Leamington couple behind children's bike business scoop two industry awards

A Leamington couple who both walked away from their successful careers to set up a balance bike business are celebrating winning international awards.
Founders of Kidvelo Bikes Karen and Gary Wood with their dog Chester. Photo suppliedFounders of Kidvelo Bikes Karen and Gary Wood with their dog Chester. Photo supplied
Founders of Kidvelo Bikes Karen and Gary Wood with their dog Chester. Photo supplied

Kidvelo Bikes, run by Karen and Gary Wood, has received the Platinum Best Buy Award and the Platinum Best Ride on one to three 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.

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Previously, the couple distributed balance bikes and taught thousands of children how to ride.

Balance bikes are small bicycles without pedals, drivetrain or cranks, that allow children as young as 18 months to ride on two wheels. This helps toddlers develop the balancing skill required to move onto a pedal bike – without 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.

In 2019 the couple stepped up to manufacturing and the Kidvelo brand was founded.

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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 Loved By Parents Awards celebrates internationally recognised brands and start-ups and each entry is tested and voted for by parents.

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.

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"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.”

Later this year Karen and Gary are launching Kidvelo’s balance bikes for older children aged three to eight. 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.

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"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 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 July 1.

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