Monday, November 06, 2017

B-Line Indoor Bike Park - Now Open in Calgary

My son has long wished that he could visit bike skills parks or skate parks year round. His dream has now come true with Calgary's first indoor bike park opening its doors at the end of October.

Calgary's new indoor bike park, B-line Indoor Bike Park

B-Line Indoor Bike Park is located in NE Calgary off of Memorial Drive, and it will be "the place to be" this winter for families who don't want to put their bikes away for the season.

Riding the jump lines at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

What to expect from a visit to B-Line Indoor Bike Park

  • A loading dock full of amazing features designed for beginners. You'll find low practice features, small to medium pump tracks, and bumps to test your skills before moving on to the more intermediate terrain in the other rooms

  • 4 progressive jumplines that are clearly marked for all levels of riding from beginner to expert

  • A big air room called "The Bar" that reminded my son of a giant skate park. The best part though (for us biking families) is that there are no skateboards or scooters allowed at B-Line. This is purely an indoor BIKE park

  • A giant foam pit and Resi. The progressive foam pit has 3 different sized jumps going into it, as well as quarterpipes on each side. The Resi provides the next padded step when you’re ready.

  • Picnic tables and areas to eat snacks or lunch (bring your own food,) and for parents to hang out when not supervising or riding.

  • A public repair stand on site with parts for sale in case you break something while riding

  • Color coded rooms and sections (green for beginner, blue for intermediate/advanced, and black for expert.)

Check out this Video of the Pump Track:

Beginner Area Highlight

My son didn't spend a lot of time in the "true beginner area" but I can see this being a great place for young children on balance bikes or for kids not used to riding on a pump track.

There is a very small pump track in this area that works as a wonderful introduction to test whether your child is ready to move up to the larger more "intermediate" pump track.

Beginner pump track and bumps at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

Parents with novice riders will feel comfortable having their children riding in this area because it's safe to assume there will be no big riders in this area or teenagers ripping around at high speeds. This is a safe zone to work on basic skills needed to move on to the other areas of the park.

And, it should be noted that children aged 3 and under are FREE. So bring them down to the beginner area for an hour or so and you won't have to pay a thing. (And there's no charge for the supervising parent as long as you aren't on a bike.)

Beginner riding area at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

Beginner/Intermediate Pump Track Highlight

While the main pump track would be considered part of the "beginner area," you will see riders of all abilities in this part of the park because everybody loves a pump track! And the one at B-Line promises hours of fun. My son spent a LOT of time here trying to ride over as many bumps in a row as he could without pedaling (a goal when riding on a pump track) and working on the posture of standing with flat pedals.

For a good idea of what the pump track is like, scroll back up to the first video I posted.

And safety tip for this room: both pump track loops are multi-directional. There are no arrows telling kids which direction they should ride. And most of the time, this is not a problem because you should be able to look at the track, and see which direction other kids are riding. However, there are a few blind spots at the back where you can't really see other riders.

My suggestion if visiting the park with young riders: Use the pump track when it's quiet without a lot of traffic on it, stand and watch before riding in, and look carefully to make sure nobody is riding towards you on the loop that you want to ride.

Ideally, in my personal opinion, one loop would be marked for clockwise riding, and one would be marked for counter clockwise riding. This way, nobody would be at risk of getting hit by another rider, but everybody would still have freedom to do a loop in the direction that is most comfortable for their style.

Practicing on the pump track at B-Line Indoor Bike Park


The Jump Lines Highlight

There are 4 progressive jumplines, marked green for beginner and intermediate, blue for advanced, and black for expert.

Each line is also clearly marked with arrows for where to start/finish. This gave me peace of mind that my son wouldn't collide with another rider here, or even worse, take out a preschooler!

My son spent close to an hour on the two easier jumplines, with breaks to go play in the other parts of the park. He loved the table top style jumps that he could practice jumping. And while he wasn't quite able to jump them yet, I can see that he would progress quickly if we spent a few more afternoons at the park.

Kids learn by doing, and the jump section of this park is designed to be progressive for all ages and abilities.

Jump lines at B-Line Indoor Bike Park (clearly marked for beginners to advanced riders)

The Bar (Street Section) Highlight

The big air room called "The Bar" reminded my son of a giant skate park. He was riding up the walls, playing on ramps and mini half pipes, and trying to do jumps.

The best part though (for us biking families) is that there are no skateboards or scooters allowed at B-Line. This is purely an indoor BIKE park.

Skate Park and Street features at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

From a safety perspective, I could see this room being potentially "dangerous" for younger riders if it was too busy. We had the park pretty much to ourselves when we arrived so my son was able to freely play in this room without risk of getting hit (or of hitting somebody else.)

Realistically speaking though, there are no arrows on the street or in a skate park, nobody is standing around directing traffic at a skate park or at a bike skills park, and you have to learn to communicate with other riders. There will always be risk when practicing "street style biking." While B-Line probably could take steps to make this room "safer," I don't believe that would ever be their intention, and I'm sure they didn't really design this room to be "toddler friendly." It is the "Big Air" room after all.

If the park was exceptionally busy, or if this room was full of older teens doing big jumps, I would encourage my son to just play in a different room. Or we'd do what we did on our recent visit - and arrive early as soon as the park opened for the afternoon.

Riding around in the "Bar" at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

The Foam Pit and Resi Feature 

I have to confess that I couldn't have told you the first thing about a "Resi" when I first visited the park but I've since done my research and I can basically explain that you'll start out jumping into the soft foam pit, move up to the Resi, a soft foam landing, and then graduate to the standard box jumps (where if you fall, you get badly banged up!)

Looking down on the descent ramp to jump into the foam pit at B-Line Bike Park

For families, the foam pit was exceptionally cool. There are 3 different sized jumps going into it, the first one (colored blue) barely a jump. You push or ride your bike up a steep ramp, ride down the ramp (without braking,) ride up a much shorter ramp and then sort of fall into the foam pit (getting off your bike after you land.)

In theory, my 8-year old could have done the foam pit jump, and plenty of younger kids were doing it, but my son wasn't sure if he could commit to the "not braking" the entire time, and wasn't sure what the landing would feel like. Again, as with everything at B-Line though, it's all progressive and he'll work his way up to it on a future visit.

Foam Pit and Resi at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

Additional Features at B-Line

There is also a skills area in the park (similar to what you'd find at many mountain bike skills parks) where you can practice riding across skinny logs, planks, learn to ride teeter-totters, and improve your balance. They even have double teeter totters (which I had never seen before.)

Bringing mountain bike skills up to the next level at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

Recommended Minimum Age and Biking Ability for Visiting the Park

The park is suitable for all abilities and ages with progressive features for kids as young as 2 or 3 years of age on balance bikes, all the way up to expert BMX riders.

Children 7 and under must be supervised at all times but parents don't have to pay if they aren't riding.

Practicing on a fun feature in the Big Air Room

Recommended Equipment for Visiting the Park

It is recommended that you either rent a BMX bike or a dirt jumper on site, or that you bring your own bike with you. If bringing your own bike, please make sure it's been cleaned since your last mountain biking trip.

Regular mountain bikes will work fine in the park, but it is highly recommended that all bikes have hand brakes (rather than coaster brakes.)

Adults can also use their own full-sized mountain bikes, but again, would do best on a smaller BMX style rental bike from the park.

Helmets are required at all times inside the park and padding is highly recommended. Helmets and bike padding come with all rentals from the park.

Riding on the pump track at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

My Overall Opinion of the Park 

My 8-year old loves skate parks and bike skills park. It is therefore no stretch that he would LOVE B-Line. I expect we will visit once a month over the winter months until we can ride outside again.  And my son has already told me that he wants to have his birthday party here. (Yes, they do those too!)

The only thing that would prevent my family from visiting weekly (other than the drive across the city since we live in the NW) is the rather "high" cost of visiting the park. Admission is comparable and actually more affordable than many other family attractions in the city, but it doesn't mean that it's "cheap" family entertainment.

We'll be visiting a lot this winter so that my son can ride around the "bar" as you can watch in the video below.


Admission to B-Line Indoor Bike Park

A full day at B-Line Indoor Bike Park is $30 for riders ages 8+ (kids ages 4-7 are half price with kids 3 and under free.)

The $30 day pass is comparable to Winsport's Canada Olympic Park where youth pay roughly the same price for a full day of skiing. Adults however pay $46, making B-Line the more affordable option here.

Meanwhile, one hour at the Calgary Climb Park, The Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park, or Inja Nation is $20. (Which is a lot for just one hour, as compared to $30 for a whole day.)

So overall, admission prices to B-Line are not completely out to lunch with what other facilities in Calgary are charging. But, it still doesn't mean you're in for a cheap day and kids may need to start saving their allowance money if they want to visit often.

For other admission options (including annual passes) visit the B-Line Indoor Bike Park website.

Street style riding at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

Personal Recommendations and Thoughts for the Park

  • I'd like to see a "family pass" option for daily admission to the park. $60 will be out of reach to many families with two kids wanting to ride. (I'm lucky that I only have one child, but I know families with three kids - who will never be able to afford a visit to this park.)

  • I'd love to see a discounted "early bird" admission option for riders who want to visit the park between 3-5pm before the evening rush.

  • I've had families asking me about a "punch card" system where you'd get a discounted daily rate if you pay for multiple admissions up front (without having to buy a full annual membership.)

  • I've also had families asking about a special time for the toddler and preschool crowd without bigger kids in the park. Perhaps this would be something to look into once a week. (Even an hour before the park opens to the regular public from 2-3pm.)

  • I'm hoping that there will be lessons offered in the future for school-aged kids and teens who would like to learn progressive skills including jumping and trick riding.

  • Finally, I've had questions about whether the park would be able to provide gift cards or ride vouchers for Christmas presents. I think this is a great idea and I'd love to put some in my own child's stocking.
Playing on the Jumplines at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

For More Information

Please visit the B-Line Indoor Bike Park website for full information on hours, pricing, the facility, and bike rentals.

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary admission to the park for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.