Saturday, 6 April 2013

Smart trikes- get your engineering hats on ladies!

We have spent hours perusing good,solid,easy to push smart trikes for toddlers. Our son has sat in at least six models and then started forming a protest by refusing to exit the push around red mini in the store! After much deliberation we went with the "Smart trike GB" available at Toys R Us in UK stores but there is a close runner up available online so keep reading.


One mother warned me that the more a trike has the more it goes wrong,steering is difficult and heavy for both parent and a child independently riding. Therefore we did not want activity centres attached to handle bars or any other unnecessary entertainment that bulked the product up after all going for a walk in a trike should be the only required fun!


Our son is quite tall so we needed something he has a chance of actually still using when he reaches aged three and the seat on this GB trike is quite far back so there is room for leg growth for when he can actually independently cycle the trike, at the moment we just push it using the handle.


We discarded the stupid,flimsy sun shade on the trike, the same shade type inflicts most models and are pointless, any suggestion of wind and the thing will break or flop right into your child's face! By two I feel a child no longer needs the side white bars encasing the seat as there is a simple strap that goes across the bike saddle and having the white rails seems a bit over dramatic when a child reaches two but if you were using this for a one and a half year old then probably they are great.


This is how the bike arrives! Time to get reading the instructions and men you do need to read the instructions as there are places where if you have not done something right then the whole bike needs to be taken apart again.

It only took my arthritic husband forty minuets, he has pincer hands and weak grip and push etc so if he can do this in forty minuets then it would be fairly easy to assemble for those without dexterity issues.

The strap across the saddle is so easy to operate no adaptation had to be done for me to be able to do and undo the buckle. It is one of those pinch both sides of a black plastic buckle and it will release and open.

Steers beautifully, very light weight, handle for the parent to use which is adjustable for a tall person and a short ,child like ,height ,lady like me.


The downside of this trike is the ridiculous position of the peddles, there are foot plates that flap out for a child to rest feet on when being pushed by the adult but they are too far back on the trike and my son ended up trailing his feet around so we had to add the black bars to the front of the trike, see picture, which can be removed when he starts peddling but also do not restrict the bikes movement in any way. However this is great if you have an engineer type husband around, if you do not then your child will have to do what I got my son to do before his ride was pimped, put both feet up on the front wheel protector, the blue bit over the wheel. This worked but it is so much easier with the adaptation in terms of keeping our sons feet safe and comfy. If you need this adaptation done to a smart trike because the trike is lighter and easier to push a child around in as opposed to a buggy, then contact REMAP, an organisation of volunteer old boy engineers who are amazing at pimping anything to suit anyone be it disabled parent or disabled child. They do not charge for the adaptations but obviously you need to have brought an item that fits most of your needs and your child's and these guys can tinker with the item to make it perfect rather than just manageable.


The runner up model is the "Smart Trike Cookie" again available from Toys R Us online and in store. It is also retailing at £49 as opposed to the GB trike which is £79. For me this was my first choice trike, it was very light, very receptive to my poor steering skills, my son and I went around the isles of the store happily and even up the dreaded arts and crafts area where plastic dinosaurs are just itching to be crashed into by a toddler. I liked the simplicity of this, I liked that the saddle was a little higher so easier for me to put my son on, not by much but still a tad easier. However we didn't go for it because the wheels are a bit smaller and cheaper than the GB model and stability was a major must when we set out to buy one of these, boys do go a bit manic eventually on these things and sturdiness was important for when this time comes.


I would say though that if you are looking for a buggy substitute that you can push easily, load your child into easily if you have poor reach and dexterity then this is the model for you but when your child grows you may have to think about buying a proper trike or a more sturdy and expensive smart trike. I also would like to point out I feel that the foot rests are in a better location than the GB model and perhaps therefore less of a palaver in terms of someone coming out to adapt a model for you.


Remember less is more, do not feel tempted by the £90 items, that was great advice from another mother. Having tried these more expensive trikes they are quite a bit heavier and so much more of a fuss to try and get a child into the saddle when dexterity and reach are major issues. Go for the cheaper models, don't think the trikes are going to last years but see them as a needed mobility aid expense to enable you to get your son or daughter out a bit, even into the back garden or street! The parenting handle acts as one of the few stick aids I can use because I can post my arms through the handle and rest and push at the same time. Enjoy one of these trikes,they are rapidly becoming one of my top ten essential must have items for a disabled parent and their toddler. I have done the must have items for baby care and will soon be compiling the toddler list.