run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Monday, 28 August 2017

Review: Vtech's 5-in-1 Stroll & Grow and the Tour de Trike

Summer 2012 was one of the best of my life - my journalism job led to track-side seats for some of the London Olympics' most-memorable moments, and then in August, as the athletes left town, Mr ROOW and I got married on a sunny bank holiday weekend. 

So the Olympic park hosts lots of happy memories - but, living in deepest north London, I've rarely ventured back, and never with tiny man. All of which meant, when Vtech got in touch to ask if he (and I) wanted to check out their newest vehicle at the Olympic Velodrome, we were there faster than Usain Bolt (OK the trip involved the north circular, so this is definitely not true..)

But, tiny man was soon buckling himself into Vtech's new 5-in-1 Stroll & Grow tricycle to take part in some training for their Tour de Trike - epic rides for toddlers to enjoy around the UK. And after a few hours' riding in the tracks of Chris Hoy and co, and a lot more in our own garden and parks at home, here's our verdict on the Stroll & Grow... because I know from experience that when buying a first bike/trike for a birthday present or just to ensure you don't have to schlep the buggy every time you leave the house, you want to make sure you've got the best one. We're also sharing a local route we're loving riding as our part of Vtech's Tour de Trike.

So, the deets on the trike: first of all, it has lots of (removable and fixed) parts that make it long-lasting. A baby - from 9 months - can use it with the parental steering bar, safety arm bars, five-point harness seatbelt (which tiny man loves buckling up for some reason!), and big sun canopy. And after that, Vtech reckons it'll last til your kids are six-years-old as it has an electronic activity panel (with buttons to press such as places to go - the supermarket, police station, etc - plus games and a key and songs that seem very toddler-popular). There are also pedals for cycling and brake locks. In truth, I reckon whilst 5-6 year olds might like the novelty factor of the buttons and games, they're more likely to want to try a balance bike/real bike than a trike, so it won't last quite as long as five-six years - but still three or four. 

And the trike is really well designed: there is a nice storage basket at the back to drop in your stuff if you're using it to get to the park / shops etc; it's really really easy to push whilst in strolling mode for babies, because the three wheels can turn in all directions like a buggy not like usual baby bikes, and there's 'Trike training mode' to teach kids how to pedal with motion sensor triggering music. There's also 'trike mode' and 'drifting mode' to teach them how to steer and finally how to pedal solo.
I thought there were some bad points - why, I wondered, does a simple outdoor biking activity need to be made electronic?! The buttons and music can seem distracting, rather than encouraging constant attention to riding (although they automatically switched off really quickly when not used), and it's quite a big trike so does take up space if you're storing it indoors (I realllly like the fact that the electronic panel is waterproof, though, so it can happily live in the garden).
Overall, our household is impressed by the way that the Stroll & Grow grows with the child so you can get lots of use out of it. It's also colourful and light, and the drift mode (which I've not seen on a trike before) means that older toddlers can make tight turns and spin around. 

Also, I must confess that the buttons and electronic-ness that I moan about above DO hold tiny man's interest when I've pushed him to the shops in it and he's started to get antsy on the way home. 

And when one of his toddler friends came round and played on the trike (when I could lure tiny man off it with the old refrain 'it's nice to share'..), he said his favourite thing about it was one of its colour-seeking games. His mum also said she liked that the electronic panel added an extra level of fun and motivated him to stay on it longer as he's not usually a fan of bikes or trikes.
When we were zooming around the Velodrome trying out the Stroll & Grow I thought it would sell for a few hundred pounds given all of its features and duration of use, so the fact that it's £109 makes me think it's good value and a worthy purchase if you're looking for a tot's first trike. 

And if you do snap one up, look out for us on our Tour de Trike route around town... I'll be the one with the ice creams at the Bob's Cafe finish line... 


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