* Prices may differ from that shown
Mark bought this Aeon Mini Colt Mini ATV for five year old Hollie during the summer, she'd complained of being bored but don't think she was expecting to come home from school to find a real quad bike waiting in the garden for her! Luckily, after the shock wore off, she was quite excited by the idea - and even more luckily she seems to have a bit of an aptitude for quadding so what started off as a bit of an impulse buy has ended up being used much more regularly than either of us thought.
~x~x~x~ The Aesthetics ~x~x~x~
The Aeon 50cc is available in blue or red, Hollie's is red but as we purchased it second hand we didn't get a choice of colour - secretly I'm glad it's red as although the quad still looks very masculine underneath dainty little Hollie, red is one of her favourite colours so this helped soften the blow of not receiving a girly pink Hello Kitty scooter after her proclamations of boredom. It has a quality look; all the plastics are bright and shiny still (ours is a 2008 model), exposed mechanical parts have been incorporated into the design of the quad and overall it's a fantastic looking little bike.
My only disappointment is that the front light which looked so impressive in the Ebay photo turned out to be a (very good, but...) sticker when we arrived in Hertfordshire to buy it, Mark apparently realised this but I didn't! It's a highly metallic sticker which does look the part to be fair, from a distance it looks like a split light - unfortunately it's not going to fool anyone who gets a little closer to the quad. Other stickers are placed on the curve of the fairings and also the back mudguards; these are well chosen, being simple flame designs as well as various logos relating to different aspects of the bike, and are expertly applied with no peeling or bubbling whatsoever - a couple of the smaller ones are a little faded but considering they've been in place since the quad was made I think that's pretty decent as far as longevity goes!
~x~x~x~ Under the 'Bonnet' ~x~x~x~
The quad is 2-stroke, meaning it's run on a combination of unleaded petrol and oil. Unlike a lot of other bikes you pour these in separately rather than having to mix the two together in a bottle and shaking like a loon for long minutes, fuelling the Aeon is a much easier process and works out cheaper too as you only need to top the petrol up when needed rather than having to replace both. I've found a full petrol tank costs around £6 and you'll use two of these before the dashboard oil light comes on to indicate you're running low, Mark tops 1 litre of oil up at a time but the oil tank will hold more - he errs on the side of caution after creating a burned on mess on one of his own motorbikes a few years ago, the quad runs just as well whether you top up fully or just partially so you don't need to be too precise. You'll need to top the gearbox oil up occasionally and this is something you need to check yourself as there's no indicator light, Mark tells me it's common sense for anyone who knows about this type of bike and is something you shouldn't have to do very often.
The quad has both a kick start and an electric start, a common fault with this particular quad is the cold weather affecting the starter and it's certainly affected Hollie's since winter arrived. It still goes on a kick, but this is a nuisance as Hollie doesn't have the strength in her legs so Mark has to start the quad up for her - frustrating for Hollie as she had the electric start sussed perfectly by the time it died and now gets annoyed that she can't start her bike by herself anymore. It usually starts on the first kick although we've definitely noticed this has become a little sluggish since the ice and sub-zero temperatures arrived recently, I'm hoping this is something that will right itself as the weather warms up but Mark thinks he's going to have to give the quad a full service soon. This will comprise a change of oils, replacement air filter and basically giving everything else a clean up to hopefully bring the bike back to top notch health.
The quad is easy to work on as the plastic simply unbolts and lifts off for ease of access to the inner workings. I must confess here that I have no idea what ANYTHING is and couldn't fix the thing if I needed it to escape from marauding zombies attacking my house - Mark, however, has been fixing bikes for twenty years and seems to know his way round this one. He tells me it's very easy to work on with no awkward to reach areas, this means you can fix anything without having to remove all sorts of irrelevant parts just to get to wherever you need to be to get the job done. When new it was supplied with a toolkit, but this would only be for the kudos of your tools matching the make of your bike (with Aeon not being particularly kudos-worthy anyway) as any repairs can be done with everyday sockets and pliers.
The inflatable tyres are mounted onto strong rims which will put up with a bit of abuse, although they are capable of puncturing so you do need to take care - a replacement wheel can cost up to £25 but to be honest Hollie has run her quad on all sorts of different surfaces without damaging any of the chunky tyres so I reckon they must be reasonably robust. We have a small woods nearby and it's here that Hollie has honed her skills on the quad; the terrain is a mix of gravelly and stony sections, interspersed with smooth grass and areas covered with above ground tree roots. The tyres have coped admirably and still have a relatively 'new' appearance, the tread hasn't worn on any section of the tyres and this shows how well balanced the bike is overall as on many 'mini' quads the inner surface of the tyres wear quickly causing lack of grip and is ultimately a dangerous condition in which to allow your kids to use such heavy machines.
~x~x~x~ The Ride of Her Life? ~x~x~x~
Hollie absolutely LOVES her Aeon Mini Colt Mini ATV (catchy moniker, eh?) and would ride it every single day if she could. We're lucky in that we live on a no-through road with parkland all around so she can use it more often than if we had to transport it to an official location each time she wanted to have a go. Please note here that there are all sorts of rules and regulations governing the use of these small quad bikes, we're probably a little lax with following the letter of the law when Hollie rides hers locally but through courtesy Mark knocked the doors of houses (effectively our neighbours) to check it was ok if we used this area with our quad. Everyone was happy and from that point on Hollie's ride has always started here, it helps that this quad is so quiet when it's running so doesn't disturb anyone - one lady gave us confirmation of this when she wandered over to watch Hollie riding, she lives in the very closest house and said she couldn't hear the quad at all. Unlike when the local buzzers come through on their scramblers, which in comparison sound like jet engines.
The saddle is wide and comfortable, it's made of man-made materials but looks and acts like leather in that it doesn't make Hollie sweat and cushions her little bottom well as she's riding. The width helps her to balance even on tricky terrain and also allows her to lean as she turns corners, or place her tiptoes on the floor if she needs to come to a standstill.
The top speed of the quad is around 20mph, but this can be easily restricted down to 4mph which is an average walking speed. The fact that it can be restricted up and down in increments makes it an ideal starter quad, as your child becomes more capable you can slowly let them gather more speed but the restriction is simple to put back into place if you decide the time is right to teach them more complex manoeuvres which require more precision and less haste. Hollie is currently running at around 7mph, although to be fair she has the ability to go faster but being so dainty we worry about her controlling the quad at speed if she got into difficulty or hit a rock. She does nag to go faster but I trust Mark's judgement on it so let him keep charge of the restriction, I've noticed he turns it all the way up when he sneaks a crafty rip round the park - he looks like a giant on this undersized quad bike but it shifts even though he's a couple of stones over the maximum weight limit of 68kg! Great fun!
The minimum age for this quad (and it's printed in huge red letters, it's an order not a suggestion) is six years old, which I think is absolutely bizarre! Hollie wasn't long turned five when she started riding it, it's ludicrous to say a kiddie can only use the quad when they hit a certain age as there are so many other things to take into account - riding aptitude, height, weight and strength being just a few things you need to take into account. A good example is the fact that, at a full year younger than Aeon want riding their quad, Hollie is a perfectly capable quadder - her overweight eight year old cousin is a pathetic gibbering wreck every time he sees it being wheeled out, terrified his dad is going to make him get on it. Makes me giggle, but just goes to show that in this instance age really is just a number.
The seat height is 55cm which is ideal for Hollie despite the fact that she's not a very tall child. The ground clearance is less than 10cm so you need to bear this in mind when deciding on where you're going to take your little one off-roading; this is fine for us at the moment as Hollie is still learning, but I envisage we'll need one with larger ground clearance at some point as there are areas even in our small parkland which she can't safely ride on due to the worry of damaging the underside of the quad - it won't be much longer before she's hankering after something a little larger (albeit still with a 50cc engine) to ensure she has completely free reign when she goes out riding.
~x~x~x~ Mum's Thoughts ~x~x~x~
I must confess to being nervous when I saw Mark wheeling the quad towards the house on the day of purchase, our older girls both used one but they were always larger than Hollie and therefore I felt more confident when they rode theirs. Obviously there are safety issues to take into account, including the fact that kids should wear as much safety attire as possible - most importantly a well fitting helmet, but also knee and elbow pads as well as appropriate clothing that will cover as much as their skin as possible (ie. trousers rather than shorts, a long sleeved top and gloves).
We paid £325 for the quad itself, plus an extra £50 or so for her clothing. This is reasonable in my opinion considering the amount of fun she's had on it, and also bearing in mind the fact that the running costs are so low - this quad is strictly for off-road fun so you don't have the worry of finding money for tax and insurance, you simply buy it and you're ready to go.