Five minutes with: balance bike brand Kidvelo

After starting in kids’ bike distribution, husband and wife Gary and Karen Wood launched their own bikes six months ago. Company director Karen introduces the brand to the industry

This piece first appeared in the July edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here

Can you give us a little background on Kidvelo?
We are a husband and wife team running a small family business, based in Warwickshire, that has just launched a new brand specialising in balance bikes – Kidvelo. However, we aren’t new to the industry as prior we were the Strider distributors for the UK and Ireland. Our own passion for these little bikes started back in 2008, when we discovered them for our own children.

Having witnessed how easy and fun it was for kids to learn to use a balance bike, we jacked in our careers and started retailing and spreading the word about what balance bikes were. We grew quickly to take on distribution, and over the years we hosted balance bike racing championships, inspirational fun riding events across the UK, including putting the kids up on the podiums of the Tour of Britain and the Womens’ Tour, and taught thousands of kids how to ride a bike.

At the start of 2020, we set out to improve balance bike design and make the step up to manufacturing. We joined forces with an Australian company that had the same passion and history as ourselves and together launched our first bike at the end of 2021 in our respective countries. We had pretty clear ideas from the start, gleaned from years spent observing how children ride and listening to parents, so the designs came together quickly.

What area of the market do you target?
We want to keep to our area of expertise: kids’ bikes that help children of all abilities. Kidvelo is all about quality lightweight bikes that make it easy for kids to learn to ride. Toddler balances bikes with the correct geometry to cater for a growing child and 14”/18” convertible bikes that can be ridden as a balance bike, but easily adapt to become a lightweight pedal bikes for older children.

What makes your products unique?
The Rookie 12 Balance Bike is our smallest bike – the lightest balance bike available that has pneumatic tyres (2.89 kg), built with quality components not dissimilar to those found on performance adult bikes. The wheelbase has been stretched compared to comparable brands as it gives more room for a growing child, allows a lower centre of gravity and makes it super speedy for the confident riders. A higher than average handlebar position, that encourages children to look up and forwards when riding, rather than hunched over looking directly in front. Lots of small tweaks make a huge difference in performance.

The game changers arrive later this year. We wanted to make a balance bike that could convert to a pedal bike, but with no compromises. The Rookie 14” and Rookie 18” start in balance mode, but can be easily include a pedal kit. Both bikes have been built to ride effortlessly in either mode!  They are the correct geometry in both modes and lightweight, the key to a good fitting kids’ bike. For example, the 14” when used as a pedal bike weighs just 6kg. The advantage for parents is it is quick and easy to add or remove the pedals; no bike rebuild required, no band brakes or rear coasters, no compromise in performance, with or without pedals.

The Rookie 18” we developed to help five-year-olds and older learn to ride. There is a scary percentage of primary school children that have never owned a bike, and often by the time they show interest, they have outgrown the balance bikes available. Also a big percentage of children with dyspraxia and autism tend to not show an interest in cycling until they are older. Our aim is within the Rookie range of bikes, we can help every child. With the brand only six months old, we need to concentrate on our digital presence and build brand awareness to then decide our trade approach.

Our current priority is to ensure we understand how the bikes are received by the end user, so that in time we are then able to support a trade network. We are starting to build a network of small independent retailers – the passionate bike guys that will take the extra mile to educate parents on the shop floor and retailers that can benefit from stocking a small brand that will support them. We welcome trade enquiries from like-minded retailers.

What sort of feedback have you received from the industry?
We have been humbled by the number of cycling instructors and schools that we can already call customers. That was the true test for us, to satisfy the professionals that are using our bikes and teaching kids to ride daily. We have had good product reviews from industry media that have seen the bike close up and our lifetime warranty on frame and forks is attractive to customers.

We have a 100% no return rate and haven’t had a single issue raised by any customer since launching, which is pretty incredible for a new brand. The five-star reviews are rolling in from the parents of happy riders too. I’m delighted we have just scooped two top Loved By Parents Awards – The Platinum Best Ride On for one-three years, and also the Platinum Best Buy Award, which is impressive for our first bike and testament to the hard work we put into design and production.

What are your plans for 2022 and beyond?
Well I am not going to pretend that getting a new brand into production, just as the pandemic hit, has been smooth sailing. Despite years of providing award-winning customer service and we know our logistics work well, supply chain problems and the escalating costs have had an impact. There is a lot of work ahead to raise our visibility. We are already tinkering with the next model designs so the range will inevitably grow in future. The downside of bootstrapping the company is that things take longer when working with a limited budget. Fortunately, we don’t have the overheads of larger brands, as we do everything ourselves, and can keep passing on these savings to customers.

For trade enquiries, contact Gary@kidvelobikes.co.uk.

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