Cycling with kids is an easily accessible sport. As the saying goes, Cycling is as easy as riding a bike. We overview cycling as a sport for kids.

What is Cycling?

Cycling or biking can be a competitive or recreational activity or it may be a practical and inexpensive mode of transport. With over 700,000 New Zealanders owning at least one bike it is a sport that anyone of any age can do, almost anywhere.

There are three main types of bikes in New Zealand; a road bike, a mountain bike (MTB) or a BMX bike – all of which have specific purposes, so it is common for people to own more than one.

You child might choose to sprint short distances, ride over rugged terrain, go long distances, or “get some air”. All of which will provide loads of fun and lots of healthy exercise.

Where do you do Cycling?

Cycling as a competitive sport is often organised by clubs on a local basis. You can find all New Zealand clubs listed below on the BikeNZ website.

For a beginner or someone wanting to compete in an event for the first time (whether it be cycling, mountain bike or BMX), a club event may be the best option. If you want to advance, you can compete in national or island championship events which are co-ordinated by the national body (BikeNZ) in association with a host club and either Cycling New Zealand (CNZ), Mountain Bike NZ or BMX NZ.

Each club will have different facilities depending on which type of biking they are involved in. For example, BMX clubs usually have specialised tracks, whilst the track cyclist will ride in a velodrome. Mountain bikers will usually be found enjoying the Great Outdoors, on rough terrain.

There are also plenty of great private events in New Zealand. The major ones occurring each year are listed on the BikeNZ website below.

What age can your child start Cycling?

Children generally start cycling from about the age of three upwards, on a child’s bike or a BMX bike.

BMX is particularly child-friendly, with the majority of competitors being under the age of 19, and a huge number under the age of 11.

As the saying goes “it’s just like riding a bike”. Once you’ve learned how you never forget, and biking often becomes a life-long passion. Given that it is gentle on knee and hip joints, many people enjoy biking well into their 70s and 80s. You are never too old to ride a bike!

How do you progress over time?

Not everyone rides a bike competitively, but those who do will fall into an age category. BMX goes up in year age groups until the age of 20 but Secondary School events may have broader categories.

Other competitions are generally based on the UCI (International Cycling Body) categories, which are:

Category Age Group
U17 15 and 16 years
U19 17 and 18 years
U23 19 – 22 years
Senior in MTB 23 – 29 years
Senior in CNZ 23 – 34 years
Master in MTB In ten year age categories 30-39, 40-49 etc
Master in CNZ In five year age groups 35-39, 40-44, 45-49 etc

What gear do you need for Cycling?

It is compulsory in New Zealand to wear a helmet whenever you ride a bike. A child’s helmet costs between $40 to $50, and can be found in all sorts of cool girls, boys and racing styles.

At night time, if older children are out biking, they should also have front and back lights, and it is advisable for them to wear high visibility clothing. Apart from that, you should make sure their bike is well looked after and get it serviced at least once a year, depending on how often it is used. Most bike shops offer a maintenance service, or you can do it yourself if you’re handy.

How much does Cycling cost?

The most expensive part of cycling is buying a bike. Bikes can vary in cost from as little as $50 for a second hand child’s one, to thousands of dollars for a bike for top level competition. You will need to choose one which suits both your child and your budget.

If they wish to be a competitive mountain biker or road and track cyclist and compete in national competitions, you will need a licence, which you purchase from BikeNZ for $65 each year. International licences to compete overseas cost $110.

If your child does not wish to compete and only intends to ride a bike for fun or transportation purposes then you do not need a licence, although BikeNZ is developing a membership programme that will soon deliver significant benefits to members.

For most competitions there is an entry fee, with private organisers charging between $60- $80 per event. Local club events are much cheaper.

How much time does Cycling take to learn?

Biking or cycling can take as much time as you wish. Being a healthy activity, the more you do it the healthier you will be. Elite cyclists train for up to six hours a day, but it really depends on how serious you are, and whether you are training, playing or simply commuting to work.

Great Cycling Websites

www.bikenz.org.nz

The main website for New Zealand cycling. Has information on clubs, events, high performance and most general information

www.uci.ch

The best website for information on international cycling.

 

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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