A Warwickshire couple who both walked away from their successful careers to set up a balance bike business, are celebrating an international industry award double.
Kidvelo Bikes, run by Karen and Gary Wood in Leamington Spa, has received the coveted Platinum Best Buy Award and the Platinum Best Ride on 1-3 years at this year’s Loved By Parents Awards.
By establishing Kidvelo, the couple set out to improve the performance and quality of children’s bikes and make them available to parents at affordable pricing. The entrepreneurs’ prior experience of distributing balance bikes and teaching thousands of children how to ride, is behind the success of their new brand.
Balance bikes are small bicycles without pedals, drivetrain or cranks, that allow children as young as 18 months to ride on two wheels. By learning to balance the bike, with their feet safely on the floor, toddlers develop the balancing skill required to move onto a pedal bike, without ever needing stabilisers.
As parents, Karen and Gary’s passion for these bikes started 14 years ago when discovering them for their own children, going on to retail and then, in 2014, distribute them around the UK and Ireland.
Since then they have also organised inspirational fun riding events across the UK including at the Tour of Britain and the Women’s Tour. Britain’s equivalent of the Tour De France, which saw the kids climbing the podium stage and getting a backstage tour.
In 2019 the ambitious entrepreneurs stepped up to manufacturing and the Kidvelo brand was founded.
And the couple are proud of how far they’ve come since walking away from their careers in IT and Business Development.
Karen said: “Having witnessed how easy and fun it was for our two-year-old and four-year-olds to learn to use a balance bike, we were inspired to jack in our successful careers and start retailing and spreading the word what balance bikes were. The company grew quickly from there.”
“The bikes have been designed to fit and adjust to cater for growth spurts, to help every child learn to balance and encourage a passion for cycling.”
The Loved By Parents Awards continues to be one of the largest and most trusted parenting awards programmes worldwide. Celebrating internationally recognised brands and start-ups, each entry is tested and voted for by parents, which means the ultimate score of credibility.
Karen said: “We are over the moon with this year’s Loved By Parents result. To take the two top awards, that are recognised by an industry-acclaimed awarding body with our first launched model is extremely humbling. We are beyond proud to prove testament to the hard work we put in designing the Rookie 12 to be the best balance bike.”
“Taking the leap to manufacturing six months ago was pretty daunting. The decision to step up to improve bike design and the huge financial outlay required, especially as we are bootstrapping the growth, wasn’t taken lightly. However, our expertise within the kids’ bike industry, means we know exactly what the children need and the parents’ require of performance children’s bikes. Kidvelo has the quality at affordable price points, to be a disrupter in the marketplace.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Later this year Karen and Gary are launching Kidvelo’s balance bikes for older children aged 3- 8 years. These larger models enable the rider to add on a pedal kit to convert into lightweight pedal bikes.
Karen said: “There is a scary percentage of primary school children who 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. The convertible bikes will allow kids to learn to balance first without the distraction and complexity of pedals, before transforming into lightweight pedal bikes. Our aim is that, within the Rookie range, we can help every child learn to ride a bike.”
Kidvelo’s profile also recently received a huge business boost when it was chosen by Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis for his #SBS Small Business Sunday Initiative that won the business promotion across his huge network.
Karen has also been named a finalist in the Woman Who Start-Up Awards, with the winner to be announced on the 1st July at Coombe Abbey.
Visit their website here to find out more