A well-built, thoughtfully designed 12″ bike is hard to come by. With limited space for cranks and pedals and with tiny legs to maneuver them, most 12″ bikes are poorly designed, hard to ride and are generally a waste of time. As a result, we never recommended 12″ pedal bikes, until now. For the smallest of riders, who are eager to ride, the Cleary Gecko is their knight in shining armor. When used with the optional shorter seat post, the Gecko has a minimum seat height of 15″ (the smallest on the market, as far as we know) and allows kids in as small as 3T clothes, to simply hop on and pedal away.
Having only used a balance bike for a day, our four-year-old tester demonstrated just how easy it is to learn to ride on the Gecko. After battling his cheap 12″ bike with training wheels for months, he eager jumped on the Gecko, and after a few pushes from his older brother, simply rode away. Within a few weeks, he was eagerly and confidently jumping curbs without second thought. As a testament to the Gecko, it took him a good week or so, before he could ride his old bike without training wheels.
Weighing at a mere 15 lb., the Gecko is truly light and nimble, making it a great first pedal bike for the youngest of toddlers. The optional freewheel (no coaster brake) is also a huge benefit for toddlers as kids naturally tend to pedal backwards when learning to pedal. During his first attempt to pedal (not on the Gecko), our three-year-old balance bike pro quickly became frustrated by the unanticipated stops when accidentally pedaling backwards. As a result, he refused to try to ride again. With some reassurance, his second time around was much more successful. With the Gecko’s freewheel option (no coaster brake) he soon felt comfortable pedaling again, but is still hesitant to ride on his own.
The easy to use brakes of the Gecko is another well-received toddler-friendly feature. While other brakes are challenging for toddlers to activate, the Gecko’s are easy to reach and require little effort to activate.
Compared to other higher-end pedal bikes, the size of the Cleary is certainly unique. With most companies choosing to make a 14″ bike, rather than a 12″, the Cleary is our top pick for the smallest riders. Although the Gecko comes standard with a seat post that creates a 18.5″ minimum seat height, a shorter seat height, with a range of 15″-20″, can be swapped out free of charge (when purchased through Cleary). The Gecko is also available with a coaster brake option directly from Cleary, while the WOOM2 requires the buyer to purchase and swap out the rear tire with a new one, in order to inactivate the coaster brake.
One of the most notable difference between the bikes, however, is the type of handlebars they use. While others use a riser bar, or “U”-shaped bar, the Cleary uses a flat bar, which creates a more aggressive body position. For eager riders who love to go over jumps, hit the single-track or cruise the pump track, the aggressive geometry is beneficial, but may be too much for timid riders.
For those timid riders, the seat post of the Cleary can also be reversed to allow for a more upright body position. By doing so, however, the rider is placed directly over the cranks, making pedaling slightly more difficult and less efficient. For less aggressive riders, the Cleary also sells a riser handlebar, but it is almost three inches wider than the standard flat bar and is therefore not recommended for young riders.
Compared to others, the Gecko is also slightly heavier, but not significantly. Our three-year-old testers, weighing in at 32 lb., had no problems with the 15 lb. Gecko.
The last major difference is the the size of the chainring and the crank arm. Being shorter and smaller, the Gecko is required to have a shorter crank arm (to keep the pedals from hitting the ground when turning), but also has a smaller chainring. Compared the the WOOM2, the Gecko’s is significantly smaller, while it is only slightly smaller than the ByK’s. The smaller chainring of the Gecko makes it easier to start to pedal, but in turn, does not allow the child to pedal as fast.
The smallest and the greatest 12″ bike on the market. Too small for most preschoolers in size 5 clothes and up, the Gecko is best suited for young balance bike graduates who are ready to ride!
Where to Purchase
The Gecko is available at Cleary Bikes.