What is a Ride-on Toy?
Ride-on toys are any toys that can be ridden on by kids of all shapes and sizes. This includes ride-on cars, scooters, trikes, balance bikes, and even electric motorbikes.
Ride-on cars are the most popular type of ride-on toy. They are almost always designed to resemble some kind of real-life vehicle, but they are also often themed to look like animals or even objects from outer space.
Here's a list of the different types of ride-on cars:
- Battery electric (lead-acid battery).
- Petrol (normally go-karts or buggies and aimed at older children).
- Push along.
- Power wheels (brand).
Ride-on Motorbikes are also incredibly popular ride-on toys. Similar to ride-on cars, they are themed to look like real-life motorbikes.
Since ride-on motorbikes are designed for children, many of them come with removable stabilisers.
This allows them to ride the motorbike without assistance, but also allows the stabilisers to be put on when riding around with friends or family.
Once a child is confident enough, just like a normal bicycle, the stabilisers can be removed and they can ride the motorbike without difficulty.
If you want to know where the best places to cycle and skate are, then check this article out.
Ride-on Scooters are just as popular as ride-on cars and motorbikes. They usually consist of a board with two handles on either side of it.
To ride the scooter, kids place their feet on either side and use their arms to swing themselves forward. They come in either manual (without a battery or motor), or battery electric.
Ride-on Trikes are similar to ride-on motorbikes but will have three wheels.
The rider will straddle the area in between the two front wheels and use their feet to push themselves along or stop themselves.
These types of trikes are very popular with toddlers who are too young to use a scooter or push along.
Ride-on Balance Bikes
Balance bikes are a relatively new type of ride-on toy that is incredibly popular with toddlers and little kids.
They teach children how to balance before they go onto learning how to pedal a bicycle, but aren't often used after a child turns five years old - however, this does vary according to the child's skill level.
An unlicensed ride-on toy is one where no licenses exist for the toy. They are often created by big companies, especially popular in the motorcycle industry where there is no problem with creating licensed copies for kids because motorcycles are adult toys that can't be sold to children. However, this does vary according to the country's laws and how strictly they enforce them.
Also known as generic toys, these are ride-on models of famous branded toys which have not been endorsed by the company it tries to imitate.
This means that they might not share all of their features with their original design, so you should always check reviews before buying one online (or anywhere else).
Unlicensed toys will not carry any of the official badges and stickers that licensed ride-ons carry.
The terms "style" and "lookalike" are popular terms used by both manufacturers and retailers that refer to unlicensed toys.
Licensed Ride-on Toys
A licensed ride-on toy is one where licenses exist for the toy, so it has been endorsed by the real company that makes/created the original or similar real-life product in question or one of their partner companies.
These kinds of rides are generally higher in quality and more expensive than unlicensed toys because they've had extra money invested in them to make them look like the full-size version (not all do though).
These kinds of models also usually carry official badges and stickers on them stating that they are officially licensed.
The licenses are obtained by the factory that manufactures the toy and oftentimes multiple factories can hold a license to produce these.
It's also possible for retailers to purchase the license from the brand which gives them exclusivity in their country/countries.
Licensed Toys are usually much more popular with parents who want to make sure they're not buying their children cheap, low-quality products that might break or be dangerous for them to use.
These kinds of toys are also higher in quality because they've had extra money invested in them in order to make them look like the real thing.
The license will usually state how many molds a factory is allowed to create and sell as well as if they can manufacture new parts or accessories for it.
If you're wondering what accessories you can buy for your ride on toy, then check this article out.
The prices of licensed toys also vary depending on how large the brand is and what type of licensing was purchased from the company. However, this does mean that you can find some very affordable licensed ride-on toys too.
The vast majority of battery-electric toys are powered by lead-acid batteries, with the exception of some more recent designs using NiCd and NiMH batteries.
Lead-acid batteries are very cheap, but they suffer from short lives and significant weight.
NiCd and NiMH batteries offer increased performance (longer top speed and less battery sag), reduced weight (because they don't contain lead) and longer lifetimes than lead-acid equivalents - however, they are also much more expensive.
Charging can be done via a traditional AC wall charger, but can only be charged up to a certain point.
Unfortunately, if you overcharge a lead-acid battery, the battery will go bad and cannot be used again.
In order to recharge discharged batteries without overcharging them, a special kind of trickle charger is required.
In addition, more complex chargers are available that can automatically balance cells within a battery pack and vary their charging rate according to ambient temperature.
Battery electric ride on toys are supplied with different voltages from 6V, 12V, 24V to 36V. The voltage needed will depend on the age, weight and size of your child - in general, the higher the voltage, the faster the toy can go.
Check out our article - 6V vs 12V Ride On Toys - What’s The Difference?
Also 12-volt batteries are more common in ride-on toys because they provide much more charge than the 6-volt ones.
As for 24 and 36-volt batteries – they can be installed, but it's best if you only use them in ride-on toys that are not designed for them (because using them can damage or ruin your toy).
You may also find this article interesting - Can You Put a 24v Battery in a 12v Ride-on?
Charging time will vary from toy to toy, however in most cases you can expect them to fully recharge in 6-8 hours. If the battery has gone completely flat it will take longer than this to recharge.
This is why it's advisable not to leave your child unattended with their ride-on toy when charging because it may be another 2-3 hours before they are ready again.
There are some models which have much shorter charge times of just 3-4 hours which is worth looking out for if you need your toy back quickly.
The capacity—or Amp Hours (AH)—of a lead-acid battery indicates how much energy it can store at any one time, measured in amp-hours - It tells you what kind of life to expect from the battery before it needs to be recharged.
Batteries are classified as deep-cycle or shallow-cycle batteries. A deep-cycle battery may discharge up to 80 percent of its capacity, whereas a shallow-cycle battery can only tolerate 50%.
The first rating should always be more than your ride on toys actual requirement, as you never want to put all of its energy demands into play immediately; this would mean that if your toy's demand is 4 amps an hour, then you should look for a battery with a minimum capacity of 5 AH (amp hours) or larger.
High Capacity Lead Acid (LAH) Batteries
Some companies make high-capacity lead-acid batteries that have much higher energy storage than standard ones.
It's best if the battery is a sealed, maintenance-free AGM type as they can be mounted in almost any position and because no water is lost during usage and charging, so there will be no need to top them up with distilled or deionized water.
High-capacity lead-acid batteries are designed for deep discharge cycles and may not recharge properly if they're only used for short trips.
If you choose this option then it would probably be better to buy two smaller high-capacity batteries rather than one large one.
However, do bear in mind that it will take longer to re-charge multiple batteries compared to a single larger battery.
The life expectancy of a lead-acid battery will vary depending on how much the toy weighs and the eight of the rider. Also, it depends on how the toy is used and the quality of the charger used.
The power of electric motors is measured in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW), referred to as horsepower in North America.
The larger the motor the greater the speed and torque available, although this will reduce running time per battery charge.
Many battery electric ride on toys have the option of different features such as:
- Grippmoz tyres
- Soft EVA tyres
- Padded leather style seats
- Parental remote control units
- Light-up dashboard
- Opening bonnet or boot
- Transport Handle
- Adjustable steering
- Two or four-wheel drive
- One or Two Seats
- Built-in radio
- Functioning lights
- Emergency lights
- Emergency siren
- Functioning horn
- Start-up engine sounds
- Low/high-speed settings
- Key start or button start
- Opening doors
- Battery display
- Safety seat belts/harnesses
- USB Port
- 3.5mm Aux input port
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Smart LCD screen
When it comes to buying electric ride-on toys then the price will always play an important part in your decision.
The more you pay does not necessarily mean better quality, however, generally speaking, the cheaper models are lighter and use less powerful motors which allows them to run for longer on a single battery charge.
Also, they may not be as well built or robust so may not last as long compared with their more expensive counterparts.
Some of these budget models do have higher capacity batteries than those found on more expensive toys but this is often at the cost of battery life expectancy - some will only give 10-15 minutes running time whereas others can provide up to treble that!
There are an increasing number of ride-ons that now come in either a petrol/gas variant.
They are either go-karts or buggies. These are powered by an engine that is similar to a real car-style engine.
The most popular engines for this kind of ride-ons are the 2-stroke variety, which became very popular in the early 2000s.
They come in both petrol/gasoline variants as well as the more modern version using propane or butane with oil mixed into it. The latter typically offers better fuel economy and has fewer emissions.
There are also 4-stroke varieties available now too, however they are not as common because they are generally heavier & larger than their 2-cycle counterparts.
This can make them less attractive to children who want something that looks like "the real thing."
The largest retailers of kid's ride-on toys in the UK are RiiRoo (a small independent online retailer), Argos, Amazon, and Smyths Toys. There are other smaller retailers that also sell ride-ons and make up a smaller percentage of the overall market.