I’m a bit of a slacker daddy. My kids seemed to be the only ones on the block who were last to learn how to ride their bikes. Chalk it up to me either being a bit lazy or them being extremely busy with a bunch of other activities (ballet, gymnastics, piano, acting, dance and oh yeah, school). Regardless of the reasons, they never really got on those two wheels to ride. Two of the three do know how to ride a bike without training wheels but my youngest, who’s 7, still is wobbly having only had 1 experience during the summer at biking without training wheels…and it was only for about 30 minutes.
So, when I got an offer to test out a new type of training wheel-less biking solution, that was battery powered and used technology to help a new rider along, I jumped at the chance to review it, and use my daughter as a bike-riding guinea pig of sorts. The enabling technology here is provided by Gyrobike, who make a product called a Gyrowheel. Simply boiled down, through the use of battery-powered gyroscopes within the wheel, the Gyrowheel provides additional stability to a young rider, without the need to use those cumbersome training wheels.
Especially as you get older as a child, you probably want to avoid the stigma of being a late-rider. If your bike has training wheels, you stick out like a sore thumb. But if you take off those training wheels and put on a Gyrowheel instead, you actually truly learn the art of balance and have a pretty cool looking bike in the process!
You simply charge up the rechargeable batteries for a few hours and then replace the front wheel on your child’s bike. DO NOTE (and I will explain and demonstrate later), you do have to be sure that you mount the Gyrowheel in the proper direction, otherwise your child will not be able to ride well at all.
The Gyrowheel provides stability for the young rider, even at low speeds. This is particularly helpful in terms of boosting their confidence, which is core to a happy bike rider. And, there are 3 stability settings to chose from, which allows you to reduce the stability once they become better at riding. And all of this without those unsightly training wheels.
But quickly back to the story of my daughter and her riding adventure. We got everything set up and ready to go for the video shoot (which you can see below). Her riding attempts which you see in the video are the first time that she ever used the Gyrowheel so she never had any practice with it at all.
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Hopefully you watched the video above and saw how I practically destroyed not only her riding confidence, but also her faith in her “hightechdad.” The lesson learned here was, be sure that you read the directions and attach the Gyrowheel in the PROPER DIRECTION!
Think of the technology inside the Gyrowheel as a wheel within a wheel. As the inner wheel or disk spins (and at the highest stability setting, it spins at about 2000 RPMs), it provides a forward momentum without actually propelling the outer wheel. That’s why, if you turn on the motor and the bike is upside down, you will see the wheel start spinning on its own. So, when I mounted it backwards, it was actually providing an opposing force to the forward momentum, thereby DECREASING the stability and making it even MORE difficult to ride. I tested it out myself and did find that when the wheel would mounted incorrectly, it was, indeed, much more difficult to not only ride but also turn the wheel in general. Definitely ego deflating and potentially dangerous as well.
Geek Speak alert! Here’s some info on the “science” behind the Gyrowheel as clarified by the good folks at Gyrobike: You note “forward momentum,” which might be a little confusing for readers as the stability provided by Gyrowheel has nothing to do with propulsion. If you really want to geek out – the physics principle is called “gyroscopic precession.” Simply put, the disk/wheel wants to stay “upright” and at a 90 degree angle to the axle – the “axis” it is spinning around.
Once we remounted the Gyrowheel, the magic started happening. Pushing a button, 1, 2 or 3 times, powers up the internal gyroscope motors and creates the stability levels based on the number of button pushes. And you know that the wheel is on because it makes a motor sound and has some “psychedelic” patterns that move on the side of the wheel. Once it was running, the initial trepidation of my daughter was quickly replaced with confidence, and at the end of the video shoot, she wanted to do it longer. But we are saving it for another weekend.
The Gyrowheel comes in 2 sizes, 12-inch and 16-inch and is available in both black and white to match your child’s bike. Do note, they also do sell full bikes as well. The MSRP for the 12-inch wheel is $99.00 and for the 16-inch, it’s $119.00. You can pick up the 12-inch on Amazon for $117.00 and the 16-inch for $140.00.
BUT for a limited time (2 weeks from the date of this article posting), if you buy directly from Gyrobike, you can use the coupon code “HighTechDad” to get a 10% discount and free shipping as well (just in time for the 2011 holidays)!
The Gyrowheel is definitely a family-friendly piece of technology. Not only can it boost the confidence of young riders, it also prevents many issues that plague traditional training wheels. For example, have you ever tried to make a turn with training wheels? Most of the time you either heavily rely on the training wheels for banking or you turn too hard and fall over. Also, when training wheels are removed, frequently the rider has to re-learn how to turn. And with training wheels, you get the bad habit of never putting your foot down when you stop, simply because you let the training wheels do it for you. The Gyrowheel breaks you of those habits and teaches you how to ride the right way.
The only drawback that I can initially think of is the fact that a full charge only lasts about 2 hours on the 12-inch version (at high stability setting) and about 45 minutes on the 16-inch (at high stability setting). Then you need to fully charge the wheels up for a few hours before you can head out again. Secondly, once your child learns to ride, you probably want to take off the Gyrowheel and replace it with the bike’s original wheel. Then, I would recommend donating the wheel to a friend, family member or neighbor so that their young kids could use it and benefit.
For me, I like the concept of the Gyrowheel and having tested it out for an hour, it does seem to truly work. For my daughter, training wheels are a thing of the past now, and while the price point might be a bit steep when you compare it against the cost of a full child’s bike, it’s definitely worth it in the long run in my opinion.
Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.
HTD says: It’s important to teach your kids how to ride a bike as it is a skill that they will use for the rest of their lives – the Gyrowheel makes this process fun and easy through the use of some cool technology.