Growing up in South Africa, Tamsin and Brett Spence had plastic bikes that were low to the ground, had no pedals to them, and were easy for a toddler to balance on while scooting along. The bikes were sold at gas stations. “They were fantastic and a lot of fun,” Tamsin Spence says.
When their family came to the United States in 2010, the Spences couldn’t find anything like those bikes. Their daughter Megan brought a plastic bike with them and the neighborhood kids “would go crazy about these bikes,” Tamsin Spence says.
They thought, surely, they could find one like it here, in the States. No dice. So, the Spences along with his father, John, and brother-in-law Frank Del Gallo created the Gallo and Spence Toys. They took the basic design elements of the bikes they had in South Africa, but made them more durable and safer.
They found a local manufacturer in Georgetown to make them, and they named the product Piki Piki Bike. Piki piki means “little motorbike” in Swahili.
- Most kids can start around 18 months and be able to do it themselves. They can keep up with Mom or Dad or Big Brother or Big Sister on a ride to the park.
- Kids can ride the bikes safely until they weigh 70 pounds, though at some point before that, their legs might be too long.
- Kids can steer and propel themselves without having to have a parent bending over. “They are in control of the bike,” Tamsin Spence says. “They get the confidence that it builds. Mom isn’t controlling it; Dad isn’t controlling it.”
- The bikes already are assembled, so there’s no “some assembly required” that makes parents want to tear their hair out.
- The bikes only weigh 5 1/2 pounds, so no lugging.
- The bikes have three wheels for added stability.
- Kids don’t have to be coordinated enough to pedal because there are no pedals.
- Kids can ride them inside or outside. Of course, anytime kids ride them, they should wear a helmet.
Tamsin Spence says the bikes also help ease the transition from toddler bike to big-kid bike because kids are already accustomed to balancing on a bike. Her son, John, who is 4, transitioned from riding the Piki Piki to a big bike in two weeks. “They have the confidence they need to get on the bike and ride,” she says.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he and his older sister still don’t try to get on the Piki Piki. It’s reserved for Michael, 2.
Piki Piki bikes sell for $69.95 on Amazon.com and at GalloSpenceToys.com. The company is working on a pull cart accessory as well because the Spences have seen their own children take a trailer hitch for a ride-along car and attach it to the Piki Piki. “They always want to bring their stuff with them,” Tamsin Spence says.