“ Brand: Apollo / Type: Girls bicycle / Size: 14" „
We bought this bike for our daughter's third birthday last Summer. It's her first bike, she had only had a small plastic trike previously that she had outgrown very quickly. It was difficult to find the right bike because my daughter is at the top of the height range for her age and a trike would probably have been more suitable, but we couldn't find one the right size. So, we were looking for something lightweight, but stable enough to give her confidence. We also didn't want anything over the top pink and princessy, which as other parents will know, is almost impossible when it comes to buying anything for little girls these days.
We bought this bike in Halfords, so my daughter had a chance to try out different bikes in-store. We narrowed the choice down to two fairly evenly matched bikes and this is the one she favoured. We paid around about £65 for it, it's currently priced at £59.99 on the Halford's website.
It's painted a metallic lilac, which is better than pink, in my opinion. Still, it is most definitely a girls bike, it's pretty with lots of flowers, on the chain-guard in particular. It's simple enough, there are no unnecessary extras to add needless weight. There are no gears, no basket, no mudguards, (we didn't feel these were necessary, my daughter wouldn't be riding on muddy ground on this and they'd add weight). There are, however, plenty of accessories available for those who want to buy them. The frame is steel but with a plastic chain-guard and plastic stabiliser wheels. The white plastic pedals have reflectors on the sides. The handbrake settings are adjustable, once we found the right position for them it didn't take long for my daughter to learn how to use them effectively.
The 14" wheels seemed sturdy, a bit wider than on some other bikes. The chunky white tyres show the dirt, but that doesn't bother me in the slightest, bike wheels get dirty, I'd be annoyed if they didn't, (ie if she wasn't riding it). The tyres do seem to go down quite quickly and I don't know why this is. They have had to be pumped up several times, which isn't good.
The stabiliser wheels are white plastic with a large flower on the outside of each. The wheels have quite wide grooves in them which do get encrusted with dirt. They have a supporting triangular bar structure which should make them more sturdy than the more typical L-shaped stabilisers found on cheap bikes. They are height adjustable and detachable. We originally had them set as low as possible thinking this seemed the most stable position for them, but it turned out that this position affected the traction of the back wheel on uneven ground. My husband reset them, (easily he says), at a slightly higher level so that the back wheel would stay firmly under control.
As you would expect you can adjust the height of the saddle, but it's not possible to adjust it back or forth. The riding position would be better for my daughter if we could move the seat back slightly, because of her leg length it has had to be slightly higher than she's comfortable with. This was something we didn't realise until we'd given it to her so it's worth checking a bike for this feature if your child has long legs. It's a very basic saddle, plastic with some sort of PVC type lilac cloth covering. My daughter hasn't complained about being uncomfortable on it, but then she's never ridden on it for a particularly long time.
Halford's place this bike in the 4-6 age range and I hope my daughter will get at least a couple of years out of it, although I'm not sure whether the tyres will last that well. The height guide is 105 - 117cm which overlaps with bikes in the lower and higher age ranges.
Although very pleased with her birthday present I have to say my daughter appears to like the idea of this bike more than the reality of riding it. It seemed very hard work for her to begin with. As I said, a trike would probably have been more suitable for a three year old, but she has got used to it and can now ride the length of our, flat, street, although she still sometimes likes a push to help her get going. On uneven ground she has had a few falls and has developed an increasing dislike of going downhill. As it's quite hilly round our way there's not a lot we can do about it, it's not easy for her to get regular practice on flat ground. She has only ridden this on tarmacked surfaces so far, as she is still very much a learner. Although her bike riding skills have improved a lot over the nine months since we bought this, she's still a bit wobbly. I think it was probably a bit too old for her to begin with, despite her height, I'd guess four would be a better starting age for it.
The Apollo Sweetpea hasn't had as much use as I thought it would have. Unsurprisingly it appears well maintained with just a few minor chips and scuffs. It looks just the job for a learner, but perhaps one who has had a little more experience with a three wheeler beforehand. It's reasonably priced, but the tyres do seem to go down easily. In comparison to other bikes on the market for girls in this age group, it looks like one of the better ones, but it's not perfect.