A new product for kids' bikes that will replace training wheels? I'm on that! Training wheels are a pain. They don't corner well. They bend and break when a child crashes or abuses the bike. And they cause a child way too much anxiety when you try to remove them.
This new gadget is called the Gyrowheel, from Gyrobike, introduced at the Interbike exhibition in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago (not to be confused with the Gyro Wheel). It's a replacement front wheel, with a spinning disc inside that stabilizes the bike and keeps it from falling over as the child first starts to ride. The motor is powered by a rechargeable battery. The disc has three speeds, so you can adjust the stability down as your child learns to balance, until he/she no longer needs the help. Then you can either leave the wheel without using the motor, or you can remove it and use it for the next child who learns to ride a bike.
I was allowed to use training wheels exactly one day when I received my first bike at age six. My father insisted I learn to ride the old-fashioned way -by crashing and learning from my mistakes. In his defense, we lives on a gravel road where training wheels aren't much help. The memory of too many skinned knees led me to use training wheels when my kids learned to ride. They freaked out when I eventually suggested taking them off! It took way too long for my kids to learn how to balance themselves. If I were to do it all over again, I would go for the Gyrowheel. You don't have to tell your child that you are adjusting the wheel as they learn to balance, just do it when you feel they are ready. No anxiety! And before you know it, they'll have no beginner's crutches to let go of.
As some of the commenters at Bike Commuters pointed out, this would help adults with balance issues and adults like me who know how to ride but haven't in many years. That and a tractor seat and I would be good to go! The company says they are working on producing larger versions for adults. The 12-inch Gyrowheel will be available December 1st (in time for a kid's first bike under the Christmas tree) and a 16-inch version should be out by spring.