Smart Gear Toys – manufacturers and distributors of many baby and children products – enters the balance bike market with their own model. They provide several designs for the consumer including Floral Hearts, Bubbleicious, Skyrider, Chopper, Spring Fever, Flame, and Classic.
This page is dedicated to our review of the Classic version which seems to be the most popular.
Smart Gear Toys’ mission is to design eco-friendly, innovative and educational products for babies and up. The company is an advocate of protecting the environment. They maintain high standards with their products by pro actively testing and complying with the safety rules and regulations set out in the United States and Europe. Their Classic balance bike embodies this mission statement with its renewable wooden construction and non-toxic materials.
The Smart Gear classic is one of the least expensive options among the balance bikes available in the market. It is not the fanciest compared to some of its competitors, but it still provides you with what you are looking for. Opting for more basic approach, it focuses on helping the child build balance and coordination before learning to pedal.
So what are the features
Some of the main characteristics of the are included in the following sections.
For the environmentally conscious parent, this model is constructed with materials from renewable and safe resources. The wooden frame is made of birch wood which is not only renewable, but contributes to its overall light weight. It uses non-toxic paint and formaldehyde glue (also called plastic resin, which is commonly used as an adhesive in woodworking). But, Smart Gear goes beyond to emphasize the company’s eco-friendly motto. The Classic’s packaging is made from recycled paper and the printing on the package is made from water-based ink.
Smart Gear Toys goes through several lengths to ensure their products comply with safety regulations. They pro-actively test their products for defects that can lead to serious injury. Therefore, it is no surprise that they’ve incorporated this approach into the Classic’s design.
- Limited radius steering wheel – Usually, when a rider loses control on a moving bike, they tend to turn the handle too far left or right which in turn causes a jackknife action. The Classic’s steering wheel has a limited radius, preventing the rider from overturning the handle during steering.
- No footrest – Some bikes are equipped with a footrest either near the front wheel, or the back wheel. The problem with the footrest is that it gets in the way of the child’s running, or walking space. The child would have to straddle and run in a certain way to avoid hitting the footrest. The Classic eliminates this possible safety-hazard.
- Non-toxic materials are used – Formaldehyde glue, non-toxic paints and lacquer, ensure that the children are not exposed to dangerous chemicals.
- Unique carry-handle – A carry handle is incorporated into the body. This allows the parent to carry the bike conveniently and ergonomically. In case the rider needs assistance, the handle can also be used by the parent to easily keep a hold of their little rider.
- Spoke-less tires (like seen here) prevent children’s legs from getting caught in the wheel.
The bike comes standard with air inflated rubber tires. Compared to other models that use foam tires, air tires provide more cushion for the rider. They also tend to slip less on non-paved surfaces allowing for a more stable, all-terrain riding experience. The tires are equipped with long fill valves for easy and secure air pumping.
This model includes a five position adjustable seat with a height ranging between 11” to 17”. This feature is convenient as contrary to popular belief your child is going to keep growing! But, apart from the seat height, the Classic does not offer the parent or child to further modify the bike. Compared to others, Smart Gear does not sell an array of parts, or accessories, to provide further customization. The availability of parts like wider seats, hand grips in various sizes, foot brakes, foot rests, seat posts can come in handy if the child outgrows the bike’s standard features.
Furthermore, this model may not be ideal for more experienced children – i.e. those who like to perform tricks.
- Eco-Friendly – The key interest of the Smart Gear Classic lies in its environmentally friendly design. With its renewable wooden birch wood frame, non-toxic paints and lacquer, this bike practices what it preaches.
- Safe-Conscious – The bike’s design takes into consideration certain safety elements such as: the limited radius of the steering wheel to avoid jackknifing, the elimination of a footrest to allow a wider walking space for the child, and the spoke-less wheels to prevent a child’s leg from getting trapped.
- Lightweight – The bike’s light weight construction makes it easy for children to carry around.
- Price – Less expensive than some of its competitors and still manages to offer a good riding experience for the child.
- Lack of adjustability or adaptability – The child may eventually outgrow it and may consider moving on to a pedaled bike. Although this is the intended purpose (i.e. the child develops balance and coordination skills then moves on) it would be nice to have it grow with the child. Although the seat is adjustable, it can only reach a maximum height of 17″. Therefore some taller children may get frustrated. Additionally, since it is not designed to handle tricks, it will no longer accommodate a child who yearns for a more challenging experience.
- Durability – The same eco-friendly feature can also be considered a drawback in some instances. The wood frame is not marine grade wood; therefore, it is not waterproof and likely to experience deterioration if left out in the rain (or nature’s elements for too long). Generally, if not maintained properly, the Smart Gear Classic’s usability decreases.
Overall, this model is an affordable option when comparing the other bikes in the market. It’s not fancy, but it serves its goal of helping the child transition into a pedaled bike. For parents looking to purchase a bike that can be passed on – either to the next child, or the next generation – The Smart Gear Classic may not be the ideal choice, unless extra effort is taken to maintain it.