Are Dirt Bikes Too Dangerous For Kids? Heard some discussions lately with parents debating whether to let their kids ride or not. When I see the level of protection and armor available nowadays I can’t help feeling the risk must be a lot lower than it used to be…
I like to think I’m not a hypocrite, but when it comes to my kids and motorbikes I fall squarely in this category. I feel comfortable flying down a twisty track bouncing off obstacles at crazy speeds. But then I get nervous when my son wants to join me for a ride on the dirt bike to the corner store. Why do I calmly accept the risk of harm to myself, but can’t bare the thought of my kids getting injured?
There are no easy answers for parents when it comes to how much risk you are willing to tolerate with children and dirt bikes. But it’s interesting to note we are getting too protective of our kids in many ways.
Related: Why Motocross is Great for Kids
For example, many use anti-bacterial soaps and get obsessive over a germ-free house to prevent our kids getting sick. And yet research increasingly shows this can lead to a poor immune system as our kids get older. A certain amount of germs and infections are needed for our kids to grow healthy. And of course the same is true when it comes physical activities like riding. Kids learn to assess risks with dirt bikes, and experience the consequences of their actions.
- They learn that life is an adventure that does involve pain too.
- They learn how to cope with the ups and down of life.
- At some point we can only be doing our kids long-term harm by wrapping them in cotton wool when they are in our care.
Of course it’s a natural instinct to protect our own flesh and blood when it comes to motorbikes. And like many parents, I resorted to the tried and true pyschological defence mechanism: denial. When faced with an unbearable reality, just reject it and insist the risk is not real at all. Eventually though, I realised I had to accept the risk of injury to my kids was real and we had to discuss it as a family.
My wife had even stronger concerns than I did, as she is usually a spectator being forced to watch situations she has no control over. We bought child appropriate armour, helmets and protective gear. We worked out a system of hand signal communications, and how to best enjoy riding but minimise the risks as well. And at the end of a great day, we discuss everything around the dinner table… including what went wrong or might have gone wrong.
There is a lot we can do to let kids experience the thrill of riding but also cut down on the risks. Get them good helmets, armour and protective gear. Actively teach them good technique, which will make them safer riders. Noah Ferguson is an extremely talented local rider making a name for himself as a junior motocross rider.
Now I must admit I would be freaking out if I was watching my kid over jumps like this, but Noah learned how to ride properly at a young age and progressively developed his skills so he can throw his bike around with minimal risks. And for parents who find motocross too much of a leap, get your kids into trials riding – the slowest and safest form of motorbike riding but also one of the most challenging. Kids who learn trials usually become extremely talented riders in any type of riding later on, and often with far less injuries too.
Most kids are drawn to motorbikes and dirt bikes
And yes they will probably have no regard for the consequences and at some point they will fall off and hurt themselves. But how do we let our kids learn important these life lessons? Riding with our kids has brought our family closer together and it’s great how when the kids don’t feel comfortable we discuss it and they are learning how to think logically about handling the risks. And get good protection. It’s always a shame when over protective parents deny their kids the thrill of experiencing life on two wheels and all sorts of other adventures… it’s understandable, but surely it’s better for your kids to acquire a few scars from real life adventures, instead of callouses on their fingers from computer games.
This video was inspired by Jim D’Andrea’s story in a past issue of the free online Traction eRag available here. Thanks to Jim for narrating parts of this vid. 😀
Credit: Cross Training Enduro