Located in Truckee/Tahoe California, USA. We custom build the most progressive kids mountain bikes available. FLOW BIKES are created with youth optimized geometry and parts designed to maximize kids’ potential.
BUILDING FLOW KIDS BIKES
The Story of a Family's Quest for a Better Kid's Bike
When avid mountain bikers Jessica and John had their first child, they were so excited with the idea of their son someday mountain biking with them. As the started to research pedal bikes for down the road, they became pretty disappointed. The bikes were too heavy, the components poor, the geometry not designed for trails and tricks, or the price was way too high. Plus, when they considered how fast kids grow, a new bike would be needed every year or two if they wanted their child on a bike that was sized properly for him.
After much brainstorming, Jessica and John fantasized about a lightweight bike that could grow with the rider. A bike that could help train the rider in cornering and pumping at the skate or local bike park and help them tackle single track as they chased mom and dad down the trail. A bike built with quality components that wouldn’t break the bank. With these features in mind, they flew out to Taiwan, the bike manufacturing hub of the world, to see if they could find some answers.
Over time, Jessica and John learned the ins and outs of the bike industry and developed relationships with the people they met in Taiwan. As a single income family, they didn’t have the resources to drop on a big order of frames and forks, but luckily their Taiwanese counterparts loved the idea of their bike and were willing to work with them, even with a limited order size. A year later, the first prototype was in their hands.
Around this time, their second son was born and they decided to plant their roots close to grandparents and mountains, settling on Truckee, California. With their prototypes in hand at a nearby pump track, it was easy to find riders ready to test the bikes. The parents of these kids were so excited to see the bikes and to hear Jessica and John talk about their goal of not only bringing a kid’s mountain bike into the market that grew with the child, but also the unique the idea of involving the kids in the process of designing and building their bikes.
The plan was to give frame color option and decal color options that could be changed easily, as well as provide grip color choices in order to provide each rider a personalized bike. Plus, with the swappable decals, the next child would be able to replace the decals with a color of their choice to make it more personalized for them. The bikes would also use standard sized components so kids could learn to work on their bike with their parent’s tools. Jessica and John also planned to create bike centric STEAM curriculum that parents and schools could use to engage the kids.
After many positive responses from their community and seeing more riders on the prototypes, Jessica and John continued forward on their project and built two more important relationships, one with a web designer and one with an engineer with a background in component design. These two relationships were pivotal in advancing the quality of the bike and the launch of the company. The final crux came down to money.
Would they be able to assemble what they needed to place the first order? The upfront cost of something like this was substantial even with the good relationships they had formed. They decided to take the plunge and after negotiating an investment from some family members, they were able to cobble together enough for their first run of bikes. The hardest moments though were once the money was out the door but before the frames and components arrived. After setbacks in manufacturing plus bad weather in the Pacific slowing shipping time, they were worried as the families who had preordered the bikes patiently waited. Once the bikes arrived, they were relieved to see the smiles on the kid’s faces and hear the positive feedback from the parents.
Today, the bikes leaving the garage workshop are a combination of custom Flow components and a handful of standard components. The frames, cranks, suspension forks, adjustable rear wheel dropout and adjustable reach headset are all specifically built for Flow in order to achieve the desire of a bike that grows with the rider while keeping the bike’s fit and handling ideal for each rider. Every bike is fully assembled in Truckee and each one has a unique design since they buyer is able to choose their frame, decal, and cable housing color, as well as opt to run as a single speed or geared drivetrain.
On a recent weeknight, their garage was buzzing with activity as 12 adults and 8 kids worked together into the evening. John cutting colored cable housing and fitting forks, Jessica advising on assembling techniques and offering design options, while parents and kids tightened bolts, greased threads, and pumped up tires. Each kid left with the bike they built in the colors they chose, with the confidence that they knew how it worked and that they could fix it. They also knew that more important than any colors, gears or suspension, that the true genius of a Flow Kids Bike is that it is essentially a bike. It rolls, balances, turns and leans, jumps and bumps, and can take you to your friend’s house or down a trail. You can let your friend ride it or chase your brother or sister on it. The bike is a piece of freedom for a child. That freedom brings joy, and that might be the real reason Jessica and John built Flow Kids Bikes.
We hope you enjoy our bikes!
- Jessica & John