Our youngest son (nearly 2) recently started drooling over the bikes we have for our older kids. This got so bad that when he went outside, he would go find their bikes, and stand clutching them reverently with a pleading look in his eyes while refusing to budge.
After we discounted some sort of anxiety disorder, we concluded that he desperately wanted his own bike.
Small balance bikes for young kids are very cheap now and come in bright gaudy colours that are sure to please any discerning 2 year-old, but our middle girl was overdue to advance from her balance bike and so we figured it was time to coax her to move on and pass on her bike to her little brother.
While waiting for this to happen I toyed with the idea of making one.
I had previously set aside a pair of old tyres from a buggy which was simply too good to dispose of. These still hadn’t been put to use and formed the basis for the new bike.
Checking a few designs online led to a fairly simple design using offcuts of plywood and some easily sourced accessories.
There were a few things to pay attention to I planning the bike:
- A snug fitting wheel rotor with spacers that would allow the wheels to rotate freely without rubbing against the timber fork.
- Cutting the frame such that the seat position would be at a good height. In this first design, I opted for simplicity and didn’t build in an adjustable seat height, figuring this bike wouldn’t be needed for very long. If doing this again I would certainly allow for this.
The steering column needed a little though, to allow for a high degree of rotation without any binding of the timber pieces.
The wheel mounts were leftover pieces of threaded bolt cut to about 6-inch lengths – enough to accommodate the wheel and two pieces of plumbing pipe as spacers on either side, the timber prongs and then finally two locking nuts to hold it all in place. The 12mm diameter bolt proved to be a nice snug fit for these particular wheels once I had removed their pre-existing centre fittings.
The frame was made of 12mm ply cut to shape with a jigsaw and sanded to remove any nasty splinters. I ended up making the frame the same width all along (i.e. the width of the tyre plus spacers) which didn’t need to be the case and added some unnecessary weight. It did allow for a nice broad area to make a comfy seat on. The seat was just some foam underlay (from timber flooring) wrapped and then stapled to the frame with a cloth cover.
The steering column turned out to be quite easy. I happened to have a piece of steel pipe (see here) which was a perfect snug fit for the same 12mm threaded bolt used to mount the wheels. This pipe was attached to the chassis while the bolt rotating inside it was attached to the steering column.
He didn’t seem bothered about that though.
We had the opportunity to show off the bike at a recent upcycling for the home event as part of “resue October” in Cork and it did get a lot of attention from both kids and adults.
email us if you are interested in having your own “WeMakeDo balance Bike”.