You will have heard of MAMILs, of course. That stands for Middle Aged Men In Lycra, who are those blokes who whizz about at the weekend on racing bikes, sometimes alone, sometimes in a group – always wearing tight-fitting technical lycra gear and those mad shoes.
There was even a film about them recently, I think in fact called “MAMIL” which takes a look at the phenomenon. One theory as to why it’s so popular is because it recreates the freedom that the men felt as boys, whizzing off on their bicycles.
I often lament that my kids have no bloody freedom. It’s society! It’s not just me, although yes, it’s also me. I think I’m relaxed but I’m not. I lose sight of my kids for ten seconds and in my head it’s the start of an Ian McEwan novel. By the time I was 7 I went to friends’ houses on my own – Kitty would never do that. By 9 I was certainly going off on my own on my bike. My kids? Never.
Kitty couldn’t give a crap about having her own wheels. She’ll scoot for ten minutes, but it gives her no joy. She’d rather walk or take a bus. Most of all she likes to be carried – I think in a former life she was Vitalstatistix and had her own shield-bearers.
But my boy Sam has the makings of a MAMIL. He just needs to do his time as a SBOAB (Small Boy On A Bike) first. I doubt he’ll ever take much advantage of sailing off on his bike before he’s … I don’t know… 25, at the current rate – but at least with a bike he can ride alongside Giles when that MAMIL goes for a run.
My husband and I have always disagreed about where to buy bikes. I say Halfords and always have done. “Halfords,” I say. “Why don’t we go to Halfords?” Giles always wants to go little independent bike shops. I’m all for supporting independent shops but not, I’m afraid, when it comes to bikes. Especially not the bike shops near us. One is just a stone-cold clip joint that I suspect of flipping stolen bikes; the other is an unfriendly hipsterish place which isn’t especially bothered about kids, only cold-pressed coffee and “authenticity”.
Anyway so when Halfords’ rang me up and wanted me to run some sponsored content I laughed evilly and said “Of course!” as it would annoy my husband. They suggested a story about scooters and I said no, it’s got to be bikes. “Will you mention the scooters anyway?” they said “Scooters are very popular at Christmas” and I said: “Well okay then.”
Sam and I went to the Halfords in Wood Green. We reckoned it was such a small shop that they’d never be able to fit many bikes in there but there they all were, in neat rows. We were seen to by Stefan, who was delightful despite the tattoo of a skull on the back of his hand. In no time we’d picked out a lovely red thing – an Apollo Outrage – the right size with sturdy wheels for all that off-roading Sam does(n’t do).
What Sam was really into were the accessories. I obviously don’t think it’s essential to wear a helmet if you’re cycling round at 8mph in the park, but Sam is a post-post-post millennial and he is safety crazy. He got a helmet, gloves, knee and elbow pads, plus a bicycle bell with a compass on the top – and I must say the accessories department was superb, I almost rather wished I was brave enough to ride a bike round London in order to get myself a hi-vis jacket and those rainbow streamers you stick on the handlebars. Sam was beside himself and he’s not that easily pleased at the moment.
Here are some other things Halfords would like you to know if you’re thinking about getting your kids a bike or a scooter for Christmas:
Halfords are one of the only stores that will built a bike to your specifications
They will be building bikes right up until Christmas Eve
For £10 you get a lifetime of free puncture repair, safety checks and adjustments, free fitting on parts and accessories and a service at 12 months.
Now for the bit about scooters!! Eh? I promised, didn’t I?
Scooters do really need to be checked out often as they get so banged up. I reckon that back brake wears out quicker than you think it does.
Halfords has a large range of scooters, from Micro Scooter to Madd Gear Pro; these come automatically with free lifetime checkups
For £5 the Scooter Care Plan gives you unlimited safety checks, adjustments and fitting on all parts. It also includes 10% off accessories when you buy your scooter and 10% off parts for the life of the plan.
For the rest of December, Halfords will also give you 15% off a new scooter if you trade in your old model.
Check here for a handy guide to which bike is right for your child; here is one about scooters.
This has been a sponsored post for Halfords and The Spike is super grateful for their support.
Lol my 5 year old rides 1.5 miles to school with me, all off road. One day he wanted to go on a path under a bridge that I couldn’t fit the buggy down. So I thought, it’s only a small detour, I’ll be separated from him for all of two minutes, a bit of independence is nice for him, it’ll be fine. I came round the other side and he was gone. Apparently some helpful lady decided to ask him where he lived, and marched him off home. Meanwhile, I was combing the park for him in floods of tears with several other people helping me. Who was in the wrong there?
I’d go for Islabikes or even a Frog bike from a local bike shop..they aren’t all hipsterish! Well designed for kids bodies and a good resale market as they grow
I’d agree with Isla bikes as the best thing but they are 3 x the price.
They are lovely looking bikes and I see these recommended a lot now, but they are hundreds of pounds and they grow SO quickly out of them when they 5/6.
Superb timing – it’s scooters for us this year and have just ordered the one I had my eye on for my daughter and will be using the trade in. There seems to be a lot more fuss about kids bikes these days, and grow through them so quickly. Both mine learned to ride at 5 and 4 respectively on an Apollo, which I had to pick up from, ahem, Halfords, when the indie-recommended singing and dancing beauty we paid a king’s ransom for made us all cry with frustration. They just need the time and the inclination, and one they like the look of more than anything else. My son is currently on a second hand interim one from a local mechanic who refurbishes them and gives the money to the local children’s hospice, so my scales are balanced until he’s ready for the next size up.
I bloody love Halfords for bikes. Bought my two sons BMXs recently at the one in Swindon. Super helpful staff, they went through all the pros and cons of each model, and let the kids ride around to test them.
Big up to the Swindon halfords crew!!
We don’t have any hipster type bike shops that I know about. Sound blooody awful though. Craft beers and bikes do not mix. Fact.
Definitely an Islabike – they are amazing – designed for kids and light! Also v good resale – in fact the one I bought for my kids actually appreciated in value…
We got my middle kid (now 7) a bike from the year last Christmas and he LOVES it, mostly because it has his name on it. Getting a scooter from there this year for eldest who will not deign to cycle.
My 6 yo is getting a second hand Islabike for Christmas, but his first bike was from Halfords and their service was great. The 4 yo is getting that one.
Helmets are non-negotiable for us on bikes and scooters, I have seen both my kids fly over the handlebars due to the uneven pavements