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How an Electric Balance Bike for Your Kid Is the Ultimate Gift of Play

This article was produced in partnership with STACYC

The pandemic brought rare, scary challenges for parents, but also a gift: You got to spend more quality time with your kids. Part of that probably entailed homeschooling, but hopefully it also involved getting outside more. Childhood can be driven by technology nowadays, but one brand is helping parents engage their children in more active pursuits: STACYC (a neologism of stabile and cycle).

It’s a bike company. We know, you’re probably wondering, “So what?” Well, the M.O. is unique from your run-of-the-mill pedal-less bikes for kids. The brand doesn’t just shrink adult bikes down to scale for a 3- or 7-year-old. STACYC adds an electric motor.

You’re likely part of a massive wave of adults who got back into biking or jumped directly into e-biking in the midst of the pandemic. The outdoors became your gym—your slice of sanity in a world turned upside down. Well, your kid needs that, too.  And with a STACYC bike, your kid won’t have a problem keeping up since there are three powered modes to graduate to from non-powered.

Electric bike for kid
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Electric: It’s different for kids

E-bikes give you that effortless superhuman ability to climb hills with ease or just show up to the office without being a sweaty mess. But that electric component is unique for tykes. STACYC ups the ante on push bikes, where kids learn to master balance on what’s essentially a wheeled two-by-four. To transition into the next phase of control, STACYC bikes let tykes hone their balance at a faster speed without having to pedal.

Don’t worry, they won’t go rocketing down your driveway or sidewalk. There’s a learning mode, so they won’t go faster than you control. It simply lets your child progress faster. They gain the skills and confidence to go from being towed behind your bike in a trailer to a balance bike to the independence of an electric balance bike.

Again, all this occurs more rapidly by removing the pedaling component. When that happens, it’s like an invisible door opens. That same sensation you had when you first learned to pilot a bike without training wheels can happen sooner, all by reducing both motor skills and cognitive load. Luckily, your child has an advantage you don’t: No preconceived notion of what to fear. They’ll embrace the joy of movement with gusto.

Man setting child up on electric bike
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Weight is the enemy

STACYC was founded to address a big flaw in the market: Bikes for kids are way too heavy. What happens in the pedal-only world is that a toddler goes from a pretty heavy balance bike to a pedal bike that weighs more than half their body weight, without the muscle or motor control to manage it. For that reason, a STACYC bike is either 17 or 19 pounds (depending on your child’s age and size), with a lightweight aluminum frame, and a fork that actually works.

It’s also extra low, with a seat that’s out of the way. This way, your child can learn to stand or sit without regard to pedaling to maintain momentum. When they’re ready, a throttle allows them to input speed, so they experience how forward movement equates to easier balance.

But the primary ingredients of balance are control. We learn to walk by literally falling forward, then catching ourselves with each step. Riding a very low-slung STACYC is the same sort of operation, and it’s designed not just to be light but nimble enough that a small child can control it, learning to counter balance against forward and side-to-side motion. By contrast, watch a kid struggle with a typical pedal bike and you see them constantly battling with all that weight too high in the frame and too heavy for their strength.

The STACYC is something else entirely—a very specific learning tool designed to teach both the skills of riding and of course the exceptional freedom of silently cruising along.

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It all comes together with other kids

STACYC has partnered with USA BMX. Is competition critical? Hardly. But if your child was overly cooped up during the pandemic, part of what was missing was emulation and imitation: We don’t just learn by doing. We advance by seeing and copying. And on two wheels, that’s enabled not just by you taking your kid out on the bike path, but to a specific playground where there are other kids shredding. The USA BMX and STACYC partnership is designed to give kids ages three to seven the chance to ride on their STACYC bikes (rather than traditional BMX bikes) at USA BMX facilities. Yes, that means riding in competition, but it also means rapidly building skills and creativity through riding. There will be even more places for kids to do this in 2022.

STACYC is also partnering with ski areas across the country, starting with California’s Mammoth Mountain and Big Bear, where they’ve created pump tracks that are perfect for learning, since the goal is progression, starting with mini challenges that even a toddler can overcome, then moving forward to obstacles that’ll be fun for pre-teens. If you’ve never seen a pump track, these are a lot like a skate park, where momentum alone keeps you going and the challenge is to “pump” your body to maintain it while rolling over swoops, rollers, and ramps (that eventually can be jumped). It’s a Hot Wheels track for humans, and they’re addictive for adults and a hoot for kids. Both can help improve bike handling as a result.

There will be more pump track and other partnerships in the coming year and beyond, which is all part of the brand’s mission to make riding more approachable, and more like other league sports that always have ball fields for kids. Why should two wheels be any different? The answer is simple: It shouldn’t.

[$735 for 12eDRIVE, $949 for 16eDRIVE; stacyc.com]

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