So what are trikes?
A trike (also known as a tricycle) is a three-wheeled bike. They are usually associated with the small three-wheeled vehicles used by pre-school age children. Another way of classifying tricycles is by looking at whether they are for adults or kids. Adult trikes tend to have pull lever brakes and gears like a traditional bike whereas kids trikes typically do not unless they are the larger models for older kids.
Kids trikes enable a child to learn to ride a bike easily before making the transition to 2 wheel bikes. These days trikes are used by kids as young as 18 months but these will be the very basic models and will probably have a push bar/pole at the back.
Things to look for when buying trikes for kids
When buying trikes for kids, there are a few things you need to look out for. It should have a good wide wheel base to discourage tipping when in use. This is particularly so for the bigger trikes that are low off the ground.
Because of the location of the pedals , you need to be sure that your child's legs will be long enough to reach them and again this is more of a factor on the larger trikes for kids. Look for kids trikes that have an easily adjustable seat particularly if more than one child will be using it. A good back rest can help with this too.
There are some very high quality trikes for kids that are really built to last because of the inbuilt features. They follow you child from the initial stage of not been able to pedal to full independent riding. The concept is very simple. Parents use the rear extended handle to push along young ones that can't yet pedal and then when they can, you simply remove it. You will see you child evolve from riding a stroller to a fully fledged independent tricycle. The best one I've seen has to be the Kettler Kettrike Air Navigator Trike. Sturdy, high quality and it even converts to a tandem so you can have up to 4 riders using it! Trikesforkids.com have a nice range of trikes.
For safety you should probably get your little one to wear a helmet when riding a trike. Some parents also attach a safety flag to the trike so that the child will be more visible to drivers and some trike models now come with this.
Children's trikes are made of steel frames or carbon fibre. Steel frames mean the bike will be far heavier but the advantage is that the bike will last longer. The minus side of this is that steel can rust if left in the rain in which case you may prefer one made of carbon fibre.
A good quality trike will have air tyres for wheels for better performance, road gripping traction and responsive maneuvering. They offer better traction but the downside may be that you will have to monitor the air levels, punctures etc. The alternative is pneumatic tyres which are more solid but wont absorb shocks as well as air tires.
Pull brakes tend not to be used on kids trikes so your child will have to stop them by resisting the pedal movement which shouldn't be a problem for them. It's the bigger trikes that have a braking system.
When I was younger I dont think I ever had a trike - I learnt to rude by using my Sister's 2 wheeler bike. It was a bit big for me but I managed.
Anyway good luck with buying toys for your kids this Christmas or anytime for that matter whether you decide to buy a trike or anything else.