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Distance a 4 year old can ride

hjghg5hjghg5 Posts: 97
edited August 2013 in Family & kids cycling forum
I don't have kids of my own, but I have a 4 year old nephew who I have been persuaded to look after for a day in the summer holidays. I want to take him for a bike ride but have no idea how far he's likely to be able to manage :)

He has an islabike with (to my dismay) stabilisers and he's perfectly happy riding round the block on it, I think he rides to nursery a couple of streets away sometimes.

He lives somewhere flat with a decent number of off road cycle paths to choose from - I want to ride a bit, have lunch and maybe play in a park then ride a bit more and have an ice cream - all fairly relaxed and fun, but I don't know how far apart I should be making each stop so that it burns off some of his energy without breaking him. I can then work out which of the route options fits the bill best!

Any thoughts?


  • flappy8flappy8 Posts: 171
    I've had 2 kids who have enjoyed cycling who are much older now. You won't get a massive distance with him, I think one of mine would do a couple of miles. As you say stabilisers are bad news, and especially off road..

    The method though is to keep them topped up with food all the time. Their tolerance to running out of fuel is near zero, and often its so sudden!
    MTB or Road - They are both good!
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,137
    My youngest finally ditched stabilisers at around this age and managed to do about 4 or 5 mile with a couple of stops pretty much straight away, then completed the monsal trail and various other local flattish trails before he turned 6. Now 7 nearly 8 he rides 4 mile to and from the local trail centre and then around the blue runs and loves it with obligatory beans on toast in between in the trail centre cafe. Why not take a spanner with you and remove his stabilisers in a local park and get him to try going on his own. You never know with a bit of patience and encouragement you might succeed is losing the extra wheels. Part of the job is done for you as he has a decent set of wheels to start with. Just don't do what i did which was to try my son on grass thinking if he falls it won't hurt. Bad move they struggle to balance on the grass as the tyres sink into the grass. Stick to hard standing its easier, try getting him to use the bike as a balance bike first then pedalling. Have fun with the steering and braking its like they have to learn it over again as they forget because they concentrate on balancing. Good luck and hope you both enjoy the day together
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    Agree - Consider a different activity with him... ditching the stabilisers. :twisted:

    Often, it's the "trusted grown up" instead of the parents, that can make the breakthrough.

    Then, next time you have an afternoon with him, he'll be far more up for longer distances. 8)
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • hjghg5hjghg5 Posts: 97
    Thanks for the advice :)

    I'd quite like to get him off the stabilisers - he had a balance bike before so I was hopeful that he wouldn't need them, but his parents aren't really cyclists (the fact he has a decent bike is very much my fault as it was his birthday present from me) and didn't seem to have the inclination to get him practising so they went for the quick fix of putting stabilisers on it when he didn't get it straight away. But I only have him for one day and want to do something "fun" rather than trying to persuade him to try it without stabilisers if he really doesn't want to (don't worry - I'll have a spanner handy in case he shows any inclination to give it a go!).

    I'm torn between finding a biggish park that he can cycle round as far as he wants without getting too far from the car, or cycling along the seafront (shared use promenade most of the way) to the next town (a couple of miles each way) where there's the option of getting the train back (and a couple of places to stop/turn round en route).

    There will be stops for lunch and ice cream.

    I'm sure I'm overplanning this and if we just went out for a ride I could make it up on the fly, but I don't want to risk my sister's wrath if I take him back broken! (although if he's just a little tired I'm sure she could live with that...)
  • baudmanbaudman Posts: 757
    Is the runbike still around? A quick refresher on that, then on his Islabike (in pedal-free runbike mode) and then like a big boy with pedals... it can take, literally, minutes. And that WILL be fun (and rewarding) - for both of you.

    And if it looks like it's gonna take longer, then you have your contingencies.
    Commute - MASI Souville3 | Road/CX - MASI Speciale CX | Family - 80s ugly | Utility - Cargobike
  • hjghg5hjghg5 Posts: 97
    Yes, it's being saved for his little brother :)
  • As above you have to do two things, plenty of stops ........ i.e. show them something interesting, then go again. Secondly keep throwing bits of food into them. As the above poster said one second a bag of energy and the next a knackered moody mess. Don't worry if that means they don't eat all their lunch ....... you need to have a good time and constantly fed infant is a happy one.

    When we do any trips or traveling holidays (or even a walk to the pub) I carry a sack of fruit, fruit shoots, pom bears, water and the occasional sweets. Included in the sack are also a kids magazine or colouring book and a PC tablet ......... so when you are eating they are busy and distracted.

    I used to be exasperated by my wife's fastidious over preparation for the simplest of trips .......... after a couple of solo trips out I have gone on both knees to humbly apologise for my arrogance and stupidity. You ave been warned.
  • I took a Sky Ride out yesterday and we had a 5 year old who managed the whole 13 miles with plenty of stops. I know a year is a big difference at that age and he was used to riding his BMX, but it shows they can manage more than you might think
  • Agree with Tigger - my not-quite-5yr old managed the full 8 mile loop at the Freecycle (with a few stops and a lot of orange squash & sugary snacks), plus an extra mile to get there. But even rather shallow gradients are get-off-and-push territory.. small kids bikes are, in proportion to the kid, extremely heavy (7.5kg bike for a 20kg kid.. worse weight ratio than a Boris Bike); they don't have gears (not that a kid that young would understand how to use them if there were); and they probably aren't going to be able to climb out of the saddle either.
  • paul_mckpaul_mck Posts: 1,058
    borrow a tagalong and take him out a good ride. my nipper loves going on mine. he can (just last week) ride his own bike without the stabilisers but for anything longer than 100metres the tagalong is perfect. I take him to summerschool on it we both love it.
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