Dads who are overly anxious to share their love of two-wheeled speed now have a secret weapon. The 16eDrive Brushless from Stacyc (that’s a mashup of stability-cycle, but yes, is also pronounced ‘stay sick’) puts an electric motor on a pedal-less balance bike. Why, you might ask, would someone do that? Why would someone intentionally attach a throttle to a rudimentary tool for young children to develop coordination and to start learning spatial skills and bicycle awareness?
Well, the answer is simple: Once your witness your child’s immediate engagement with a bike under power you’ll get it. That, and their ridiculous rate of development in overall bike awareness (carrying momentum, turning, braking) while progressing through the bike’s various training modes. You’ll soon be asking why someone hasn’t developed an e-bike product like this sooner.
What It Is
The 16eDrive Brushless is a 19-pound BMX-style balance bike with 16-inch wheels. Its equipped with a lithium ion battery (20 volts, 4 amp-hours) that powers a high-output motor for 30 to 60 minutes of run time (depending on the type of terrain ridden). This size translates to, roughly, a 5- to 7-year-old who weighs up to 75 pounds. Staycyc also makes a smaller 12-inch-wheel version that younger 3- to 5-year-olds can learn (and shred) on.
The bike features three distinct training modes: Low/Training mode up to 5 mph; Medium/Standard mode up to 7.5 mph; and High/Advanced mode up to 13 mph. Adjusting the red-yellow-green modes is a complicated enough sequence of throttle twisting, beeps, and on-off button that parents like yours truly will need to be consulting the YouTube explainer—meaning there’s no real way your child can adjust settings while riding the bike. This is important as there’s a whole list of non-powered skills criteria to check off before you’ll even connect the battery and turn on the throttle. Even then, opened up in Training mode, top speed is no faster than a child’s momentum rolling down a slight hill with no motor—or about as fast as you can walk to keep up with them before breaking into fast jog (the parental monitoring pace needed to keep up with the next, medium speed).
Why We Like It
For parents coming from a biking background, these Stacyc bikes offer kids a bridge to keep them interested in biking once they pass up the balance bike of toddler age, until they are prepared for traditional pedal-powered biggies. For motorcycle parents, this size (and power) bike offers a no-brainer solution as far as introductions to the sport go, and a more natural step before the intimidating, massive first step up to a 50 cc that weighs nearly 100 pounds.
The bike itself is simple to assemble out of the box, features a high-quality build (steel fork plus aluminum frame and composite wheels that can withstand serious abuse) and it doesn’t pack overbearing weight for your little rider. The motor is no joke, and though it’s best suited for the paved/dirt flats, will handle hills and grass fine (at the expense of cutting the battery run time way down). Your kid’s magnetic interest in this bike compared to other wheeled toys preceding it—that’s no joke either.
In my experience with a 4-year-old daughter, I couldn’t get her off training wheels. She refused removal, and overall bike interest was waning by the day. One session on the Stacyc, she got the balance. Next session, rolling downhill, pulling feet up onto the recessed footrests, she got the momentum and steering. Third session, I couldn’t get her off it as she’d learned to use the hand brake; fourth session she was ready for throttle. It’s counterintuitive that the momentum creates the balance. And it’s a little terrifying to give them the throttle OK (it helped to start on the more forgiving terrain of an open park field than asphalt), but I’d much rather ease her into speed over a few sessions than push her to pedal, each subsequent crash getting up to speed as another setback to the stoke getting them on the bike in the first place. With confidence how to lean through turns, we’ll both feel better when she’s now more ready, and excited, to start pedaling.
As with any e-bike, maximizing battery life is the limiting factor. And if e-bikes are your frame of reference, you might be disappointed by the 16e’s battery life lasting around 45 minutes per charge, more or less depending on how hard you’re using the motor (in terms of heavy terrain, inclines and child size). Fortunately, that’s typically about the same time as a child’s attention span with one activity. Although, this bike does have a way of engaging attention through the battery life, leaving it needing another 45-60 minutes to recharge. (Stacyc sells an optional battery that offers 5 amp-hours.)
The other more obvious drawback is the price tag for an item designed for your child to outgrow and progress off of it. That being said, the build quality is proportionate to price—this is not some hand-me-down junker from your siblings or neighbors. A child learning to take care of their equipment has value. And, relatively speaking, this balance bike is not as excessive as Specialized’s 4.63-pound ($1,000) Hotwalk Carbon balance bike—or really anything else up the next steps of the world of motocross racing.
The other potential downside is knowing your kid is obviously having more fun than you are, chasing them around and making sure they can handle throttle and brake. Though if you’re enjoying their thrills too, prices become a little harder to equate.
Whatever that lightning in a bottle, Stacyc has certainly captured it, essentially creating a whole new riding category. Take a quick scroll through their feed, showcasing funhog families embracing early speed. And the bet on the contagion of excitement for parents seems to be paying off: The company was already growing fast even before the COVID bike boom (Harley-Davidson bought 100 percent of it in 2019) and has kept making gains into the moto and bike worlds—just this week, the brand announced a partnership with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and Big Bear Mountain Resort, with plans to build a Kids Full Throttle Zone and purpose-built pump track featuring their bikes in the respective California resorts’ base areas.
Time to start your little engines.
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