START EM’ YOUNG!Posted On: January 21, 2019 By : AutoLife Team
Children often imitate their parents, and it came as no surprise when my son started following my footsteps as he learned to walk. I worked in the motorcycle sales industry when he was born so he grew up understanding the world around him as one that was full of parts and accessories that made up this shiny thing which was fascinating. Soon enough, we found ourselves giving him his first set of wheels instead of a rocking horse. His eyes grew wide as he saw his new favorite toy, and at this point I knew that I had successfully started him young into the world of motorcycles.
At age 1, we gave him a Strider. A light-weight pedal-less bicycle with adjustable handlebars and seats that could be adjusted to his needs as he grew was his favorite toy, and still is today. It wasn’t long after that the Strider came off its secured rocker and the wheels were turning during our walks. Soon to be followed by short rides on a small motorcycle while being strapped onto the fuel tank. While it’s common (not saying it’s safe) in Nepal for kids to ride on the fuel tank or sandwiched between their parents, it is very uncommon to see parents encouraging their children to actually ride motorcycles. This is due to many reasons such as the unavailability of kid’s specific pit bikes such as the Honda crf50 and Yamaha PW50 that are geared toward young enthusiasts, the high cost of petrol, and the general lack of infrastructure that allows enough space for young riders to practice riding motorcycles. But let’s assume that our society moves towards encouraging kids to ride and building the necessary infrastructure for it, what are the pros and cons of introducing such a sport?
Here are a few reasons why I think we should consider introducing our children to the world of motorcycles at an early age.
Let’s face it. We all live busy lives and we do our best to spend time with our kids. However, after a long day it’s easiest to turn on the T.V and put on your favorite show, and soon this becomes a routine. Introducing motorcycling is one of those sport/hobby that encourages the parent to spend more time with their child outdoors. It builds a relationship of trust on both ends while having fun.
MOTOR SKILLS AND REFLEX DEVELOPMENT
Kids are growing and learning new skills every day. Specially during the early years of life, the more practice a child gets that challenges their co-ordination and motor skills, the better their reflexes will be as an adult. In the end, this will result in a much more precise rider than someone who has not had the exposure to develop this skill set.
Most kids enjoy making friends. Traditionally this is through educational institutions, at the playground, or over a friendly game of football with the neighborhood kids. Motorcycles have been popular enough with most kids that with a little encouragement this sport could boom among the youth enabling them to create their own little community of ‘kids that ride’.
REINFORCING GOOD HEALTH
Motorcycling is a physically demanding sport. As such, it always requires riders to maintain optimum health. Unlike most sports which require obvious physical effort, motorcycling appears deceptively easy to the uninitiated. When children discover how physically demanding it can be and the lengths riders go to in order to stay in the best shape possible, they better realize how important good health really is – even for those activities which may not appear to require it.
TEACHES THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFETY GEAR
Because motorcycling has its share of dangers, all professional racers utilize safety equipment and precautions. When children are introduced to this aspect at an early age, they get to see their favorite motorcycle racer even at the most amateur of stages is on the track without at least a helmet, goggles and boots. This is an important lesson that has implications in all aspects of everyday life. The risk isn’t worth it. Plus, professional motorcycle rider gear makes safety look cool.
PROMOTES WORK ETHIC AND TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS
Riding a dirt bike can only occur in specific locations (off-road locations which usually need to be traveled to) and for a limited amount of time (based on the amount of fuel available on any particular excursion). Because of this, a youngster is given adequate reason to work hard to improve with the time they have. This is unlike activities which they may participate in at any time or for as long as they want.
HELPS BUILD DEXTERITY
Most motorcycles designed for kids have throttles, front brakes, rear brakes and clutches. In order to ride one, kids have to manage all of the controls while they steer at the same time – and keep the bike upright through proper balance. For beginners, it isn’t easy, but operating multiple controls simultaneously is a skill that they can use in other facets of their lives as well.
DEALING WITH WINS AND LOSSES
Assuming we build the necessary infrastructure to allow kids to race, unlike other sports or situations where there is a single winning side and a single losing side, everyone except for first place faces a degree of loss. Since children can watch others who are experiencing the same bitter feeling of defeat as they are, they can learn how to accept it in an appropriate manner and with dignity. Since many of the competitors get to know each other, it’s easier for children to congratulate those who beat them in a race. With the right support and encouragement from their parents, they can discover that racing (and competition in general) is about having fun, not winning.
TEACHES IMPORTANT DRIVING SKILLS
Many adults ride motorcycles, but nearly everyone learns how to drive when they’re at licensable age. By learning how to ride a simple dirt bike while young, kids have a driving advantage over their peers later on. While it’s true that driving a dirt bike and driving an automobile are quite different, many skills are the same or at least transferrable – speed judgment for nearby vehicles, peripheral awareness, responsiveness to unexpected obstacles, etc.
TEACHES THEM ABOUT MAINTAINING THEIR VEHICLES
Regular maintenance is key to keeping a motorcycle running properly. This helps kids learn how crucial it is to take care of what they have. This is an important habit that will carry over into their adult life when they own a car or a home. Not only can kids learn the value of maintenance, they can also learn how to perform it as well. Of course, most things are best left for the adults, but kids can safely check tire pressure, tighten spokes, clean an air filter and more. Performing mechanical work also helps children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Kids who learn basic mechanical repairs alongside their parents build a foundation of mechanical skills (and basic mechanical logic) that will translate into other areas of their life.