There are kids electric bikes now?
Electric bikes have long been popular with older riders. They are a great way to get around, even for people who might have ruled out cycling on a pedal cycle.
But what about cyclists at the other end of the age scale?
Why would a child want to ride an electric bike?
Do kids electric bikes even exist? Should they?
You could argue electric bikes for kids don’t offer the benefits of cycling – getting exercise, building independence, learning how bicycles work. Yes, yes, and yes… perhaps.
Truth is that electric bike owners ride their bikes more often, for longer and cycle further than most pedal cycle owners. This means more exercise, not less!
Plus, not all children are the same. Nor is everywhere flat and well-served by cycle routes. Some parents already own electric bikes that would leave their kids straggling on longer family rides.
Our part of East Sussex has a mix of absolutely level coastal land with enormously hilly Downs behind. Towns and villages cluster in valleys, or Deans, that run down to the sea. Riding anywhere other than towards the coast or along the seafront is hampered by rolling hills.
It is beautiful, but those picturesque rolling hills make cycling a challenge. It’s a super place to cycle if you’re fit and competitive, less so if you’re not as strong or if you need to tackle the same route every day – like a ride to school and back.
Electric bikes for the school run
My son moved to a new school much closer to home this term. A daily cycle ride to school suddenly became a possibility… until we found that an enormous hill (a 200-foot climb in less than half a mile) is plonked between here and there.
The shortest route is a couple of miles, half of it along a steep, rutted, flint-strewn public byway. It’s mainly used by dog-walkers and horse riders, with only the occasional off-road mountain biker tackling it on two wheels.
Few pupils cycle to school and none at all from our village.
At last none until we decided to use it as a short cut to school on a kids electric bike!
A brilliant kids electric bike already exists
I’d seen a kids electric bike, an e-bike specifically designed for children, at Haibike’s show in Schweinfurt in July 2016. It’s designed for kids who are 8 years or older, perfect for my son’s needs.
I took the plunge and my son still rides his 2016 Haibike HardFour RX with Yamaha PW motor, 400Wh battery pack and 9-speed Acera gears. It has proper knobbly all-terrain tyres, an easy-to-use control panel on the handlebars and really effective disk brakes.
This bike is no longer available but a very similar, updated 2020 model, the Rebel Kid Lite, is now supplied by BH Bikes.
Speed is limited to about 12mph rather than the usual 15.5mph + a little bit on adult electric bikes.
The battery can be charged on the bike or unlocked and charged separately.This model has three assistance modes, a speedo and good disk brakes. It’s light enough for him to pick up, hop on and ride into the distance without any trouble.
He’s found that hills, headwinds and flinty tracks are no obstacle, so he arrives to school invigorated and awake, not tired and sweaty. He loves it.
If I had one concern I suppose it was security. Where would the bike spend the school day? Fortunately, his school has a locked bike shed by the school gate. I also lock it to a stand inside for good measure.
So now we’re cycling to school every day. The weather has been fine so far, but wind and rain will come and we’ll both have to invest in mudguards, lights, waterproof trousers. We’re both enjoying our twice-daily rides so much it’s become part of our routine.
The other kids think it’s a cool-looking bike and admire the way the electrics are stealthily integrated into the frame. This Haibike has a strong overall look. It clearly means business but is a lot of fun too.
The new BH Rebel Kid Lite uses a new version of the same motor with a touch more power an auto-assist mode. We’ve written a blog post on the Yamaha PW motors with this feature.
How does riding compare to driving to school?
On a good day, driving to school can take less than 10 minutes, but it also leaves us at the mercy of the congestion that dogs the coast road and then finding somewhere to park and walking the last few hundred metres. On a kids e-bike, you can ride right up to the school gate.
Riding a kid’s electric bike to school is almost unheard of in the UK. The bike for the job simply has not existed until a few years ago and Haibike’s unprecedented innovation.
So, now we have the choice we can cycle to school, walk or drive. It really is no contest. If you find the journey to school a chore a kids electric bike has the power to turn every morning into the best kind of adventure. What better way to start and end your child’s school day?