I love a challenge.
Well, within reason. I don’t want to do something too strenuous or difficult – where’s the fun in failing?!
Still, I find it pretty difficult to turn down a challenge. Whether it’s my personality or some kind of macho thing inside me, saying no and turning away can be hard.
I was therefore well up for it when tricycle supremos SmarTrike got in touch to see if I was interested in taking part in their Big Stroller Swap challenge. This basically involved going about my day-to-day activities, but instead of using my normal pushchair method, the idea was to swap my usual set of wheels for one of their brand new 5-in-1 Explorer trikes which they were kind enough to send me.
Along with a handful of other bloggers, I’ve spent this week getting to grips with Baby L’s pimped-up ride as I put the trike through it’s paces. One of my daily ‘duties’ since becoming a stay-at-home dad is to walk our sausage dog, Dax. I therefore decided that my personal #SwapYourStroller challenge would be to take the dog and baby out for a stroll each day in order to see whether the SmarTrike was a viable alternative.
After five days of the challenge, I can categorically confirm that the SmarTrike 5-in-1 Explorer is more than a match for the pushchair / stroller! I’ve tested the trike on plenty of different terrains as part of my usual dog walking exploits, each time safely coming through the other end even when I didn’t think it was possible. Pavements, grass, gravel, woods and canal towpaths have all been defeated by the might of the trike – this is even with an excitable, little dog to ‘manage’.
Luckily, the weather has been pretty nice this week which has made the challenge even more fun and enjoyable. Baby L in particular has loved her new view of the world from the safety of the trike, whilst she has entertained herself for hours on end with the toy phone that comes with the Explorer – luckily she’s not been pulled over by the cops for being on the phone whilst driving.
So, without further do, here’s how Baby L, Dax, the SmarTrike and I got on this week as we swapped our stroller…
Our first trip with the SmarTrike saw us head up into the woods and do a loop back to our house in the afternoon. This involved going up and down various curbs, which I was surprised to find that the trike coped really well with. It also was surprisingly light to push and I managed pretty effortlessly at holding the dog’s lead whilst pushing the trike with one hand on the pavements.
The trike struggled a bit with getting into the woods as the pathway is made of loose stone – the back wheels were fine, but the front wheel turned in on itself a couple of times as it hit uneven ground, meaning that the stroller came to a sudden stop. However, once in the woods, the trike handled really well despite the path being bumpy and various tree-based obstacles in the way.
My best discovery was when I came up with an ingenious way of attaching the dog to the trike. No, I didn’t strap him into the trike, although I think he’d have probably enjoyed that. Instead, I unhooked the shopping bag at the back of the trike, which allowed me to hook on the dog’s lead. He happily trotted along next to the SmarTrike, whilst Baby L happily chuckled and attempted to grab him from her new front-facing, lower-to-the-ground position.
When the missus got back from work, we went out for another stroll so that the missus could see the trike in action. We headed up into the woods again, but this time went a different way in which we attempted to go up some steps. I recall seeing somewhere that the instructions said not to use the trike on steps, but what kind of challenge would it be if I didn’t push it to its limits?!
After a bit of struggling and an inverted front wheel, we got up the steps and had a nice walk through the woods. The missus made use of the storage bag attached to the the handle by filling it with poo bags (for the dog, not me) and hand sanitiser gel. Baby L was incredibly happy with her pre-bath stroll.
Distance covered: 3.1km
The second day of the challenge saw me take the sprog and dog on another afternoon walk. Today we mainly stuck to the pavements as we wandered around the roads surrounding our house. Where we live is quite hilly, but that didn’t affect the trike at all – in all honesty, it felt just the same as pushing a pushchair. If anything, the trike felt slightly lighter, which is a massive bonus when your thighs are burning from walking up hill.
Again, Baby L was more than happy in the trike. She enjoyed holding onto the toy phone that comes attached to the trike handlebars and often babbled happily as we walked. I can’t be sure, but I reckon she was trying to ring her mates to say how cool her new set of wheels were. The sun was out in force, so we made use of the extendible canopy which did a good job of shielding her from the sun whilst still allowing me to keep an eye on her.
Distance covered: 1.5km
As the weather was really nice and the missus was working from home, we decided to go out for a longer family walk just before tea time. This took us down through a residential area, across a field, down a gravelly path and on to the canal towpath. Quite a journey, but one that the SmarTrike coped really well with. I’d even figured out that when you’re on an uneven surface, if you push harder and faster, the front wheel was unlikely to turn in on itself – this also has the added benefit of making the little one giggle with excitement!
Our journey involved seeing some little, cute ducklings swim about on the canal, as well as running one of the trike’s wheels over some abandoned dog crap which wasn’t so cute. There’s a bit of a hill from the canal back up to our house, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to let the missus try out the trike’s capabilities on a steep incline. Clever, eh?!
Distance covered: 2.6km
Today’s exploits saw the baby, dog and I head back into the woods, then along a parallel road back to the house. I went into the woods via a different route, which meant that I avoided any steps and rocky inclines which I’m sure the SmarTrike would have thanked me for if it could talk.
The road we reached is basically made of loose stone with plenty of pot holes, so I wasn’t quite sure how the trike would manage – usually, I only do this route whilst babywearing, so I was hoping that my journey wouldn’t end in a broken tricycle! The trike just about managed the uneven surface, although it did look like Baby L was going to fall out on a couple of occasions – thankfully, the seat belt and safety bar ensured that she was safely secured within her new set of wheels.
During this trip out, Baby L put one hand on the handle bars and held the phone with her other for pretty much all of the journey. Very, very adorable..
Distance covered: 1.6km
Our final day of the challenge saw us once more take to the streets around our house as Dax went on his daily walk. This time we headed up to the local primary school and cut across to do a loop back to the house. Today’s trip was less sunny, but just as enjoyable. Baby L once more was engrossed in the phone, occasionally putting it down to attempt to grab plants as we walked passed.
Distance covered: 1.7km
I think it’s fair to say that the SmarTrike more than held its own during the #SwapYourStroller challenge, which ultimately means that it, and I, passed. Woop woop!
I was honestly really impressed with the trike – it not only was light and handled well, but it was more rigid than I expected. I also had no issues whatsoever with steering the trike with one hand, whilst holding the dog’s lead with the other. In fact, I found this easier than it has been with different pushchairs before.
Before the challenge, I guess I viewed the 5-in-1 Explorer as a kids toy, so I wasn’t quite sure how it would cope with day-to-day activities. Would it be a good replacement or was it just a gimmick? However, after using it for five days and covering more than 10km with it, I have been pleasantly surprised and believe that it is as good as a stroller when popping out to take the dog (and baby) for a walk.
Total distance covered: 10.5km
You can check out how the other bloggers have got on with their challenges by searching for the #SwapYourStroller on social media. A full review of the SmarTrike 5-in-1 Explorer Tricycle will follow in the upcoming weeks.
Have you got a trike? Have you ever swapped your pushchair for the trike when going to the shops, walking the dog or doing the school run?
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