The benefits of balance bikes

Benefits of balance bikes

Skate Park

benefits

Part 1

Over the last two decades balance bikes made an appearance on the markets in Europe and slowly took over the global market. Based on many customers’ comments, balance bikes are still an unknown territory for many parents in Australia.

We get asked often why the bikes have no pedals and what the purpose of a no-pedal bike is. Often we also need to advise that training wheels on balance bikes are not a necessity at all, as the legs are the stabilisers.

I spotted the first balance bike in London about ten years ago and I could not believe what I saw. A tiny two year old boy was flying through Marylebone on the footpath and he had both his legs in the air, scooting at a high speed in front of his mother. This child was in full control and had so much fun, and from that moment I was committed to get my future children onto a balance bike as well. Little did I know that I will actually have a business and import and distribute them in Australia :-).

Since this moment in London I have witnessed children in our network and my own as well on balance bikes and with no exception, I have been convinced of its benefits.

In this particular post I want to go into detail about the visible and obvious benefits that all consumers can observe and experience. In a future post I would also like to elaborate on the “hidden” not so obvious benefits, especially from a health perspective.

First and foremost, as its name suggest, the children learn to balance on a balance bike. The most common question we get asked, where the pedals would be as many perceive pedalling the most challenging part of cycling. Pedalling is the easy part out of all skills required to cycle. The biggest challenge is balance.
As the children stand on the ground with both their feet, they feel a sense of safety. They intuitively start walking when sitting on the balance bike and start leaning in when they want to change direction. When seeing children on a balance bike the first time it is hard to believe that they will learn to balance by themselves in a very short time. But as they keep going back on and develop more confidence and familiarity with the bike, they also start walking faster, running and eventually scooting. They do this at their own pace, just like they learn standing, walking and running and they do not need our help. Once they reach the scooting phase they automatically balance and master stirring the bike. At this stage they might be ready to transition to a traditional pedal bike, without training wheels.

The other advantage of learning to balance first as opposed to pedalling is that children also learn to deal with unexpected loss of balance. With both feet close to the ground their reflexes kick in immediately to correct the imbalance and they are less likely to fall or injure themselves in a challenging situation.

Most children who start riding on a balance bike also transition to a traditional pedal bike at a much younger age than those who start to ride with training wheels (in general 3-4 years versus 5-6 years, respectively). As balance and stirring skills have been fully developed, they only need to familiarise themselves with pedalling. My son moved onto a 16” pedal bike shortly after his third birthday. He initially had to get his head around pedalling, which took him about 45 minutes to an hour. As soon as he mastered the pedals he was off and rode the bike by himself with no stabilisers. His friend who transitioned a year later, at the age of 4, mastered his 18” bike within ten minutes (note, a balance bike has 12″ wheels). I have also met children on our trial tracks, who started riding immediately and surprised their astound parents who wanted to get them bikes with training wheels.

A more economical and ecological advantage of a balance bike is that it replaces a trike and a 12” pedal bike. As some balance bikes (see here) are suitable from about 18months or a height of 80cm, children can start to ride as soon as they are steady on their feet. With an adjustable seat, the balance bike can be used up until 4 years, the age when most children easily can fit a 16” pedal bike.

I also find that the balance bike is still a solid companion in our everyday life. Both my children use them every day and ride them everywhere. Even though my son can ride 24” bikes, he regularly sits on his balance bike as it gives him a different type of freedom and mobility than a traditional bike. He can jump and ride up and down on obstacles, it is easy to carry, because it’s light and he can master challenges where his legs would fail him with the other bikes at this stage. When we ride distances, he definitely rides our 20” troX elite or 20” raX flat, but on an everyday outing in our neighbourhood or to the skate park, I find him always choosing the balance bike, even though his knees are nearly touching the ground. We certainly got our money’s worth, but most importantly, he has a lot of fun and that is probably the most important benefit of all! Life is too short to not have fun and if you look through the images at the Melrose Fat Tyre Festival below from this year, the big kids could not agree more :-)

Before wrapping up, I would like to add my personal reasons as to why I as a parent love the idea of a balance bike. Personally, I never liked having a pram. They are big, heavy and bulky and too much hassle to manoeuvre and store. As soon as my daughter mastered her balance bike, I could retire the pram. I could feel free and more mobile again and my daughter loved her independence and always got a good workout in the great outdoors. I call that a win-win :-)

Fat Tyre Festival

The Stig Melrose

melrose south australia

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How to encourage a child to start riding their balance bike

Riding a balance bike

This is a question, I get asked a lot by customers when they purchase a balance bike and I have to admit it is a fair question. However, the answer is most of the time not what the parents expect. Very often, they think they need to help and hold the child to develop confidence and expertise. Let’s not forget though, that we are not talking about a child sitting on a pedal bike without training wheels. A balance bike is designed for children so their feet touch the ground. Because both feet are flat on the ground there is no need to hold them, the feet are doing the job. There is also no need to show them how to ride the bike, all they need to do is walk, a movement they are familiar with.

So what can parents do to get the ball rolling? The only thing that is required is to make the balance bike available as often as possible.

If you live in an apartment or a small house, the answer is to get outside regularly with the bike and let the child ride. Initially, it will be slow and sometimes they won’t want to ride, but if you are persistent, you will see results. Just ensure that the ride is correlated with fun and not a must. If they don’t want to ride at the moment when you go outside, it’s not a problem, just try again another time. Persistence will pay off, I am positive.

Another option is to team up with another family where children already ride. Children learn from children much faster than from adults. Second children have this advantage and learn far earlier and faster to ride a balance bike whether you chose the above or the next method of approach.

Riding together

If you are lucky enough to live in a house with a lot of space or even better with a big garden, then you have the best conditions for a quick success. Ensure you leave the bike in a spot where your child can access it a hundred percent at their own discretion. This is the approach we did and it worked wonders. Initially, the bike was ignored. With time it became more interesting and it got pushed around in the house. Occasionally, it got turned around and the wheels were spinned. With time the courage and curiosity was big enough to hop on it and to slowly walk around with the bike. From this point the progress sped up rapidly. Within no time the motions became more comfortable and controlled, the arms were able to coordinate the steering and it started to look like riding a balance bike. As soon as riding was interesting and fun enough, we retired the pram and substituted the pram with the balance bike. We used it to go anywhere, like grocery shopping, walks, small rides, I went for a run and my boy was riding next to me, where possible we took it for bushwalks, there are no limits to your imagination. In short, the balance bike became part of our child’s life and made my personal life so much easier.

push my balance bike

The second option is obviously the more effective option to get started, but as mentioned, many families live in smaller houses and have no garden, where it is harder to provide the bike a hundred percent of the time. However, having said that, it does not mean that the children won’t learn to ride their balance bike, it might just take longer. But if you don’t throw in the towel and encourage them to ride you will never regret it. Riding a bike from such a young age is nothing else but beneficial. It trains the children’s motor skills, their balance, their spatial awareness, it makes them aware of traffic rules from an early age and they move, which is an essential to a healthy and balanced life. In a future post I will go more into detail about the benefits of letting children ride a balance bike / bike from an early age.

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Press Release: New Scool wins Australian Small Business Champion Awards 2016

Scool

www.scoolbikes.com.au

MEDIA RELEASE

 

26 April 2016

 

New Scool wins 2016 Australian Small Business Award

New Scool won the 2016 Australian Small Business Champion Awards in the Sports & Recreation category on Saturday 23rd April at the Westin Sydney.

New Scool is the exclusive Australian distributor of the high quality German pure-play kids bike brand S’COOL. The junior bike range includes balance bikes, fat bikes, mountain bikes, race bikes and city bikes.

Andrea Jacob (Owner and General Manager) said “It is very pleasing for us as a small business to be recognised on a national level for our junior bike products amongst a broad sports and recreation category. It’s even better to have kids cycling recognised as a sport in its own right and as a business.”

“Core to our strategy, is to promote active kids lifestyles to ensure the growing generation lead healthy and environmentally friendly lives in a competitive, fun and playful way.” She added.

– ENDS –

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For further information, please contact:

 

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When to start on a balance bike

Balance Bike

Skatebowl balance bike

Very often when we have the pleasure to meet customers in person, we get asked when the best time is to start a child on a balance bike and how the parents can help the child develop their skills.

This post is certainly not a piece of advice from an expert’s point of view. I am not a sports teacher or physio therapist, but I have personal experience through my own and friend’s children and of course through the stories of our customers. However, most people do appreciate our story and I thought it would be good to share it with you as well.

Most balance bikes on the market are labelled with a recommendation for children from the age of 2-3. This probably applies to many children, especially first borns, but as we experienced it with our second child, she was ready a lot earlier, i.e. at 16 months.

In general, I do not agree with any age labelling on children’s products anyway. Just as I experienced with clothes, my son fit most clothes labelled with the same age as he was at the time, but my daughter who is nearly three still fits into 12-18 months clothing. Each child is different and therefore relying on an age recommendation is certainly not the way to go. This also applies to when children are ready for a balance bike.

When to start also depends fully on how well the children can walk. A child that starts walking at 18 months, is certainly not ready for a balance bike even though we do have bikes that most 18 months old children fit. Same applies to children, who are not comfortable with ride on toys and are scared at the sight of it. However, a child who has been walking for at least three months and is confident and past the wobbly phase may try a balance bike and succeed quickly.

What I personally noticed as well with my own but also friend’s children, is that first born children are ready at a later stage. They have no other child to observe and copy from and face the challenge by themselves. My son got his first balance bike for his second birthday and it took him nearly three months to figure out the concept and to develop some confidence. My daughter on the other hand, saw her brother cruising along and became very interested at 16 months and tried it out. By 18 months she rode the bike slowly but independently and confidently.

Rather than focusing too much on the age of the child, it is probably the safest to take the child’s height into account. Our pedeX 01 (here and here as well) and pedeX pirate range is suitable for children from a height of 80cm, the pedeX 02 and pedeX bamboo from 85cm and the pedeX wood wave from 90cm. If your child reaches any of these heights and they is a confident walker it is time to give him/her a chance to ride.

In the next post, I will describe what we as parents did to assist our two children with the initial attempts to ride a balance bike.

© scoolbikes.com.au

The importance to read and understand street signs

Disclaimer: This post is by no means meant to take a side of a certain party or to criticize certain groups. It is merely written based on experience and the frustration it has caused and it elaborates on my personal opinion and feelings on certain laws and certain missing actions our society and government is not taking

Street Sign

It was lunch time and I decided to take a break for a quick bike ride for an hour.

I was looking forward to this ride, where I can free up my mind, get some exercise done and come back refreshed and full of energy to my desk to finish off the second half of my day. What I did not anticipate was that I would come back very angry and frustrated.

I grew up in Germany from the age of six and riding a bike was part of our everyday life. We rode our bikes to school, to our friends, to the food shops, to the local lakes, the mountains and even to the neighbouring towns. Riding was fun and effortless and safe, as there are over 70,000 km worth of cycling paths across the country. I rarely had to ride my bike on the road to get to a town 20km away. And even in areas where there are no cycling paths, I was never petrified to ride because drivers respected cyclists and made sure to overtake when it was safe for everybody.

In the last two years before finishing school, cycling turned into a regular 50km ride habit to unwind and to help me focus on my studies for my Abitur. I remember how great I felt after this long ride next to the mountains and how refreshed and motivated I felt after my ride to sit down and study.

When I moved to Australia, I expected to be in a country with ample of opportunities to ride. I have lived in four countries in my life and out of all countries Australia has the best cycling conditions from a weather perspective, yet the worst out of the remaining conditions. There are hardly any designated cycling paths – a few have been added, but still far not enough to get around safely, especially with children.

Drivers do not know how to behave around cyclists. Despite of the new laws that enforce a car to overtake a cyclist with more than 1m, I have still seen too many cases where the distance was not respected and the cyclists were lucky to have only gotten away with a shock (mind you, I was shocked, too).

With NSW having enforced the new cycling laws on 1 March 2016, the government added another reason NOT to cycle. I am all for cyclists abiding by traffic rules and safety and fully agree that helmets should be worn, but I am against enforcing it as a law; it does not encourage cycling and a cyclist without a helmet does not harm the greater public, but himself. Why can that not be their own choice? And if we are already talking about helmets? Where are the guidelines of how to wear a helmet correctly? Does NSW fine for incorrect fitting? Because wearing a helmet incorrectly or a wrong size, will not protect like a helmet that fits and is worn correctly? Why is that not policed?

The most ridiculous law in my opinion is the enforcement of the bike bell on road bikes and mountain bikes. Clearly the person who wrote this law has never ridden a road bike. The only place I can mount my bell is right next to the head set. In order for me to ring the bell (which I did not think I will use, but keep on reading and you will understand why I had to), I need to take my hand away from the brake (!), let go of the handle bar and flick the leaver. What if I have to break suddenly? Yes, I have the other break, but only one hand on the handle bar! Will I have time to get back to the safe position that helps me navigate my bike in a safer way? When I rang the bell the first time, this sprang to my mind. The answer is: NO. I will just fly off my bike! So from here on, I used my natural bell, i.e. my voice and shouted like I used to.

However, I do not understand why I had to use the bell / shout on a section that was purely signed for cyclists. I deliberately chose an area with a designated cycling path. I’d say about half of the area is a designated cycling path and next to it a designated walking path. Both paths are marked clearly with street signs on the side and with oversized prints on the paths of bikes and walkers. And yet, people are all over the shop.

So as I was riding along in the section where this clear distinction of the two paths is made, I ride around a bend and two ladies walk in my lane. I have to break and I ring the bell frantically (here I notice what I wrote about before). The ladies jump left and right in panic, which makes it hard for me to judge where to go to avoid a collision; I have to pull the brakes hard, not to run them over and not to injure myself. Naturally I do shout at them with frustration and ask why they cannot walk in their lane as the signs say. The dumbfounded ladies just yell at me: “which signs”, as if I was making up a story. All I could do is point at the street sign and the human sized print underneath their feet. Then I left and rode hard to get my anger out.

And now let’s do the maths: I would say, there is a sign of the above picture after every 50-100m on a stretch of let’s assume 3km. In addition to those mounted signs there are oversized prints of either bikes or walkers on the footpath at about the same distance. So even if both signs appear after every 100m, that is 30 street signs and 30 oversized prints (or 60 prints, because there are two next to each other). So that is 60 / 90 signs along this stretch and they don’t see them?

Today’s example was not the first, but today’s ended luckily with no injuries. However, I have been on the same stretch, in the bend before where a mother let her toddler ride her scooter on the cycling path. A young cyclist came along the bend and did not see the child on time. The outcome was luckily nothing severe, but both the child and the cyclist had bruises and scratches all over themselves. And what upset me the most, was that the mother tried to put the blame on the cyclist.

I am a mother of two and I defend my children where I can, if it is reasonable, but in this instance, it was not the cyclist’s fault. The cyclist did nothing wrong, he rode his bike in his lane on the left hand side. The mother did not take into account the signage and her child had to suffer the consequences.

(In case you wonder why I did not say anything to the mother. I was on the oncoming side too far away to say something. I witnessed the accident from distance.)

So rather than focusing on enforcing ridiculous laws that just make the population cringe and discourage cycling, how about this government raises awareness of their street signs and teaches children at school and young drivers about street signs and road rules and how to behave and respect each participant on the rode equally, no matter if pedestrians, cyclists, runners, drivers of cars and trucks, etc. Only this way is it possible to raise a generation that is considerate and respectful towards each other. Putting ridiculous laws into place just makes people believe we live in a nanny state and takes the joy of a nice sport away, as it happens to me right now.

© scoolbikes.com.au

Kids riding in traffic

 Harbour Bridge

Kids Riding

Riding bikes is part of our everyday life, not only because it’s our business, but also because it keeps us active and it is fun.

My children started riding a balance bike when they turned two and 16 months. As we live in a busy and dense suburb in Sydney and I don’t believe in driving to beach promenades or cycling areas every day, I had no choice, but let them ride on the footpaths and the local parks. Many people dislike the idea of letting their children ride in traffic, I am not keen on the idea either, but if I have no other option, I adjust to my surroundings and make the best of it.

No matter where we go – grocery shopping, a quick ride, the doctor, etc. – the bikes are being used; at least the kids’ bikes. Very often, I don’t end up riding, but walking and the kids ride ahead. They know to stop at the edge of a road and to wait for me. They know not to ride to close to the road but as far away from the side as possible. I made sure, they learnt these rules early and I only let them ride ahead once I was a 100% sure, they will behave according to road rules. It’s been working very well and we all benefit from it. I have two happy children, who move enough and are balanced and if the kids are happy, obviously we parents are happy too.

Suburb

Sometimes, we bump into people who do not agree with this approach. They make a point of telling me (even if it is not direct) that what I am doing is irresponsible. Many people cannot understand how I can let my children ride up to 50m ahead of me. My answer is simple: I know I can trust them and they listen when I shout out.

Street Smart

When they started riding I explained the rules and I tested if they understood and acted on them. Initially, I gave instructions repeatedly over a time period of about three months. When I had the feeling they worked out the rules, I stopped saying anything but stayed close to be able to react, just in case. They fully understood what needed to be and what could not be done and from that point I was happy to let them go free. I still keep my eyes on them and I call out in case they are too far away. They always stop when necessary and they always listen when they hear me.

I consider this freedom as very important for them to develop self-confidence, independence and street smarts but to also show them how much I trust them. Obviously, there are limits to where I let them ride as well. If we are close to a highway or a multi lane road, I ask them to get off their bikes and to push them next to me, until we leave the busy area. But on roads where there is moderate traffic with footpaths, I am more than happy to let them ride.

www.scoolbikes.com.au

© New Scool Pty Ltd, 2016

Ice Stickers

ICE STICKERS – Rider safety is not just about accident prevention, but also about how efficiently you can act if and when an accident does occur.
I’ve been interested in the development of ICE technology ever since my husband purchased his POC helmet which uses the icedot.org platform.  I love the technology and simplicity of having your medical details easily available via a visible QR code in the case of an emergency, but (…knock on wood) I am not in need of upgrading my older giro helmet, so I came across these ICE stickers from Taggisar, which was a much less costly solution for me than buying a brand new helmet. At $10 for two stickers (say one for your helmet, and the other for your phone or bike frame), it could be the best $10 you’ve spent that you hopefully never have to use!
La Velocita recently provided a very helpful and succinct review of the product, which I think is worth sharing – see below or click here:

Taggisar ICE Stickers reviewed by La Velocita

Melbourne based website La Velocita reviewed our Taggisar ICE Stickers – Here’s what they had to say.

Taggisar ICE Stickers

The guys at Taggisar have come up with a simple solution to provide people with access to important information about you in the event of an accident. La Velocita takes a quick look at the ICE Sticker.

Safety when riding is critical no matter who you are, racer, commuter, mountain biker, weekender. Unfortunately, from time to time things go wrong and we end up on the ground. If you are unlucky enough to be seriously injured people with you and emergency services will need fast access to contact details of family and to any medical conditions you have.

This is where the Taggisar ICE sticker comes in. Scanning the Ice Sticker QR code provides people with your emergency contact details and medical conditions.  It also allows an alert to be sent to a pre-nominated person letting them know that you have been in an accident and providing your position on a map.

We really like  this product. There’s no batteries to worry about, it’s pretty much impossible to activate by accident and very simple to set up and use.

Taggisar sent us some of their “rider Edition” two packs. Within minutes we had the app downloaded, emergency information endeared, sticker linked and one on our helmets and one on the back of our phone case.  Easy.

Taggisar is quickly gaining momentum in Europe and the USA and is in the process of entering the Australian market.  We think that it’s a product that has the ability  to save lives and make riding safer, so a big tick from us.

Santos Tour Down Under

Some quick feedback from our visit to the Santos Tour Down Under

Road Trip to TDU

20160126_TDUBubbles

20160126_TDUBupaKidsRace

Oh yes, it was a great day, that last Sunday of the Santos Tour Down Under on 24 January 2016. Early in the morning, when the sun hadn’t yet risen, we headed out with the children in tow to Elder Park in Adelaide to set up our balance bike trial track among the other great features the South Australian Government organised for this big Family Day and the Final stage of this UCI World event.

Our track was only a few meters away from the race track which made it extremely convenient to follow the day’s happenings while still overlooking our children and our balance bike and road bike range. As soon as the family day schedule hit off we could swing back and forth from our little event to the big one.

At 9:30am the BUPA Mini Tour for Kids started on the final stretch of the big race and I have to say, I was deeply impressed with many aspects of this event. The main reason for this was the participation rate of the children, something I have not witnessed in any other city in Australia. From an age group of 6 up to 12 years there were kids lining up to ride their loops on part of the Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6 circuit. To keep it safe, the organisers categorised the races in age groups. The first race was for 6 year olds, then followed by 7 years etc.

Irrespective of age, what caught my eye was the pride and joy these kids showed while riding their bikes. Some were happy just to be part of it. Those would cruise along the stretch and cycle until finished. But then there were the competitive ones, who took their part very seriously and would overtake the entire group several times. Whatever type the riders were, they all had their place and fun in this race. It is great to see that such a big tournament offers the possibility for the growing generation to really feel and be part of it.

It was not only the children’s participation that deserves such praise. The whole City of Adelaide did a fantastic job and stuck to the principles of this event. It was a bike event, so anything that could be on a bike was on a bike; even the police.

After the Bupa Mini Tour for Kids finished the interest shifted into the direction where we were. All of a sudden our stand was flooded with little ones, who were too young to take part in the Bupa Mini Tour (ages 6+), but wanted to ride and give our balance bikes a go as well. We set up our balance bike track on a grassed area with a gentle slope and it turned into a huge success with children constantly being on the bikes and riding their laps. A few times throughout the day, the queue of kids seemed never ending!

These type of family days are always such a reward to us. Yes, we do these events to market our brand, I am not going to lie about it, but we also do it to contribute to society in our own little way. We want to encourage parents to get outside and get active with their kids. These trial tracks are set up by us at our own expense. We offer the bikes for free and don’t put time limits on how long the children can ride them. We believe most parents and children understand when it’s appropriate to hand over the bike to others waiting in line. We also believe, by letting the children ride as long as their parents allow it, they might discover something that is of great benefit to them … how to learn to balance in a playful and fun way. And it works. Parents not sure about the concept of balance bikes really do see the point after having some time on our demo fleet. Children who were not that confident to ride, all of the sudden discover a new dimension of movement and fun and sometimes cannot be taken off the bikes. They become confident and want to enjoy their liberty. Some parents are so intrigued by their child’s happiness, they decide to park at our stand and stay there until we close. This happened in Adelaide as well. Two families decided to stay at our stand and let their children ride. They would not stop going around and around. I truly enjoyed watching the happy little faces and at the end of the day, I received a huge thank you with the most beautiful smile. Knowing that these kids had a great time on our bikes is certainly a priceless accomplishment.

MTBiking Australia Fat Bike Review

Fatbikes for kids? At first I laughed but then the idea started to sink in. The idea of a proper
fatbike for younger riders makes a hell of a lot of sense.

I’ve got two girls aged six and nine. They have regular BMX/MTB style bikes and we often
take them riding on the local cycle path. I’d love to take them out in the bush but our local trails
are simply too tough—they are either too steep or too technical. It’d be great to have some
green rated trails as an introduction to off-road riding but there’s nothing around and even
the one or two flatter fire trails are littered with soft sand traps.

Enter the fatbike; we mightn’t have kid-friendly off-road riding but like many parts of
Australia we do have many kilometres of beautiful sandy beaches. Our beaches are long, flat
and entirely car-free—the perfect place for a family pedal, plus a swim at the end if it’s a warm
day!

With these thoughts in mind, we recently checked out S’Cool bikes as they have two kids’
fatbikes in their line-up. The XXfat is offered with either 20 or 24-inch wheels. Both use
4.0 inch wide Vee Tire rubber mounted to 80mm wide rims. That’s as wide as you’ll find on
an adult sized fatbike; it should provide some serious flotation with a lighter rider aboard.
Aside from beach riding, the big rubber and single digit tyre pressures gives a massive increase
in traction which makes regular MTB trails a little easier for kids to manage.

True 4.0 fat bike tyres on 80mm wide alloy rims - some serious flotation right here!

True 4.0 fat bike tyres on 80mm wide alloy rims – some serious flotation right here!

The frame is alloy and features an extremely low top tube to make hopping on and off as easy
as possible. The 20-inch is recommended for riders over 125cm while the XXfat 24 should be
safely rideable for those over 135cm.

Weight is often an issue with fatbikes but the alloy frame and rims has kept the bottom line
reasonable; the XXfat 20 weighs 13.3kg while the 24-inch is 15.1kg (both measured on our
scales with pedals fitted).

Both S'Cool models have alloy frames with internal cable routing and super low top tubes.

Both S’Cool models have alloy frames with internal cable routing and super low top tubes.

The gear spec seems okay for a kids bike too. Both run cable disc brakes, proper A-headset
style MTB stems and Shimano trigger shifters. Gearing wise the XXfat 24 has an Altus level
2X9 drivetrain while the XXfat 20 keeps it simple with Shimano Altus 1X9.

Both sizes in the XXfat sell for $999—certainly not a cheap bike (especially if you need two)
but not that much more than a couple of iPads, and I know what I’d prefer them to be playing
with!

For more on the S’Cool go to www.scoolbikes.com.au

 

The importance of quality

Centennial Parklands

A year ago when we started our bike business, we took a big risk, by entering a very different market from what I personally knew from Germany, where I spent most of my life growing up. My view is that the Australian bicycling market appears to be happy to spend endless sums on high-end road and mountain bikes for adults, but when it comes to 20” or 24” children’s bikes, $300-$400 seems to be the absolute maximum. Bikes below the 20” size tend to be under the $100 price bracket.

Our bikes are above those price ranges and many people are at first in doubt about our pricing (as also discussed in Bicycling Trade). Yes, we agree, our bikes are not cheap, but in our opinion, the incremental price provides our junior riders with superior performance in developing and accelerating their riding skills. After all, isn’t the common saying: You get what you pay for?

Blackwattle Bay

When our eldest graduated from his balance bike, our priority for choosing a pedal bike was quality, how easy it was for him to ride and our budget. To make a bike easy to ride, it is necessary to invest into quality components. Low quality components are typically heavy and make the bike hard to manoeuvre, especially for a small child. Personally, I think low quality bikes are extremely dangerous. I constantly would question how responsive the brakes were, how the bike reacted if a major part broke and as a result what injury my child would get from it. Cycling alone is not risk free, but I want to reduce the risk of falls and accidents wherever I can and it is certainly possible by choosing a good quality bike.

And what a difference the bike makes! Lower quality bikes in my mind, pose a higher risk for injury as are very difficult to ride while learning and building their confidence on two wheels. Good quality bikes typically ride well and the rider can focus on balancing and riding rather than manoeuvring the bike.

Balast Point Park

Our boy moved from a balance bike to a normal push bike shortly after his 3rd birthday. He never used training wheels and he transitioned within less than an hour and off he was by himself. He initially needed help to get on and off the bike, but with time he mastered those challenges problem free. As he does have access to bikes through his parents’ business, he became extremely curious about the new bikes he saw us promoting. He wanted to ride them, even though they were too big for him. By the time he was 3 ½, we allowed him to try one of our troX elite 20” samples not thinking he would succeed (a mountain bike we recommend for kids 6 years and up). Well, we were wrong! He needed help to get on, but he mastered the rest with ease and soon went for his first proper bike ride with me.

Narrabeen Beach

Bad Feilnbach

Shortly after we visited friends, who had a 12” push bike with training wheels. He wanted to ride it too and we obviously let him. What happened next surprised me. My son sat on it and could not ride it. He had trouble moving the pedals. The same boy, who rode 20” bikes at 3 ½ simply couldn’t get the 12” with training wheels moving! This bike appeared to be a lower quality bike in my opinion, even before he sat on it. My first impressions by simply looking at it cemented my view. The welding was poorly done, the cranks were too long, the wheels and spokes were made out of steel and it was extremely heavy. S’COOL’s kids’ bikes are designed for children and for their abilities. They have light-weight aluminium frames, roll well and are easy to push. As a result the child can solely focus on balancing, riding and having fun. They look forward to getting on their bike, so much so, it’s sometimes impossible to leave the house without their bike (which is the way it should be when you’re growing up). I saw this with my son and with children in our circle whose parents got them S’COOL bikes when we launched. The kids are of different characters and abilities and some of them are more timid than the others, but they all love riding their bikes. The beauty of this is, they last. Our son’s bike will be passed on to our daughter and I have no doubt we will then be able to pass it on to another child as well.

Many factors speak to investing into quality kids’ bikes, just like we invest into other shorter-term items as our children grow such as prams, clothes (that kids sometimes wear only once or not at all), cots or the fit-out of their nurseries and bedrooms. It makes me wonder why people are happy to spend so much on these items, but when it gets to a bike they first shy back?

Brauneck

Lenggries

A bike is a tool to learn balance, i.e. their motor skills develop. It’s fun and gets the kids into exercise (a separate topic to address with childhood obesity and lack of movement becoming an increasing problem affecting kids nowadays). Quality means it lasts and can be re-sold or passed down to other children who are lucky enough to inherit it. As the saying goes, “I’m not rich enough to buy cheap things” so I’d rather save more and pay a little more and not have to replace and repair lower quality products so often (hence I save) and also contribute to protecting the environment, by reducing waste and landfill.

All S’COOL bikes are designed and engineered in Germany and come with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.