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Common Sense Approach to Motorcycle Riding with KidsBy Becky Fenton
Youíve taken that first ride around the campground, with your kid hanging onto you, and youíre now thinking about hitting the road with Junior. This FAQ is to help you in making those daydreams can come true. Iíll leave the lecture on the hazards of motorcycling with kids to your parentsÖ
The Basic Stuff
Never put a child in front of you on a motorcycle, whether itís on the seat or on the gas tank. If they are too small to ride behind you, leave it until they are old enough to hold onto you from the rear of the seat. Make sure a child is old enough to understand what to do when you tell them to. I have found this to be at about 5 or 6 years of age.
You need to set down some basic safety rules; Sit straight, donít wiggle around a lot, donít stand up on the pegs, donít lean over to look under my arm, etc. A very important rule is to sit straight when backing up a motorcycle. If you are in gravel or are unsure of your footing, make sure they get off of the motorcycle before you back up.
You need to set up some method of communication. This can be as simple as a tap on the back or helmet. They can then tell you what they want or need. If they are sleepy, or tired, pull over immediately. You do not want your precious babe to slump on a motorcycle. If you feel them slump, pull over immediately.
Children must be able to reach the footpegs, and must use them. You donít want their feet dangling. If your child cannot reach the footpegs comfortably, there are a variety of aftermarket products available, including universal footpeg assemblies that mount to the frame, and footpegs that mount to the shocks. The best variety I have found is at J&P Cycles.
A backrest is a must when carrying a young passenger. The taller the backrest, the more comfortable the passenger will be. If you have a dresser, look into the wrap-around backrest. Make sure the seat is also comfortable for your passenger.
Clothing & Helmets
Children need the same safety equipment as adults, when riding. Make sure that their helmet fits them correctly, and has a face shield. They will also need gloves, a jacket, boots that go over their ankles, and sunglasses. Child sized chaps are hard to find, but are out there. You can also look into moto-cross clothing. Remember that your child has the same chance of going down that you do, and dress them accordingly.
Strapping a child to a motorcycle is a big no-no. Consider it along the lines of strapping your child to a projectile. There are belts and harnesses that allow your young passenger to maintain physical contact with the driver. There are Pros and Cons to strapping a passenger to a driver, and both deserve consideration. If you decide to use a harness, expect other folks to ask about it.
The Buddy Belt is basically a kidney belt with straps. Itís useful for providing your passenger with some added confidence, when they are learning how to ride.
The CRV Riding Belt physically straps the passenger to the driver. I can personally recommend this, as I use it for my daughter.
So now youíre ready for that First Poker Run. Make sure that you bring along plenty of water and sun block. Expect to stop whenever your child gets antsy (at least once an hour). And enjoyÖ.