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Sir Chris Hoy's tips for buying a children's bike

Sir Chris Hoy recalls fondly his cycling debut as a giddy six-year-old.

"My first bike was a secondhand one my parents got me for a fiver from a jumble sale," he says. "My dad, unbeknownst to me, stripped it down, painted it black, put BMX stickers on it, changed the handlebars and pimped it up. I loved it and almost immediately started building ramps in the back garden.

"Long story short, I snapped the frame after about three weeks. I was really upset. I had watched ET and the bit at the end, when they are hammering through the streets on their BMX bikes jumping over things, that was all I wanted to do.

"My parents realised then they would have to buy a bike that was fit for purpose," he adds. "My first proper bike was a Raleigh Superburner - gold and black - and that's what I started racing BMX on."

Sir Chris has since ridden his way into the history books with six Olympic and 11 world titles to his name, but the Edinburgh-born cyclist says a decent steed is important when making those fledgling pedal strokes.

Having launched his eponymous bike range last year, Sir Chris has recently added four children's models to the collection. Each derives its name from a place close to his heart and includes the Meadowbank, a singlespeed bike (£270-£320) available in 20in and 24in wheel versions, named after the velodrome track and the Cammo (£400), a 24in-wheeled drop-bar road bike, inspired by a favourite old training haunt in Edinburgh.

Sir Chris meticulously tests all of his bikes himself but for the children's range enlisted the help of his nieces Dulcie, two, and Anna, five, who gave their seal of approval to the BMX-style, 12in-wheeled Napier balance bike (£110) and Bonaly mountain bike (£230-£320), available in 16in, 20in and 24in wheel sizes.

Here, Sir Chris shares his top tips to consider when buying a children's bike:

l Ditch the stabilisers: "I have always been a big believer in the fact that stabilisers aren't a good thing for kids because they don't learn how to balance, they learn how to lean to one side," he says. "A balance bike teaches that important part of learning how to ride. They feel safe too because all they have to do is put their feet down."

l Avoid super-sizing: "You may be concerned the child will grow out of the bike, but if you buy one that is too big they will spend the first two or three months struggling and won't enjoy it or could even hurt themselves," he says. "A decent quality bike will hold its value whether you decide to keep it and use it for a younger sibling or sell it on."

l Watch out for added weight: "Personally I would say don't go for a bike with suspension forks and lots of add-ons which don't actually do much or help the child," says Sir Chris. "The biggest issue I have with most kids bikes is they weigh an absolute ton. The manufacturers get away with putting any old cheap rubbish in terms of components on the bike as long it looks good."

l Take a test ride: "You may want it to be a surprise for the child but, if possible, try to find some cunning way to check it fits properly," he says. "It's important to make sure the bike is the right size, the child is comfortable and can reach the brake levers."

Hoy bikes (hoybikes.com) are available exclusively through Evans Cycles.

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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