Kundo 16″ Smart Trail Review
Kundo 16″ Smart Trail
Review of the Kundo 16″ Smart Trail children’s bike
I’ve mentioned before that I try to integrate the different parts of my cycling life; in fact, that’s a big part of the “Do It All” project bike series and I often train with my little one in tow. I love my boy and, while I do sometimes enjoy getting away from it all on my bike, I’m typically just as happy, if not more so, to share my love of cycling with him…
That doesn’t always have to mean us riding together, though. Sometimes it means he rides on his own and I think he deserves a quality bike to ride just like the rest of us. In fact in some ways, when kids are little, a high quality, lightweight bike is even more important. He only weighs 37 pounds, so just a little bit of extra weight is a bigger percentage of his body weight and it can mean the difference between a fun, rewarding, successful experience and tears.
Anyone with kids though, knows how hard it is to buy high quality gear for them when they grow so fast. My wife and I have gone the route of balance bike then pedal bike, skipping training wheels completely. Teach them the balance first, be patient with the pedals and the transition can be easy and smooth. This adds another wrinkle to the bike buying process as you have to decide when to make the transition from a balance bike to a pedal bike.
He was riding a Skuut wooden balance bike, but it was getting near the end of its life. He hadn’t grown out of it, but because it’s poorly designed, it was starting to fall apart. I wanted to get him something new, but I didn’t want to buy another 12” balance bike that I knew he’d grow out of, both in terms of size and development before too long. I didn’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be something that could have the pedals added later.
I went looking for a metal bike, ideally with a hand brake because friction brakes are a tougher concept, that was lightweight and would grow with him. As it turns out, the market for a bike like this is essentially empty. The Kundo Smart Trail seems to stand alone. However, it’s tough to find in the US, although easy enough for those of you outside of the states.
My boy turned 3 last January and as I mentioned weighs 37lbs. I decided to take a risk and go with the 16” version of the Smart Trail. I liked having the hand brake on the rear wheel versus the front on the smaller frame version and I knew that a 16” wheel would grow with him better than a 12” wheel. He’s actually the perfect size for a 14” bike, but those are less common and Kundo doesn’t offer one. Since the Kundo is so light, with a seat that goes down pretty low, I thought he could handle it. Turns out, I was right.
The handlebars and stem are integrated, so you can’t tilt the bars at all and the bike is long for him, but he is fine on it despite looking a bit stretched out. He can reach the ground just fine and has no problem reaching the hand brake, manoeuvring the bike, or picking it up when it’s on the ground.
When you get the bike, it comes in a box and requires a bit of assembly, but don’t worry you won’t be spending hours assembling it. There are some things you’ll need to watch out for though. When I got the bike the rear wheel was out of true. It was fixable but does require either the know how to true a wheel on your own or a trip to a bike shop.
The other problem I noticed was the rear brake was only moving on one side. It’s a single pivot design and I had to actually do a bit of research to figure it out. The answer was bending the spring that provides tension. Take the brake apart and bend the spring so that it gives more tension then re-assemble. Alternatively, you could actually replace the whole brake assembly so that you get a metal lever, instead of the current plastic lever and a bit higher quality components on it.
I noticed that the mounting bolt has a ridiculous amount of washers stacked on the mounting post, so a new brake may also fix that. I got it to work just fine with a bit of work on the spring though, and decided not to pursue new hardware for now. I did verify that there was something available. It just needs extra wide reach in order to clear the tire and there are a couple of brands out there with something that may work. In fact, you could likely add an additional front brake if you wanted…
Those two repairs aside, the bike is really well made and seems to be of high quality. The mounting system for the pedals is particularly well designed. The crank is a self contained unit and is easy to add when appropriate.
Bottom line is that I didn’t find anything else with the features the Kundo Smart Trail has. The price is such that you wouldn’t be able to match it with both a balance bike and a good pedal bike. I did have to do some repairs to it right out of the box, but now that those have been done, my boy has a great bike that should grow with him for the next couple of years. I think it’s a good buy both in terms of value for what you get and performance.
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