Gyrobike: reinventing the wheel for kids

Two wheels in one design helps learners stay upright.

by Dave Atkinson   September 25, 2009  

Gyrobike wheel

If you've ever taught a tot to ride a bike then you'll know that once they get up to speed they're usually fine, at least so far as balance goes. Get those wheels spinning and the gyroscopic effect is working to keep the bike upright. But at slow speeds – and that's where we all started – it's much harder to stay upright.

Enter the Gyrobike training wheel. It's a neat invention, one of those why-didn't-I-think-of-that innovations that's so obvious once someone else has done the hard work of imagining it. The wheel is effectively two wheels: a standard bike wheel that rolls along the road, and a flywheel that's housed inside it. The flywheel can spin independently of the main wheel, so it can be rotating quickly – creating lots of stabilising gyroscopic force – even when your child is pottering along.

Gyrobike promo vid (featuring the young Bradley Wiggins?)

It's a simple and elegant aid to bike training and a much more intuitive way to make a bike more stable than stabilisers. "Gyrowheel not only keeps the bike from falling over, it also teaches correct riding technique.", say the makers.  "Gyrowheel senses unbalanced biking and re-centers the bike under the rider’s weight when the bike starts to wobble". We're not quite sure what that means – the Gyrowheel doesn't 'sense' anything – but effectively what they're saying is that the Gyrowheel responds to imbalance in the way a normal bike would: by resisting it, rather than moving the balance point to a stabilising wheel.

The wheels are still in pre production and the Gyrobike website says they'll be available in the US from 1 December. It's not just for the kids either; larger versions are planned too for adult learners.

4 user comments

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What they probably mean is that its torque vector moves into its spin vector, causing gyroscopic precession.

The front forks look like they're on back to front, though maybe the bars are simply turned more than usual.

To be honest, teaching kids to ride a push-along bike does the trick. I taught my sons to ride a bike with one of those and when they moved up to pedals, it didn't take long. The eldest took 200m and the youngest just 100m as he'd watched his brother. I also taught one of their mates when he wanted to learn on their bike as he had a push-along too.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2246 posts]
25th September 2009 - 13:17

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Quote:
What they probably mean is that its torque vector moves into its spin vector, causing gyroscopic precession

yeah, that's what I thought too. Big Grin Big Grin

I think the bars are just turned round, like you say.

I've just (really just, like this week) taught my daughter Daisy to ride, she's 4 and a bit and never really took to balance bikes. She loved her scooter though and that seems to have done the trick with the balancing. A couple of false starts and she was off: there's no stopping her now.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7441 posts]
25th September 2009 - 13:48

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I used to work in development testing for gyroscopes used in aviation for a living and some of that mud clearly stuck regarding the stuff on gyroscopic precession.

Personally, I think stabilisers should be banned. They hinder kids from learning to ride a bike rather than helping and I've seen quite a few accidents when kids have cornered too fast and toppled over. I remembered from when my dad taught me and knew this was what not to do so instead I made a point of taking my kids to a smooth surface rather than the bumpy field where I learned and I also didn't hold onto the saddle or handlebars (as he'd done), as this also slows down the learning process. Supporting my boys under the arm allowed them to balance and steer themselves and they learned much faster than I did.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2246 posts]
27th September 2009 - 20:07

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I just packed my bikes into the car, threw the kids into the boot, and then went for a shower. By the time I got back the kids never wanted to ride a bike ever again. Sorted!

I go great with chips Tongue

posted by tommyketchup [84 posts]
20th June 2013 - 13:32

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