Vitus Nippy Balance Bike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Vitus Nippy Balance Bike

    Our youngest just turned 2 and pretty excited about riding bikes with his older brother (almost 4).

    We have a Joovy Bicycoo BMX that his brother learned to ride on last year, but the minimum seat height is a bit too much.

    We'd picked up a Chillafish BUNZI at Salvation Army that he's been riding around during the winter, but he's a pretty tall kid and the cockpit was pretty small / cramped.

    I started looking at various options and decided the new 2019 Vitus Nippy looked worth checking out based on the specs.

    Not many reviews out there, so I figured I'd post a little bit more info for anyone else who's interested.

    Price: $44 (w/ free shipping from Chain Reaction Cycles @ $50)
    Weight: 1.9kg

    The assembly process is pretty simple:
    1. Push the plastic bushings into place for the headset
    2. Insert fork into the bushings
    3. Slide handlebar clamp over the fork
    4. Insert handlebar
    5. Tighten handlebar clamp


    The design is most obviously similar to a Strider. We haven't owned one ourselves, but comparing specs & photos, here's what I see:
    • Looks close to the same geometry as a Strider
    • Lightweight aluminum frame (similar to Strider Pro)
    • Textured rear stays (similar to Strider Sport)
    • Wheels seems a bit more cheaply made than Strider
    • None of the extras that come with some of the Striders (handlebar pads / race plaque)


    With the huge difference in price, you could buy the Nippy & a replacement lightweight wheelset w/ air tires from somewhere like Wild Child Bikes or AliExpress and be ahead of the Strider Pro in both weight and cost.

    When looking at weights, the wheels w/ axle & lock nuts came out at ~400g -- should be possible to switch to air tires and increase the weight by less than 1lb.

    The integrated saddle / 22.2mm seatpost was one area that seemed like an odd design decision.

    The first thing I noticed was that a shorter saddle would have allowed for an even lower standover height (it goes down to 11", which is already pretty low, but it could have easily been in the 10-10.5" range with a different saddle).

    Second thing I noticed was that the seatpost the saddle is attached to is steel -- given everywhere else on the bike where they cut weight, I'm really surprised this wasn't aluminum. Best guess is that a slightly shorter saddle and aluminum seatpost would have lowered the overall weight by up to 100g.

    Unboxing:
    Vitus Nippy Balance Bike-20190326_175839.jpg

    Assembled:
    Vitus Nippy Balance Bike-img_20190326_221723165.jpg

    Size comparison vs. Joovy Bicycoo BMX:
    Vitus Nippy Balance Bike-img_20190326_221757545.jpg

    Component weights:

    Seat & post:
    Vitus Nippy Balance Bike-img_20190326_214845412.jpg

    Wheels & axle:
    Vitus Nippy Balance Bike-img_20190326_214320504.jpg

  2. #2
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    Upgraded the bike last night.

    Quick summary:

    Wheelset from Aliexpress:
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/12-i...960572985.html

    Schwalbe Black Jack 12x1.90 tires

    Trying it out with a little brotherly encouragement -- it's amazing just how much faster he's picking things up from having someone to watch:


    Details:

    Raises standover height a little, but is still low enough to ride.

    The sealed bearings on the new wheels seem to be an improvement over the stock wheelset. Didn't put it up on a scale yet, but the total weight didn't increase by very much -- still much lighter than most Strider models.

    Only complication was that I had to make a few passes with the file on each side of the dropouts for the wheels to fit -- as-is, they weren't 100% straight and had some narrower spots that prevented the new wheels from fully sliding into place.

    Considered trying tubeless, but there are some small holes closer to the sides of the center channel in the rim that looked like it'd make it difficult to seal well. Not sure what their purpose is, since they're unrelated to the spoke holes.

    If you look closely at the last of the stock photos near the right, you can see one of the holes:
    Vitus Nippy Balance Bike-htb1bgezaizxk1rjy1zkq6yhrvxav.jpg

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimTucker View Post
    Upgraded the bike last night.

    Quick summary:

    Wheelset from Aliexpress:
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/12-i...960572985.html

    Schwalbe Black Jack 12x1.90 tires

    Trying it out with a little brotherly encouragement -- it's amazing just how much faster he's picking things up from having someone to watch:


    Details:

    Raises standover height a little, but is still low enough to ride.

    The sealed bearings on the new wheels seem to be an improvement over the stock wheelset. Didn't put it up on a scale yet, but the total weight didn't increase by very much -- still much lighter than most Strider models.

    Only complication was that I had to make a few passes with the file on each side of the dropouts for the wheels to fit -- as-is, they weren't 100% straight and had some narrower spots that prevented the new wheels from fully sliding into place.

    Considered trying tubeless, but there are some small holes closer to the sides of the center channel in the rim that looked like it'd make it difficult to seal well. Not sure what their purpose is, since they're unrelated to the spoke holes.

    If you look closely at the last of the stock photos near the right, you can see one of the holes:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    WOW, custom wheels on the Strider lol. That's cool. I think that's a smart upgrade. I helped with a big strider race last year (and BBQ'd for 200 people!) and those foam wheels lead to slide outs and stuff. Not a huge deal but I can see how rubber would be nice.

    What do you think about a hand brake on that bad boy? My youngest had the worst habit of dragging his feet when he got scared/going fast. He had to do it on his Strider, but when he moved to his Yoji it was a definite issue and crashed him more than once and got his leg stuck under the pedal/ground sort of. After that I wonder'd about the brake a little.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    What do you think about a hand brake on that bad boy? My youngest had the worst habit of dragging his feet when he got scared/going fast. He had to do it on his Strider, but when he moved to his Yoji it was a definite issue and crashed him more than once and got his leg stuck under the pedal/ground sort of. After that I wonder'd about the brake a little.
    For my older son, it was nice having the brake on his Bicycoo BMX (the blue & white bike he's riding in the video). He started a year later than his brother is starting (3 vs 2), which makes a big difference in being able to communicate and follow directions -- much easier to explain "grab the lever on your right" once they've learned the difference between "right" and "left".

    At this point, I'll probably just wait for the younger one to move up to the Bicycoo before trying to introduce the idea of a hand brake. Minimum saddle height on that is 14", so it'll take another growth spurt before he's ready.

    Something I will be trying a little differently this time around with brakes, though, is color coding the brake levers (similar to what Woom does). On one of the Seth's bike hacks videos a while back he'd discussed brake lever covers, which got me started looking on Aliexpress. I found these pretty cheap in different colors -- at $1 per pair, it's pretty hard to go wrong:
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/2PCS...956320378.html

    On the subject of odd crashes, I had them out at the pump track and was going back and forth between them the other day when I heard the younger one crying -- still not sure how he did it, but he'd managed to get his hand stuck between the wheel & the arch of the fork. Started to get a little panicked since I didn't have any wrenches with me to remove the wheel, but was ultimately able to rotate the wheel backwards to get him unstuck.

  5. #5
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    Update from trying it out last night on the trials -- the new wheels / tires made a big difference in his ability to get through some of the more sandy sections of trail and navigate safely downhill.

    Upgrade was a definite success.

  6. #6
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    Hi, great upgrade!
    What OLD for axle diameter does the Vitus Nippy use? Thanks!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakster View Post
    Hi, great upgrade!
    What OLD for axle diameter does the Vitus Nippy use? Thanks!
    It's a pretty standard 9mm QR dropout, with 95mm spacing -- same as Strider uses.

    As mentioned, I did have an issue with one of the fork dropouts needing a slightly bit of work with a file to get the axle to slide all the way up.

    Note that it was less of an issue with the threaded rod on the stock axles passing through than it was with the endcaps on the replacement hubs.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the quick feedback. I see you mention "shorter saddle"? I need a lower stand-over height for my boy, so I take it it is the front of the saddle that hits the frame? What is the length of the saddle currently? It looks pretty long... Thanks for your help!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakster View Post
    Thanks for the quick feedback. I see you mention "shorter saddle"? I need a lower stand-over height for my boy, so I take it it is the front of the saddle that hits the frame? What is the length of the saddle currently? It looks pretty long... Thanks for your help!
    I can measure later tonight, but yes the front of the saddle hits the post before it bottoms out in the seatpost.

    If you wanted the super-cheap option, you could just trim an inch or two off the front of the saddle (remove staples / peel back foam & leather / cut nose with a hack saw / round the corners / reattach covering).

    The air tires also raise things up by nearly 1/2" vs. the stock foam tires, so you'd probably want to hold off on upgrading those if having absolute minimum standover is a priority.

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