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This past Christmas the kiddos each received a Smart-Trike Zoo from their grandparents.
These trikes are suitable for babies from 10 months upwards, but a friend had told us that kids can get a bit cold riding them in winter months so we decided to keep them in the box until the sunshine arrived in the spring.
This weekend we celebrated the arrival of the sunshine by assembling and riding the trikes, and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you in case you’re thinking about buying one.
What on earth is a Smart-Trike?
Just in case you haven’t seen these wonderful contraptions yet the Smart-Trike is essentially a tricycle, but it’s also akin to a Transformer.
You see it changes in shape and functionality as your little one grows and develops new skills; it starts out acting like a stroller and then ends up being an actual tricycle.
And just in case you’re as confused as I am about the name the Smart-Trike is also branded as the smarTrike by the company, I’m not sure they could decide whether they wanted one T or two in the product name!
Why is the smarTrike like a Transformer?
This multiple award-winning trike changes shape as your child develops.
You start out with the stage 1 set up which is perfect for babies of around 10 months upwards.
There’s a comfortable and supportive seat that doctors say supports their posture better than a traditional stroller, and a three-point safety harness, to keep them from falling out!
Of course your baby will be too little to reach the pedals at this stage, let alone pedal the trike themselves, so you attach a steering handle to the back which allows you to ‘drive’ the trike by controlling the steering mechanism on the front wheel.
There’s also a sun visor and carry pound attached to the steering handle for storing snacks or a spare nappy.
At around 15 to 18 months (according to your own child’s development), you can remove the padded seat back and three-point harness so that your child can ride on the actual tricycle seat with just a lap belt.
The sun visor comes off at this point too.
If your child is tall enough to reach the pedals by this age they can ride the trike themselves, though you are still in control via the steering handle.
Somewhere between their second and third birthday you move to official trike mode by removing the steering handle and letting your child lose all by themselves!
How easy is it to assemble the Smart-Trike?
The website talks about a ‘1 minute Click assembly’ but I wonder if that relates to the more expensive models because it took my poor hubby nearly two hours to put the two trikes together!
This product is sold worldwide so the instructions are pictorial and took some deciphering. In most places it goes together quite easily, but there were a couple of things, like the screw that holds the seat to the axis, that had to be lined up at a perfect angle or you couldn’t thread the screw.
It’s also not entirely clear from the pictures that the crotch buckle for the three-point harness is different to the one used on the lap belt.
Hubby just grabbed the first one that came to hand, and then had to take most of the trike apart to swap the buckles when he realised he’d installed the wrong one!
Of course it didn’t help that the kids were so excited to ride their new trikes that Master J was trying to get on his before it was even assembled. When I removed the children from the room assembly became a lot easier!
If you’re going to buy a smarTrike for your child as a gift I would recommend assembling it before you give it to them so they can ride it straight away.
My little ones are 15 months old so according to the instructions they could have started out at phase 2, with just the lap belt, but Miss E can be temperamental at times so we decided to start out with the three-point harness to give her less chance of escaping the trike when she’d had enough!
How easy is it to push a smarTrike?
Pushing and steering is easier than I thought it would be, it’s a different experience from pushing a stroller though (especially a double one) as this is much lighter and at first I thought I might over steer and end up in the road.
The parent handle bar moves up an down so you can adjust the height, for storage and for use.
My only complaint is it doesn’t come up quite far enough to push comfortably. My hubby is just over 6ft, and I’m 5ft6 and even for me it was a little too low.
We pushed the kids to the park and back which is probably about a 25 minute round tip with a break in the middle, and I certainly wouldn’t want to take it on a journey any longer than that as it started to take a toll on our backs.
Did the kids enjoying riding the Smart-Trike?
My two are not fans of the stroller. They’ll tolerate it for a short time but then they want to get out, and I think it’s because they can’t see very much when they’re sitting in it.
By comparison they loved riding on their trikes.
Neither of them can reach the pedals (not even Master J who is 95 percentile for his height), but there’s a little bar for them to rest their feet on and they can ‘steer’ using the handle bars.
Oh and there’s a little phone attached to the handle bars too which they like playing with on the journey.
They also have full 360 degree visibility, and Miss E spends most of her time in the trike pointing at things we pass, which is perfect for developing social and communication skills as we can talk about the things she is pointing at.
Can it handle all terrains?
So far we’ve tested the trikes out on pavements, roads, gravel and grass and it seemed to cope well on all of those surfaces.
The wheels on our trikes are hard plastic so riding on hard surfaces throws off a few vibrations which started to bother me after a while, although the kids didn’t seem to mind too much.
Is it easy to store?
With the parent handle attached this trike takes up a lot of room, more than a stroller which can be folded down.
One day this week I’m going to have to take serious action in my garden shed to clear out some room to put our two trikes.
I did try storing them in the back of my car but even though they just about fit I then couldn’t see out the back window, so right now they’re in my dad’s garage!
Make sure you have somewhere to store a trike before you buy one.
Do you recommend the Smart-Trike?
I have to confess that I was sceptical when the grandparents turned up at Christmas with Smart-Trikes for the kids; they’re not small, and with two kids who need pushing it means I can’t take them out by myself as I can with a double buggy.
But if you set aside the niggles about assembly, storage and the height of the handle bar they are great trikes, and the kids love them.
The fact that they grow (or shrink rather) with the child means you get a lot of use out of them over a couple of years so they’re a worthwhile investment. Probably best kept for warm weather outings though as there is no protection from the wind or the rain.
Where can I buy a Smart-Trike?
Amazon.com and amazon.co.uk stock a wide range of Smart-Trikes at great prices and with free shipping (the box they come in is pretty big so I’d opt for home delivery rather than trying to bring it home from a store!).
The Smart-Trike Cow and Smart-trike Bumble Bee reviewed in this post were bought by the children’s grandparents. The links in this post are affiliate links. The views stated are entirely my own.