that I don’t trust her, I just want to see how smart a driver she is. That makes all the difference in the world.

I started riding at 5 years old. My dad let me try and ride his Indian Scout.. After a few crashes I got the idea. Now 65 years later I’m still riding.. I still love the freedom and feeling of speed as I tour the western United States….

We bought our 1st daughter a quad when she was five for Christmas and our youngest daughter a dirt bike (50cc) for Christmas when she was 5. That’s what they wanted and they were mature enough to start riding. They both wore helmets, a must til they are old enough to decide for themselves…and not living with me! My oldest has no desire to ride a motorcycle and my youngest is ready for a bigger one. My husband and I both ride Harleys. As far as passengers….my oldest finally did with her dad once but not til this last year at age 15. She just wasn’t ready. My youngest will ride passenger any time we will let her at age 8. So it all depends on the child and how brave the parents can be. They will wreck eventually but we all do, even as adults. You just hope they don’t get hurt. Make them wear helmets, long pants and appropriate shoes!

I personally feel it’s up to the discretion of the parent. My youngest was 3 when I bought her a quad, now she is 10 and wants a dirt bike so when she’s old enough I can pass my cruiser down to her. She says she would be happy to take it from me now cause she’s tired of riding on the back. Now I have foster kids, the eldest is 4 and I wouldn’t dream of allowing him to ride a quad by himself or on the back of my cruiser. Using my parental discretion I know he is far too immature to be able to control a quad or pay attn and hang on while on the backof my bike

my earliest rides were with my dad & although i don’t specifically remember my age then, i know i was younger than five. i kept riding with mom’s friends throughout my childhood until a friend of mine taught me to ride when i was in high school. i’m waiting for the go ahead from my son & daughter-in-law to take my granddaughter (she turned two in july) for her first ride with me!! she thinks my bike is cool :-)

I really believe it has a lot to do with the mental maturity and awareness a child has and since everyone is different there won’t be a right or wrong answer, it also depends on the situation. My 11 year old daughter won’t get on the back of the Harley because it scares her. I won’t push her to get on it even though it drives me nuts. However if she wanted to try her hand at a dirtbike, I’d let her. Maybe her being in control of the bike herself would make her feel more at ease. Personally though even with a child that is sharper than a tack, I wouldn’t have a kid younger than ten as a passenger. They are small and if they aren’t holding on and you’ve got to maneuver fast and they don’t know it, they could very well fall off.

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