January 29, 2007

Ouch. Target LikeASteamrollers LikeABike

target_wooden_bike.jpg

A couple of folks have sent in sightings over the last couple of weeks, but it's not online, and I never go to these kinds of stores myself...unless it's to check out ruthless, fire-at-will Targetting.

After all, it was based on a 200-year-old design to begin with. The LikeABike had already spawned a range of LikeALikeABikes--one site in Germany showed almost 30 different makes and models. But nothing can compare to head-on competition from the slightly stylish, Big Red Box.

Target has felled their Chinese plywood forests and fired up their Chinese factories to bring a LikeABike-esque wooden toddler bicycle to the market for just $50. That's almost an 85% discount on the LikeABike's admittedly steep original price of $279.

target_wooden_bike_box.jpg

The lines on the Target version are a little clunkier, and the--you know, what, it's freakin' 85% off. What kills me is the tagline on Target's box: "What will they dream of next?" And by "dream of," they mean "let some startup bounce along the first two years of the product life cycle for us." [thanks dt readers eric, ambra, annette, and jason, Target shoppers all]

Previously: A collection of LikeABike-related posts
the same M.O.: Robeez has a giant Target on its back

30 Comments

Of course Target will only carry them for six months, will only have them in a random 1/3 of their stores, and will have them in a different department at every store..and then they will disappear from shelves overnight.

Yay Target! (Sorry: Minneapolis speaking there)

How heavy are those things? Can't I just take the cranks off the baby Mongoose I got at a garage sale for $5 and have the same thing in shiny chrome?

That's a pretty bad trickle-down ripoff. At least it doesn't say: "What will we dream up next."

I must admit, there's something about the more American-ized, motorcross styling I kind of like. Of course those were all Japanese bikes. At least it's not an American Chopper-style monster.

Ryan, Baby Mongoose!? Awesome.


Does anyone out there actually have a LikeABike, or similar clone?

I must say, I'm a bit confused on the benefits. My little one is walking and learning her balance pretty well on two feet. When she's ready to move faster, I think we'll try a tricycle . And when she's mastered that, we'll take off the back wheels and make it a two-wheeler. Where does the "pedo-bike" fit in? On looks, and as objects, I love all the variations on the LikeABike concept, but really how practical and useful are they?

Now that drivetrains have been brought up, I wonder if anybody has opinions on fixed gear bikes for kids. After all, tricycles and learning bikes that have the pedals mounted on the front wheel are the same thing. Do kids need to coast?

Ryan, If I can teach my little one to do a 50-yard skid on a fixie trike... I don't know what I'd do.

Seriously, once they're older (5 or 6?), and riding their own bikes (or one of those trailer rigs), I would think it's good for the kiddies to coast a while, to rest their legs.

Any other advice on cycling with kids, would be greatly appreciated from this dad. This spring, I'd like to get the kid (18 mos) out on the back of the bike in a rack-mounted seat. Any suggestions?

We just bought the Giant with the steel rack. There are two more models with headrests and allow racks. The headrest seems like it would be in the way of a helmet. They're about $50 new (compared to $110+ for ever other one I've seen) I'm still trying to find a helmet that will fit my kid (nevermind one that doesn't have decals all over it). She's a year old and still has her 10th %ile 43 cm head.

I also have to wait a while. It's 8° F today in Minneapolis.

That's a horrible rip-off and it disgusts me that Target would stoop so low.

It also annoys me that they don't have any stores in Canada, and now I'm going to have to dig up my passport so we can pop down to Bellingham and buy the kid one... :)

[you show'em -ed.]

I actually seriously do have mixed feelings about this... I was considering getting the kid a Like-a-Bike; they're about $350CAD and my thought was that even if they cost that much, A) the thing is supposed to last 3-4 years and B) we could probably sell it for a decent amount of money if the kid didn't ride it much after a couple years...

However, if there are going to be a ton of knock-offs, B) definitely gets less attractive as people who are looking for a Like-a-Bike used are probably just as likely to go for the Chinese one. Thanks, Target, for making my decision just that much harder. :)

Andy,
a friend of ours has one of the LikeABikes and love it. well, her kid loves it. It's very different from a tricycle, and I don't know of any kid who has gone directly from a tricycle to a bicycle at age 3 (especially without training wheels). The whole idea is to first lock the steering wheel straight, so the kid works on balance. And then they just zoom along, so you introduce steering and then they get that, and then you go out and buy a good old fashioned Mongoose with pedals.

I know I'm getting some version of this for my girls!

"Does anyone out there actually have a LikeABike, or similar clone?"

We've got the LikeABike, and both of my kids (5 and 2.5) love it. The 5 year old rode it around the house and on short neighborhood walks for almost a year. When we bought him his first real bike for Christmas this year, he rode it perfectly on his first try without training wheels. It's been great for us.

Andy,

One bit of kid/cycling advice I have is to check out Specialized's kids bikes. They have three kids models that are super lightweight and well-built. Here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/2r7bgh . Our local bike-shop allows free exchanges to the next larger model as the kid grows, so you can effectively get five or six years worth of bikes for $160.

How embarrassing...

[I thought I'd leave a few up, just so people would know what this, the lone different comment, was referring to. -ed.]

I wonder if Likeabike might have a potential lawsuit here? The design is nearly the exact same as theirs and obviously the same concept.

Andy, regarding biking with your 18 month old, we've really liked the Bobike Mini: http://www.koolstop.com/bobike/index.php

It's easy to keep tabs on them and they get a better view of the ride.

We found ours on ebay. Good luck!

:( It should say Patty, not Patt above.

I bought one of these Like-a-Bike Ripoffs... proudly. As much as I would like to say that I spent some outrageous amount of money on a sweet run-bike, I have to be practical. With three kids, one must be. The other $200 I saved on this bike is 1/4 of one kid's monthly tuition at a Montessori. As far as using a regular bike and taking off the pedals, we did this with our girls' K2 and Specialized bikes from REI. The only issues were the height and the weight of the bike. When they fell over, the extrication process was painful (with the metal frame and spokes and all). And if your kids are small, having the seat all the way down doesn't always mean their feet will hit the floor well enough for them to feel confident about coasting/balancing. As far as as tricycles, I don't like the way they... well... tricycle. If your little guy decides to turn to fast, he'll tip over, regardless if the manufacturer states that there is limited turning on the handle bars. Unless they're in a Big Wheel and low to the ground. Tricycling is bound to happen. Anyways, that's my two cents.

"How embarrassing...

[I thought I'd leave a few up, just so people would know what this, the lone different comment, was referring to. -ed.]"

Huh?

[a few duplicate comments, which happens when you click 'post comment' after receiving a 'server error' message. in fact, the comment is accepted just fine in those situations; the server just fails to show it back to you right away. -ed.]

We went with the Kettler Sprint. $125 or so, made in Germany by workers who are not kept in a kennel at night. The wooden kick bikes are nice, but you hate to risk so much money on something your kid may reject completely.

I don't know this retailer, but here's a link:

http://www.growingtreetoys.com/product/5502

there will always be people who want the real thing and can afford it. For the rest of us who have always wanted to get a like a like-a-bike, Target to the rescue! Why should style not come to the big box retail. Look at Ikea who rip off design all the time.

Pedal-less bikes are the way to go, for learning to ride a bicycle; other features seem far less important. One of these bikes (no particular brand) has been on my shopping list for over a year, for when my 2yo turns 3. If only I had known children can manage a bicycle at age 2! My 2yo, now almost 3, tried another child's Like-a-Bike this month and had it figured out in about 2 minutes.

I purchased a Target "like-a-bike" rippoff about 2 months ago. My 4 year old loved it. We did have a major crack appear about two weeks into the use. Glue and clamps fixed it. We were then given a 12 inch "pedal bike" or as my son says a "chain bike." He was confused by the training wheels, so before he rode it I took them off. He learned to ride it in two hours. I wish I could take full credit for this miracle but I really think it was the "like-a-bike." I wholly endorse this bike or its cheap imitations

["I wholly endorse this bike or its cheap imitations" I'll be looking for that on the side of the box -ed.]

We took a toddler 10 inch chrome bike ($30) and took off the pedals. My 3 year old mastered it and was rolling down small hills without her feet on the ground in a couple weeks. When we put her on a bigger bike with pedals, she took off on her first try! Our 2 year old daughter is much smaller, so the chrome bike won't work - it's seat is too high off the ground. I hope I can find the Target cheap version! Otherwise we're buying a Like a Bike or Skuut.

We've had the Target "Like a bike" and it was OG apart from splitting around the wheel hubs.

The big problem we have now is replacing the bolts that pass through the axles. We've lost one and need a replacement.

Any ideas?

[They have axle bolts in a whole range of sizes at most hardware stores. Worst case, the bikes are now at least 50% off, so fixing it'll never be more than $25. -ed.]

Where on the Target website is this?

[it's not, only in stores. -ed.]

I started by buying a cheap bike and removing the pedals but the seat was still too high. I got the sawsall out and chopped the upper frame tubes out and bent the seat stays down and rewelded. My 2 year old could now ride. Since then we've switched to the Strider running bike (www.stridersports.com). The Strider has a super low minimum seat height so I'm thinking my other son can start by 15-18 months old. The Strider is awesome, super-light, foamy tires so no flats, lots of seat adjustment, reasonable price and they look cool!

There we go, getting all critical of Target for giving us a cheaper version of an overpriced product. Then they go ahead and drop the item, only to replace it with something much, much worse. Here's their latest knock-off; although this version has something Like-A-Bike et al truly don't offer: Elmo's mug plastered on the front: http://www.target.com/Tek-Nek-Elmos-Beginner-Bike/dp/B00155X3UI/ref=sc_ri_1/602-9027348-2073421

The Elmo bike by tek-Nek is already a thing of the past. i looked into it for retailing on my retail website (balancebikeshop.com).

I cheaper alternative is the prince Lionheart bike. Quality construction, with nice metal spoked wheels.

Go ahead and slag Target. 50 bucks is a realistic price point for a miniature push toy that is meant to be used by a little kid for one season. Plywood and wheels. There was no monster R&D cost for the oh-so-suffering start ups so I don't wanna hear any crying on that front. This design has been around for ages and yuppie hipster green etc toy companies are simply cashing in. Like a guy said above, rip the pedals off a yard sale bike. Done. And Target? I hate the big box stores, too. But you know what? For some people, it's where they can afford to shop. Count yourself amongst the lucky that you have the luxury of choice. Enjoy these bikes if that's where you wanna put your cash but leave the Target demographic alone. 50 bucks is even far too much money for some to spend on a toy - myself included.

I'm the first to point out that Like-A-Bike, which started out as a premium product and stayed that way, faced the consequences of their decision to make a wooden toy in Germany. That's what was important to them, fine. After their launch several years ago, Kokua faced a barrage of knockoffs across Europe, too, so my slagging Target is just calling out the biggest knockoffery in America, not pretending their unique.

And for what it's worth, I haven't seen these wooden pedal bikes in Target for the last two seasons [yes, I go, best deal on Honeycombs in town], so it's all moot. Might as well start looking on craigslist for outgrown wooden walking bikes and see which ones have held up.

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