The many directions a family gets pulled these days found my wife working, my oldest son at a friends, and my youngest son (almost 10) and I home alone together this afternoon. He of course was “BORED”. So I asked him if he’d like to go for a scooter ride.
He was all for that idea. Then the parental switches engaged and the doubts ensued. I thought, “I’ve never taken the kids out on the roads before, just around the neighborhood”. “What if we get hit?” “What if I lay it down?” Previously the scoots were small but the Helix is like a small Gold WIng with passenger foot wells, grab rails, and more. It was perfect for starting the kids road tripping on two wheels. So we set about it.
I told him to get long pants on, real shoes (no Crocs!), and a long sleeve lightweight jacket. I set about finding him a Helmet. I put his mother’s full face helmet on him, adjusted it to his head, and told him to sit still, hold the hand rails, and to let me know if he got scared.
We set off at an easy pace on a mild traffic road. Tried a few corners, some easy braking, and faster acceleration. He was still enthusiastic after all that so we headed over to Rte. 1 to go visit Mom at work. Traffic was heavier and the speeds were 50-55 mph in places. He liked that just fine. We visited Mom for awhile then headed out for a leisurely long way back road return journey. Upon arriving home it was obvious he was hooked. The parent switches turned on again.
Instinctively when your kids are onboard you ride slower. You pay far more attention to everything around you. You wait for far larger gaps to pull out into traffic. You accelerate gently, brake earlier, and corner slower. At stop lights you stare at your mirrors ready to react to anything coming up behind. You are at a peak state of rider awareness. That said there are things you need to do before and after you ride with your kids. They are at an age that they readily absorb info and it sticks with them. Make it a teachable moment.
It’s obvious I need to have a talk with both sons about being passengers on a bike or riding their own someday. Doing a safety inspection of the bike pre-ride. Checking fluid levels, tire pressure, brakes, lights, switches, etc. What the dangers are, what to do if we have to stop quick, what to do hit a bump or object in the road, how to lean with the bike, why we need to wear protective clothing etc. I also need to go and fit them for their own DOT approved full face helmets. They don’t need $400 helmets like the “Stig” on Top Gear (as much as my oldest would like to have one) but they do need proper fitting (kid sized) helmets. I also need to get them some leather gloves. I neglected that safety precaution today. Won’t do so next time. Gloves are a key safety item should you lay the bike down at any speed. I am to often guilty of this lapse personally when I ride. I need to change that.
Being a parent is stressful enough. Doing so on a scooter adds to that. But it also allows your kids to participate in what you enjoy and thus become that much closer to you. That’s very important both for them and you. It allows you to teach them early safe riding habits that will stick with them for their lifetime.
So plan ahead, get the gear, have the pre-flight chat, start off easy, and build up to longer rides. They’ll like it for the same reasons you do.
As always, Ride Safe!