Features include a steel frame that is adjustable to 4 positions to grow with your child, an ergonomically designed parent handle that is adjustable and removeable, handlebars can be locked in a forward position and a double brake system and seat belt
This is a poorly designed and badly made item - much harder work to push than a buggy. My daughter still cannot reach the pedals and she is 2.5. The steering lock came loose soon after purchase which means she can cause it to veer all over the place, and now the handle attachment has broken. I have owned it for less than a year so I am going to try returning it to John Lewis.
When I look at a tricycle, I wonder why on earth anyone would want to remove one wheel and turn a toy that requires no skill or training to unleash its potential of sensation and fun into a machine designed to produce tears of frustration, grazed elbows and scabby knees, and hours of parental anguish. The explanation eludes me still. I mean, why stop there in our sadism? Let’s go one step further and remove two wheels; make it a common sight to see small children tumbling to the ground in parks, wiping shame from their eyes and blood from their foreheads as they attempt to master riding the unicycle without stabilisers. I ask you: why? The question sprang to my mind again recently because my daughter has just acquired a new tricycle. Not that you should assume that she had an old tricycle beforehand. She’s only 17 months old, you know. What do you think we are, made of money? Don’t forget, children have no notion of the monetary value of things, or at least that’s what they claim, and although this isn’t restricted solely to tricycles, you can be sure that they are covered in the deal. Once the decision to return home with a gift of any kind, tricycle or otherwise, has been made, only a fool would set off without expecting to be manipulated into parting with a tidy sum of money in order to quell the awkward questions about seat comfort, corner handling and top speed comparisons, especially when they are voiced mutely by a pair of beseeching, trusting eyes. But what’s that stupid expression about the exception that proves the rule? Oh yeah, that’s the one. This was an occasion that demanded no such senseless extravagance. The best tricycle turned out to be the second most expensive, or, if you prefer, and seeing as there were only three to choose from, the second cheapest; your preferred choice will enable me to assess your psychological profile and use it in any future legal proceedings you may become invol
ved in, so choose carefully. Fifty pounds. And those are the Irish kind so that probably makes about, ooh, I don’t know, what’s the exchange rate at the moment for the non-Euro-ists? It probably works out at around forty pounds sterling, although don’t base your holiday conversion cards on that. And for anyone who may be thinking that sounds a little steep for a small plastic toy, let me reassure you that you get your money’s worth, and more, the first time (and there will be many) that you see the indescribable emotion written upon those excited eyes, shiny cheeks and overjoyed smile, and the inevitable accompanying soundtrack of laughter, squeals, cheers and “Wheeeeee!”s. Oh yes. So you know the price and you know the verdict. Want to know some specifics on the set of wheels itself? No trouble at all. You’re all familiar with the basics of what a tricycle is, right? Three wheels set out in a triangular formation, joined together by various bars, a seat in the middle, two pedals to make the wheels go round, two handles to hold onto and steer? All agreed? Good. The Charton Baby Driver 2 conforms to these basic features but doesn’t limit itself to them. There is also a stylish yellow brake lever to the driver’s right. A roomy tipper skip at the back, if you will. And the most important accessory of all, without which no purchase would have taken place: the unpleasantly-named ‘parent pole’. This is not, as the name suggests, an instrument of torture for those parents who repeatedly fail to achieve maximum velocity on the hairpin bend at the top of the close. Far from it. It is a simple yet much loved saver of backs; a pole which slots effortlessly into the back of the tricycle and which allows an adult to push without having to bend or stoop. Indispensable for when your child (like mine) is still too small to pedal by themselves, and fairly handy for afterwards just for poking people w
ho get on your nerves. For the driver, then, comfort and performance are key. The seat is sturdy, contoured, with a high-ish back, providing much much much better support than the other models on offer. And the safety belt is very secure; they’ll have trouble falling off with that on. The brake lever is chunky and easy to grasp, and it gently but firmly brakes both the back wheels smoothly and progressively. The tipper skip at the back is bigger and more solid than those of its competitors, leaving plenty of room for collecting clover flowers (current favourite), pebbles, seashells and car keys that someone still hasn’t got around to moving to a higher drawer. Trivia: sometimes I put a bag of groceries in it when our promenade takes us round by the shop. The pedalling was tested for us in the shop by a volunteer from a small crowd of onlookers, and we have been assured that it is easy and ‘fun’. While we haven’t yet pushed the trike to test its top speed, it is capable of advancing at momentum enough to make trikeless heads turn and stare with envy. We are very excited at the prospect of future solo speed performances. My daughter is too little to pedal, and she’ll be damned if she’s going to start steering properly just to make life easier for us. Fortunately, the handlebar can be fixed in place by lowering a yellow plasticky thing at the front, which means that she can ride no-handed, one-handed, or she can push and pull on it like a mad thing, without it sending her hurtling into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Until she learns to do it herself, the parent pole allows the adult to imperceptibly lift the front wheel and turn the trike as and when needed. Oisy poisy. And high kerbs pose no problem either, because it’s very light and easy to tilt up and down, with no discomfort to the driver. And if you need still more proof of the level of thought that went into this design, then I’
m only too happy to oblige. You can take the trike apart and fit it into small spaces in the boot of your car! It means there’s no excuse for not taking the trike with you to the park, the beach and even on holiday (done ‘em all). And it’s so so easy. There’s a little metal thing that you push down while you slide the front part forwards and off in one effortless movement. And it’s this same mechanism that allows you to increase the size of the trike – three times - as your child grows, increasing its life span by, ooh, oodles. The age guide on the box says 12 months to 3 and a half years, so … there you go. The things that made this tricycle stand out from the cheaper model were its sturdiness and superior construction. Both were made from brightly coloured plastic, and both were light and easy to manoeuvre. But everything about the Baby Driver 2 looked better, stronger and safer, from the chunky wheels to the supportive seat. You couldn’t dismantle t’other, either, and there was no brake. And we didn’t get the dearest model because it simply didn’t correspond to our needs. For a start, instead of a parent pole, it had an unremovable pushchair / hovermower type handle on the back. I mean, would you, as an independent three year old, be happy to be seen pedalling up and down the road with a whacking great handle sticking out the back that the older, bigger, meaner kids could grab onto, slow you down, spin you around, push you the way you don’t want to go scarily fast and ultimately spoil your fun? I don’t think so. And instead of a tipper skip, there was a big bag at the back, which, admittedly, would be perfect for carrying home three or four bags of groceries, but, let’s face it, it’s a tricycle, a toy for the kids, and a big bag is no substitute for a tipper skip, now, is it? Of course not. And tut at whoever thought it might be. These days won’t las
t forever. Everyone tells me that, and so it’s probably true. So I’ll savour each moment of these glorious carefree tricycle years, knowing, even as I write this, that the time of the bicycle is approaching. May God have mercy on our souls.