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No matter how brave you are sometimes weather conditions keep you from conquering those trails. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have fun with indoor biking.

Indoor biking is fun and effective training through the winter

by John Brown,

No matter how brave you are sometimes weather conditions keep you from conquering those trails. This is especially true as the mercury drops and turns our beloved Earth into something reminiscent of the Russian front. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have fun with indoor biking.

Indoor Biking with a Spin Class

Most gyms offer spin classes. These classes use a stationary bicycle, music, and instructors to guide a class through about a 1 hour workout. Spin classes are a source of indoor biking, and it gets you out of the house.

There are, however, a few downsides with spin classes to keep in mind. One issue is that a spin bike won’t fit the same as your own bike. To fix this, many riders will install their own saddle and pedals on a spin bike before each class. The other potential problem is that the classes are not tailored toward your personal goals. The classes are usually high tempo, high effort workouts that might not fit with your training plan. Some riders find they like the community of spin class but not the specific ride, so they opt in or out of certain portions of the wworkout.

Riding your bike indoors spin class

Indoor biking with a spin class

Using an Indoor Trainer

Riding an indoor trainer has gotten much more popular for riders of all ability levels, and it’s the kind of indoor biking where you can use your own bike. A trainer is a device that holds your bicycle upright, creates resistance when pedaling, and simulates an outdoor ride while riding your bike indoors. Using an Indoor trainer, you can ride from the comfort of your own home, or in a group setting (most bike shops have trainer nights through the winter).

Riding you bike indoors trainer class

Indoor Trainer Group Ride

There is usually a leader when riding with a group, but if riding alone, you can still have fun. It’s best to start with a plan. If you intend to just get on the trainer and ride for 60 minutes while watching TV, I hate to break it to you, but that quickly gets boring. So how do you keep the ride fun? First, you cannot rely on terrain to supply stimulus so you must create your own intrigue. There are no hills, descents, turns, or beautiful vistas to keep you interested. But you can use your trainer to mimic the efforts of a great outdoor ride.

How to Build a Ride

As an example, let’s describe a normal outdoor ride, then create a workout to mimic that ride on the trainer. The ride starts by carving through a neighborhood on our way to open roads. Snaking through our neighborhood would require some turning, braking and acceleration (a great natural warm up), so on the trainer you would do something like:

  • Pedal in an easy gear for one minute
  • Then for the two subsequent minutes, increase your pedaling speed (called Cadence)
  • Follow that by slowing that cadence down over the next two minutes.
  • Repeating that two or three times is a great way to get your legs moving

The next obstacle on our imaginary ride is a hilly section of road. To mimic hilly terrain when riding your bike indoors, try the following:

  • Shift into a harder gear and pedal at 80% of your maximum effort for 2 or three minutes
  • Followed that by one or two minutes of soft pedaling (hard effort for the climb, followed by no effort on the descent).
  • Repeat this type of interval in groups of three.

Finally, our ride concludes with a series of city line sprints (earn those bragging rights over your friends). To simulate this action, try the following:

  • Shift your bicycle into a difficult gear
  • Ride at 80% effort for one minute
  • Then sprint all out (max effort) for fifteen to twenty seconds.
  • Follow each effort with some soft pedaling.

Workout Example

A written cue sheet of this ride would look like the following:

5Min warm up

1Min 50% effort low cadence                                                                                                                       1Min 50% effort medium cadence                                                                                                           1Min 50% effort High cadence                                                                                                                 1Min 50% effort Medium cadence                                                                                                               1Min 50% effort low cadence                                                                                                                                     Repeat 3x

4Min soft pedal

3Min 80% effort                                                                                                                                             2Min soft pedal                                                                                                                                                          Repeat 3x                          

4Min soft pedal

1Min 80 effort                                                                                                                                               15Second sprint                                                                                                                                             45Second soft pedal                                                                                                                                                  Repeat 4x                           

9 min Cool down with drills

A ride like the one above takes one hour, keeps you moving, and only involves hard effort for ¼ of the ride. By switching up different intervals of effort and rest, indoor biking can be beneficial and very fun.

Trainer Pitfalls

Time on the trainer can be very beneficial to your riding, but it can also be very hard on you if done improperly. When riding outdoor, you have natural portions of rest while coasting or descending, but on an indoor trainer you cannot coast. People tend to pedal at effort on a trainer throughout the entire ride and overdo it. A good rule of thumb is to balance high effort with rest at a three to one ratio. If a ride calls for 10 total minutes at 80% effort, be sure to include 30 total minutes of low effort work.

riding your bike indoors tired

Too Tired!

Low Effort, High Benefit Drills

How do you keep the ride interesting without effort? Try including drills like one leg drills, high cadence drills, spin up drills, top only drills, and toe touch drills. These require very little effort but build new skills.

bike indoors

One leg Drill

  • One leg drills – Like they sound, these drills are done with one leg (see above). Clip your right leg out of your pedal, hang it away from the bike, and pedal with only your left leg. Try to get the pedal stroke to be as smooth as possible, without any noise or bumps.
  • Spin-up drill – With your bike in an easy gear, try to spin the pedals as quickly as possible. Keep increasing your cadence until your upper body begins to bounce, then taper back to a normal speed. Repeat, each time trying to get faster while keeping your upper body still (this whole drill takes about 30 seconds per spin-up).
  • High-cadence drill – With your bike in an easy gear, spin at the fastest cadence you can without your upper body bouncing. Hold that cadence for one or two minutes.
  • Top only drills – Try to pedal using light effort and attempt to keep the top of your foot in contact with the top of your shoe throughout the pedal rotation. You won’t actually be pressing down on the pedal during this drill, but instead pulling up.
  • Toe touch drills – While pedaling, attempt to touch your toe to the front of your shoe at the top of each pedal stroke. While this isn’t possible, it will help teach your body to begin the pedal stroke earlier in its rotation.

With a little research and a little experimentation, indoor biking can keep you satisfied while you wait for the weather to get better.

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Quick and easy tips for proper bicycle maintenance

by John Brown,

Like any other mechanical device, routine bicycle maintenance and cleaning will keep your bike in optimal condition. Additionally,  routine bicycle maintenance will make your bike safe to ride when you need it. Where do you start? What do you use? Well, here are a few tips to put you on the right track!

Tip 1: For a Bike’s Optimal Condition Stay Away from the Hose

Bike running smooth hose and bucket

Angry hose and happy bucket

Every moving part on your bicycle needs lubrication to stay in optimal condition. The pressure of water coming from a hose will forces water into areas that need to be lubricated. The water will displace grease and leave your bicycle susceptible to corrosion and excess wear. Instead of a hose, fill a bucket with warm, soapy water (Dawn dish detergent works well) and use a large sponge to clean all the parts of your bicycle. Rinse all the soap and gunk off with fresh water, and let the bicycle air dry.

Tip 2: Focusing on the Drivetrain

If you have a particularly dirty drivetrain* and want to get it clean you will need the following:Bike running smooth supplies

• Degreaser
• A stiff bristled brush
• Rubber gloves
• Protective eyewear


*(the gears, chain, and the little pulley wheels on your derailleur)

  • First: Start by applying a liberal amount of degreaser to the chain, gears, and derailleur pullies. Alos, pay close attention not to direct degreaser toward the center of either gear set. Doing so will drive degreaser into bearings that need to remain lubricated.
  • Second: Once well saturated, begin freeing up dirt and debris by scrubbing back and forth with the stiff bristled brush.
  • Third: After you have broken up all the contaminants, rinse the drivetrain with a warm soap/water solution.

Tip 3: Reapply Lubricant

Most areas of a bicycle are protected from the elements with rubber seals. Those rubber seals do a good job of keeping lubricants where they are supposed to be. Furthermore, it also means that the only areas of a bicycle that can be lubricated without disassembly are the chain and cables.

 Lubricating the Chain

bicycle maintenance

Proper lubrication is essential to keep your bike in optimal condition

  • First: To lube the chain, prop your bicycle up so you can freely backpedal. While backpedaling, coat the chain evenly with lubricant like in the image above.
  • Second: Fold a rag around the chain between the lowest pully and the chainrings. Next, backpedal with your right hand, while holding the rag in place with your left. You want to try and remove all the excess lubricant you can. When complete, the chain will feel almost dry to the touch, and thats OK. Even though the outside of the chain seems underlubricated, there is still ample amounts of lubricant between the chains links and within the rollers.

Lubricating the Cables

If shifting of braking feels rough at the lever, you may need to lube the cables. Here’s how to do that:

  • First: Apply lubricant in small doses where the cable enters the housing (see below).
  • Second: Cycle the gears, or squeeze the brakes until capillary action draws the lube into the cable housing.

bicycle maintenance

Making sure your bicycle is clean and properly lubricated is essential to make sure your bike is in optimal condition.

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The summer is prime time for fun in the sun. Take a look at how to plan for an enjoyable, safe, and prepared bike trip this summer.

A Guide To Planning a Safe and Fun Bike Trip This Summer

By John Brown,

Now that summer is in its prime, for fun in the sun, lets plan a fun bike trip. While hundreds of people flock to the lakes and local pools for refreshment many, like myself, will find refreshing the soul on two wheels the best way to go. Take a look below at how I plan for an enjoyable bike trip through the summer.

A Short Bike Trip

Just because you are limited on time doesn’t mean you need to miss out on riding your bike. You can have fun right around your neighborhood! I have found that a great way to plan a short ride is to first determine a destination point. That destination can be an ice cream parlor, a road you have driven down but never seen up close or maybe a nearby water park? Once you pick your destination, try to link in some sections of bike path, rail trail, or some quite back streets or road, even though they may not be the most direct route to your destination. After you pick a destination and a route the rest of the planned excursion tends to materialize easily.

What To Bring Along

For a short trip just pack water and the tools to fix a flat. These rides usually only last an hour or so but can do a lot to help your peace of mind.

Bike Trip

Ice cream is always a great mid-ride snack no mater if its a long or short bike trip.

A Long Bike Trip

On a longer bike trip it takes a bit more planning, though it follows the same order as above. Pick your destination with several attractions or points of interest close to one-another. Then, add some bike friendly routes and the rest of the planned  bike trip will materialize. On longer trips, it is also important to make sure your bike Is working well. Lube the chain, adjust the brakes, check your fit, or drop it off at your local shop for service at least two weeks before you plan to depart.

For longer trips, I like to employ the use of guide books (Like our Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide) to find the best places to ride. Once you determine the location, reach out to local businesses like bike shops, hotels, business associations, or tourism boards to find out more details about the area. As I mentioned before, a bike guide is a great place to start planning, but also reach out to local tourism bureau’s. Bike paths and trails have become a popular attraction for most towns and visitors centers are more than happy to talk about their bike friendly amenities and usually have the most up to date information. Also consider using software programs like: Ride with GPS, Map My Ride and Strava for more route ideas.

Packing For A Longer Trip

Packing for a long trip is more involved than what a short trip normally requires. If you will be driving a long distance or flying to get to the ride you don’t want poor weather to keep you off your bike – so pack for the worst! As an example, I once did a 24-hour long mountain bike race in West Virginia in July and while the race started under sunny skies at 95 degrees, it was snowing on the top of the mountain, that night. Take a look at our comprehensive bike trip list for all the items you may be forgetting.

Bike safety

A great bike trip is a safe bike trip. There is no more important part of bike safety than a helmet that fits. While crashes are uncommon, they do happen and a helmet is the best way to protect yourself from serious damage. Other than the helmet, practice riding safely with hand signals, situational awareness and limited distractions to keep you out of trouble. If you are on a family trip, it’s also important to talk to your kids about bike riding safety.

Bring The Bike Lock

If your ride involves time stopping, maybe at a restaurant or ice cream parlor, be sure to lock your bike securely. Follow these three rules when locking your bike. One, Lock it to something secure. If the bike rack or a sign post you plan to lock your bike to isn’t secure, you are making a would-be bike thief’s job easier. Two, Lock the frame and at least one wheel of your bike. Locking just a rear wheel or front wheel makes it easy for someone to walk away with the rest of your bike. Three, Lock your bike in a well trafficked area. Bike thieves will be less likely to try and take your bike with witnesses around.

Its All About The Fun

Most important part about making a bike trip fun is to remember, it I all about fun. We all have days that start late, roads that get closed, out of the blue rain falls, and generally stuff that happens. Remember that the bike trip is all about the ride, not necessarily the destination so enjoy your time in the saddle.

Bike Trip

Always keep it fun!


Shift gears to the terrain you are riding can take you miles from home with ease. Learn the what, how, when and why of shifting your bike.

How to Shift Gears on your bike for Efficiency and Confidence

by John Brown,

Shift gears to the terrain you are riding can take you miles from home with ease. Over hills and through tough valleys, all thanks to the ability to know how to shift your gears. Learn the what, how, when and why of shifting your bike below.

Shift Gears and Its Terminology

Before we jump into how to shift your bike most efficiently, lets cover the basic parts. Beyond the chain, there are many moving parts that make up the drivetrain on your bike, allowing you to shift gears.

-Cassette and freewheel

The gears attached to your rear wheel are called the cassette or freewheel. While they are mechanically different, for the act of shifting, they operate identically. These gears are built with teeth that sit higher, lower, or at an angle depending on where they are located. The different tooth profiles allow the chain to seamlessly shift from one gear to the next. These gears come in groups of 5 up to 12 depending on the shifting system you have. Overall, the smallest and largest gears are close in size regardless of the amount of gears.


The chainrings are the gears attached at the middle of the bike where your pedals are. Most bikes have between 1 and 3 chainrings. You will notice that the teeth on the chainrings have similar profiles to those on the cassette. So if you see a tooth that is smaller or oddly shaped, don’t immediately assume it’s damaged. Basic chainrings will be stamped out of steel while more expensive ones are machined out of aluminum. The machining makes these aluminum rings both lighter and shift better.


The derailleurs are the mechanisms that physically guide the chain from one gear to another. Most bikes will have two, a front and a rear. The front derailleur has a curved cage that sits just above the chainrings. When moved in and out, that cage guides the chain onto different gears. The rear derailleur has a parallelogram, and a spring loaded arm with two pulleys. When shifted, the rear derailleurs upper pulley guides the chain across the cassette and onto the appropriate gear.


The shifters are designed to pull the cables that operate the derailleurs. Most bikes have them attached to the handlebar, but some older bikes will have them located on the downtube. The shifter on the right side of the bike controls the rear derailleur while the shifter on the left operate the front. For mountain bikes and hybrids there are really only two types, trigger and twist shifters. A trigger shifter uses thumb and trigger finger activated levers, while a twist shifter allows you to rotate a portion of the grip to shift gears. Road bikes usually have the shifter mounted onto the brake lever, but can also have paddle style shifters on the end of the bar or on the downtube.

Flat bar shifters come in two varieties, trigger (left) and twist (right)

Road bike shifters are usually attached to the brake levers (left) but on older bikes can be found on the downtube.

How To Shift Gears

Shifting your bike is easy to do and easy to do wrong. For all bikes that use derailleurs, remember one thing – Shift only when pedaling. The act of pedaling is what allows the chain to jump seamlessly from gear to gear. Also try not to shift both the front and rear derailleur simultaneously as it can lead to problems. To get comfortable shifting, pedal on a piece of flat ground and operate only the right (rear) shifter first. You will find that as you shift into higher numbers (assuming your shifter has a gear indicator) it will become more difficult to pedal but faster moving. Inversely, as you shift into lower numbers it will become easier to pedal but slower moving.

Once you feel very comfortable shifting the rear derailleur, shift into a middle gear and explore what the front derailleur does. You will notice that the incremental changes of the rear derailleur give way to large changes when shifting the front derailleur. Going across chainrings makes a huge difference in how easy or difficult it is to pedal. Once you have mastered the front and rear derailleurs, you are now ready to try shifting in other than flat conditions.

When to Shift Gears

The reason we shift gears is to give ourselves a mechanical advantage over the changing surroundings. With this mechanical advantage comes some idiosyncrasies. First thing is that the gears are designed to allow the chain to move easily from one to the other when shifted, but hold tight under the load of pedaling. What that means is that if you are pedaling with a great amount of effort (say up a hill), and try to shift, you are asking the drivetrain to both hold the chain in place and move freely. Sadly, it becomes difficult for a mechanical device to do both these things. To make sure you don’t run into any issues, always shift while you are pedaling with light load, or shift into the dear you will need just before you actually need it. As an example, shifting into a very low gear at the base of a hill is a better idea than taking a run at it and trying to shift down gears while your climbing under load.

Gear Ratios And How They Affect Your Ride

When we talk about gears, what it translates to is how many times the rear wheel rotates per pedal rotation. So if you are in a very low gear going up hill, you may pedal two complete pedal rotations in order to turn the rear wheel once. Inversely, if you are headed down a steep descent in a high gear, you will probably be spinning the rear wheel 3-4 times per pedal rotation. If you think about gears in these terms, it becomes easier to figure out where and when to shift.

Finding The Perfect Gear

The perfect gear is always changing (and you thought it would be easy). Even though it changes, it can most easily be described as the gear allowing you to pedal comfortably. We all have a natural pace (called cadence) we feel comfortable pedaling at, the goal in shifting I to allow you to continue to pedal at that pace even as the topography changes.

Putting It All Together

Now that you understand the “what, when, why, and how” of shifting, it’s time to practice on the open road. Pay close attention to what your most comfortable pedaling cadence is. Oftentimes people believe that they are comfortable pedaling really slowly in a difficult gear, but find after some experimentation, that they can pedal for longer if they shift into a slightly easier gear and pedal quicker. If you are riding off road, experiment with what gears give you the best traction on loose terrain. Many riders will default to their lowest gear at the first sign of loose conditions only to find that gear has too much torque, forcing their tire to break free and spin out. All in all, body types, muscle mass, conditions, and personal preferences make gearing choices different for everyone. But now that you know the details, you should feel comfortable finding the right ones for you.

Also check out our article on related tips to make your bike more comfortable and faster.


Another Ice Cream Smiles Sunday Picture to get you ready for the flavor selections on the 4th of Jul y this Tuesday.

Bike Pic July 2, Ice Cream Smiles Sunday Adds Extra Fun To Weekend

With this cyclists family and friends rolling in, its Ice Cream Smiles Sunday! So pump up the tires and plan your #NextBikeAdventure with a stop at your favorite ice cream shop. Start the 4th of July early with the holiday flavor of the day!

Plan your next outing with family and friends at one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Ice Cream Smiles Sunday’ Pic   

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

With hundreds of custom bike builders in the US, and hundreds more spread across globe, how do you pick the right builder?

MinneCycle: Show Review and Why Buy a Custom Bike?

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking

With hundreds of custom bike builders in the US, and hundreds more spread across globe, how do you pick the right builder? Start with shows like Minnecycle, and when possible and have a conversation.

Minnecycle enjoyed its fifth year this past weekend in the world headquarters of Peacock Groove. Peacock Groove, in Minneapolis, is home to one of Minnesota’s most prolific bike builders, Eric Noren. Minnecycle displayed handmade bicycles from over a dozen other custom builders. Although the location is not a showroom, but rather a basement workshop, the setup created a gallery feel while still being welcoming. A location like this would be a hindrance for many groups but those who run Minnecycle are not your typical group. The workshop displayed bikes in every state of assembly, as a visual lesson on how a custom bike is built. Minnecycle can only be described as an unmitigated success. The attending builders were friendly, the feel was casual, and the work was outstanding. With a show this good, the only question left is “why buy a custom bike”?

Great Space, Cool custom bikes, and even Eric in mid-build

In Custom Bike Considerations, Size and Specificity

Custom bikes are great for riders that need something custom. I realize that statement sounds redundant and silly, but it really is the best way to define it. For instance, riders who have unique body types don’t fall into standard sizes bikes. As an example, it’s common for some riders to have a longer torso than the prototypical body type. These riders need a bicycle with a longer top tube than what is available on a standard bike.  However, a custom bike built with a longer top tube gives them the proper reach. Additionally, if a rider has unique needs, custom builders can make a bike to fit those needs. Many custom builders focus specifically on bicycle types not available through mass production. Great examples of these bikes are Cargo bikes, Adventure bikes, and utility tricycles, Hand Trikes, and Recumbent bicycles.

Quality and Craftsmanship

Being a professional custom builder is as much a calling as it is a profession. Although builders come from widely varying backgrounds, a few traits seem to be universal. Most builders are mechanically inclined, problem solvers, and are exceedingly detail oriented. Outside of those traits, a professional builder has the experience of building hundreds of bikes. So, when buying a custom bicycle, you are getting the cumulative experience and natural talents of a builder. Additionally, through every step of construction, your bike will be painstakingly reviewed for quality and alignment. That level of quality is not possible at a mass-produced level. While massed produced bikes are great, the attention to detail, quality control, and experience of a custom builder adds up to a truly uniquely riding bicycle.

Appleman builds custom bikes by positioning each piece of carbon fiber by hand to ensure the best possible ride quality.

Finding the right builder for you

Like Minnecycle, try reaching out to them digitally if you can’t meet them in person. Most builders are very accessible through email and social media. Find builders who are already making bikes similar to what you want. Ultimately, you are looking for a builder that you can get along with.

Bike Pic May 19, Its Mountain Bike Friday So Join the Fun Before the Next Wave of Rain

Its mountain bike Friday and time to kick it up a notch before the next wave of rain rolls in. So join the fun, then before the end of the day consider signing-up for the 3-day weekend Root River Bluff& Valley Bike Ride, in Southeast Minnesota.

The tour is  July 7 – 9 and registration closes tonight so we can order the ride jerseys.  They are Included in the tour package registrations at: Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour. Check it out!

Also, view the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide for your #nextbikeadventure.

Thanks for Viewing the Mountain Bike Friday Pic of the Day

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

Riding With Young Kids Can Be Fun and Easy With These Options

by John Brown,

Spring has sprung and you may want to get out with your kids for a ride. For younger toddlers who aren’t riding yet or are still on tricycles, riding more than a few blocks is unfortunately not possible. Don’t be deterred though, there are many different ways to get out, ride and bring your young ones along.

Rear Mount Baby Seat for Younger Kids

Rear mount child seats have been around forever. They are mounted to the back of a bicycle, typically on a touring rack, over the rear wheel. They are great for kids between one year and up to 40 or 50lbs depending on brand. Thanks to the height of these seats, they offer a great view. Additionally, most of these seats can recline slightly to allow the child to be comfortable. They also have at least a three-point retention and a cross bar to hold the child in place. These seats offer safety by having a tall, ridged, back rest that wraps around the child protecting their head and body from the sides and back. When using these kids seats, remember, It can be tempting to allow the kickstand to hold your bike and child, but they don’t offer enough stability to be safe.

Rear mount baby seat kids

Front mount baby seat

Front mount baby seats attach to the handlebars of you bicycle. Because of that, they give your kid the very best view of what’s going on around them. Unlike the rear mount seat, front mount seats don’t have a tall protection around the child. Also, by being mounted to the handelbars, they have a more negative effect on control than the rear mount seat. Again, be sure to hold the bike rather than relying on a kickstand.

Kids Trailers

Trailers are the top end as far as child carrying is concerned. They can hold up to two kids and a maximum of 100 pounds. Beyond just carrying the kids, trailers can carry a lot of stuff for the kids as well. They offer at least a 3-point harness and a ridged roll cage that goes around all the way around the children. Trailers offer tons of accessories that include, rain shields, sun screens, and attachments that can turn the trailer into a jogger when detached from the bike. They are usually fold-able and pack-able. Additionally, Trailers will stay upright even if the bicycle towing them falls over, another reason they are the safest.

Kids Trailer

Tag-Along bikes

Tag-Along bikes turn your standard bicycle into a tandem with your child following behind. They are attached to the seatpost of your bicycle and can be quickly removed if you are planning on doing a solo ride. Tag-Alongs are fit based on wheel size, with the 20” version being for smaller kids and the 24” being for the larger ones. Kids get comfortable with balance and speed of a tag along, and transfer that feeling into their own bikes. Consequently, these bikes help teach kids to ride their own bikes. If you are concerned about drag, know that they don’t have a brake (so your kids can’t squeeze a brake and act as an anchor).

Kids trail a bike

However you plan to get your kids out riding, remember to keep it fun. Pack lots of snacks, encourage them to explore, and try to choose a destination that interests them.



Kid’s Mountain Bikes: Tips and Tricks to Get Them on The Trail

I love riding my Mountain bike and want to share that love with my boys. I am dedicating weekends to teach them to love mountain biking too. The sense of freedom and excitement it gives me has been amazing to experience through their eyes. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

Kid’s Mountain bikes

Dozens of companies produce kid’s mountain bikes. They often have suspension, brakes and gears similar to adult versions. The kids bikes usually have either 20″ or 24″ wheels that will determine the overall bike size. Be sure to find the right size at your local bike shop.

Teach to shift

One big difference between riding around the neighborhood and on trails is the need to shift quickly and frequently. Most kid’s mountain bikes have between six and 21 gears with the higher gears being used on pavement and the lower gears for off road conditions. By teaching your kid how and where to shift appropriately they will be more comfortable while riding over varying trail conditions. I find it’s easy to teach this on the sidewalks around your neighborhood. Have your child ride down the sidewalk in one gear, then shift to an easier gear and ride on the grass. By shifting between gears and conditions, kids can get a great feel for how the gears work.

Teach to brake

Stopping on kid’s mountain bikes is about balancing two things; stopping power and control. Most brakes can easily produce enough stopping power to skid the wheels, but when the wheels skid, you lose control. I found an easy way to teach this balance is to find a short but steep hill with a clear run-out at the bottom. Stand at the bottom of the hill as a safety precaution and have your kid head down. The first time down, tell them to squeeze the brakes (front and rear) as hard as they can.  On the second trip squeeze a little less and feel the difference. Have them use more front brake or more rear brake on each successive trip. After a little while, they will have a good feel for the way the brakes work.

Standing position

When kids learn to ride a bike they do so sitting down. While sitting is fine for smooth roads, it can become uncomfortable when riding over rocky trails. Try to teach your kid to stand while riding, using your legs to absorb bumps. You want to encourage them to have some bend in their knees and elbows and keep their weight back over the seat. This position lets them absorb all the rough terrain they might encounter.

L-r: Matt Johnson and his sons Jack 10, and Cole, 9, mountain bike in Salem Park in Inver Grove Heights on Sunday June 12, 2011. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

Board trick

A fun trick to teach some skills involves nothing other than a board. A 1×6 piece of wood that’s about six feet long works best. All you need to do is set it on the ground and have the kids ride over it. Riding perpendicular helps them work on absorbing impact in the standing position while trying to ride along its length, helps teach control. A great part about the Board trick is that it gives a visual indication of where to ride without any penalty if they can’t stay on.

Up and Over

Once they get comfortable with the standing position you will want to teach them how to get over objects. To start, find an object on the trail that might be challenging for your kid to ride over. Take a minute to show them where to ride to get over it. Have them back up, get a moving start, and take a run at the object. By standing over that object, you can be a safety net in case it doesn’t go to well. Reach out, straighten them out, and congratulate their try. If your trails don’t have a good place to practice this, you can build an obstacle with a pair of two by fours and some lengths of PVC (see picture below).

Short and sweet

Do your best to keep it fun. Pack treats, snacks and drinks and take a lot of breaks. If a section of trail was super fun, turn around and do it again. Keep the pace slow and have fun. If you meet a puppy, stop and pet it. Do anything you can to keep it fun and a big part of that is keeping it short. Rides over an hour can start to wear out new riders, and take some of the joy out of it. And regardless of the duration, be sure to encourage the things they did well.


Kids are like politicians, in that they aren’t above bribes. I always take my son for a treat after the ride (our current favorite is a Smoothy from Wendy’s). This Pavlovian exercise can do wonders to reinforce the fun experience that is a mountain bike ride and encouraging the fun is the most important part.