When you revisit an old activity that you've not done in a while and discover the skill never really went away, someone nearby will inevitably say you to you, "See? Just like riding a bike".
I remember my Nan getting on a bicycle some 30 years after last having ridden one and making it look like she'd had a secret practise or two the day before. It seems so easy, once learned, but can you remember how daunting it was back when you started?
Most of us learn to ride a bike as part of the childhood rites of passage and the method of learning has remained unchanged for decades. That first pedal-bike is a massive gift for a child, with a big promise of freedom laying ahead, until those embarassing stabilisers are attached and the tricky work to learn balance begins. I can still remember riding my best friend's BMX for the first time without stabilisers and then insisting to my Father that this in no way meant they were ready to come off mine. The moment when I discovered I could ride will stay with me forever and probably only beaten by passing my driving test.
Looking back, four-year-old-me would likely have his little mind blown away that in the then-distant 21st Century it might be possible to learn to ride a bike in an afternoon. But that is the claim being made by a startup company who are pitching for funding on KickStarter.
This is the Jyrobike and it represents probably the biggest reinvention of the bicycle since someone spotted that the Penny-Farthing was in fact a silly idea and shrank the front wheel.
Ditching the stabilisers, instead the invention revolves (pun intended) around the 'Control Hub' that is attached to the front wheel. Inside the hub, gyroscopic technology keeps the bike balanced at all times, for example if your uncertain child gets into a bit of a wobble, or even if they start to tip!
The gyroscopic force itself is adjustable, so you can tune the bike to your particular child and if it's just not feeling 'tech' enough for you yet, there is an optional wireless controller available so you can make adjustments on-the-fly as your kid gains in confidence.
From the child's point of view, they are able to get on a two-wheeled cycle and ride it exactly as God intended right from that very first moment. Any fears can be laid to rest quickly and the whole process should be a lot more fun, with the parent slowly dialling back the Jyrobike's control and passing more on to the rider almost invisibly.
The Jyrobike founders are so confident in this technology that they claim it's possible to teach children to ride in just a single afternoon! Of course you might want your investment to be used for more than an afternoon, so it's good to note that the software onboard the Jyrobike is upgradable, so more function can potentially be added later and an onboard sound system, called 'Mega Sound' with sound-effects like 'siren', 'bugle charge' and 'dinosaur' should keep the kids happy and the neighbours quietly annoyed. You can even add your own sounds if those start to grate.
So will the Jyrobike be a success? Well, its campaign on Kickstarter to raise the $100,000 needed to take it to market certainly has been (pledges currently sit at $130,000 - so they're good to go with a few weeks left to attract more investment) and the videos compellingly show how clever the technology is.
You could argue that if you can teach your child in one afternoon, it may be rather obsolete rather quickly, but shared between siblings and a few friends, not to mention the attention it can garner will make it very tempting none the less. I think where it goes from being a rather cool solution to a potentially wonderful one is for those kids who have special requirements that might otherwise make learning to ride a bike near impossible. Even if they were never able to ride without some help from the Jyrobike, how wonderful to be able to give them that experience?
One to watch.