The Frog Tadpole was great for my little guy. It had all the real bike components on it you could ever hope for in a balance bike. It had proper lock-on grip handles, a Tektro brake lever with a real V-brake in the rear, a quick release seat for height adjustment, rubber tyres with tubes, and spoked wheels. Not to mention the fact that it was a welded alloy frame and fork.
Other little touches include a 1 1/8" headtube and press-fit headset with an alloy stem and alloy riser handlebars. The fork even has an offset in it. The cable guides, too, are neatly placed underneath the down (top?) tube and out of the way in case the inevitable crash happens.
The simple fact the seat can be adjusted backwards and forwards, allowing for reach adjustment was a nice touch. The seat itself is also soft and comfortable. The rubber tyres made it suitable to insert sealant to prevent punctures, so some 'off-road' meandering was possible. All in all it weighs about 4kg - plenty light enough for my 2 1/2 year old toddler son to be able to lift.
My son climbed on and I soon realised if I was to join him I was going to have to ride my bike alongside him, a fathers dream! I was taken aback by how quick he learnt to balance with little to no falling over, and he very quickly was zooming around quickly. The bike assisted with decent sized wheels and wide enough handlebars to maintain a steady balance.
My one concern is in terms of price. At R1,600 it seems to far exceed the price of most of its steel framed competitors that we have looked at. It's worth mentioning that most of these other options do not have the same quality components that the Frog Tadpole has nor are they as light as the alloy Tadpole. However, considering the time limit in which this kind of bike would be suitable for my toddler, price is a determining factor. There's only so long before a kid will outgrow a balance bike and want some pedals underneath their feet. The Tadpole is designed for children 2-4 years old.
More colour options would be great too and some careful thought into finishing touches, as we had a problem with the brake cable sticking out, so much so that it actually scratched his leg. This would possibly come down to who put the bike together, but it really is something that should be looked at.
All in all barring cost it really is an excellent user friendly bike for the little one. Included with it is a free 5 year warranty on the frame and forks and 2 years on all other parts.
Words: Matthew Martin