2016 has been a great year for kids bikes and family cycling
2016 has gained a reputation for being a year we'd all rather forget. But before we consign it to the history books, I'm going to take a quick look back at what has been a bumper year here at Cycle Sprog. Here's a quick summary of the best bits of family cycling in 2016 - from bike shows and new kids bikes to new blogs and guest posts - hopefully you'll find something to end 2016 on a positive note.
We started 2016 with a trip to the 2016 London bike show, where it was definitely the year of the Cargo Bike. The star of the show for us was definitely the UK designed and built rocket styled cargo bikes from Boxer Cycles.
By the time February was in full swing things were definitely looking positive for family cycling, as Sir Chris Hoy launched his new range of kids books with Flying Fergus and the Best Birthday Bike. With four books now published and lots more promised in 2017 and 2018, it's great to see a kids book series that's based on cycling and fun to read.
In March we saw Frog Bikes adding a new Union Jack design to their growing range of kids bikes.
We quickly put the Frog 43 in this new paint job to the test - it proved popular with kids of all ages!
You can read our review of the Frog 43 here.
2016 was a very busy year for Frog Bikes, who also opened their first UK manufacturing base at Pontypool in South Wales, and came in the Top 10 of UK StartUps.
In April Cycle Sprog went on tour! We visited Amsterdam, where we rented kids bikes and a cargo bike and explored the city.
It's fair to say we weren't quite prepared for what we found - to be able to ride whereever we wanted, at any time of the day was unbelievable. Our 9 year old coped riding through the city centre at rush hour - there's not many capital cities where that would be possible!
It was a fabulous feeling to realise that cycling with young children doesn't make you weird but is an everyday fact of life!
After we'd explored Amsterdam we hopped on a train to Groningen in the north of The Netherlands, where we were reminded that 2016 wasn't going entirely well.
Just as in Amsterdam, the cycling in Groningen was brilliant, and we were also thrilled that we'd managed to co-incide our visit with the Energiewacht Tour UCI Time Trial where we were the lone supporters of the Team GB girls!
The downside to a cycling holiday in Holland is that you have to return home, which is such a depressing experience.
Thankfully it was only a couple of weeks before I headed off to the Women and Cycling Conference (WACC2016) in Hereford where I got to meet up with lots of inspirational women working hard to make cycling more accessible for all.
In May 2016 the iconic kids bike manufacturer Islabikes shook the industry up with the launch of their new Pro Series range.
There was a mixed reception to the Islabikes Pro Series. Many welcomed it with open arms as a move towards providing decent 'race ready' bikes for junior cyclists, whilst others asked why on earth would you want to spend £800 on a kids bike for a 4 year old?
During June, the Brexit debate was raging with "facts" and "post-truth facts" being thrown in all directions. I decided to imagine a positive future for family cycling in a post-Brexit UK, which doesn't seem quite so funny as the year draws to a close.
In July Chris Froome won the Tour de France again!! At the same time the first British victor, Sir Bradley Wiggins, launched his own range of kids bikes exclusively at Halfords, meaning even balance bikes could get some of the Wiggins coolness!
Obviously there was a big emphasis on road cycling - with a complete range of Wiggins Rouen junior road bikes to choose from.
In July it was International Baby Wearing Week, and with the help of mums and dads from the Family Cycling Facebook Group I wrote an article on the legal and safety implications of wearing your baby in a sling or baby carrier whilst riding a bike.
For most people August was dominated by the Olympic Games and Team GB's outstanding performance in Rio. Here at Cycle Sprog we took a break and went to Canada, where we enjoyed some unbelievable cycling - both in Vancouver and out in the Rocky Mountains.
We haven't yet published our blogs on this holiday, so you've got something exciting to look forward to in the early months of 2017! Make sure you're following Cycle Sprog on Facebook if you want to find out how we got on.
The summer of 2016 ended with our first guest post from Steven, who had a brilliant time taking his kids to Ride the Lights in Blackpool - definitely one for the diary for next year.
On the first day of the new school year we had the excitement of the Tour of Britain coming to town. It was great fun riding part of the route before school, and meeting Bradley Wiggins after lessons were out! This was probably a great time for him; a time before the Russian 'funky bears' had released various athletes TUE data to the world.
Team Cycle Sprog on Beast Banks - Tour of Britain 2016
September 2016 saw another ground breaking announcement from Islabikes, with the news that Isla Rowntree was looking to shake up the design, manufacture and ownership of kids bikes with the Imagine Project.
I was lucky enough to get to interview Isla Rowntree to find out more about her vision for a sustainable kids bike that takes all the principles of the circular economy and seeks to ensure that when the inevitable global and environmental shortages start to affect us, Islabikes will still be able to produce bikes.
At the 2016 Cycle Show in Birmingham we were impressed with the sheer number of balance bikes on display. We got a preview of Kiddimoto's carbon fibre Karbon balance bike - £999.99 if you're interested in splashing your cash!
Kids mountain bikes and clothing were also out in force at the Cycle Show, which hopefully bodes well for the future of the sport in the UK.
We also got to try out the Islabikes Pro Series on their demo track - very tasty indeed!
In October we welcomed Emma Young as a guest blogger to Cycle Sprog. Emma has entertained us with tales of witches and pixies at the Room on the Broom Trail, as well as taking us on a tour of her local disused railway lines, which are great for family cycling.
Another regular Cycle Sprog contributor, Kathryn, told us how she managed to carry all her equipment when going on a family cycling holiday.
Over the autumn half term we had a busy time - our boys did two days of mountain bike training.
This left Chris and I in the amazing position of being free to go mountain biking together, where we realised how difficult it can be to always be cycling with your kids. We spent time at Gisburn Forest working on our own mountain biking skills, and the next day we put into practice what we'd learnt on the Grizedale Forest North Face MTB route. It was also Chris's birthday - I think he enjoyed his child free day!
We also managed a quick trip to a pump track. I'd highly recommend this type of cycling for all ages, and it would be great to see more girls (and mums) trying this out.
As the dark days set in we went a bit balance bike crazy, with a series of articles that looked at What is a balance bike, what is the best balance bike for your child, and even what are the coolest balance bikes around at the moment.
Steven returned with another guest post about his family's experience of the difference between using stabilisers and a balance bike.
I asked lots of parents to recommend their favourite balance bikes. We obviously then had to do a feature on the Puky Balance bikes, which came out top in this poll.
Just when we thought we'd had enough of balance bikes, everyone got really excited when a new LED light up balance bike arrived in the UK - it appears that there is a market for an adult version amongst Cycle Sprog readers!
With my head full of balance bikes, Chris got a bee in his bonnet about finding teenage-sized mountain bikes - in particular that elusive 26" wheeled MTB. He was also impressed with Kona's 2017 MTB offerings for the same age group.
As 2016 drew to a close we got a glimpse of the first prototype coming out of the Islabikes Imagine Project. The Islabikes Imagine 20 still has a long way to go, but we definitely liked the first iteration and look forward to seeing what comes next in 2017.
In the run up to Christmas I tried to find some decent bicycle themed gifts for girls (that weren't all pink and sparkly), and had mixed results.
I also had fun hunting down cycling themed presents that also help support the local small businesses in the Kendal area, a year after the devastating floods of Storm Desmond.
Regular readers will also have noticed that I found a great free new tool that makes graphics really quickly and easily!!!!
Finally, Cycle Sprog ended 2016 with a look at all the new kids books that were released this year that feature cycling. The sheer number was a surprise, and hopefully this will be one legacy from 2016 that goes forward into 2017.
I'd love to hear what your 2016 family cycling highlight has been - do please leave me a comment at the end of this post.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM CYCLE SPROG!
Chris, the boys and myself would like to thank all of our wonderful readers and contributors for your support and encouragement this year.
Have a very enjoyable new year, and here's wishing you a happy and healthy 2017. Hopefully it will be a year full of family cycling adventures for us all. We'd love to hear how you get on, so please do keep in touch via the Cycle Sprog Facebook page or our Twitter account.
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