Reshaping the way kids learn to ride.

The Puky LR1 is hands down the most game-changing mobility device we have ever created. Its introduction completely revolutionized the way children learn to ride bikes, and it did so in an incredibly positive way. Initially, the project had a completely different objective, proving that creative briefings are often overrated. The briefing was simple and centered around addressing an annoyance of the then stakeholder and CEO of Puky - the noisy and low-quality training wheels on children's bikes. These training wheels were more of a hindrance than a help, impeding a child's progress on two wheels all because parents demanded them. Actually, it wasn't even just parents; it was shop owners who wanted bikes that could stand alone without kickstands. Although the task may not have seemed appealing, we dove headfirst into brainstorming ideas. We sketched out wheels with suspension for a smoother ride, levered wheels that could be raised both sides with one hand, we prototyped various wheel sizes for quick rides, and even hubless wheels that always seem to appear in student designers' portfolios. However, as our presentation date approached, we felt unsatisfied with these focused results. We decided to broaden our perspective and ask some tough questions in order to find a solution beyond these bothersome training wheels. That's when one simple idea struck us - what if kids could start biking long before they even get their first pedal bike? It may have seemed like a silly question at first. There was a small competitor in the market who manufactured running bikes or balance bikes made from wood. They were heavy as can be and posed some safety concerns since kids could injure themselves on the fixed narrow bar end. However, the concept of a balance bike - a bike that kids learn to ride without pedals or training wheels - was undeniably logical. So we thought: what if Puky utilized their expertise in German steel tube production to create a lightweight, secure, and durable balance bike for the masses? This way, no child would ever need training wheels again. That's the solution. Our presentation showcased two charts - one displaying various training wheel constructions and another featuring a sketch of a balance bike with a low entry frame, a distinctive rising tube frame, and a saddle shaped like a banana. We believed that this design would allow kids to push the bike forward more effectively with their bottoms. To make the decision easier, we painted everything in Puky-Color and mounted it on existing scooter wheels (argument: cost saving because of same part use)However, the outcome of the presentation took an unexpected turn. The stakeholders deemed the balance bike as highly dangerous. It took us some time to fully grasp their concerns. They were worried because if this bike became successful, it would significantly impact their business model - and not necessarily in a positive way. Would Puky lose market shares in tricycles? Tricycles were quite popular at the time and served as stepping stones to riding traditional bikes. What about go-karts or even small bicycles? This heated discussion taught us that while an idea may be good, it doesn't always translate into good business. Company owners can become ruthless when you unintentionally disrupt their market. However, ultimately, the idea of providing children with a better and earlier introduction to biking prevailed. The iconic low slung double tube frame went into production after several discussions with the German TÜV (Technical Inspection Association). We were even granted permission to add a plastic part resembling a small surfboard that allowed kids to lift their feet as preparation for standing on pedals - although the TÜV was initially hesitant about this feature. The Puky LR1 hit the market and instantly became a tremendous success. It was lightweight, fun, and most importantly secure. Kids learned how to ride bikes before they even had proper bikes themselves. Over the years, our product family grew as we introduced balance bikes in all wheel sizes. We even developed an MTB version with rear suspension and nobby tires. As expected, the tricycle and go-kart categories dwindled, but the growing balance bike business more than made up for it. Puky nowadays is market leader in the balance bike segment with a portfolio spanning from steel to lightweight aluminium frames, rolling on Soft or AirCore tires. So, we completely changed the way every child learns how to ride a bike with one design sketch, far out of the briefing boundaries. And we couldn't be prouder of this achievement. But wait, do you think our mission was truly successful? Think again. The best-selling item in the Puky Accessories shop to date are quality training wheels that can be adapted to fit any other kids bike brand frame. The other chart. Shame on us.


PUKY GmbH & Co. KG, Wülfrath


Project start: 1998First Release: 1999Last Release: 2023


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