Child Safety Harness For Motorcycle
A few people have told me that they think motorcycling is too dangerous an activity to involve kids. My response is simply that since I believe, after taking a long sober look at the risks and preparing myself for them, that it's safe enough for their parent to do, it's safe enough for kids as well, assuming I consider their needs. And I'll sometimes add that if people would stop talking on their cell phones in traffic and engage their brains, it would be safer for everyone.
Begin with an honest conversation between yourself and the other parent about whether both parties—you and the child—are ready to ride. My daughters got their first sidecar rides around age 4, but it was almost four more years before I decided they were ready for the passenger seat. Kids must be big enough to reach the footpegs and strong enough to hold on. More importantly, they need the mental awareness to be a good passenger—to pay attention, stay calm and follow the rider’s lead. Never force an unwilling child to ride—fear can literally be paralyzing. The operator must be mature as well. This is no time to show off. It doesn’t take much to thrill a 10-year-old. He or she will be plenty impressed by a smooth, gentle ride.
Since this article was originally printed, a new web-based company Family Motorcycling.com has sprung up to serve this motorcycle-apparel market segment, with textile and armored jackets and pants and gloves made for kids five and up. There is also a similar site in the UK, www.babybiker.com, with even more riding gear for kids.
My preferred system for carrying a young kids is the Child's Riding Belt (formerly the CRV Belt) ($129) from Child's Riding Belt Company, and imported by several retailers for the U.S. market. The CRV is a harness that goes around the child's waist, over the shoulders and between the legs so she can't wriggle or pull out. The quick-release buckles are all on the back so she can't release them, but getting in (before the helmet is donned) is quick. The child's harness fastens to a foam-rubber pad with handlebar-type grips. A large belt, attached to the front of the pad, goes around the rider's waist to secure the child to you. The child cannot fall off unless you do. My kids routinely fall asleep back there, and we have even ridden off-road, jumping and bouncing around, with no fear of them getting thrown off. Of course, if you did crash, the child would be attached to you, which might cause additional injury if they ended up between you and whatever you bounced against. On the other hand, you can also jump up to leap out of harm's way, and the child, since it is attached, will come with you, without the need for an explanation.
I tried talking to my kids early on about the potential dangers of riding, but they didn't get much of it. I do it every day, so how could it be that bad? To them it's pure fun, even riding in the rain (though they don't have rainsuits). With repetition, they did learn what they needed to be conscious ofhot exhaust pipes, not mounting from the right, keeping their feet out of the wheel, faceshield over their eyes, keeping their feet on the pegs. We have a simple system of communications, and we may actually get one of the communicator systems.