International attention for wheel invention

Research news
13 December 2018

A Deakin University Masters student has collaborated with a Geelong business to help market a bicycle invention.

Simple ideas are often the best when it comes to successful products. Geelong engineering firm CET Group have designed a clever modification to bicycle training wheels that improves safety and comfort for children (aged three to eight) as they learn to master two-wheel bicycle riding.

The company called on the help of Deakin University Engineering Management Masters student Aaqib Ali to market the product around the world, and are hopeful that a major manufacturer will join them to begin mass production.

The ‘Flexitrainer’ is a training wheel that utilises a rubber joint to allow the child to learn the art of balancing whilst pedalling. The cushioning effect of the rubber absorbs shocks and bumps that unsettle riders, thereby keeping the bike more stable, and reducing the risk of falls or injuries.

They can also support children with disabilities who are unable to use balance bikes or fixed training wheels.

After putting in the groundwork with a series of discussions, research and a literature review, Mr Ali developed a marketing strategy for the Flexitrainer earlier this year. He undertook a product analysis that identified the strengths and weaknesses of the product to help CET Group identify opportunities and threats, and then provided a list of actions for the company to help them commercialise and visually demonstrate the benefits of Flexitrainer.

“I closely analysed existing successful marketing strategies for similar businesses to determine what would be the best way to market this product,” Mr Ali said.

His marketing strategy involved a series of promotional materials, including a video showcasing the Flexitrainer in action. The strategy was developed over the course of three months, with a specific focus on multimedia elements.

“The video was developed with the intention of getting worldwide coverage for the product,” he said. “Since the campaign began in September, a number of manufacturers have reviewed the product, including Trek US, Huffy US and Halfords UK.”

Gary Yewdall, CET Group Director said the marketing campaign has successfully influenced the product’s outreach.

“Posting the video through social media outlets has led to important discussions with potential collaborators,” Mr Yewdall said.

Deakin University supports both undergraduate and postgraduate students to work with local businesses to develop industry-based research projects. CET Group approached Deakin University with their product and Mr Ali was “excited to help this company with my knowledge and work on a real project”.

“For me, it is always interesting to deal with new challenges and this was a perfect challenge,” he said.

“This was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has changed me a lot, I now have more self-belief and trust in myself.

“It has encouraged me to think more positively and creatively.”

Mr Ali is originally from Pakistan, where he obtained a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree before undertaking his Master’s at Deakin. His project supervisor at Deakin, Ms Negin Amini, said industry collaborations are very useful for students.

“Students get exposure to a work environment – which is completely different from university. They are able to become familiar with how local businesses operate and have opportunities for potential collaborations in the future. It’s a great networking tool,” Ms Amini said.

“It also gives the students access to the discipline of a work environment and the chance to achieve real-world outcomes with their projects.”

Mr Yewdall said the collaboration has been very valuable for CET Group.

“We are grateful for the excellent work and advice from Aaqib, Negin and the Deakin team,” he said.

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A Deakin Masters student has collaborated with a Geelong business to help market a unique bicycle invention.

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A Deakin Masters student has collaborated with a Geelong business to help market a unique bicycle invention.

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