Kid's bikes don't usually last very long. Depending on how quickly a child grows, it's possible to go through as many as five different bike frame sizes by the age of 12, which can be expensive and leads to plenty of material waste. Switzerland-based designer Andreas Bhend is hoping kids can keep their bikes longer with his invention: a new bike that transforms when a toddler grows a couple of inches.
The Miilo bike starts as a simple balance bike without pedals, so a two- or three-year-old can scoot along by foot and learn the basics of steering and balancing. After they grow up a little, the bike can grow as well.
"By flipping the frame and adding the pedals and the chain you get a taller bike," explains Bhend. In its larger variation, the single-speed bike also has a pedal brake. Bhend envisions adding 3-D printed accessories, like a basket, that could be downloaded and made at home.
The handlebar, seat, and frame are also designed to stretch a little farther than the typical bike, so the frame can last even longer. Bhend estimates that it might work from ages 2.5 to 7, depending on growth.
It's not the only bike design to experiment with shifting sizes. The Grow Bike, from a Spanish bike design company, also lengthens as kids grow, so it can last five to seven years instead of the usual two to three. But Bhend's design might be the first to turn a balance bike into a regular bike.
"I was inspired by an earlier bike I built with Samuel Bernier—it was an Ikea hack," says Bhend. "Out of two stools, we built a trainer bike for children. So I thought it would be cool to have a trainer bike that's transformable."
Bhend is currently looking for investors to help produce the bike, and may try crowdfunding.