08 december 2012

World's Best Toy ...

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas; the holiday season is upon us. If you are struggling to find the perfect gift for your active toddler, then here's the answer for you: Early Rider Lite.

We just received ours for Benjamin and honestly could not wait to unpack it. Benjamin has shown keen interest in his daddy's bikes, and loves to spend time in his Chariot bike trailer, so we have been feeling guilty for not providing him with his own set of wheels.

Trouble is, finding a good bicycle product for your little boy or girl is very difficult. Getting the size right is one thing, finding a quality product that delivers hours of fun is a whole different challenge altogether.

Early Rider is a UK based company that focuses on the child rather than taking an adult bike spec and trying to shrink to fit. The Lite is their stable seller and it's easy to see why. Benjamin got super excited as we opened the box and putting the bike together is easily done in less than 5 minutes.

What we really appreciated was the quality and craftsmanship that is evident in the Early Rider. The wooden chassis is durable with a premium finish; the flames on the side are noticeably cool, but modest enough that the bike keeps its stylish looks.
You’ve probably noticed that the bike comes without pedals. We find that a general misperception is that the best way to learn how to ride a bike is by using training wheels. What we have found through talking to actual bike-parents is that a balance bike allows the child to practice balancing the bike so transition to a real bike is much faster and safer. Pedaling is easy to learn once you know how to scoot, so we look forward to testing this in real life.

There a several really cool features of the Lite that ensures hours of fun as Benjamin develops his riding skills. First of all, the geometry of the bike is adjustable, so it will grow with Benjamin. Secondly, the fork can be mounted in two positions: One where the steering is restricted due to brushes mounted on each side of the fork to keep the steering predictable. Flip the fork around and the steering is free and the bike more agile and fun for an older child.
The only thing we have noticed could be different is the grips of the handlebar, Benjamin has a tendency to hold on the spherical ends of the grips which are the most comfortable from an ergonomically point of view, but it also means he potentially hurts his hands when he lays the bike down by accident. The end of the grips is of course designed this way to help protect the toddler’s hands providing he or she grabs further in. I’m not sure what a solution would be other than helping Benjamin to grab on the cylindrical piece of the grip. Regardless of grip, he sure looks like he is having a ton of fun on the bike. And yes, we have ordered a helmet of course.

Besides the Lite, Early Rider produces a range of other bikes including a super cool and minimalistic bike called "Spherovelo" that is so new that it is yet to be introduced in the US. We think the Lite is better for Benjamin at the age of 2, but if we ever have a second child we'll make sure to get the Spherovelo. You can see this little contemporary design piece for yourself HERE.

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