Hi there! Penny, Cycle Sprog’s admin support here. It feels funny to be this side of a blog post, I’m normally posting the blogs of others, not writing my own! However, we’ve recently been lucky enough to have been loaned a Black Mountain SKÖG for my 6-year-old stepdaughter, WP, to try, so it seems only fair that we let you know how she’s got on.
Disclosure: Please note Cycle Sprog are affiliates of Black Mountain, so if you do make a purchase after reading this review they may get a small commission.
I’ve been working with Karen and Cycle Sprog for almost six months now. Over this time, I have read many of her posts regarding getting kids on bikes and the pitfalls to try and avoid when purchasing a child’s bike. Some of the advice seems really obvious – the weight of a bike is important; don’t purchase a bike because it’s covered in cartoon characters they love; buy cheaper, buy twice, etc. But actually, we’ve been guilty of exactly this sort of thing!
When you head to the big bike retailer, especially if you have said child in tow, it’s very easy to go with the bike they seem to love, rather than considering if this is a bike they can ride until they grow out of it. If she likes it in the shop, why wouldn’t she like it out on the cycle paths, right? WPs first bike was bought for her by her Grandparents for her 4th birthday and she loved it! It only took her a couple of goes to gain some confidence and she was away.
She’d been fairly dismissive of a borrowed balance bike previously, so we went with stabilisers. She was brilliant on it, cycling at every opportunity, but she was guilty (as we all would be!) of using the stabilisers for balance, she wouldn’t even put her feet down when she stopped.
18 months later, the saddle had been raised as high as it would go, and it was time to think about getting her a bigger bike. We’d tried to remove the stabilisers some months earlier, but WP just couldn’t take to balancing and we decided not to push it and have her decide she didn’t want to ride the bike at all. Any new bike would need to have them too. This is when we made our bike purchasing mistakes! We took WP to a big bike retailer; she had a look at all those in her size range and had a pedal round the shop on a couple and she chose the one she liked best.
Looking back, this was based on it having woodland creatures all over it and it’s coming with stickers to personalise the bike. Who doesn’t love a sticker?! What we didn’t check was the weight. Yes, it was sturdy, but WP couldn’t manoeuvre it as easily as she could her first bike. The bike didn’t have stabilisers as standard, we purchased these separately and had them fitted, but it meant that they didn’t fit quite as well, and the bike was wobblier.
Whilst this could have worked in our favour, helping WP progress with her balancing skills, instead, the two things combined put her off completely and she went from a bike lover to being bike apathetic! She just wasn’t interested in using it.
Six months later and the wonderful Karen and all her knowledge on kid’s biking came into my life and so also into WPs. Karen patiently answered all my questions regarding how we might try and get WP back onto her bike, she also had some brilliant suggestions. How I wished I’d known about Cycle Sprog sooner!
WP meets the SKÖG
Karen very kindly offered the loan of the Black Mountain SKÖG. Whilst WP was almost too tall for it, we had a small (1 inch) window of opportunity for her to try it out, just to test the water and see if we could get her back on a bike. The 16″ SKÖG, along with the smaller 14″ PINTO and the new 18″ KAPEL and 20″ HUTTO, make up the Black Mountain Epok Series – bikes that grow with your child.
They start as balance bikes and come with a Power Pack which contains pedals and everything you need to convert it to a pedal bike, which you fit to the bike once your child is ready. If that isn’t clever enough, the frame can also be extended as your child grows, reducing the need to get a new bike as soon. This makes so much sense, both logically and economically!
I’d read all about the technical details of these bikes, where the name SKÖG came from and Black Mountain’s obsession with capital letters in a previous post published on Cycle Sprog so was excited to see what they were like in real life.
First off, the bike looks a like bike. Not a flower, cartoon, or woodland creature in sight. WP fell in love with the SKÖG the moment she saw it. After not having wanted to get on her bike at all, she jumped straight on it in the middle of Karen’s dining room and proceeded to bike up and down the kitchen and back into the hall (Karen is definitely a biking mum – she was fine with WP repeatedly whizzing past her trying the bike out in her house!).
Whilst the ‘fun’ in some bikes may have their place, WP was far more taken with how ‘cool’ it looked. She also corrected me if I called it a bike. It was a mountain bike!
She was very comfortable on the SKÖG, not missing the pedals or the stabilisers she’d been used to, and was keen to get out on it whenever she was with us. Being just 6.1kg, it was easy for her to manoeuvre, whilst being a stable, brilliantly built bike. We didn’t have the opportunity for her to do any ‘off-roading’, but the Kenda tyres would allow her to confidently enjoy more challenging terrain and to bike in wetter conditions. Unfortunately, she was soon just that little bit too big for it, her legs too long to get the speed up, but the Black Mountain SKÖG has definitely been a revelation for us and her. At £349 it’s more expensive than we’d previously spent on her bikes, but I can see how it’s money well spent, especially as the bike grows with your child. It’s definitely got us thinking about moving to the HUTTO, which will be the perfect size for her to progress with. She was just far less frustrated on the SKÖG than she had been on her previous bike, freer. Which is exactly how you should feel on your bike, right?!
Where to buy the Black Mountain Bikes
The Black Mountain Epok series is available exclusively through their website. The SKOG retails for £349.
UPDATE! FIND OUT HOW WP GOT ON WITH THE NEXT SIZE UP BIKE……..
If you want to find out how WP completed her journey from nervous balance biker to confident cyclist you can read the review of her time riding the Black Mountain HÜTTO here.
Disclosure: Cycle Sprog were not paid to write this article. We are however affiliates of Black Mountain, so if you make a purchase after clicking on some of the links on this page we may get a small commission. We only work with brands we believe create great products, and these arrangements help us to fund our website.
Some other posts you might enjoy;
- Black Mountain Bikes release new 18″ and 20″ wheel “growing” kids bikes
- Black Mountain Pinto and Skøg review – our first impressions
- Choosing the best balance bike for your child – 2019
- Black Friday Best kids 20″ wheel MTB’s for 5 and 6 year olds
- The best 16″ wheel bikes for 4 and 5 year olds – 2019
- Sprog Blog – our day watching the National Track Championships
- The best kids bikes
- Why you shouldn’t buy a really cheap kids bike