* Prices may differ from that shown
Last summer, when my daughter was three and in need of her first two wheel bike (with stabilizers of course) I made the foolish mistake of buying a cheap pink contraption in Sportsworld. The bike wasn't displayed out of the box, I never tried her on it, I handed over my £25 and toddled off with the huge box, convinced I had got a bargain. Wrong. The bike, apart from being poor quality with solid plastic wheels (like a trike) was actually too small and had weirdly placed pedals, meaning after a few attempts she just gave up the struggle and it languished in the garage for months.
I had decided months ago that for Easter I would buy her a new bike (I'm not overly extravagant with Easter gifts, but my daughters birthday is actually 10 days before Christmas. I keep birthdays gifts low key and buy a good outdoor toy at Easter). So having learned my lesson the previous summer, I took her to Halfords. And that's where I bought this bike.
~ The Bike ~
The girls 16 inch wheel Apollo Sparkle Bike is recommended for girls age 5-7 years old.
It's a metallic turquoisey blue colour, with a cute fairy on the chain guard.
Features of this bike (taken from the Halfords website):
* V-Brakes with power adjuster for improved braking performance
* Strong steel frame
* Alloy wheel rims with wear indicator groove
* Front & rear mudguards
* Colourful spoke beads
* Complies with new European Cycle Safety Standards
Stabilizers are not included with this bike but can be purchased seperatly.
Price at time of purchase was £73.42 reduced from £114.99
~ Buying and Assembly ~
I don't think this is the bike my daughter had envisaged when we set of to buy a bike. Indeed, on entering the store she ran straight to the all singing, all dancing character themed bikes with streamers, dolly seats and baskets. We initially thought she would need a 14 inch bike, but found that these were just in her size range and wouldn't last very long.
We tried her on several 16 inch bikes, and this one fit her perfectly when the seat and handle bars where set at their lowest position. She is only 4 and a half but has quite long legs, but other 16 inch bikes didn't suit her size on the handle bar.
Surprisingly she didn't require too much convincing. This was priced in the lower end of the range, yet seemed equal quality if not better. The difference being that this bike is plainer than the more ostentatious designs, especially the Barbie/Disney princess styles. Despite having to pay for stabilizers in addition, I still feel this bike is a very good price and I like it's more traditional, plainer and functional look. However it does have a bit of sparkle in the metalic paint and a small fairy cartoon design on the chain guard, as well as the colourful spoke beads, which did appeal to my daughters girly desires. The bike does come with a bell, but other extra's such as helmet, streamers, doll seats etc come at an extra (high) cost.
We could have had the bike assembled at Halfords with a wait of around half an hour, but I decided my dad would love the job (haha) so took it straight home. Everything required was indeed in the box (no missing wheels) and in pristine condition. It took my dad about 45 minutes to assemble the bike. I'm not sure if it was difficult (I kept out of the way) but he didn't mention it being. The one thing he did have a bit of trouble with, was fitting the stabilizers. We had bought Halfords own make of universal stabilizers, but the instructions in the bike recommend Apollo's own make. However I have searched the internet and can not find Apollo stabilizers to buy anywhere. My feelings here are if the require you to use their own, they should really provide them. My dad did get the stabilizers on, they don't look fantastic but work well. I'm hoping to get my daughter of the stabilizers altogether this summer, so it isn't a huge issue but a bit of an annoyance.
~ My daughter using the bike ~
We are very pleased with this bike. It's very smooth and easy to ride, my daughter took to it straight away. The seat is good quality and comfortable and the handles are well padded so she doesn't get sore hands. The brakes are very good, stopping the bike quickly and effortlessly without causing a major jerk. We do have it on the lowest size setting, however it doesn't seem extend very much. Although it's recommended for ages 5-7 and my daughter is only 4 and half, I can't see it lasting beyond next year size wise. I think perhaps this is the ideal bike if, like mine, your child is at the upper end of the size range of the next size down.
~ Overall ~
This is definitely a good quality bike, and compared to other brands, a very good price. It may lack some of the girly appeal lashed on girls bikes to bump the price, but it's functional, unfussy, easy to ride and clean and sleek looking while still retaining a toned down girly feel. My complaints are the stabilizers and small height adjustments mentioned above. I would happily recommend this bike to others.
www.halfords.com to view or purchase this bike.