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Making the Most of the Gears

It is important to say that there is no specific age limit to start using multiple gear systems. However, there are some skills your child should master beforehand:

  • keeping your balance
  • circular pedalling
  • using the front and rear hand brakes

Balance bikes and single-gear children’s bikes are ideal for learning such skills. On a balance bike, your child will gain balance and gets the firs idea about how to use a handbrake. On a pedal bike, they will learn to pedal and regulate speed using the front and rear brakes.

Need for Speeds

Sooner or later one gear will no longer be enough. For this purpose, starting with model Rascal 20 upwards the Rascal bikes are equipped with a multi-speed rear hub. As the system requires shifting without pedalling it is the perfect choice for children who are getting used to shifting. That means that children can change gears whenever they need to, even if they are not riding. For example, they can shift to lighter gear when they stop at the bottom of a hill. 

Basically, children naturally stop pedalling when they want to change gears because they cannot yet consciously concentrate on two activities at the same time - pedalling and shifting.

Derailleur & Chain

Shifting with a derailleur and chain however requires good synchronisation. When shifting, to move the chain on the cassette to a different cog, it is necessary to ease up slightly in the pedal force. This system is therefore suitable for older children who understand this principle. Derailleur can be found on Rascal bikes from size 24 onwards.

Mastering the Derailleur

Before your child starts pedalling and shifting gears, present them the whole process directly on the bike so they have an idea of how it works. To practise shifting, choose a flat or gentle slope with no objects in the way. Here are a few tips that will help your child to master the shifting process:

  1. They should always start riding with a light gear.
  2. When shifting they should ease up on the pedals and keep pedalling.
  3. Once the chain has engaged on another gear, they can start pedalling with full force again.
  4. When they want to stop or climb a hill, they should learn to shift to a lighter gear in advance.

Good Timing

It will take some time before your child is able to sense the right moment to change gear. Basically, the smoother the shifting is, the quieter and more fun it becomes. Therefore, pay attention to the sounds the derailleur makes when shifting.

Over time, your child should learn to use the low gears when getting on the bike or climbing hills and high gears for going faster on a flat and downhill. However, this will take time. Therefore, be patient and remember to appreciate every improvement your child makes.

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