Frog bikes are a small British company dedicated to making cycling fun for children. Shelley and her partner Jerry, set about re-designing kids' bike after a long discussion in their local village pub.
After a phenomenal first year that has seen their Frog bikes distributed through over 150 stockists, partnering with BBC Children in Need, Shelley Lawson reflects on how it all happened with Total Women's Cycling.
Jerry and I both have happy childhood memories of the freedom of being able to cycle around with our friends just for fun. As Jerry got older he started to compete in road races, triathlon and Ironman. I’ve competed in triathlons in Spain and Portugal, as well as sportives and charity rides closer to home. These days my rides are more family-oriented, such as the daily cycle to school or a fun ride out at the weekends with the kids.
Cycling is one of our favourite things to do together as a family. Both our kids are keen cyclists and we live on the edge of Windsor Great Park, which has miles and miles of car free routes - perfect for family riding. Emily is six-years-old and a bit of a speed demon down the hills, whereas Oscar who is nearly nine has great ambitions of being a professional cyclist!
We found that when our kids and friends’ kids started to learn to ride, many of them really struggled with bikes that weighed a tonne. We realised that most cycling families want their children to enjoy cycling as much as they do: it’s a perfect family activity after all, but much less fun when the shorter members of the party are complaining that their legs hurt and they need a push up the hills because their bike is too heavy.
Jerry and I started to design a range of bikes that were lightweight and affordable, so that more families could encourage their kids to get out and cycle. We saw that there was a real gap in the kids’ bike market for a good quality and light weight bike, and in a long discussion over lunch in the village pub, Frog Bikes was born.
People often ask what makes Frog Bikes so different. Very simply, it’s the weight. Most kids’ bikes are still made of steel and have big clunky components. We feel that less thought has been put into designing kids’ bikes than adult’s bikes. So we designed frames that are as light as possible, without sacrificing durability, and hand-picked the best components on the market like Tektro’s little brake levers with adjustable handles, and Shimano’s easy-twist gears.
We try to stay away from all unnecessary extras that add too much weight and cost, such as more gears than most kids need, disc brakes etc. The Frog design seems to appeal to people as well – it makes them smile and has a real personality, which kids definitely warm to.
Most of my cycling this year has been doing rides with the kids – which I love as it is a great family activity! We only launched Frog last winter and it has taken off so fast. With over 150 stockists in UK now and a lot of overseas activity too, it’s been an incredible first year in business. We’re even launching in South Africa this week!
My favourite bike at the moment is my Volcàn. It is an incredibly light weight mountain bike - I love riding something that’s so light but also rugged enough that I can take it off road.
The BBC approached us in March to partner with Children in Need when they saw one of our spotty bikes. We were asked to create a range of bikes using the “Pudsey spots". This seemed like a fantastic way to raise money for Children in Need, and a wonderful opportunity for such a new brand. So with their help, we’ve launched a limited edition range this autumn, with £25 from each bike sold going to the charity. Pudsey even made a guest appearance at the Cycle Show to demonstrate the bike.
We’ve been overwhelmed with the positive feedback on our Frog Bikes, from bike stores, cycling coaches and parents. My favourite comment was from a lady who saw the bikes at a show and said
That bike weighs less than my handbag!
People seem to be delighted with the weight, finding that their kids suddenly enjoy cycling a lot more and can ride much further on their Frog bike than on what they were riding before.
The younger kids are often sold on the bright bold colours, while parents are impressed with the price tag and the quality. Retailers and coaches tell us they’re pleased to be able to recommend a lightweight range that comes with great attention to detail and on-going service. We were even one of the finalists for Bike Brand of the Year, nominated by the cycling industry, at the BikeBiz Awards, which was amazing.
To find out more about the range of bikes on offer from Frog Bikes, visit their website at www.frogbikes.com. Prices range from £100 and go up to £280, depending on the age of your child.