In Alberta, all children under the age of 18 are required to wear a properly fitting bike helmet at all times while riding their own bike or on or attached to an adult's bike (including in bike trailers). You will not be allowed to ride in a course if you forget your helmet, if it's broken or doesn't fit you properly. 

The government of Manitoba, together with CAN-BIKE Instructors, made this fun video explaining how to tell if a helmet is the right one for cycling and how to make it fit you: https://youtu.be/b6r3f7M_XOY
 
There are many different looking helmets, but only a few types: there's helmets that are only meant for biking, or only meant for winter sports (skiing/snowboarding, ice skating, tobogganing) and some that are meant for more than one "summer" activity (skateboarding, inline skating, biking). Any helmet - even the wrong kind - is better than no helmet if you hit your head, but please check your helmet to make sure it's the right kind for biking. 
kids biking
Some studies have found evidence that wearing a helmet increases risk-taking behaviour, like riding faster or closer to autos, and that motorists seem to give cyclists without helmets more space. Overall, cycling is a low-risk activity, even accounting for the "extra" risk of wearing a helmet. But accidents do happen, and all people make mistakes: you don't want to find yourself seriously injured or killed because something happened and you hit your head. Helmets won't save you from everything, but it's the only thing we can do that provides some protection so wearing a helmet every time makes the most sense. 
 
Find your helmet boring or uninteresting? Consider covering it with a Tail Wags Helmet Cover! Available in over 40 designs, made in Canada and guaranteed to fit over any kind of sport helmet, there's a Tail Wags cover for nearly every person. To see what covers I have in stock or order direct from the manufacturer through my Affiliate link, follow this link.
Tail Wags

SCC Logo is a Calgary owned and operated business dedicated to delivering CAN-BIKE courses to people of all ages. 

 

Melissa Malejko is the owner and only instructor. Certified in 2011, Melissa is currently the only Certified CAN-BIKE Instructor in Calgary dedicated to delivering CAN-BIKE courses.  

CanBike wR1 Colour

 

 

 

Course offerings: 

  • Level 1 (Learn to Ride/Fundamentals of Cycling) for children (age 4-13) or adults (14 and up). Also Level 1B for adults (14 and up).
  • Level 2 (Cycling Basics/Bike Rodeo) for age 7 and up (including adults).
  • Level 3 (Core Cycling Skills) for kids (age 9-15), adults (16 and up), families (parent with one or more child aged 9 or older), or women only (age 16 and up).
  • Level 4 (Advanced Cycling Skills) for adults (16 and up) or women only (16 and up).

 

I have taught nearly 140 people how to ride a bike in the last 5 years with the youngest being 4 and the oldest 84. In addition, I have taken over 60 people on the road through courses that I was involved in. My city bike is a Norco Plateau (bigger than the one pictured and beige in colour) Melissa Old Bikeand I also have an older Norco Bigfoot for mountain biking. You'll be able to recognize me because I always wear a zebra helmet cover from Tail Wags Helmet Covers

 

On a more personal level, I am a born and raised Calgarian, mom to one wonderful daughter, passionate about active transportation, and a pet lover (currently have a one-eyed dog, a cat with moderate-severe cerebellar hypoplasia, and 7 fish). When I'm not teaching courses, you may find me volunteering at my daughter's school, gardening, camping, watching CFL football games, biking for fun (city or mountain), snowshoeing, downhill skiing or ice skating (depending on the season). 

My parents bought me a bike with training wheels for my 7th birthday - in January. I did a lot of laps of the basement before it was nice enough to take it outside. I don't remember the process of taking off the training wheels, but it happened that year, because 2 days before my school picture that September, I fell off and cut my lip and skinned my leg pretty badly (photo evidence). It didn't stop me, and I've been riding ever since.

I believe in life-long learning and that there is always something new to learn. My personal goals this year: improve figure 8 in a parking stall, learn how to do a wheelie (on my mountain bike), kick my fear of the balance beam at the Chestermere bike park, attempt/master weave poles on my bike. 

How to choose a bike that you will be happy with

I am often asked, mostly by people who have never ridden a bike before, how to choose a bike. While there is no simple answer to this question, there are some basic things to keep in mind. 

Rather than writing everything that someone else has already said, it's easier to direct to another page, so if you are wondering how to choose a bike, here is some information: http://lifehacker.com/the-beginners-guide-to-picking-the-perfect-bicycle-1782443592 

Now that you've read that article, a few add-ons: I generally do not recommend anyone buy a bike from places like Canadian Tire, Walmart or Costco. These bikes, especially the kids bikes, are made with heavy steel frames (which will rust), cheap parts (shifters, brakes) and are really not worth the money. Bikes from sporting stores like SportChek are better, though some are still steel frames, as the people who assemble them are usually bike mechanics/technicians, but sometimes they cost more than they are worth and their parts may still be lower quality.
Also note that the prices in this article are American: if you are looking for a bike with an aluminum frame and good components, expect to pay at least $400 in Calgary, but keep in mind that with proper care, you shouldn't have to replace the most expensive part of the bike (the frame) ever and all the parts will work smoothly for many years. You may never have to buy another bike again (but do expect that parts, like the tires, chain and cables will wear out).  Our choices here in Canada are a little more limited, but there are still awesome bikes easily available. There are also options for buying used bikes that don't involve driving all over the city or interacting with strangers. 

Please carefully read the section on fitting: seat height in relation to the ground! I recently bought a new bike and though I went to 3 good bike shops and talked to owners of 2 of those shops, it was the 4th person, a regular employee, who actually properly fit me to a bike. One owner - I won't name the shop - actually told me that I need to have my feet on the ground, which is incorrect unless you're buying a "crank forward" bike, which I wasn't looking at. If you are just learning how to ride, you do need to be able to get your seat low enough to have your feet on the ground, preferably flat, but once you know how to ride, you will want to be most efficient and protect your knees from injury by having only a slight bend in your knee when the pedal is at the lowest point. It should be virtually impossible to touch when seated on bikes with the pedals almost directly below the seat. I would never recommend anyone buy a bike that will not allow them to have proper leg extension for long term!

If you would like specific assistance in choosing a bike, or recommendations on where to buy a bike - for yourself or your child, new or used - don't hesitate to send me a message

How to choose a bike that you will be happy with, when you're still growing

I am often asked, mostly by people who have never ridden a bike before, how to choose a bike. While there is no simple answer to this question, there are some basic things to keep in mind. 

Rather than writing everything that someone else has already said, it's easier to direct to another page, so if you are wondering how to choose a bike, here is some information: The Beginners Guide to Picking the Perfect Bicycle.  

Now that you've read that article, a few add-ons: I generally do not recommend anyone buy a bike from places like Canadian Tire, Walmart or Costco. These bikes, especially the kids bikes, are made with heavy steel frames (which will rust), cheap parts (shifters, brakes) and are really not worth the money. Bikes from sporting stores like SportChek are better, though some are still steel frames, as the people who assemble them are usually bike mechanics/technicians, but sometimes they cost more than they are worth and their parts may still be lower quality.
Also note that the prices in this article are American: if you are looking for a child's bike with an aluminum frame and good components, expect to pay at least $300 in Calgary, but keep in mind that with proper care, you shouldn't have to replace the most expensive part of the bike (the frame) ever and all the parts will work smoothly for many years. You may never have to buy another bike again (but do expect that parts, like the tires, chain and cables will wear out) and when it's outgrown, it can be passed down to younger siblings/cousins or sold - good bikes don't lose their value as quickly.  Our choices here in Canada are a little more limited, but there are still awesome bikes easily available. There are also options for buying used bikes that don't involve driving all over the city or interacting with strangers. 

That being said, there are fewer choices in style of bike for kids. If you are a younger CAN-BIKE participant, you may have limited options. Bikes with wheels under 24" diameter are pretty much the same. Once you get a little older, and bigger, more styles become available. 

When you have the choice of different styles, it's best to choose the style of bike that is designed for the kind of biking you're going to do most of. You don't want to choose a road racing bike if you want to go mountain biking, or a fat tire bike if you want to ride to school, work or just around the city. 
 
Once you've decided what style of bike you want (or what's available for your size), it is very important to find a bike that fits you! Riding a bike that's too big (that you can "grow into") can be very uncomfortable and dangerous, as can riding a bike that's too small for you. If the bike you are riding now feels uncomfortable in any way, perhaps you can identify what the problem is and change a small part of your bike without having to buy a whole different bike, but maybe not. This video (9.5min) has some information on how to tell if the bike is the right size for you and make some adjustments to a bike which is the right frame size: https://youtu.be/DeAGDfbkBNM Please note that every bike manufacturer shapes their bikes a little differently, so you may need to try a few different brands or sizes before you get the right fit. 
 
If you come to a course with a bike that is dangerous for you, I will try to help you with adjustments but if I can't make it safe, you won't be allowed to ride. If you need help, please contact me to help you! 

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