When the inspiration for a new business venture struck, Joe Mulcahy got on his bike
Joe Mulcahy, director of Pedibal 3 in One Bikes, was searching for a balance bike for his grandson when the idea for a new enterprise took hold.
The new bike looked cool too, so he went from being a bit of a target for kids to being the coolest kid on the street, it was incredible to see.Joe Mulcahy
Balance bikes look like regular bicycles, but without the pedals, and research shows children who ride them generally progress to riding pedal bikes independently at a much younger age.
Pedibal produce a range of lightweight aluminium crossover bikes and is supported by the Department of International Trade North East.
Joe, 70, from Chester-le-Street, has established markets in Denmark, and is distributing to Norway, France and Holland, but aims to crack more global markets with new links to overseas distributors.
He manufactures the bikes in China, distributing them from a Washington warehouse. He accessed Department for International Trade North East support via its ERDF programme, to visit the China Bike Show gathering market intelligence and identify potential distributors.
“My grandson has dyspraxia and has a few issues with his balance and co-ordination,” said Joe.
“Riding a bike was off limits for a long time and kids can be cruel so he used to get a lot of stick in the streets from other kids.
“I could find the balance bikes for little kiddies, but couldn’t get a bigger, light-framed one for my grandson, who was six and a half at the time, until I discovered this chap who sold a lightweight large version in the US and I bought one.
“He went from being unconfident and clumsy to flying down the sides of steep hills in less than an hour – the change in him was incredible, I even had a call from his head teacher to ask what I was doing differently because his whole demeanour had changed.
“The new bike looked cool too, so he went from being a bit of a target for kids to being the coolest kid on the street, it was incredible to see.”
Joe used his engineering design background, with the aid of son Garry, to design and develop bikes encompassing all facets of learning to ride on two wheels.
The patented bikes are unique, with lightweight aluminium frames. Pedibal also developed and brought to market the fold-up Suprema and its latest edition, the Navigata, a dynamic, folding e-bike.