Kids Ride on Toys – Styles and History

Ride on toys and vehicles for kids have been popular for over a century. Although they have been around for many generations of kids, they became very popular in the first half of the nineteenth century. Classic riding toys include the pedal car and the bicycle. For children too young for a bicycle, wagons and tricycles provided plenty of entertainment. Besides being pure fun, ride on toys provide a way for children to get around the neighborhood and feel grown-up. The top five kids’ ride on vehicles and toys are the bicycle and tricycle, the wagon, the pedal car, the go kart, and the scooter.

The bicycle, and its cousin the tricycle for younger children, will always remain a popular choice. Chances are good that you remember the bicycle you owned as a child. Today, bicycles are available in nearly every style and color imaginable, from classic designs in bright primary colors to bicycles featuring popular kids’ characters. Bicycles first gained popularity towards the end of the nineteenth century, and have not decreased in popularity since then.

Unlike the other toys on this list, a child cannot climb onto a pull-along wagon and steer it while propelling themselves. Still, parents can pull their children around in this classic wheeled toy. The most well-known wagons are Radio Flyer, which became known for its red metal wagons in the 1930s.

Pedal cars were designed almost as early as the first automobiles, although they really became popular first in the 1930s, and later in the 1950s and 1960s when postwar prosperity meant that middle-class workers could afford to buy them for their own kids. Many of these 1950’s and 1960’s ride on toys were designed using the same elements found on the latest automobiles, like streamlined styling or even pedal cars designed to look just like miniature versions of the real thing.

Go karts for children range from the simple, which may be assembled in a parent’s garage, to elaborate contraptions purchased ready-made or assembled from a kit. Go kart racing is even a popular sport for kids. Because these karts are powered rather than pedaled, they can go much faster than any of the other toys on this list. Karts vary widely in speed, with top speeds anywhere from 15 to 100 miles per hour. They were first manufactured in the late 1950s, and caught on very quickly. At first, the engines were adapted from motorcycles, although today there are specialized go kart engines.

The scooter was very popular around the same time as pedal cars and classic “banana seat” bicycles, but in the past decade or so it has been reinvented for a new generation of children, with the lightweight and foldable “Razor” scooter. Scooters have even found an audience with a slightly older crowd who take them to skate parks.

The classic versions of all of these riding toys popular since at least the middle of the twentieth century were made of very sturdy materials, such as steel. Though these vintage toys often didn’t include all of the modern safety features, these toys typically lasted through several generations, unlike many of today’s plastic toys.

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