We were no longer toddlers, no longer kids. Maybe I was 10. My sister, 11. It was a BMX (or cheap version of). Styrofoam handlebar and frame covers in blood red with large white stars. Dots of rust soon made their appearance on the body. Not the most elegant set of wheels but we had many adventures.
For the lucky ones who can get their early start on balance bikes, why not: leather-ish vinyl seats and handles in a silky, matt chocolate brown, a well-built woven basket just the right size for small things—a sophisticated bicycle for young children. Plus, gold dotted stickers to dance around on your bike frame and a celebratory sign on the front that well represents the feeling of freedom and fun one gets from being on wheels.
Happy Bikes was created by Singapore-based Lee Powers, a creative director who was originally from London, to marry both good design and good works in a balance bike (bicycles without pedals or training wheels) for children aged two to five. ‘Tis something I believe in too—good taste can be introduced to children from very young. To launch the bikes, which are also practical as they are adjustable for when your child grows bigger and taller—Lee has collaborated with one of our most tasteful boutiques, nana & bird at Tiong Bahru, to create a bespoke nana & bird custom Happy Bike.
We ask Lee and co-founder of nana & bird Tan Chiewling to fill us in on the Happy Bikes.
Hi Lee, tell us about Happy Bikes. What’s the back-story?
Lee: Happy Bikes is a new unisex balance bike aimed at the style-savvy toddler. We’re hoping to inspire a new generation of young riders for their first and continuing adventure upon two wheels. Being a creative director and a new parent with a keen interest in cycling, I was looking around at balance bikes for my daughter and was particularly put off by the ugly designs of the available balance bikes and decided I wanted to design and launch something a little more interesting and on trend from a design perspective. Style wise the bikes are influenced by the European bicycles of the mid 1900’s with a classic diamond frame and bold colour choices.
Can you elaborate on the details that makes Happy Bikes so special?
Lee: It’s really the colours. Our bikes have a sophisticated colour pallet of black, white, blue and red with variations on cream and black tyres. Our bikes are designed to grow with toddlers and feature a variable seat and handlebar height. Our bikes teach toddlers (who are confident on their feet with a minimum inseam of 42cm, generally around 21/2 – 3 years and up) the very fundementals of riding a bike, i.e., balance and steering. The evidence is that a child who learns to balance and steer on a balance bike can skip the training wheels and head straight to a pedal bike in the future.
Can you share with us some tips on choosing a bicycle for a toddler or young child?
Lee: The first rule is to choose a bike that will fit the height of the child. The tech on a balance bike is very simple; theres no gears or moving mechanical parts other than the two wheels, so choosing the right bike really can be based upon the visual design and budget.
How did the collaboration with Nana & Bird come about?
Lee: I love the style of the folks at nana & bird, they have amazing taste with the clothes that they curate for the store. A chance meeting at a wedding led nana & bird inviting Happy Bikes to launch at their store. To celebrate the launch I invited them to design their own version of the bike. Coming from a creative background I’m particularly keen to work with local artists and creative types to customise their own version of the Happy Bike and am currently in discussion with some leading Singapore creatives for future collaborations.
Chiewling, can you tell us about the design of this bespoke bike for Nana & Bird. What sort of challenges/thoughts went into the design and production?
Chiewling: The design process is relatively straightforward. The first question we asked ourselves was: if nana & bird is a bike, what will it look like? How will that bike make the user feel? What colour should it be? What feeling should people have when they see the bike?
The answers then came about quite naturally: we wanted it to be whimsical, joyful, fun, a tad retro but yet stylish. The base of the bike should be clean/white and easy for us to put the decorations on. Thus we went around town to look for little triangle paper garland and also gold round dots and we stuck them onto the bike. The basket can be purchased online with the bike. And the ‘number plate’ is produced at Papermarket. We can easily choose any other uplifting message other than “WOO HOO”.
We are actually still fine tuning the customised bike and will be producing gold stickers with better adhesiveness to stick them securely onto the bike frame. I hope you guys love them as much as we do!
Happy Bikes are priced at $225, with the nana & bird custom special priced at $399.
Nana & Bird (1M Yong Siak Street) will launch their bespoke Happy Bike this Sunday, 4th September 2016 between 2-5pm. Go take a pedal!
+ all images courtesy of Happy Bikes.