Big Wheel

A Big Wheel is a type of tricycle, traditionally made of plastic, with an oversized front wheel, that rides very low to the ground. Introduced by Louis Marx and Company in 1969, the Big Wheel was a very popular toy in the 1970s in the United States, partly because of its low cost and partly because consumer groups said it was a safer alternative to the traditional tricycle or bicycle.

The design was quickly imitated, under a variety of brand names. Although Big Wheel was a registered trademark, it was frequently used as a generic name for any toy whose design resembled that of Marx. Marx sold the Big Wheel brand name and molds in the early 1970s to Empire Plastics, makers of the Power Cycle brand, which was Marx's biggest competitor.

By the late 1990s, few manufacturers were making these toys, and Empire filed for bankruptcy in 2001. The Big Wheel brand was reintroduced under new ownership in 2003.

Popular culture

  • On South Park, the boys are often featured riding Big Wheels, particularly in the episodes "Chickenlover", "Kenny Dies", "The Jeffersons" and "Cartoon Wars".
  • On The Simpsons episode Moe'N'a Lisa, the Rhode Island state trooper rides a Big Wheel (lampooning the small size of the state).
  • VH1's mini-series "I Love Toys" ranks the Big Wheel as the 40th most popular toy.
  • A yearly Big Wheel race takes place on Easter Sunday in San Francisco. Formerly raced down Lombard Street, the event moved to Vermont St in 2008 under threat of lawsuit.
  • In the Stanley Kubrick Film The Shining, Danny, the son of Jack Torrance rides through the long halls of the haunted hotel on a Big Wheel.


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