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I felt quite emotional recently when my sons Thomas Bike went to bike heaven, well the rubbish tip where they have a little shop part so hopefully someone has recycled it as it was too worn out to be sold by me.
I had purchased this bike when my son was at preschool, he had come home with a letter saying they were doing a sponsored pedalthon. My first reaction was dam I'll have to get him a bike as we were living in a flat at the time so was pointless getting one. Anyway 3 days before the event I went online and found him this Thomas the tank engine bike with stabilizers. It was about £60 and I recall I used some Tesco clubcard vouchers towards the purchase and ordered the bike to be collected from their Direct desk instore the following day. Currently this bike is on offer in Tesco from £79 to £69. I also got him a matching helmet from Argos.
I remember that my partner had the challenge to assemble the bike as it didn't come in it's complete form. The wheels had to go on and the stabilizers needed fitting so nothing too strenuous. The saddle style seat could be highered and lowered easy by adjusting the lever underneath.
The bike itself is a lovely bright blue colour just like Thomas the tank engine is. The chain area was protected by a plastic guard so the child wouldn't get clothing etc stuck in the chain. The front boasted a round panel with a picture of Thomas on too, this didn't serve any purpose just there to look good. The frame of the bike and also the chain guard had Thomas stickers on them, not everyday type stickers but after time and lots of wear and tear they started to come off especially the one large sticker on the chain guard.
My rather excited son couldn't wait to ride this when he got it and straight away was on and away. We went to a local park and he left me running along behind him and he seemed to take to it like a duck to water. He then competed in his pedalthon and done me proud. The bike was level and very sturdy for him so made a perfect first bike. The wheels are nice and thick so not the sort to get punctures and the stabilizers are solid too. Both handles had brake levers on one for the rear wheel and one for the front wheel. Occasionally they needed adjusting slightly as the brake pad had moved but was easily sorted.
It is suitable from aged 3yrs+ and lasted my son until he was nearly 6yrs. The seat could be adjusted as he grew and when he was 5yrs old he said he didn't want the stabilizers on any more so his Dad took them off, I held onto the back of the seat and ran (fast) up and down our close just 3 times and he had the knack he could do it alone, it brings a tear to my eye thinking of yet another proud mummy moment and another part of my first baby growing up. We replaced this bike with a more grown up one and also Thomas had seen better days as once we moved from a flat to our house it was in constant use and been thrown on ground numberous times, had marks on it, seat was scuffed etc but to be honest it was definitely worth the money.
The MV Sports & Leisure Thomas & Friends 12in Bike was the grandson's first bike. We got it on offer for £30 from Toys R Us though the price is now usually £69.99 when I've seen it around. Do note, that I'm talking about the bike in the picture here, as there are some completely different Thomas bikes around that might appear to look the same on the outside.
This bike, like most kids' bikes, came flat packed in a cardboard box. Toys R Us and Halfords both offer an assembly service but I didn't think it was necessary. So I took this home and got it together myself in about half an hour. The only thing I will say about the assembly process is that the pedals are extremely difficult to get attached. Other than that, it was a straightforward affair.
As far as using the bike goes, I think you have to appreciate that this is much more of a toy than an actual bike. It works just like a bike should do, but because it's really heavy and clumpy with very small wheels, your average three to five year old is just not ever going to be able to ride this without the stabilisers on - they can't get it to go fast enough to stay upright! The heavy weight tells to pull the bike over, and the brakes are pretty ineffective as well.
But for use as a trike for learning to pedal on, prior to getting a proper bike, this isn't such a bad deal if you get it for half price. It's brightly coloured and the plate of Thomas on the front was a huge hit with the grandson. Be warned it's only fastened on with plastic ties though, so really you need to get some string to fix it properly like we did.
The other important thing to note with regards to the lack of speed is that you can't cruise on this bike as the back wheel is fixed. This means that the pedals are fixed to the back wheel and the wheel cannot turn unless the pedals are going around. On a free wheeling bike, the wheels can continue to turn while the pedals remain stationary allowing the rider to cruise down hills or along straight bits. It makes riding a bike much, much easier. But on the plus side, when kids have a fixed back wheel on their first bike, they can just pedal backwards to brake. Hand brakes are tricky things for little hands.
I do recommend this as a trike toy if you've got a Thomas fan on your hands who is not quite ready to learn to ride a bike properly yet, but only if you pay less than £40 for it. Any more and you're just throwing your money away. For a few extra quid you could buy a proper bike, with a free moving back wheel and lighter, thinner frame and just use stabilisers with it.
Sturdy, tubular steel frame / 12in mag wheels with EVA tyres / Front calliper brake / Fully enclosed chain guard / Removable stabilisers / Handlebar height 65cm / Adjustable saddle height 42cm - 46cm / For: 3 - 4 Years