Keeping up with a seven year old (on a bike)

I am trying to figure out what kind of setup I need to keep up with my seven year old daughter when she is riding her bicycle. She just learned how to ride and she already leaves me in the dust on her 16" kids bike :o

I ride a 26" Nimbus Muni with a Hookworm and 150mm cranks and I’ve just ordered a set of 125/150 moments to make it faster. Not sure how much this is going to help but the 150s certainly get in the way of keeping up a good cadence.

Does anybody know what the gain ratio on kids bikes is and how to figure out relative speeds of a single-geared bike and a uni? There is a wealth of information about unicycle gain ratios here and there is absolutely zero data anywhere on the Internet about kids bikes.

I am dreading the day she builds up enough confidence to ride a 20" bike. My only hope is that she finally figures out that one wheel is more fun to ride around the neighborhood :slight_smile:

you can do the ratio yourself by counting the chain spikes on the two round things. pardon my terminology.

On my 24" Schlumpf I hear a lot of “wait up Dad!”.
My daughter is 6 and rides a 20" wheel.
She also rides a 16" uni. Maybe that’s a better solution! :wink:

I have N29" and I can almost keep after my girlfriend riding 28" bike if she rides slowly. I’m using 125mm cranks then, so I think this may be a solution for you. Surely your little girl does not think about going slowly on her machine so you should compare her ratio to yours.

You can count teeth and then compare the size of wheel etc, but I think the easiest thing is to move her bike with one full turn of cranks (or some multiple) and then do the same with your uni and compare distances. If the difference is withing reasonable limits, then you should be able to keep up by spinning faster with shorter cranks.

You need a bigger wheel or you need to spin faster.

To ride with older kids on bikes, a 36er works well, so with your six year old a 29er would probably work fine.

The problem comes on hills where they can out coast a unicycle easilly.

Maybe you coudl teach her to circle back for her “slow” papa :wink:

I’ve got two boys (5, 7) on bikes now and a stable of unis. Here are some rough equivalencies.
24 Uni - kids bike with training wheels or slow kid on 16-20"
29 Uni - fast kid on a 16-20", slow kid on a 24"
36 Uni - fast kid on a 24, 26"
36 Guni - geared kids bike

Other useful combinations that keep everyone at the same speed
26/29" - bike - scooter
29" - jogging stroller - bike


Have you thought about adjusting her brakes so that the pads permanently rub slightly on the rims? That should help you keep up with her :wink:

29er should be could, I raced on my Coker with some little kids on they’re geared 24/26" bikes and I won:p I guess she isn’t going super fast on her 16" bike.

Ro, Thanks for validating the UNI behind the jogging stroller concept. I have an 18 Mo old daughter, who loves the stroller, but wifey thinks it’s too dangerous to ride behind. I’d argue the point of being more nimble on one wheel than most are on 2 feet. I’ve ridden more than a few times with no kid in front and seems like a no brainer ( a runaway leash on the wrist of course) Your thoughts?

I don’t understand the question. Kid rides faster than me. What do I do? Ride faster. As the kid grows, generally she will ride faster also, regardless of what she’s on. Since there’s a limit to how fast you can pedal comfortably, I recommend considering a 36" now, while there’s still time. :slight_smile:

The question is if it is humanly possible to ride fast enough on a 26" with 125s to keep up with a 16" kids bike :slight_smile:

I am definitely considering a 36" as my next year upgrade. The problem is that for now we are just riding back and forth in front of the house and I am supposed to stay close and watch for cars. It involves a lot of turning in tight places and as a new unicyclist I won’t feel as comfortable doing it on a 36".

Freemounting is another issue because kids don’t quite get it that it may take several attempts for the dad to get on his wheel and announce that the road is clear and there are no cars in sight. :slight_smile:

Hi, I’ve been riding with my kids for the last year or so. Started when I could barely ride, and also with my 7-year-old who was just getting off training wheels at the time (late starter on bikes, that one). The older two kids (now 10 and 11) were competent bike riders.
I started on a 20, then got a 29, and now have a 36.

Bottom line: Bikes (certainly 20" wheels and up) are faster than unicycles, even with pretty inexperienced little kids on the bikes, especially for an inexperienced unicyclist.

Nonetheless, I now ride regularly with all three kids on dirt xc trails, one of them also on a uni. The oldest just goes slow on his bike. Trail riding narrows the speed gap somewhat.

Ah, another thought:
Try to find a dedicated bike path separated from vehicular traffic, preferably with some long straight stretches. Then you can let your daughter ride back and forth while you work on freemounts etc., with no worries about traffic as long as she stays in sight.

Not yet mentioned

My youngest, just recently riding without training wheels on a 12" bike, is pretty slow, so I have a tendency to ride immediately behind him. He also has a bad habit of slamming on his brakes to stop and look at random ‘stuff’ that might be on the path or sidewalk.
While I haven’t landed on him yet, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. I guess my point is that you don’t want to be faster than the little ones!

were you trying to draft? not smart.

Uni + stroller combination is fun and easy and safe. Plus it gets even more looks and compliments, ‘you win the dad of the year award’ was my favorite. What would be unsafe about it? Steering and braking are straight forward, just don’t go too fast on a hill or anything and you’re fine.


Do you have other children? Would it be easy to replace the kid in the event of an unfortunate accident? :frowning:

I’ve ridden my 20" while pushing my two year old on her trike. The balance felt a bit weird, there is too much forward lean. She loved it though :slight_smile:

The non-verbal looks

I was more thinking about the non-verbal looks of the “Irresponsible Dad”. Does it conjure up thoughts like that or just in my head?

Yes. I used to be able to go 17 mph on a 24" with 125s. Not that I would want to do it for minutes at a time. But in any case, there’s the inevitable difference in riding pattern between adult unicyclist and small child on bike. It’s not going to be easy to combine the unicycle with the bike while trying to protect her from traffic.

That brings up the good point of eliminating the cars from your rides. Probably not very convenient, but could be a ton of fun when you have time for it. Otherwise, maybe you have some courts or other low-traffic streets around the neighborhood?

Only if you keep riding directly behind him. Try a little off to the side. :slight_smile:

This is equally true when riding with other unicycles. Though a group of experienced racers can cruise a mean paceline, for everyone else, riding directly behind someone, especially on uneven terrain, often gets messy.