The thought of having my kids on a dirt bike hadn’t even crossed my mind. I have two boys, ages 7 and 9, and they can ride bicycles pretty well. When I told my boys about the Honda Junior Red Riders program… well, it went more like this:
“Boys, do you want to ride a dirt bike? We can go on Thursday, so you’ll be missing school. Do you want to go?”
I barely finished the question – my boys were already excitedly jumping up and down!
The Junior Red Riders program is available for kids aged 6-12, and it’s essentially an introductory, hands-on motorcycle instruction in a controlled environment. Children don't need previous experience, they just need to be able to ride a two-wheel bicycle comfortably before signing up.
These dirt bike engines are 50cc and 110cc – significantly smaller than your average street bike’s engine that runs about 750cc. Perfect for these pint-sized riders! During the Junior Red Riders session, all safety gear is included – helmet, suit, gloves, boots, and glasses.
After the kids had their safety gear on, they were brought out to the pitch and got a talk about safety procedures. They went over the dirt bikes, and each kid got to practice braking without the engine running.
Next, they showed the kids the throttle. The instructor was stationary on the bike (now with the engine running) and slowly opened the throttle while the engine revved higher. She explained what was happening with the engine to the kids and then it was their turn to try the throttle and brake.
The Junior Red Riders program’s ratio of instructor to children is 1:4, so it’s quite personal. At one point, my oldest had pressed the front brake too quickly so he tipped forward a bit on the bike and the handlebar nudged his throat. It was enough for him to feel unsure and he got off his bike.
The instructor sat with him for a bit off to the side, and I don’t know what he said but sure enough my son agreed to continue with the dirt bike training. For me, that was one of the most important things that day – that my son got back on the bike and didn’t call it quits right there. Don't give up, perseverance pays!
As for my youngest son, he had no problems. How do I put this lightly… my youngest son is the more rambunctious of the two, and he has no issues going headfirst into anything. He’s the one I have to keep my eye on more, etc. So it’s not altogether surprising that the dirt bike experience came naturally to him! I figure, of my two boys he will be the one who will want a motorcycle when he gets older – so I’d rather have him learn proper motor bike safety while he’s still young, because I believe it’s a habit worth developing now.
Not saying that he won’t get injured ever – boys will be boys and if they’re anything like their dad, I will be visiting the hospital a few times before they leave our nest. I know my youngest is more of a risk-taker but as a mom, I can only do my best to prepare him for making good choices later on. (I am trying to reassure myself as I type this – being the worry-wart that I usually am!)
The boys had a great time with the dirt bike (I’ve signed them up for two more sessions this summer). They came out of it with a new experience, and were quite confident puttering around on the bikes. Hard to believe they learned how to ride a dirt bike in just a few hours!
Honda's Junior Red Riders program is offered at more than 10 satellite sites across Canada and their program introduces more than 3,500 kids to safe off-road riding every year. For more information, visit the Junior Red Riders website!
Here is a common-sense safety talk from another mom-of-2-boys, and read this for 5 Auto Maintenance Tips For Kids!