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A wheel that teaches kids how to ride a bike

November 24, 2009 |  3:49 pm

When I learned how to ride a bike, my father ran behind me screaming as I precariously teeter-tottered over an unforgiving cement surface. He was followed by my mother, who was hysterically screaming at him because her daughter was, well, inches away from needing a skin graft on her face. 

According to GyroBike, a company based in San Francisco, my family's momentary hysteria could have been avoided.

GyroBike is releasing a wheel in December that allegedly trains kids how to ride bikes. Inside the wheel there is a disk that spins like a top, using a force called gyroscopic precession to stay upright. When a rider wobbles, the wheel re-centers the bike.

"It simulates fast riding at low speeds," said Ashleigh Harris, GyroBike's marketing director.

Harris said that unlike training wheels, Gyrowheels teach riders correct riding techniques and enforce muscle memory. She added that most of the kids who tested the product learned how to ride a bike within an hour.

The Gyrowheel comes with internal rechargeable batteries and a charger. It has three stability settings -- high, medium and low -- and works like a regular wheel when shutoff. The company will release the 12-inch wheel Dec. 1 for $99.95. The 16-inch wheel will be released in the spring.

The concept for this product was developed by four undergraduate Dartmouth students. Daniella Reichstetter, who was in Dartmouth's business school at the time, took on the project and founded GyroBike in 2007.

-- Melissa Rohlin