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In November 2020, a new balance bike joined the cycling revolution – the Hornit Airo Balance Bike. Created by Hornit, an Exeter based company that has led the way in innovative cycling accessories for many years. Tom de Pelet, a former lawyer and Ironman wanted to create a quality balance bike that combined stylish design with great functionality.
We’ve got hold of a racy hot chilli red Hornit Airo to see what we thought of the new kid on the block.
If you want to find out why I rave about balance bikes over pedal bikes with stabilisers, check out my blog explaining the science here.
My first impression was a really positive one. Straight out of the box, the only thing you needed to do was to straighten the handlebars with the allen key provided. No fiddly fixing of multiple components together.
The other thing you notice immediately is how light the bike is. They’ve chosen a magnesium alloy to build the frame and forks from, which is super lightweight and won’t rust. Topped with aluminium wheel rims, this nudges the scales at just 2.95kg which is unheard of for a balance bike with air tyres! A light bike is a real bonus for a little rider. It’s also a lifesaver if you end up carrying it too!
One of the most important factors for me when assessing a balance bike is the seat height range. Too many balance bikes on the market have a very limited height range. This often means that your little one has to wait months to grow into it, or they grow out of it very quickly.
This bike has a seat height range of 15cm which is substantial and enough to suit a wide variety of ages and leg lengths. It fits children with an inside leg measurement of 31cm to approximately 46cm. So, it’s definitely suitable for a tall 18 month year old up to an average height 5 year old.
Talking of seats, the Hornit Airo has a comfortable moulded foam padded seat and I love the markings on the seat post. Really handy if some one else rides your bike and you need to reset the height.
It also highlights the minimum seat insertion point which is sometimes overlooked. This is essential for keeping the balance bike as safe a ride as possible.
Although we’re classing this bike as a 12″ wheel, it’s actually got 12.5″ wheels and slightly wider than average rubber tyres at a 2.25″ width. This gives the rider a little more stability and more traction.
With quality sealed bearings, and rust free aluminium rims, you’ve got wheels that spin and spin with very little resistance. A true sign of quality components!
The handlebars are an average width compared with other balance bikes on the market and it handles nicely through the turn. This bike doesn’t come with brakes or a steering limiter. But, most 2 – 3 year olds don’t have the fine motor control to move their hands to grip the brakes anyway! So even if brakes are on the bike, they aren’t physically able to use them.
The steering limiter, which is a safety mechanism found on some balance bikes, I don’t believe is entirely necessary.
When they first start out on a balance bike, they aren’t going fast so if they do twist the handlebars sharply and topple, it’s not a disaster! And they soon learn that turning the handlebars like this causes the bike to wobble or fall so they stop doing that pretty sharpish!
If they get used to a steering limiter on their first bike, when they progress to pedal bike without one, they aren’t used to suddenly having that range of movement. They then might over steer. By that stage, they will be riding at a faster speed and the consequences could be more serious. Having a steering limiter also makes the bike less maneuverable when turning.
This bike has grippy footrests and the shape has been contoured to provide enough surface area to fit most little feet. Yet they don’t jutt out too far and rub the inside leg of your rider as they stride along. These are a fab addition.
You won’t see them use the footrests to start with, but as they get more proficient, and are gliding along, it gives them a place to rest their feet while coasting. It’s also a useful benefit for the transition to a pedal bike as they get used to having their feet in the position for where the pedals will be.
The only downside is that the footrest does take a battering when the bike is dumped on the hard ground.
My tester Edith, is a tall 4 year old and wears size 5 -6 year old clothing so she’s definitely towards the top end of the bike’s range. We had her seat post set at 2 so she still had a little more seat height to go.
She enjoyed cruising on the bike, and had no problems with handling. She said the seat felt comfortable and she gave a ‘thumbs up’ to how the bike looked.
She could rest her feet on the footrests while gliding downhill and looked very comfortable on the bike. The handlebars don’t have any height adjustment but the geometry is good for a range of heights. You can see in the photo that she is quite comfortable in her reach and Edith is towards the top range of sizes for the bike.
The one thing you do need to be aware of is when the seat post is set right down, it does extend below the bike frame and has the potential to catch on uneven surfaces. You would only have it on this setting for a very young rider so they probably wouldn’t be travelling far or very fast at this stage anyway. But it’s definitely something to be aware of. Make sure that the riding surfaces are nice and smooth to start with.
I’ve given feedback to the company about this and suggested that they might look at the possibility of having two different interchangeable seat posts.
|Super lightweight at only 2.95kg||Foot rests will get a bit battered|
|High quality wheels with sealed bearings and air tyres||At the lowest seat setting, you must keep to smooth terrain.|
|Magnesium alloy forks and frames that won’t rust|
|Good seat height range of 29cm – 44cm|
|Easy to assemble|
|Good value for such a quality product|
|Footrests for gliding and a benefit for transitioning to a pedal bike.|
So, I have to say that I was very impressed with this new product. These are a really fabulous choice as the starting point for your toddler on the biking journey!
These bikes are currently being marketed at £119.00 which I think is great value for such a high quality balance bike that is so light and has air tyres.
I’m going to be buying a few of these bikes for my bike sessions in schools and pop up community biking sessions. So, if you live in the local Devon area, feel free to come and give them a test ride!
The current colours are Hot Chilli Red ridden by Edith, Hammer Yellow, Orca White and Candy Floss Pink although I have it good authority that they’ll be adding an exciting new colour to the range in April!
Whizz over to our shop if you want to snap one up now or get in contact with me here if you have any questions about the suitability of this balance bike for your rider.
We are so excited to say that we’re now stocking Globber Scooters in our store.
We’ve been testing out our demo models and are pretty impressed with the handling and functionality of them.
Founded in 2014 by experts with more than 20 years of experience in the riding & scooter industry, Globber has quickly established itself as a key player in the scooter market.
They produce the whole range of scooters for all ages but we’re only stocking those for toddlers and kids. Globber transforms the conventional scooter with its reliable, sleek and innovative design, and unmatched functionality. Globber encourages a fun and healthy lifestyle, while making everyday life a whole lot easier (and stylish)!
Globber scooters are available in over 73 countries worldwide and we’re thrilled to be able to offer them to you.
It’s a pushchair. It’s a ride-on. It’s a scooter. Get ready, steady, and ride!
The Globber Evo Comfort is a three-wheel scooter which has a split personality. You get three versatile uses in this product. It’s perfect for your kids from the ages of 15 months to 9+ years.
The Wishbone Mini Flip Racer has exactly the same top and handle bars as the original Mini Flip. It just has a different base.
The base with inline scooter wheels is replaced with a base similar to the Wishbone Flip. It has caster wheels that allow 360 degree spins and drifts.
Spinning is a great way to stimulate the vestibular system which is essential in helping your child maintain their posture, spacial orientiation and balance.
Kids can now have a full range of movement on this ride-on rather than the forwards and backwards movement of the inline wheels.
It’s recommended for toddlers from the ages of 12 months upwards.
We are so excited to be one of only a handfull of U.K. stockists of the lovingly crafted Solvej Baby & Toddler Swing.
The swings are designed and made by Thomas Mortimer (Sweden) and Jenny Etherington (New Zealand), you can spot the scandi feel to this gorgeous product. They travelled between Sweden and New Zealand for many years until settling in rural New Zealand in Jenny’s home village Matiere, a few months before their daughter Solvej (pronounced Sool-vay) was born.
Thomas, previously a cabinet maker and teacher, wanted to share the wonderful memories he had of swings in this own childhood with his young daughter, and designed the first Solvej Swing for their daughter in 1993.
Both are particularly passionate about design, and environmental and social responsibility, values imbued in every aspect of the business. Twenty-five years later production remains in Matiere, NZ. Their daughter Solvej, studying architecture, is now also continuing the family legacy in the business.
The big benefits of these Solvej Baby & Toddler swings are:
With stainless steel fittings and rot proof canvas, these swings can be set up both indoors or outdoors. Plus, you can have two different locations with screw eyes set up and move the swing easily between the two places.
These swings are brilliant for babies who can sit up unaided from around 6 months up to a maxiumum weight of 40kg/88lbs which could be 6 ,7 or 8 years old.
When your child gets a little older, you simply remove the leg divider and adjust the height of the swing. Your child can then get into the swing unaided by sliding the front bar up, slipping into the seat and off they go.
Swinging is a relaxing and soothing motion for any young child. It also helps with eye focus development. As they swing backwards and forwards, their eyes have to adjust to the changing depth of focus.
Swinging stimulates the inner ear (vestibular system) in a forward and backwards direction which is essential for building effective balance.
Use of a swing enhances co-ordination when the child gets a little older and can start to swing by themselves. You need to use arms and legs in a co-ordinated way to get the swing to start moving!
Develops core, arm and leg strength through the process of swinging.
We’re offering these Solvej Baby & Toddler Swings for sale at a fabulous introductory price of £145.95 (RRP £159.95) for the month of March so check them out in our store.
Got toddlers, pre-schoolers or primary aged kids in the house? Here’s our pick of some fabulous toys that promote open-ended play.
There’s quite a bit of evidence out there on the benefits of cutting back on the quantity of toys that are quite one-dimensional in terms of play benefits and investing in fewer quality toys that:
Develop curiosity, creativity and problem-solving.
Have an endless array of possibilities that can be extended as your child grows.
Are hands on which build motor skills and stimulate the senses with textures, sounds and colours.
If you’re keen to read more about the benefits of open-ended play, have a peak at this article published by Michigan State University
So, here’s some ideas to check out if you haven’t already got them in your toy family.
These are 3-D building tiles that stick together with magnets and can have hundreds of possibilities for play. This brand isn’t cheap but there are other brands out there on the market that do the same sort of thing and cost less.
Your toddler may just like picking them up and moving them from one place to another or your pre-schooler can start to explore shapes or colours.
Your primary aged kids might get more creative and build 3D structures like castles or garages for their vehicles.
We used to get this again and again from the Toy Library, our youngest son just loved it.
This beautiful wooden ramp is fabulous at developing hand eye coordination and investigating all things that roll.
The sound it makes isn’t going to ruin the ear drums either!
Wooden building blocks are a staple toy in any collection. They develop hand eye coordination, spatial awareness and boost creativity not to mention Maths skills.
For toddlers, a simple stacking activity is brilliant to build their fine motor skills or to introduce different shapes.
For older children, more complex structures can be created or Maths concepts such 3D shapes, sides, perimeter, area, angles and fractions can be re-inforced.
This is just a beautiful work of art as well as a wooden toy, one to have out on display as well as for play!
It’s a stacker, helping to develop hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. Or construction peices to be used to create bridges, tunnels, fencing or abstract art.
Endless possibilities with this one and you will never want to part with it. Trust me!
These 6 large stepping stones are incredibly versatile. Your toddler might just enjoy trying to stand on one stone and practicing simple balance as well as stimulating the foot with the tactile surface patterns.
Pre-schoolers and primary school children can create their own pathways with bigger and bigger gaps to develop balance, motor planning and coordination. Or stack them on each other to create different height blocks. Or use them in more complex obstacle courses with other components either indoors or outdoors.
They can be turned upside down too and make brilliant little imaginary boats.
Rainbow River Stones come with a handy booklet of 16 different set ups to get you started too. Check them out in our Store
While we’re on the topic of balance, which is a key skill in nearly all areas of your child’s development, you really can’t go wrong with a balance bike.
These bikes allow your child to build grip strength, large muscle strength and practice balancing from a very early age. Not to mention the fabulous coordination of alternate sides of the body which boosts brain connections.
The Ridgeback Scoot and Scoot XL Balance Bikes fit a child from the ages of 2 up to 7 years old. Check them out in our store
With one simple shape in a variety of colours, the possibilities for creation are endless from 2D flatties to 3D curved structures. Do remember to get the BIG size peices though as the SMALL size are just too small for toddlers to handle and you want to get a toy that will span a wide age range.
It also comes with an Ideas Booklet to start the imagination firing!
Check out the video below.
We were given some hand me down Bloks from a friend and they got plenty of action in our household. So many possibilities and a great size blok that fits all ages.
Ok, so these ones are plastic but that means they can be a great outdoor toy, hang out in the messy play area, or around bath time too!
Hope that’s helped give you a few ideas for the Christmas list this year.
Happy shopping and playing,
Strider Balance Bikes have been around for nearly 10 years now and STRIDER® is not the kinda company to rest on their ‘good thing’. They’re constantly refining their bikes to make them even more awesome based on technological changes and customer feedback.
Come the end of August 2018, a very exciting revolution in Balance Bikes will be available to buy. And it’s a game changer!!!
Introducing the Strider 14X Sport Balance Bike with Pedals! A tried and tested balance bike that can be transformed into your child’s first pedal bike with one unit added using just one bolt. This bike is perfect for your 3 – 7 year old that needs a slightly bigger framed balance bike.
Priced at RRP£180 with FREE SHIPPING, you’ve got two bikes in one with this innovative product. At the moment, the colours available are blue and green.
HAND OPERATED FRONT AND REAR BRAKES
14 INCH PNEUMATIC RUBBER TYRES
LIGHTWEIGHT STEEL FRAME OF 6.1kg (13.4lbs) AS BALANCE BIKE, 6.9kg(15lbs) WITH PEDALS
PADDED SEAT WITH HEIGHT RANGE OF 40-58cm (16″-23″) INSIDE LEG
EASY RIDE PEDAL KIT WITH CRANKS AND COVERED CHAIN
NARROWER PEDALS AND SHORTED CRANKS FOR EASIER PEDALLING
We’ve already got people on the waiting list to snap up the first few bikes when they hit the market at the end of August 2018.
Check out the Strider 14X Sport Balance Bike/Pedal product page now.
I’ll have a demo bike at my Balance Bike Circuit sessions so the kids can try before you buy.
Sadly we are no longer able to source these products for sale in the UK.
The Strider parent company, based in the USA, has changed their business structure and are now selling direct to the customer, rather than through dealers in the UK.
It’s disappointing that they have made this decision. We feel it means that you, our customers, won’t get the same level of customer service with this business model.
Please don’t panic though if you have bought any Strider Bike from us. The Warranties on all the products are still fully operational and we do have some spares in stock if you ever need them.