Smart Trike Review
If you have a child who is approaching his or her first birthday, the Smart Trike would make a wonderful gift. Of course, this product is suitable for a child of any age between 10 months to 3 years, but in order to get the most from it you should ideally purchase it when your child is still very young.
I bought the Smart Trike for my youngest son for his first birthday and was very pleased with the purchase. He is now 2 and a half, and we do still have it, though he is now is at the stage of trying to master the pedalling for himself.
A Welcome Change From the Stroller
I still remember the first day we set off up the road with my son in his new mode of transport. He was so excited - suddenly he was 'doing it for himself' and not trapped in his stroller! Of course, he was not really 'doing it alone' - he was simply strapped onto the seat, holding onto the handle bars and laughing with excitement as we pushed him all the way to his brother's school to collect him. His little face just looked so proud - it was a lovely moment. Although he used to get quite fed up with getting 'stuck' in his boring old stroller, he loved being in the Smart Trike. Probably, he thought he was just like his brother, who already had his own bike and scooter.
Easy to Push and Changeable
The Smart Trike was easy to push and control in those early days, although it does become somewhat more awkward as your child gets older. A one year old just sits there holding on - a two year old puts much more emphasis on trying to turn the handlebars each and every way meaning that you can end up with a bit of a 'wobble' effect. You can also position the pedals so that they do not engage with the wheel, which is very useful when you are using the steering handle.
There are two side-bars fitted, which can be taken off when required - even though your child will have a strap across his lap, you will definitely need the side bars for a significant amount of time. According to the instructions, you are supposed to be able to remove the side bars at around 15 months, but we tried this and it was no go. I was always on tenter-hooks that my son was going to fall off the side, because he had a habit of trying to turn right round all the time to see what was in the trailer - or just to mess about. I kept the side bars on until he was at least two - only then did he seem secure enough to sit on the seat unaided.
3 Stages - 10m, 15m and 24m +
The Smart Trike is suitable for children from 10 months, and can gradually evolve according to your child's development until your child is 3+. Of course, these stages are only approximate - each child is different.
When your child is between 10 months and 15 months, you will be using all of the features. As mentioned previously, there are side bars which will keep your child safely in place. There is also a lap belt and a handle for parental steering. Most (but not all) come with a canopy which will slightly shade your child from the glare of the sun (but does not offer any adequate sun protection. The Trike has foot rests for your child's comfort, which can be folded away when not required, and the pedals can be converted so that they do not engage with the wheel.
In the early days when we were out and about, my son was obsessed with simply watching the pedals going round and the ground rushing past underneath him. You do have to ensure your child has his feet on the foot rests, and not hanging between the pedals and the rests. (We have had few problems with teaching him this.) He also liked to carry some of his things in the trailer (and crane his neck to check on them a lot!)
According to the manufacturer, you are at liberty to remove the side bars when your child reaches 15 months, however as explained already, we did not feel ready to do this. When you feel your child is ready, you can make this change. At this stage, you will still need to keep the steering handle attached, because your child will definitely not be ready to pedal of his own acccord. When you remove the side bars, the canopy can no longer be fitted - however, this is not really a great loss (it's a nice attachment but does not offer any true sun protection).
The final stage is to remove the steering handle so that the Trike is a typical, pedal-alone toy. Whilst this is stated as to occur around 24 months (2 years), learning to pedal is a skill reached by children at varying ages. My child is now 30 months, yet he cannot yet manoeuvre the bike alone. The main problem here is not that he can't pedal - in fact, he can, as I witnessed at a play group last week. The thing is, he is a small child for his age and he cannot adequately reach the pedals of the Smart Trike enough to rotate them properly. He whizzed around on the trike at the play group because the stretch from the seat to the pedals was quite a bit shorter. But as I said, my son is quite small - average or tall children will more than likely not have this issue. Still, he still loves his trike regardless, and I know that as soon as he's grown just a little bit he will have a great time pedalling it for himself.
Is the Smart Trike Worth the Money?
I would say that when it is bought for a child around 1 year old, it is definitely worth the money. This is a toy with a long life span, which can evolve with your child's development. Older babies absolutely adore the idea of their very own bike to sit in, and even children who hate being 'trapped' in a stroller will look forward to a trip on the Smart Trike. This is a good quality product. Athough perhaps the plastic on the trike does not seem as strong as it could be, there have been no issues with this from our point of view. It does what it is meant to, and the inner core of the trike is very strong. Besides, children love them and that is surely the main thing? Whilst many parts of the trike are plastic, the frame itself is tough aluminium, making it less susceptible to damage. In fact, eighteen months have passed since we our purchase and it is still in excellent condition with nothing broken.
You can purchase several different colors and styles of the Smart Trike. Most have canopies and some have attached bags to carry things, but they all work on the same principle - a 3 in 1 stage trike designed to last from babyhood through toddlerhood.
Just don't use the 3 in 1 Smart Trike for long journeys when your child is very small unless you have the recliner version! That is the mistake that I have made on more than one occasion - and why, you might ask? The simple fact is that young children often fall asleep on long trips, and if you do not have the stroller with you then you are likely to be stuck with a child lolling forwards on the handlebars! I know this, because it has happened to me. Very young children are hopeless at keeping awake when they really need to. So, if you are going to be out for a while, or your child is due for a nap, better leave the Smart Trike at home - unless you purchase the new recliner version, that is.
The Smart Trike Recliner
The Recliner must be a relatively new product, since it was certainly not around when we purchased our classic version some 18 months ago. It's a good idea, because it defeats the aforementioned issue of a baby or young child falling asleep at the handlebars. Since I have not used this product I would not like to give an overview of whether the recliner facility is adequate - I would imagine that it is suitable for short naps mainly. At the time of writing, there are limited reviews available for the Smart Trike Recliner, but a trike with a lay-back facility was most definitely overdue so I would comment only that it is a good idea.
This version is more expensive than the other models, but whether you think the extra money is worth your child having the chance to sleep whilst on her bike is a personal choice. My thoughts are that it is a convenient and useful feature, but not absolutely essential if you avoid heading out when your baby is likely to need a nap.
All in all, the Smart Trike is a popular first birthday or Christmas gift. Older babies love the chance to 'ride along' on their very first bike, and for short trips it provides great fun.