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Dec262008

« Wishbone Bike & Trike Review »

"No more bikes!" said the exchequer ... but I'm pretty sure she just meant me, right? Thus, Santa exercised a loophole in this recent legislation by bringing a new bike for our daughter this Christmas (enjoy this review, as it's on to less consumerist posts as we move to a cash economy at our house in 2009). It's a Wishbone "Pre-Bike", a wooden run bike similar to the original PEDObike (neat German bike, especially the accessories, but the name needs help), Like-a-Bike, and the less-expensive-and-thus-more-popular derivative, the Skuut. There are a lot more knock-offs by now, as folks realize that these "balance bikes" without pedals are a lot more fun to ride than bikes with training wheels, and can get kids on bikes sooner. 

The neat part about the Wishbone bike is that it starts life as a run-trike, which is handy, because our just-2-year-old is probably 6-12 months away from rocking a run-bike. When that time comes, this converts to a low balance bike, and as she grows, you can flip the frame and make a taller bike. This "3-bikes-in-one" can thus cover kids from under 1yo up to 5yo. 

Plus it's from New Zealand, like our boys Bret and Jemaine. Via the People's Republic of, you guessed it, China. And now, for a brief Festivus "airing of grievances" ... part of the whole fancy wooden toy appeal seems to include being made in countries with better labor conditions. Failing that, when companies move manufacturing from their garage to China, shouldn't some of the cost savings be passed along? Anyway, back to Christmas! Here is a picture of the wrapped trike and our lumpen Charlie Brown tree, which is in danger of being crushed by a few presents:

What follows is our exclusive and highly technical review and toddler ride report.

The Frame

The Wishbone's frame leverages several hot trends. The latest fashion amongst custom framebuilders has been to incorporate natural materials (bamboo, hemp, wet toilet paper, and wood) into their designs. Well, this bike is ALL WOOD, baby, except for the wheelsets. And not just any wood - sustainably-managed shade-grown song-bird-friendly non-toxic-sniff-all-you-want-eco-glued wood, people. 

Titillating the NAHBS crowd and saving the planet is nice and all, but how does it ride? This frame flips the paradigm by being both vertically stiff and laterally compliant. And the front end takes styling cues from overbuilt downhill forks, but shaves crucial grams by leaving out the suspension. Unfortunately, this fork design chooses safety over style by having a limited turning radius. No bar-spins. :(

As you can see from the progression above, the shorter bike features a long wheelbase and slack head-tube angle for less twitchy steering. The graduate tall bike configuration (this may be the first toddler "tall bike" yet produced), looks to have more sensitive steering geometry for preschool freestyling, and the frame becomes more shoulderable for cyclocross events as well. 

The Flat Foot Technology at work here melds perfectly with the tricycle, SWB, and LWB options, and the trike features a traditional Dutch upright riding position, while the bikes lend themselves well to aggressive aero recumbent or prone positioning for record attempts. 

Wheelsets

Inspired equally by Aerospokes and wheelchair wheels, this bike's wheels are made of recycled plastic. And you get 50% more wheels with this bike. When Drew graduates from her trike, I'm glad to know that her support van will have an extra wheel on hand. As for the tires, not only are they white (cream-colored tires are so 2008), they are non-marking, people. Which means we'll be "sessioning" at the community center gym on snowy days. And guess what? They actually have a generator strip! I'll be installing a bottle generator and lights at the next opportunity. I like my 2 year old to be visible on her night-time rides to the store for fruit jerky and booty.

Saddle

This strip of wood with 1/2" foam over it is perfectly shaped for a running toddler. It's nice to see the bike companies taking into consideration the anatomic needs of the diapered community for a change.

Drivetrain

One less car?This bike does fixed-gear one better by having one less gear. I don't think you can get any more "it's a zen thing" and "one with your bike" than that. And Drew's "running" the lightest gruppo ever released. 

Ride Report

"Bike!!!" "Prezzie!" "Hamas!" (helmets in Drew-speak). "Myyyyyy bike!" is loudly used when another child so much as looks at her bike. We'll hold off on the tandem run bike until the sharing skills are better developed. 

In her first session at the gym (lots of melting slush still around), Drew got it up to a moderate toddle, carved some turns, and tolerated my fiddling with seat height adjustments. We also gave the bike configuration a whirl. Emphatically not ready. "Whoa daddy careful daddy!"

But she seemed to dig it overall, rejecting a number of enticing colorful plastic riding toys around the place. She's not been a confident motor skills kinda girl (she decided to crawl after she walked), so it'll be neat to see how her balance and confidence evolve with this thing. I'll post some photos and video as she gets used to biking, but here's day 1:

And here's some inspirado from the Kiwi company that makes this:

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Reader Comments (9)

Just wondering how Drew is doing with her wishbone trike. We're thinking of getting one for our 20 month old who is in love with her 3 year old sister's run bike but is a ways away from being able to manage it.

April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

She was loving it right around age 2, but we're now in an awkward phase. She's tall for her age, but a bit motorically behind. So her heels started to bump against the tricycle rear axle, but she doesn't feel confident on the 2 wheeler mode yet. With a shorter or more stable child, you might not be in this lurch. I figure by this summer she'll get it together as a bicycle. The nasty weather has not really motivated her to get out and play on it, either.

April 1, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian / Totcycle

I had been debating whether to splurge on this for my daughter's first birthday and after reading this review finally gave in hoping it would pay off.... I am so glad I did. This is the BEST gift ever. On her birthday her toes barely touched the ground so she would just tip toe along. She is now 13.5 months old. We put her helmet on and she is off... she runs and picks her feet up ( giggling all the way ), has figured out how to stop, go backward, and just this week learned how to steer. She is thrilled to have the freedom to ride on her own with no help from mommy and daddy.

Thanks so much for the great review.

April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

Great! You'll get years out of this thing ...

I'm pleased to announce Drew's "awkward phase" was short-lived. All it took was nice weather and showing off for some big kids on bikes, and she's off to the races. Still in trike mode, but she's figured out how to bend her legs to avoid the rear axle, and is a total speed demon showoff at this point.

April 20, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian / Totcycle

We've got a knock-off runbike. When the 3yr old gets her first pedaled bike (prob 5th birthday), the plan was for the 9m old to get the runbike. But... perhaps I need a rethink, as it wouldn't be too hard to bodge this up yourself.

Nice review, and great to hear updates.

December 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbaudman

Hi

Raghu from India, i saw a wooden tricycle in nearby shop which was imported from UK, then did a search on net and found your DIY kinda of Trike, can you please send me some basic dimension of trike, i want to make one for my 1 year old

Thank you
Raghu

January 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRaghu

I came across our blog while googling wishbone bike! I just wanted to say the my husband and I loved your blog post!

Of course... I'm only 4 months pregnant and instead of doing something productive to prepare for our baby we've started looking at bicycles. My husband manages a bike shop so this is very important stuff :P

I have a no more bike rule around the house (there are 17 in the garage) but somehow browsing for the baby (who won't use this for years) seemed to make sense.

Thanks for the review! Your daughter is gorgeous.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDandy

Is there any time of bounce or suspension to this bike? Wondering if it is as comfortable to ride as it is cool to look at. I have a 20 month old I need to buy a bike for and a friend recommended the Kokua instead because it is a more comfy balance bike ride.

Any pro tips????

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAllie

Hi, we purchased this bike for our daughter's second birthday and she loved it. It was used briefly as a run bike before she quickly graduated to her first two wheeler before her third birthday. No training wheels ever in transition. Our only disappointment was she didn't need it for very long. It has since been on sold to our neighbours for their son. I cannot recommend this bike more highly. Get one.

October 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

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