The Skuut is one of the first wooden balance bikes that was released for the American market and is fairly popular if you look at its Amazon ratings. Made from birchwood harvested from a replenishable source, the Skuut is a very eco-friendly bike. Add to the fact that the company works with Trees for the Future to ensure that a new tree is planted for every Skuut bike purchased, this design is a great choice from an environmental point of view. But does the bike live up to standards when it comes to quality and ridability? Well, to form an unbiased opinion we obviously had to test it out.
When the box arrived, I immediately felt a weight difference compared to some of the smaller Strider and Earlyrider products. At 10lbs, the Skuut is definitely not one of the lightest models out there, which could be a concern with younger toddlers, who might have more trouble controlling a heavier bike. But to be fair, you can’t exactly call the Skuut a heavy bike either, it falls more in the mid-spectrum as you do get bikes that are 11lbs and up. It is marked for children of 2 to 5 years, after all, and not for toddlers younger than 2.
When I took it out of its box, it struck me what an attractive bike the Skuut actually is, making use of the natural beauty of the wood and its grain. If you like the look of wooden toys, you will love this design. I also like the fact that it is gender-neutral, making it suitable for boys and girls.
The bike arrives partially assembled, which means that you only need to attach the seat and handlebars, an easy enough task. However, adjusting the seat height proved to be a bit of a pain. Although the bike ships with tools, adjusting the seat took me around 8 minutes, which is longer than what I am used to on other bikes. The issue lies with the fact that the two bolts that hold the seat have to be removed first before you can raise or lower the height and then reattach it to the frame. It took a couple of tries to rethread the bolts through the nuts.
At the lowest seat setting, my 26 month old daughter just managed to fit on the bike, making it a bit on the high side for a young two year old. Apparently you can flip the frame by moving the saddle and the fork to the other side to make it a bit lower. I also measured the bike against my 5 year old nephew and he was definitely too big for the bike. Although the description says the bike is suited for a child of 2-5 years old, I would rather estimate it to be more suitable for a 2.5 to 4.5 year old. I guess it all depends on the child. According to the manufacturers, the seat can be adjusted from around 13.5 inches to 16.5 inches high, so be sure to measure your child’s inseam if his age is close to either side of the spectrum.
My other concern when unboxing the bike is the pin that is used to connect the frame and the fork. This pin is only supported by 1/2 inch plywood, which in my opinion is a bit risky. Knowing how rough children could be, I am not very confident that this pin will last in the long run.
I guess I am just a bit used to the smoothness of metal bikes, but when my daughter got onto the Skuut for the first time, the wheels seemed a bit wobbly. They work fine, but there was a definitive difference compared to the Strider we tested previously. But the fat boy pneumatic tires made up for the wobbliness – these tires provide way better cushioning than your EVA foam tires. The wider size of the wheel also makes the bike a bit more stable and the fact that there are no spokes for little feet or shoelaces to get caught in is a big plus in my books. The saddle is also from wood, which is covered by some thin padding as well as fabric and although my daughter didn’t complain, I can imagine that this can become a bit uncomfortable on long rides. The bike has a steer limiter, which prevents the bike from swerving or jacknifing and basically limiting these types of accidents. My daughter is by now a more experienced rider, so she doesn’t really need the limiter, but it really helps to keep the bike in better control, especially for a beginner. If your child has to step over to a larger bike soon, I would however recommend getting a bike without a steering limiter to allow for a smoother transition.
The greatest issue I have with the Skuut is its durability, but it is a concern I have with wooden bikes in general. Wood is just so much more vulnerable to the elements than metal. Even the manufacturers warn that the Skuut will require ongoing maintenance as the bolts tend to loosen with time. The company recommends that you check the bolts before every ride. A Skuut bike can also not be stored outside or left in the rain as the wood, though protected by a lacquer finish, may rot or warp. Examining the bike after my daughter’s first couple of rides on it, I could see that the frame was already scratched, damaging the lacquer and increasing the bike’s chances of getting water damage.
I have also read some very negative reviews where users who bought the bike complained that the bike was falling apart within the first year and that it is not that easy to find parts for it or to get it repaired. One family even sent the bike back within 30 days because they found that the bike was becoming unsafe. Looking at the construction I do think it should at least last longer and on the flipside of the coin there are people who have reported that the bike has been in the family for years. I guess it all comes down to how you maintain and look after this bike, but given the material, the Skuut would be more suitable for families with only one child. I don’t think the Skuut will make a good hand-me-down. When compared to other wooden balance bikes and balance bikes in general, I would say that the Skuut fares a bit better in durability than the Smart Gear, but doesn’t come close to the marine-grade wood of the more expensive Early Riders.
Pros & Cons
Diggin Active Skuut Pros
- Sustainable, eco-friendly design
- Company actively replenishes wood used
- Fat pneumatic tires allow for a smoother ride
- Mid-sized bike, adjustable to grow with the child
- Gender-neutral look
- Steering limiter prevents accidents
- Generally safe design, no spokes
Diggin Active Skuut Cons
- Pin possible weak spot in the design
- Bolts loosen all the time and need to be checked daily
- Seat not that easy to adjust
- Not as durable as a metal bike
- Lacquered frame is easily scratched
From a green perspective, I would certainly recommend the Skuut and thanks to its sturdiness your little one should have a lot of fun with it. However, if you are looking for something durable that will last for years to come, I would rather opt for a metal bike such as the Strider ST-4.