A typical toddler might quickly move on from a tricycle or balance bike, either because they’ve grown too tall or they’re ready for a different challenge. That’s a lot of expensive cycling equipment to buy for each stage of development. That’s why a new bike is designed to change along with them.
The design, called the Monkeycycle, can start as a stroller, and then converts into a pedal-less trike for a one-year-old or two-year-old, and then a low balance bike. Flip the frame, and a higher version of a balance bike helps a child prepare for pedaling. Then you can add pedals. The design also converts into a regular tricycle, or a “tadpole trike,” with two wheels on the front, to help further develop balance, or a quad bike, with two wheels on both the front and back. The simplest conversions take a couple of minutes.
“When our son was born we bought him a balance bike, which was a really expensive wooden one from Germany,” says Tony Webb, the Israel-based entrepreneur who created the Monkeycycle, which is now crowdfunding on Kickstarter. “It had no brakes, it was very basic, and it was outgrown really quickly. Then when our second son came along, it wasn’t even fit for him to ride.”
It’s possible to buy other transforming toddler vehicles, like a baby walker that becomes a tricycle or a balance bike. Other designers have designed frames that grow along with kids, and many other bikes are adjustable. But Webb saw the opportunity to go a little further. He sketched out the basic design himself–despite no background in bike design–and then partnered with an experienced bike designer to perfect it.
The Kickstarter campaign offers a few different versions: a basic kit that transforms from a balance bike to a pedal bike, another kit that includes a tricycle, and full kit with seven different bikes. The stroller, which is listed in the campaign as a stretch goal, is still in development. Webb also plans to continue working on attachments for children who struggle with balance, after requests from parents.
For Webb, the design is a way for parents to avoid buying multiple products that quickly sit unused in a garage or are thrown away. “We buy so much stuff that ends up in landfill or on the side of the road,” he says.