New bike for toddlers

A new bicycle design could eliminate the need for parents to hold on to the back of a two-wheel bicycle as their child learns how to ride.

A new bicycle design created at PurdueUniversitycould eliminate the need for parents to hold on to the back of a two-wheel bicycle as their child learns how to ride.

The bike, called SHIFT, was created by an industrial design professor and two students. Their designed topped 853 entrants from 56 countries to win the $15,000 first prize in the 9th International Bicycle Design Competition in Taiwan.

“Most children learn how to ride a bike on training wheels, but these simply keep the bike from tipping,” said Scott S. Shim, an assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts.

“Our bike allows children to learn how to balance themselves as they ride instead of looking back to see if their parent is still holding the bike.”

The 16-inch-wheel bicycle looks like a tricycle, but as the child gains momentum and learns to balance, the two rear wheels shift inward to merge into one wheel. This causes the balance to gradually shift from the bicycle to the child.

“SHIFT provides more balance at lower speeds when stability is most critical, especially when starting and stopping, by providing a larger stance,” Shim said.

He collaborated with recent Purdue industrial design graduate, Ryan Lightbody, who now works at Strategix Vision in Seattle, and current student, Matt Grossman, a senior from Carmel, Indiana. All three are members of the Industrial Designers Society of America.

In the autumn, the team’s design was one of 24 to be selected for the final round of competition. Then the team had three months to create a quarter-scale model of the design. The team was announced the winner in March, and a working prototype was created to exhibit in Taipei, Taiwan.

“Now, we are waiting to hear from manufacturers who have expressed interest in producing the design,” said Shim. “The award ceremony took place at Asia‘s largest cycle trade show, Taipei International Cycle Show, where more than 500 companies and manufacturers from all around the world attended.”

The annual International Bicycle Design Competition is sponsored by the Taiwan Department of Industrial Technology in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and was managed by the Cycling & Health Tech Industry Research and DevelopmentCenter.