Picture of Design a Custom Balance Bike
A balance bike is a great way to teach kids balance and start them on their way to riding a “real” bike.  While benefits can include learning how to steer without having to pedal at the same time, the bikes themselves can cost upwards of $150. For the price of materials (less if you use recycled parts) and a little bit of design work (the software is free), you can design and build a custom balance bike.
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Step 1: Download Autodesk 123D

Picture of Download Autodesk 123D
Before you start, download and install Autodesk 123D Design (it’s totally free). 123D Design makes it easy to manipulate all kinds of shapes and create viable designs using numerous materials.  For a general tour of the interface and commands, see these short tutorials:

Step 2: Design the Wheels

Picture of Design the Wheels
wheel 1.png
wheel 2.png
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The first step in designing a custom balance bike is the wheels.  As is the case with each step of this project, you’ll want to take into account the size of the child who will be using the balance bike once it’s finished.

Starting with one wheel, sketch circles (Sketch > Circle) to represent the outer boundary of the tire, the hub, and what will likely be a metal frame between the two.

After that, use the extrude tool (Construct > Extrude) to give the wheel the desired thickness, extruding the “hub” and the “metal frame” to slightly shorter levels than the tire itself.  On the other side of the wheel, project the surface, and create the same extrusions on the hub and the frame as the first side.

Using the Modify fillet tool, round off the top surfaces, and then add color to the hub, frame, and tire using Materials.  What started as a few circles should now be looking much more like a wheel.

Once you have finished the first wheel, use the Rectangular Pattern Tool (Pattern > Rectangular Pattern) to create a second wheel, and punch a hole in the center of each wheel.
Be sure to SAVE your file.

For a step-by-step video tutorial on this stage, see this video: