The Tiger is one of the few Innovations that didn’t begin with a definite customer target, but rather evolved from the problems I encountered whilst building a trike for Mrs Clinnock. She needed a very tiny trike for her daughter, who though 6, was very small because of her condition.
First of all I said no, because even the smallest I could build the Tomcat would be too big, but I got the doe eye treatment from mum and a bit of flattery about Carer Control. We did build it and she did very well but it looked a bit odd – too long with wheels too big for such a tiny girl.
What I liked less about it however, was the spacing of the pedals. At her height the pedal spacing, though standard was far too wide. It would be of course, because the width of her pelvis was proportional to her height!
I decided that Tomcat needed a much smaller trike and that it must have a much narrower pedal crank arrangement, but then discovered that none of the cycle drive manufacturers made such a thing. That remains the case today – so as a manufacturer, you either put up with the standard arrangement or built your own.
There are two ways to look at a situation like that. It’s either a problem you ignore – or – as with my thinking – an opportunity for a USP (Unique Selling Point), because I knew that all my competitors were using the standard arrangements.
Small children duly measured, I decided I needed to lose 4-5cm of overall width between the pedals but that would not give enough space for a conventional chain drive. The only alternative was a timing belt drive enclosed within a box frame.
Suddenly I had another USP. The timing belt drive was particularly good, because frictional losses are virtually zero whilst a chain drive is about 8%. It’s also silent, smooth and maintenance free with the only downside being cost. Belts and pulleys are very expensive; but that 8% is so valuable with the little ones I thought it worth the money.
We had to make everything associated with the timing belt system, like bearing housings, spindle and cranks but once the mechanics were sorted out I could design the frame that would encase it all.
I think you will agree the Tiger is a very striking tricycle. Parents and children certainly love it but its appearance is to a very large degree, an engineering accident. With the drive system; the Carer Control steering system; and a brake distributor box all tucked away inside the frame, there wasn’t a lot of room left for aesthetics, but I think it came out well.
When we started marketing the Tiger it was instantly popular; so much so we were soon exporting it to Scandinavia. It was obvious from the outset, that biting the “pedal separation bullet” was the right thing to do; because kids were comfortable on the Tiger and found it easy to pedal. Parents often got their money back on the drive system too, because due to the uniquely appropriate pedal spacing, we can often avoid the use of callipers and that’s always a good thing where possible.
When you are just two years of age and your body is growing and developing, you want to use all your muscles and joints just as nature intended, and that’s why the Tiger’s pedal spacing is its hidden gem. It’s not obvious when you look at it. You’re more likely to notice the Tiger’s unusual styling but it’s there all the same – doing its job as intended.