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STACYC 16eDrive review

Electric Avenue!

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

Most parents are keen to get their offspring on the road to off-road righteousness but who has considered the electric avenue? Sutty and Son rocked down to Morecambe seafront to check out the usability – and suitability – of the STACYC 16eDrive as a stepping stone to creating the next generation of dirt bike lover.

Who here can remember the first time they rode a motorcycle? No doubt, learning to ride a tricycle came first followed by a bicycle with stabilisers the next part of that particular journey. By comparison kids these days have it easy and with the advent of balance bikes – basically pedal-free two-wheelers akin to hobby-horses from the early 1800s – that are made for toddlers to find their balance and scoot along on, the process tends to be much less painful for everyone involved.

And as such it’s not uncommon to see children as young as two or three cruising along on their balance bikes with their feet up and in control of their destiny. When a child has mastered the art of balance, propulsion comes into the mix – usually in the form of pedals but more recently with a twist-grip throttle on battery-powered electric balance bikes which are nothing short of miniature versions of electric motorcycles.

It was a guy called Ryan Ragland who came up with the original idea after starting a father/son project with one goal – sharing the love of riding. Ryan worked in the R&D department of KTM for many years and the STACYC – pronounced stay-sic – Stability Cycle was born from a need to get Ryan’s son Robbie going on two-wheels. At the time Robbie was way too small for a petrol-engined PW50 and Ryan wasn’t the kind of guy who liked the idea of putting training wheels on a peewee to get Robbie rolling.

After lots of planning, Ryan eventually cobbled together a battery-powered electric balance bike that Robbie could ride. The early models used RC car batteries and various styles of electric motors to propel the prototype bike along.

Things got real when during a play riding session in the cul-de-sac where the Ragland family lived, a neighbour came out and walked towards the father and son with great purpose. But instead of being angry about the mini track they’d laid out on the street with ramps and cones, the lady simply wanted to know where she could buy bikes like these from as they’d be perfect for her grandkids. The penny dropped and Ryan knew he had to bring these bad boys to market.

After a load of design and development work, the first STACYCs hit the market and now a few years later are now finally landing in the UK thanks to the good people at Zyro Fisher who are importing and distributing them. They’re now available through their dealer network – just in time for Christmas! – although we’ve had a 16eDrive at our disposal for the past few weeks to get an idea of how it works and how it fits into the ‘starter bike’ category.

The first thing we noticed when removing the STACYC from its box was how high quality the componentry and build was. The STACYC is an incredible bit of kit and having built a lot of kids’ bikes over the years – a process which often leaves me feeling uncomfortable with the finished product – I had no such qualms with the STACYC. The quality is at a level with competition motorcycles costing thousands of pounds more although this is, of course, more electric bicycle than an electric motorcycle.

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

Either way, the STACYC inspires confidence which is probably way more important to the parents than the children actually riding them but regardless – it’s the grown-ups making the decision and when the decision is made to buy a STACYC there will be no disappointment in the bike itself.

With tyres pumped up, brake lever set, saddle height adjusted, battery fully charged and test pilot protected it was time to go and see what this little bike could do.

Now, we could have gone and got a hotshot Auto pilot to put the STACYC through its paces but in all fairness, it’s not really aimed for that type of rider so we stuck a complete novice behind the bars to get his thoughts. Before we get into that though, I will say that the STACYC is fully suitable for kids who already race and want something to cruise around on – it’s built to take abuse and is fully capable of being jumped and raced by children who can ride and some of them can really ride!

However, my youngest lad is not one of those kids and is not really that much of a bike person if I’m honest. He’s had balance bikes and bicycles in the past but never shown all that much interest in riding them. Luckily for him, I’m much more motivated for him to go ride than he is…

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

And that’s how Arthur found himself on Morecambe beach in a rather swish Bell Fasthouse MIPS-equipped Full 9 bicycle helmet. It may look exactly like the MX version – and perform in a similar way – but isn’t. Either way, he was fully protected for the ride which is hugely important as the STACYC isn’t a toy.

Coming in two versions – the 12eDrive and 16eDrive – the differences are minimal with the most obvious being wheel size. I assume that this wheel size affects the gearing effect and therefore maximum speeds are slightly different between the two models at the various settings. The STACYCs are easily ‘tuned’ with each of the three power settings being set by a simple process using the throttle to select either the red, yellow or green light.

The lowest ‘red’ setting limits the speed to 5 mph which inspires confidence in new riders and allows parents to walk alongside without breaking into too much of a jog. The middle ‘yellow’ setting increases top speed to 7.5 mph on the 16-inch version and seven on the smaller bike. The green power mode limits things to nine and 13mph.

Torque-wise all settings are really impressive and I feared that in sand or mud we’d have to use the full-fat green setting or not get going at all. That’s not the case and the STACYC will pull itself and the pilot along in a controlled manner thanks to the twist-grip throttle.

One thing I found is that terminology is really important when teaching kids how to ride their STACYC. The big mistake I made is instructing Arthur to ‘let go’ (of the throttle obviously) should he have a wobble or feel uncomfortable. But once we’d figured out that miscommunication he soon got the hang of things albeit on the ‘red’ setting which meant he never rode quicker than 5 mph which is where he felt safe.

Between sessions, I tried moving the STACYC up to the yellow power curve which resulted in an almost immediate stop as he figured out “it’s going faster!”. The fact that he felt the difference is impressive in the sense that the STACYC electrics work appropriately and allow young riders to increase their confidence at increments.

To fully ‘test’ the capabilities of the STACYC, I roped in a slightly larger and more confident test pilot – keeping under the suggested max load of 34kg.

Straight onto setting three aka green, she was off – flat-out into the distance, roaring up and down at what looked like more than 13 mph.

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

STACYC 16eDrive

When we arrived at the beach it was absolutely empty and if it weren’t I’d have found an area that was as in all honesty motorised bikes normally aren’t too popular with people – especially people with dogs. But with little noise coming from the bike, people weren’t scared to come for a closer look or annoyed by its use. In fact, every single comment we received was along the lines of isn’t that brilliant. The people weren’t offended by us having fun which is very alien for anyone that has spent as much time around dirt bikes as I have.

It was a total surprise but with increased confidence, we’ve since used the STACYC on cycle paths, BMX and pump tracks and a wide range of open spaces in almost all weather conditions – I don’t recall it being foggy at any point through our test period.

Depending on how hard it’s being ridden and how much the throttle is open, the battery life on the STACYC normally runs between 30 and 60 minutes. The lights that indicate which power setting is selected also work as a battery-power gauge although they tend to ignore it and frequently the first sign that the STACYC requires a recharge is when it stops moving forward under its own steam at which point the ‘Daaaaad, it’s stopped working’ alarm goes off.

For this reason alone it’s worth keeping a spare, fully-charged battery in your pocket. It literally takes seconds to change and will get you home and/or another half hour or so of fun wherever you are.

On the off-chance the STACYC runs out of power and you’re miles from home with no spare battery it’s not all that much of a biggie as it’s that well-balanced and light – a shade over eight kilos – thanks to its aluminium alloy frame you can lift it with one hand using the front of the saddle and carry it home. If your STACYC pilot is melting down, they should be small enough to give a shoulder ride so the absolute worst outcome of a flat battery is a free physical workout. And all us parents trapped in dad-bods could do with one of those…

Negatives… I haven’t found something I dislike about the STACYC, yet. We’ve put a good few hours on this one and it’s doing what it should do and everything still feels super-tight thanks to the high-level componentry used. I have read that some people find removing the back wheel a bit of a chore but that’s literally because we’re all spoiled with disc brakes these days.

Should you have to repair your STACYC in any way, you’ll find a full and frank guide on how to do it on YouTube. Admittedly I’ve found no reason to repair anything at all (we’re still even puncture-free at this point – quality tyres!) at this point but I’ve seen enough YouTube tutorials to consider myself an expert on the inner-workings of the STACYC.

From a riding point of view – or the parent of a rider in this case – I feel that learning to ride the STACYC is much easier than learning to ride a bicycle as there’s no unbalancing/unsettling pedalling to deal with! And most kids bike have ridiculously long crank arms which makes the situation worse too. Now Arthur’s mastered the STACYC, riding his bicycle comes more naturally also.

By giving younger kids the opportunity to master throttle control, balance and braking together at a younger age, STACYC users will be more ready to get to grips with an SX-E 5 or SX50 when the time comes. Both these KTM models – other brands of motorcycle are available although competition bikes of this size mostly tend to originate in Austria – are considered starter models so to have a child fully able ahead of getting on one is a huge advantage, in terms of safety if nothing else!

Another advantage of electric is the no heat, no stinky petrol aspect which makes transporting and using the STACYC favourable over more traditionally-powered motorised machines. You can sling the STACYC in the wife’s jalopy without fear of injury when she finds her boot reeks of race gas. I even got away with slipping the STACYC onto her back seats for a short journey to the park.

So all in all our experience with the STACYC has been a positive one – the kids love it, I love the fact that the kids love it, the wife doesn’t hate it and the random public, for the most part, is indifferent or on occasion surprisingly positive about it.

For anyone who is still on the fence about it, I’d highly recommend investing in one – and now is definitely the time to do it if you want the ultimate gift for three-to-eight-year-olds under your Christmas tree. I definitely would if my kids weren’t already at the upper end of that age range.

For more details check out www.stacyc.co.uk

Quick Facts

16eDrive

  • Perfect for four-to-eight-year-old rippers under 34 kgs
  • 16-inch composite wheels
  • Seat Height – 17 inch
  • Weight: 9.1 kg
  • Frame: Aluminum TIG Welded and Heat Treated
  • High Output Brushless Motor
  • Power selection modes: Low/Training mode – 5 mph, Med/Transitional mode – 7.5 mph, High/Advanced mode – 13 mph (with stock gear ratio)
  • Industrial grade Lithium-Ion battery and charger
  • 30 to 60 minute ride time
  • 30 to 60 minute charge time

RRP: £829

12eDrive

  • Perfect for three-to-five-year-old rippers under 34 kgs
  • 12-inch composite wheels
  • Seat Height – 13 inch
  • Weight: 9.1 kg
  • Frame: Aluminum TIG Welded and Heat Treated
  • High Output Brushless Motor
  • Power selection modes: Low/Training mode – 5 mph, Med/Transitional mode – 7 mph, High/Advanced mode – 9 mph (with stock gear ratio)
  • Industrial grade Lithium-Ion battery and charger
  • 30 to 60 minute ride time
  • 30 to 60 minute charge time

RRP: £629

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