Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stop Reading Click-Bait Sites with "Best Balance Bikes"

Seriously? Google the words "Best Balance Bike" and the first page of results is nothing but a bunch of opportunistic greedy and lazy Amazon affiliates who don't know a balance bike from a hole in the ground. They have discovered [with 2 minutes of research] that the cheap crappy bikes selling the most to the masses can make them some affiliate dough, so they list these products as "the best" and provide you with link to go buy them on Amazon, as though "best selling" necessarily means "best". (Gee, why not provide another place to buy them? Oh yeah, because they won't make any MONEY!" Clearly, this situation grinds my gears, especially as one engaged in the specialization of selling only the best balance bikes for the past 10 years. For those of you still listening and not already on Amazon buying a crappy toy masquerading as a bike, here is our top ten list of the BEST balance bikes.

Judgment criteria:
1. Safety tested per bicycle safety protocols (not toys)
2. Inflated rubber tires (no EVA foam)
3. Metallic frames and forks (no wood or plastic)
4. Twin bearing headsets connecting frame and fork (no quick releases or clamps)
5. Industry standard brake sets (No cheap flimsy toy drum brakes)
6. Decals are underneath the paint like a real bike (no stickers)
7. Saddles are ergonomic for kicking (skinny at the front, wide at the back)
8. Seat height range is sufficient to last rider at least 3 years
9. Weight limit of at least 150lbs (If there is a 50-70lb weight limit, its a TOY)
10. Geometry is engineered for riding by a cycling industry person (not invented out of thin air by a toy factory intern)

Here is The List of the best balance bikes in the world:

-Scoot and Scoot XL by Ridgeback UK
-Dimension 12 and 14 by Ridgeback UK
-TooToo and ALU by Yedoo
-Islabike Rothan
-Likeabike Jumper (this one can be fitted with a front brake)
-Freewheel by Saracen UK
-Tadpole by Frog Bikes
-Alley Runner | Trail Runner by Early Rider

Next we will inform you of where to buy these bikes. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Is my balance bike a bike or is it a toy? What's the difference?

Parents: The foundation of your balance bike buying decision should first boil down to one thing:
Do I want a toy or a bike? (and what's the difference?)
The differences are dramatic.
Nearly 100% of balance bikes are imported from the Far East. They are produced in a factory that is either in the business of producing bicycles, or in the business of producing toys. To enter the US market, these products must be tested for compliance with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, in one of two ways.
Here's the big secret that most balance bike producers don't want you to know: The balance bike you are considering is either categorized and tested as a toy, or it is categorized and tested as a bicycle.  (Very few are tested for compliance with both standards, but the Scoot by Ridgeback is one example of this) The differences between toy testing and bike testing is pretty immense.
Toys are generally tested for the presence of heavy metals like lead and mercury, and other chemicals like phthalates, and for general finger pinching issues and choking hazards. If a portion of the toy can or will be "mouthed", it is tested for chemicals to make sure a child is not harmed by ingesting or inhaling certain chemicals. They are NOT tested to see if it can withstand 250-400 psi of stress, which is part of the bicycle testing protocol. Bicycles are tested every which way to make sure they are durable enough for the trauma that a bike must endure. The wheels need to be strong enough to withstand 100s of pounds of deflection without failure, the frame and fork are tested with 100s of pounds of force to make sure they stay connected under impact, the brakes are tested in a controlled manner to make sure stopping distance falls within a specified range. It goes on and on.. Needless to say, a balance bike tested as a bike is far more durable than a balance bike tested as a toy.
Even so, all of the balance bikes imported as toys are marketed with "safety features", that sometimes seem intended to mask the fact that they are not safety tested as bicycles, and would not pass any of the tests mandated for bicycles.
This is a personal decision that falls upon parents to make, but without knowing how a bike is tested, how can one decide? That's simple. Just call and ask.
If the retailer you are speaking with doesn't know the answer, perhaps a different retailer who has has done the proper amount of homework WILL know. Find them and buy with confidence.
Below find some of the testing methods used for actual bicycles. The subject being tested is the Scoot by Ridgeback UK, which also happens to be tested for compliance with toy standards.

Friday, March 4, 2016

What Happened to LikeaBike Balance Bikes?

Check the logo on the sleeve.
LikeaBike was the first brand of balance bike ever to exist, and it was also the first brand we ever sold at our shop. We could barely keep them in stock back in 2007 when we first started selling. Boy have times changed! As much fondness as we have for LikeaBike, it's necessary to share some information that every seeker of LikeaBike products will appreciate knowing.
First of all, the distribution that was in place 10 years ago no longer exists. The supply chain is broken and current distribution channels are very scarce. What this means is that the new distributor has very little, if any, product to provide to the US market. Most of the availability is limited to the iconic Jumper- the very slick aluminum bike that has been such a hit in the past. Even so, you are lucky to find one. Hopefully this will change in the future.
Wooden bikes from LikeaBike are relatively extinct. If you do find one, grab it quick. However you look at them, yes they are all beautifully crafted in Germany, but they are over-priced relative to all of the new products that now sell in the US market for 1/3 (or less) of the cost.
The Rosalie and Hardy aluminum balance bikes are discontinued. Only a handful remain in the US market. This was LikeaBike's answer to all of the "knock-offs" that cost so much less than the Jumper. It was a nice design, lightweight, and shared genetics with the Jumper. With the correctly applied marketing effort, it had the potential to be a hit. Sad to see it go.
The wonderfully designed asymmetrical LiketoBike pedal bikes are readily available in Europe, but getting one here is not easy. It may be necessary to pre-order one and wait 4-6 weeks. These bikes are one-of-a-kind heirloom pieces, and may be worth waiting for, if you find a dealer willing to bring one in for you. Again, they are very cost prohibitive and really intended for the kid who has everything and the parent with deep pockets.
So what went wrong?
As an industry veteran relative to balance bikes, I believe that one cause of this decline is summed up with one word: Adaptation. (that is, failure to adapt to the changing balance bike marketplace) A product that is superior in every way became eclipsed by better products from innovative new brands, for about 1/3 to 1/2 of the cost. The Hardy and Rosalie were one attempt to grab market share at the $200 price point, but it was a day late and a dollar short. The bikes had great potential to grab market share, especially if the price were reduced to the balance bike "sweet spot" of $150-180. Part of the pricing problem is that LikeaBike insist on bringing all of their aluminum bikes to Germany, before they can be dispatched anywhere else. Apparently there is some prep work that is performed in Germany that Taiwan is not qualified to do (really?) This means that a potential distributor is paying to move the bikes two times (three times really, if they provide customers free shipping), and probably inadvertently paying the import duties in Germany, which are added to the landed cost of the bikes and passed on to dealers. If it was possible for dealers to receive shipments directly from the factory in Taiwan, costs would come down, but this is not allowed or possible.
Another reason: Marketing. (that is, a severe lack of it) LikeaBike used to sell so well without any advertising or marketing or social media attention, primarily because they did not have any opponents. As the competition revved it's engines with better, more functional, lower cost products, LikeaBike was stuck in 1st gear, without any marketing plan to execute. At the end of the day, the products that now sell really well, are the ones being marketed like crazy, and LikeaBike can no longer quietly move it's expensive albeit superior product based on it's own merits alone.
Elitism: The LikeaBike company owners are fiercely proud of their products, and consider themselves the pioneers of balance bikes, which is true. They also believe that every balance bike to exist after LikeaBike is a cheap knock-off of their products, without exception. There is some truth to this- a LOT of balance bikes priced in the $100-200 range are being sold to cost-sensitive families. (This is actually a wonderful thing imho) Take a look at what brands like FirstBikeStrider, Ridgeback and Yedoo have done in a very short period. But the problem is that opportunities to partner with reputable US distributors willing to put LikeaBike on the map [again] and aggressively market it, were always dismissed, because the only qualified candidates also imported other brands of balance bike. LikeaBike's position was that distributing LikeaBike alongside inferior, competing bikes, was out of the question, an insult. They say opportunity knocks once, but in this case I can assure readers from personal experience that opportunity knocked many many times and LikeaBike discriminated against potential investors who were unwilling to put all of their eggs in one basket, and not a very lucrative one at that, given the declining popularity.
Don't get me wrong, we consider ourselves LikeaBike's number one fan in the United States, having sold more of them than any other retailer over the past 10 years. We even put their logo on tens of thousands of dollars worth of cycling apparel of our racing team (see image) We continue to sell them at our shop, but the supply of bikes is very scarce and we often find ourselves over-sold when we discover that the warehouse is sold out indefinitely of this color or that model. Yet we persist. We will not give up on LikeaBike. It's the company with the longest history of teaching kids proper bike handling and giving them the wonderful sensation of balance, as young as age two, and nothing will take that away from them.
Interested in finding out if a particular LikeaBike model is available? Please feel free to reach out to us with your inquiry using this email address link.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Which Balance Bike Customer Are You?

In the spirit of our 10th year in business specializing in balance bikes, we thought it would be a fun idea to hold the mirror up to our audience and tell them a little bit about themselves. The following is a list of typical customer dispositions, and many customers are a combination of two or more.
It's time to find yourself. Are you ready?

1. The "I just discovered balance bikes, are they really the best way to teach?" customer
2. The "My grown children just discovered balance bikes and I need to get one for my grandkid, and I'd rather order over the phone." customer
3. The "Why don't these bikes have any pedals? How do they go?" customer.
4. The "I've read all the reviews and narrowed it down to these five models. Which one is best?" customer
5. The "Why can't we just take the pedals off of a 25 pound regular bike for my 2 year old?" customer
6. The "Whatever bike we get, IT HAS TO BE RED." customer
7. The "Do you do price matching? Do you have a discount code? Do you have any used or scratch & dent bikes available?" customer
8. The "Are brakes on balance bikes really necessary? Seems that 3 year olds are not smart enough to use the brake." customer
9. The Rodney Dangerfield customer, typically a grand parent. (replay the scene in Caddy Shack when he's buying 10 of everything in the pro shop)
10. The "This balance bike is defective. We have not used it in 10 months- why are the tires flat?" customer
11. The "I can't believe you guys are right her in San Diego! You mean I can come to your showroom and see the bikes in person before I buy one?" customer
12. The "I know you don't sell this brand of balance bike but can you tell me everything you know about it anyway? I have time." customer
13. The "We're ordering from Canada but we'll be in the States for a week, please ship ASAP." customer
14. The "I waited too long and the birthday is in 3 days! Please help!" customer
15. The "Thank you for actually answering the phone with a live voice! Every other place we called was voice mail!" customer
16. The "Which bike is the absolute best, I don't care about price." customer
17. The "What's your return policy in case my kid hates it?" customer
18. The "How long will my kid use their balance bike before pedaling a bike? I don't want them to outgrow it." customer
19. The "We bought our balance bike from you x years ago and loved the quality. Now we're ready for our first pedal bike and we prefer to stick to the same brand." customer
20. The "We bought a cheap balance bike and it broke in two weeks. We want something better." customer.

So there you have it. If you're reading this, chances are you have already purchased a balance bike. Do you recall the questions you asked in order to make your buying decision?
If you're still on the fence and need answers, rest assured that we have heard it all and can provide you with the knowledge collected from our ten years of balance bike experience.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The New Dimension 12 and Dimension 14 Balance Bikes: Pristine Quality

The brand new 2016 Dimension 12 by Ridgeback has set a new standard of balance bike quality. Discriminating parents will appreciate it's feather weight, premium alloy wheels and components and high-performing Schwalbe tires. (Big Apple or Black Jack- your choose) This is truly a bike to behold and hold onto. Dimension 12 offers heirloom quality that is simply unmatched; nothing comes close. Pick your own colors for the Seat Clamp (Red is shown), Brake Barrel, and Headset Spacer to create a one-of-a kind balance bike that is uniquely yours. Specs below for 12" model. A larger 14" model is also available. 
Where to buy: 
WeeBikeShop | America's No 1 Balance Bike Destination Since 2007
Raw Aluminum "DeLorean" finish

Dimension's genetics are easy to see

Six color selections for 3 different components equals a LOT of possible combinations

The Dimension 12 weighs a scant 8.95 lbs

Dimension 14 (for age 4 and up) weighs only 9.95 lbs
Specifications & Safety Features

  • 6061 Aluminum Alloy Frame with Raw "DeLorean" finish
  • Schwalbe Big Apple Tires (Optional Black Jack tires for off-road use)
  • 12" Aluminum Rims
  • Alloy Hubs with whisper quiet smooth sealed cartidge bearings
  • Rounded dome nuts on wheels
  • Alloy V-brake set
  • Adjustable reach brake lever with custom colored brake barrel
  • Internally routed brake cable
  • Finely upholstered saddle with carrying handle
  • FREE Custom color Seat Post Clamp (six options)
  • FREE Custom color Headset Spacer (six options)
  • FREE Custom color Brake Barrel (six options)
  • Two seatposts included! one short one long
  • 1000s of customization possibilities: Tires, Seat Clamp, Headset Spacer and Brake Barrel
  • Long wheelbase and low center of gravity for stability & comfort.
  • Super Light Weight: 8.95 lbs
  • Seat height range: 14" to 20"
  • Built by a real bicycle company (This is a real bike, not a toy!)
  • No weight limit! Strong enough to support an adult
  • Laser-etched logos- no peeling stickers
  • Free Bell!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Meet the new Freewheel Balance Bike by Saracen

We received America's first ever Saracen product recently: the Freewheel Balance Bike.
Available for $199.95 at WeeBikeShop and their authorized dealers.

The 6061 aluminum frame is impressively welded together with really awesome looking decals protected under the thick topcoat. The Saracen Freewheel balance bike shares some genetics with the infamous Scoot Balance Bike by Ridgeback UK, but with more frame tubes, different tires by VEE Rubber, black rims and a striking saddle that matches the frame's color scheme. We also spied a better quality, more refined brake lever mounted to the black handlebars.
The Saracen brand is legendary in the XC and downhill mountain bike racing scene, recently earning the coveted rainbow stripes awarded to athletes and products that win a world championship race. With this in mind, it's easy to see that this balance bike is all business, and most definitely NOT a toy. All parts are industry standard and easily serviced in any bike shop. The weight of the bike is a pleasing 10-1/2 lbs right out of the box, and can be reduced further with some custom tuning of tires, brakes and handlebars by the technicians at WeeBikeShop.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

8 Best Balance Bikes 2015

WeeBikeShop proudly presents two brands that populate the top of every mom's wishlist: SCOOT by Ridgeback and the TooToo by Yedoo. Buy them securely and from an industry leader at WeeBikeShop- America's Favorite Balance Bike Destination Since 2007!