June 5, 2008

This Week In Like-A-Like-A-Bike News

The Like-a-Bike knockoff scene is suddenly hopping for some reason. To wit:

  • A retailer recently commented on the original DT post about the Skuut--the one that busted them for knocking off the Like-A-Bike in China, and the one which called out the so-called toy industry experts at Dr. Toy for giving the Skuut a Best New Ride-on Toy Award of 2006, as if the original Like-A-Bike hadn't been around for almost three years, that post--saying that orders weren't being delivered, calls and emails weren't bein returned. It's not like a Skuut requires a lot of after care from the dealer, but if you're planning on getting one, just make sure your retailer actually has it in stock.

    jolly_arts_woodbikes.jpg

  • Maybe Skuut's just in China, picking up a new containerload of merch. I got a proposal this week asking if I'd like to go in on a 40' load of walk bikes from the Jolly Arts & Crafts Manufacturing Co. in Ningbo, China. Minimum order's 650, but if we order just 1,300 bikes, the price drops from $19.50 to $19.20 apiece. I'm going to pass, but if you can find 1,298 friends to go in with you, you can beat Skuut at their own two-thirds off game.

    toot_scoot.jpg

  • Or maybe Skuut just got scared off by Toot Scoot, a new walking bike competitor created by a BMX-riding dad in Wichita, Kansas. While a dad-invented, Made-in-USA walking bike would be a great marketing angle, I suspect that the $80 price tag points back to Ningbo. Either way, Naomi has promised to post a review at Superdumb Supervillain, so stay tuned. [tootscoot.com]

  • 8 Comments

    To be fair, Greg, I think that Holz-Hoerz has been making their Pedobike since the early 90s, and so Like-a-Bike is not exactly original itself.

    [thanks, the PedoBike-LikeABike rivalry has been discussed on DT before. I just forgot to link to it. PedoBike has all sorts of accessories like ski attachments which trump LAB, that's for sure. It's like the Bobux/Robeez/Everyone else deal. -ed.]

    OneStepAhead has been carrying a "wooden training bike" for a few months.

    http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=534607&cmSource=Search

    http://www.stridersports.com/

    and now another genius AMERICAN dad has invented a balance bike too!

    Local Detroit parenting mag mentioned these folks:

    http://www.runbikes.com/

    Who knew?

    (Looks like the OneStepAhead model I mentioned above is the same as the Smart Gear. Interesting: runbikes.com gives the same mailing address in Sylvan Lake, MI, as elitecarseats.com.)

    [runbikes.com is part of tiptopturtle.com, which is apparently part of niche retail, who also operates ECS and joggingstroller.com. -ed.]

    Don't forget that Kettler has been making a foot-to-floor bike called the "Sprint" for a number of years.

    http://www.kettlerusa.com/page82.html

    We have bought 1300 like a bike in 2006 from Jolly Arts & Crafts Manufacturing Co in china, the quality are so bad, I sold 460 bikes, 25% defected products, I resell you 870 bikes for 10 dollars.

    actually, those would be Like-a-Bike knockoffs.

    Mr. Allen (Greg?),

    I've read with much interest your original post about the Pedobike/Likeabike/Skuut/etc. genealogies (i.e. knock-off-dom)--and then I read with much interest a number of random entries on greg.com, but that's another story.

    I agree with you on so many points: the blatant knockoff-ing (the Skuut website makes the bike seem like a completely novel phenomenon); the rather bizarre omissions of the various toy experts (have you read thetoyman review? At times, it scans likes it's in Engrish); the substitution of workmanship and attention with low-price, foreign assembly; and the implicit/explicit object lessons one is making as a parent in choosing one of these companies over the other. I also agree, as some of your commenters on previous posts have noted, that the wheels aren't as true as they could be and the bearings are not Chris King perfect--and I also think the commenter who suggested buying a 12" or 10" BMX style bike and removing the cranks and pedals has a darn good idea, one I've been considering almost as long as my son has been alive.

    But as I sit here, mere hours away from giving my 2-1/2 year old son a Skuut for Christmas, I also agree with the commenter who said that paying Likeabike or Pedobike prices--and I've been scouring the craigslist/ebay listings too--is just something I can't justify, at least not yet. Besides the pragmatics of being a poor Divinity School grad student--and a son on a fast growth curve, there is also a good chance that my son just might not really get into using his "walking" bike: it's his first two-wheeled contraption, so who knows? If he has a blast, hallelujahs all around, 'cause his daddy is a bike nut with five ridiculously customized (and one full-on custom) bikes already, so I'd be happy to nurture him on his way into the quality bike design cult.

    But the Skuut is good enough for starters--there are certainly many far worse options; I dare say even some of the knock-offs in this post look pretty sketchy compared to the Skuut. I mean, if you're going to knock off something, better a good design than a poor one. That's a thin rationalization, I realize, but I'll run with it for now . . .

    So, in any case, I say with all seriousness that I appreciate your attention and thought to the matter, both in the specifics of this situation (LaB vs. Skt. vs. PdB vs. etc., as it were) and the broader implications that lie implicitly behind it: the ethics of aesthetics, to be somewhat glib. Be those as they may, though, there are also some ethics behind choosing the knockoff. I've been weighing them against each other for a while, and within the situational moment I find myself, the Skuut won the day.

    Keep up the smart writing and trenchant thinking. All the best, and may your holidays be both joyous and rest-filled in equal measure.

    Sincerely,
    DAJ
    Nashville, TN

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