- Manufacturer: Kokua Holzspielzeug GmbH
- Material: birchwood
- Dimension: 85 × 50 × 56 cm
- Two Wheels The history of creation of the bicycle is a wonderful reflection of human creativity and folly. Pre-bicycles For a while some had claimed that Leonar
- Manufacturer The original concept of making a wooden bike without pedals for small children was developed by Rolf Merten who designs and manufactures LIKEaBIKE in
- Ergonomics Two pieces of rounded plywood make up the main frame […] Seen from above, they form an A-shape that wedges a wheel at the back, a saddle in the middle
- Balance Here we consider the problem of learning to balance on a bicycle. Having done this we want to drive the bicycle to a goal. The second problem is not a
- Paradox 'I am very interested in the paradox of must-have consumer items. If they must be had, where were they a few years ago? A good example of this is the
- Sustainability Wood is an inexhaustible raw material. After a forest is felled, new trees can be planted, that can grow out to a mature tree. These can, at their tur
The history of creation of the bicycle is a wonderful reflection of human creativity and folly.
For a while some had claimed that Leonardo da Vinci invented the bicycle based on a sketch found in his Codex Atlanticus. However, this sketch was later determined to be a forgery though many historical accounts written before this forgery was discovered still credit da Vinci as the inventor of the bicycle. There were a few 'pre-bicycles' invented before the appearance of what one would recognize as a bicycle.
The first two-wheeled rider-propelled machine for which there is indisputable evidence was the draisienne, invented by Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun of Germany. In 1817 he rode it for 14 km (9 miles), and the following year he exhibited it in Paris.
Although von Drais called his device a Laufmaschine (running machine), draisienne and velocipede became more popular names. The machine was made of wood, and the seated rider propelled himself by paddling his feet against the ground. A balance board supported the rider's arms.
The design of the steering system was simple, a handlebar connected to the front fork which pivoted to the frame […] The bad road facilities and the heavy weight of the vehicle itself made it a failure, as the rider found it very hard to manoeuvre.
- Made of wood
- 2-wheeled style
- Heavy (40kg approx)
- 2.4 metres long
- With steering mechanism
- Without pedals
- Without tires
The Draisienne was copied by builders and mechanics around the world. Some of the finest examples were made in England by a coach builder named Denis Johnson. He called his patented vehicle a 'pedestrian curricle' or 'velocipede', but the public preferred 'hobbyhorse', after the children's toy or, worse still, 'dandyhorse', after the foppish men who often rode them.
Opinions about bicycles have ranged from a Baltimore Minister's 1896 ravings describing the bicycle as, 'A diabolical device of the demon of darkness... imbued with a wild and Satanic nature', to the claims of health-cultists in the 1800s that the bicycle was the cure-all for the human race.
Regardless of diverse opinion, the bicycle has persevered to become a part of the lives and hearts of countless millions of people world wide, not to mention a huge thriving industry.
The original concept of making a wooden bike without pedals for small children was developed by Rolf Merten who designs and manufactures LIKEaBIKE in his Roetgen, Germany-based factory, Kokua.
The first time two-year-old Niklas Mertens climbed on his father's handmade plywood version of a children's bicycle and took a ride he attracted a good deal of attention. 'People just gaped', says Rolf Mertens, then a designer for a computer magazine, remembering the sight of the toddler wheeling about in a pedestrian zone in Aachen, Germany. 'They had never seen a two-year-old zip around like that'. Niklas's mother Beate says,'He got on and took off, he only stopped for meals and sleep'.
The husband-and-wife entrepreneurs knew they had found a winning idea that Spring day in 1997. By summer they had named their fledgling company Kokua (a nonsense term from Mr Mertens' youth that he later learnt means 'help' in Hawaii ) and by October they were making the LIKEaBIKE – a pedal-less wooden two-wheeler that sparked a revolution in the market for children's bicycles.
Knockoffs of the LIKEaBIKE are nothing new. Remember, Kokua, the German manufacturer who invented it, got the idea of a pedal-free cruiser from the Draisienne, a nearly-200-year-old ancestor of the modern bicycle. And at a made-in-Germany premium price of $279, there was a lot of room for Chinese undercutting once the concept had proved out.
Competitors presented another problem. In 2004 discount supermarkets began copying their ideas, even using wood. 'In 2005, our sales dropped,' Mr Mertens says. 'We were making no more than 200-500 bikes a week. The whole experience was very hard for us, not just financially. Should we retaliate?'
They sued and settled one case out of court and won another 'three or four', as German competition law to some degree protects innovative ideas even when they are not patented. 'Patenting certain elements of the construction would have been a real help,' Mr Mertens says. But, as the legal bills neared €100,000, the Mertens saw they could not defend Kokua forever by going to court, especially in foreign jurisdictions.
Two pieces of rounded plywood make up the main frame […] Seen from above, they form an A-shape that wedges a wheel at the back, a saddle in the middle, and slots into the forks at the front.
The LIKEaBIKE is crafted from mostly natural materials: birch plywood, stainless steel, rubber and felt. It's sturdy - designed to hold up under the often rough treatment of young children. The gap between the frame and the fork, moreover, is filled with felt, to prevent fingers getting pinched there. The felt also prevents the front wheel from making sharp turns, a common cause for mishaps with young riders of regular bikes
- Length 32"
- Height 21"
- Width at handlebar 13"
- 4 adjustable seat heights from 13-17"
- Rubber grips for handle bars
- Weight approximately 8 lbs
- strong, laminated birch wood frame
- strong plastic wheels made,
- spokes and cartridge bearings make for a smooth ride
- 12" pneumatic tires
The tires consist of hardwearing rubber and are very robust and puncture resistant. Because of their easiness to clean they do not collect lots of dirt and leave no marks on the floor of your home. Screw covers which are made out of bronze are set into the solid red beech wood hub. They guarantee a maintenance free and a free running wheel. In the forkhead the inset felt, covers the gap between the fork and the frame.
Here we consider the problem of learning to balance on a bicycle. Having done this we want to drive the bicycle to a goal. The second problem is not as straight forward as it may seem. The learning agent has to solve two problems at the same time: balancing on the bicycle and driving to a specific place. Recently, ideas from behavioural psychology have been adapted by reinforcement learning to solve this type of problem.
There are three basic ways to teach a child to balance on two wheels: training wheels, assisted two-wheeling, and un-assisted two wheeling. Each has its advantages, and best results will often be obtained by a mixed approach, adjusted to the child's learning style and the practice area available.
German Rolf Merten [...] discovered traditional bicycles used by small children, with stabilisers and pedals, actually 'hamper' the child's ability to learn to ride.
Stabilisers on the bike give the child a false sense of security, preventing them from developing a sense of equilibrium and balance and making the progression from stabilised riding to pedal power alone a difficult one.
'I am very interested in the paradox of must-have consumer items. If they must be had, where were they a few years ago? A good example of this is the Like-A-Bike, an all wood and rubber kiddie two wheeler. These $315 training bikes are The. It. Thing. for the Portland, Oregon junior set, which brings me to ask: "How did generations of kids ever learn to ride their bikes without them?" I am first to admit that they are very cool looking, I get that. But aren't they just tiny bikes without pedals, albeit cleverly designed ones? For my sons we just removed the pedals from their tiny bikes and then replaced them when they were ready.'
Wood is an inexhaustible raw material. After a forest is felled, new trees can be planted, that can grow out to a mature tree. These can, at their turn, be felled and thereafter another forest can be planted again, and so on. […] Therefore the available stock of wood can stay at a sustainable level, contrary to steel or oil. The stock of these raw materials is steadily decreasing. […]
Processing a raw tree-trunk to a usable wooden product costs less energy than the processing of other raw materials. A major cause for this is that no purification or melting is needed. Wood is a material that can be used instantly and only needs a few preparatory treatments. It is manufactured in the forest. It only has to be sawed into the correct sizes and, if needed, to be assembled. With advanced techniques wood can be more efficiently processed. Therefore the output of wood-waste is small. This is of major interest for the eventual environmental consequences.
In sustainable forest management the continued existence of all functions of the forest are taken in account. It is a source of income, a.o. for the local population (a.o timber harvest). It is an natural habitat for many plant- and animal species, and forest supplies a protection for the environment by itself (climate, soil, water management, etc.). Under a sustainable forest management the wood is harvested in a safe way. Thereby all functions of the forest can survive. This implies that trees are applied that fit into the habitat and the management objective and that the management (a.o. timber harvesting) does not endanger the preservation of the forest.
Birch's ease of use and reasonable price, have made it a great craftwood, for almost any woodworking project. It's used extensively for firewood and makes wonderful ornamental trees. It has been turned to make all the toy parts you need, tongue depressors, tooth picks, pulped for paper, and turned into high end furniture. There is little it has not been used for.
All birch has a fine and uniform texture, closed pored and no significant odour. Birch dries with a fair amount of shrinkage. It loses almost 16% of its volume going from green to dry lumber and does like to warp and twist if enough weight is not applied to the green lumber as it air dries. Once dried it is stable. It is not resistant to decay, fungal and insect attack. Spalting is very common. Of all the quality domestic hardwoods, Birch would probably be the lowest in price. This is its most redeeming feature. A beautiful wood to look at and work with, and sold at a reasonable price.
The bicycle is the world's most widely used transport vehicle.
Worldwide, bicycles outnumber automobiles almost two to one, and their production outpaces cars three to one. Rush-hour traffic in China is dominated by human-powered vehicles (though that's beginning to change). Even in the wealthy cities of Europe and Japan, large shares of the populace get around by bike.