My 2.5-year-old loves her old trike. We found it at an op-shop for $3 well over a year ago, and she loved it before she could even ride it. It’s the most basic of basic trikes – seat, handle, wheels, tray. The colours are faded, and the wheels make us sound like a whole convoy as we rattle down the street. So, when we were sent a brand new trike to try out, she was very excited. After a few weeks of use, we have discovered that the ‘new versus old’ debate isn’t as straightforward as we imagined. Here are our observations on the brand new SmartTrike versus the old $3 op-shop trike!
SmartTrike, the GOOD:
- The reclining seat is wonderful! The mesmerising bumpiness of our local neighbourhood sends my daughter to sleep pretty regularly, so it’s nice that she can recline in the seat and not be in danger of toppling out!
- There is a sunshade.
- Heaps of storage means that, even though you’re not taking your pram, you can still do some light shopping and be able to carry it all home.
- The cup holder was a pretty big hit with my kid (who would’ve thought!?). She loves storing her water bottle on her trike.
- The push handle adjusts so both my partner and I (we are medium height and ‘really short’ respectively!) can use it with comfort.
- It has suspension – yes, suspension!
- The three-point seatbelt is a lot safer than the lap belt on the old trike we have.
- The rubber tyres provide a MUCH quieter journey! Now the whole street needn’t know we are leaving the house!
SmartTrike the BAD:
- Because it’s designed for kids from 10–36 months (a pretty big span of time), there are some awkward phases, which we are in at the moment. My daughter’s legs are too short to push the pedals around, so manoeuvring the trike around gets a little tricky.
- We can no longer leave the trike outside cafes and stores while we eat and shop – it’s a fancy machine and someone might pinch it!
- The padded seat and storage bags are fabric, so they need to be washed periodically, and you might be reluctant to let your kid really muck around with the trike because of that.
- Because the handle is adjustable, it’s less rigid and doesn’t feel as sturdy as the old cheapo trike.
- We are still working out all it’s functions. For example, you can lock the steering so that your kids can’t steer off into the road while you push. It took us quite some time to figure this one out. There is also a pull-out clutch and a parent break, but we haven’t tested those out yet.
- We found the 360-degree swivel wheel makes life harder, rather than easier, as the trike seems to have a mind of its own. However, we suspect that this might resolve itself once my daughter can control and pedal herself.
$3 Trike the GOOD:
- This trike can withstand the wind, rain, muddy gumboots and everything else you subject it to. All you have to do to clean it is turn on the hose!
- You can leave it outside the local shops, safe in the knowledge that nobody else could possibly want that thing! And if they do, you’ve only lost $3!
- They built things tough back when this old trike was made. It feels very sturdy, even over bumps (including the steel handle).
- My daughter still loves it.
$3 Trike the BAD:
- No suspension, and hard plastic wheels make for a bumpy ride.
- It’s inclined to tip if you push it too fast round bends, and the seatbelt is only a lap variety.
- It’s way, way too noisy!
- There are no ‘bells and whistles’.
The final verdict? We thought we would be able to send our $3 trike to a better place when the SmartTrike arrived, but saying goodbye was not as easy as we thought. The benefits of the old one make it useful for some situations and play activities, while the new bells and whistles of the SmartTrike make it good for longer outings. Now, I’m afraid, we have TWO trikes in our courtyard – at least until my daughter’s little legs can reach the SmartTrike pedals!