Do you remember your first bike? It’s such a classic gift to receive as a child, isn’t it – and whether your parents painstakingly wrapped it, led you outside with your eyes closed to find it, or just hid it under a blanket, nothing quite compares to the excitement of that first ‘big’ present.
Halfords asked me to join in with their Bikes through the decades feature and share my own first bike memories. I was a mid-70’s baby (showing my age aren’t I!), so my first bike was firmly rooted in the era of flares, disco and endless tones of brown.
My first bike
My first bike was powder blue, with a white seat and the obligatory stabilisers. I’ve had a good look through the family photos for a snap of me on it, and I’m so surprised that there actually aren’t any. I pretty much lived on the thing!
I was particularly fond of the bell, which had a butterfly printed on it and was satisfyingly jangly when you rang it. The wheels were solid white rubber; if you’ve never ridden a bike with solid rubber wheels, consider yourself lucky. Don’t get me wrong, I adored that bike, but my word, it rattled your bones. I quickly got used to standing up on the pedals to ride over bumps; that’s something I still do now actually!
I was quite scared of taking the stabilisers off my first bike, and kept putting it off. It was my big brother who persuaded me to give it a go one day; he patiently ran up and down our drive over and over again holding onto me, then did the classic trick of letting go without telling me. I may have screamed… but it worked, and I was off.
70’s bike memories
Growing up, I lived on a quiet residential road that was a dead-end, so traffic was really minimal and all the local kids rode their bikes in the street. At the time we just took this for granted, but looking back I can see just how lucky we were to be able to safely mooch about on our bikes, having races, acting out elaborate adventures, and getting lots of exercise into the bargain.
We also all had a bit of bike competition going on in our road, in the form of wheel decoration. Depending on how old you are, you might remember those square-ish plastic clips that used to fasten loaves of bread – like these:
We all loaded these onto our bike wheel spokes, to create a rattling sound when the wheels turned. This was the era of sliced white, so we all had quite a collection! The aim was to get the most clips on your bike, but if you managed a good mix of colours that was equally cool. I’m really not sure whether this was a ‘thing’ with kids generally at the time, or just something that went on in our street! Let me know if it’s ringing a bell in your memory…
Meanwhile, my older brother was cruising around the neighbourhood on his Chopper, which is the model you can see in the Halfords poster above. This was THE bike to have in the 70’s; with it’s crazily long handlebars and motorbike-style seat it had the air of a Harley Davidson about it, so no wonder. I still think it looks amazing 40 years later.
I don’t remember this, but apparently when I first started school my mum used to pick me up on the Chopper. It was quite a long walk, and the big seat meant I could squeeze in behind her and we’d be home in under five minutes. Pretty cool mum behaviour I think, I so wish we had a photo!
New first bike memories
Fast forward about 30 years, and I found myself creating a whole new set of first bike memories on my eldest’s 4th birthday.
This is a boy who has been desperate to do everything at top speed pretty much since the day he was born, so you can imagine what having a bike meant. He lasted about 4 months on the stabilisers, until one summer day when he insisted we take them off and head to the park. Twenty minutes later he was pelting around on two wheels like he’d done it all his life.
Some childhood memories don’t change all that much from generation to generation, do they?
Halfords bikes through the decades
I’ve been having fun reliving my first bike memories, now it’s your turn!
You can see all the Halfords ‘Bikes through the decades’ posters here; with iconic bikes from each decade right back to the 1950’s it’s a real trip down memory lane. And if you’re looking for bike inspiration for your little ones check out the Halfords range of kids bikes.
Which decade holds those early bike memories for you?
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