Cleary Gecko 12″

Pedal Bike Review

The smallest and the best 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! Available with coaster brake or hand brakes.

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Product Specifications

MSRP: $250

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Seat Height: 15" - 19"

Weight: 13.0 lb.

Frame Material: Steel

Tire Size: 12"

Brakes: Dual Hand

Handlebar: Flat

Gain Ratio: 2.97

Wheelbase: 629

Available Online: Yes

Review

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.

Cleary Gecko learn to ride

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.

Cleary Gecko 12 bike

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.

Kids bike short reach brake levers

Comparisons

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.

Cleary Gecko vs. Byk and WOOM2

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.

1214-compare2

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.

Cleary Gecko seat post reverse

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.

Cleary Gecko Weights Compare

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.

Cleary Gecko gearing

Bottom Line

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!

Update

The Cleary Gecko now comes in two options – one with a coaster brake, and the other with hand brakes. The hand brake model is the bike we used for this review.

MSRP: $250

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: January 3, 2017

FTC Disclosure: Cleary Bikes provided a Gecko to help facilitate this review. No monetary compensation was provided and all opinions given are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  Two Wheeling Tots LLC is not an affiliate of Cleary Bikes.

  • Scott

    Hurray! I’ve been waiting for this review! Thanks. I was torn between this and the newly released Commencal Ramones 14 for my sons 3rd birthday. I think I’m going this direction based on your detailed review.

  • Gary

    We have a shorter 4 y.o. (40″ tall; 15″ inseam at 32lbs) who is eager to get his hands on a bike. We are considering the Cleary witht he lower seat post, but a bit worried about the aggressive body position. We are also looking at the 12″ Priority Start C/B. What has been others’ experience/recommendations? Other bikes to consider? Thanks!

    • I have not seen the Priority C/B, but I do know the body position is much more upright than the Gecko. It also has a coaster brake, which can be an issue for many kids, especially those graduating from a balance bike. The Priority is also much taller than the Gecko as it says it’s minimum inseam is 14.5″ and also states that kids can ride a bike with an seat 3″ to 3.5″ inches taller than their inseam. This is true when the bike is used with training wheels (which the Priority comes with), but not for balance bike graduates who need to be able to touch the ground to stop. So more than likely, he won’t be able to touch the ground on the Priority with a 15″ inseam, which is probably not safe or comfortable for him. So what to do? I would actually recommend the ByK E-250 as it has a more upright position than the Gecko and the minimum seat height is 15.7″, which will allow him to touch on both sides with most of his feet. It does, however, have a coaster brake.

  • Erin Donohue

    Hi! We are serious considering a cleary gecko for our 3 year 8 month old daughter for Christmas. She has been zooming around on her strider since she turned 2, and has been asking for a pedal bike for quite a while now! We know that she can without a doubt ride a pedal bike (and probably could have sometime ago), but we don’t want to hold her off anymore just because she is tiny. She is currently 27 lbs and has a 15.25 inch inseam. Her strider is set right at that height. We think we would like to go with a bike without a coaster brake….because she can be easily frustrated. Other than the cleary…what are our options? She tried a woom and can sit on it…but her toes just graze the ground. Given her slow growth we are worried it would just lead to frustration. Thoughts? Thanks! We LOVE your site!

    • Glad to help. The only other small pedal she would fit on is the ByK E250, but it does have a coaster than can’t be removed, so the only option I know of is the Cleary. It is a great bike for small kids. Actually, the Spawn Furi, http://spawncycles.com/bikes/spawn-cycles-furi, would be one to consider as well as it doesn’t have a coaster and is lightweight, but you would have to call to get their seat height info. It is also a 14″, like the WOOM3, so it will most likely be too big as well.

  • Jessika Napua Akana-Palmer

    Hi! I thought I posted, but didn’t sign in, so I guess not lol. Ok, my 3 year old has an almost 17 inch inseam and is 39 in tall and has been on a Kinderbike Laufrad for a year. Today she wanted to take it down stairs teehee. Would the cleary gecko last for a bit? I am looking for freewheel bikes fyi. So what are your suggestions?commencal, cleary, spawn? I really love the Spawn bikes, would she be able to get on a banshee or do you think a furi? Is she too small for a 16 inch? The Norco looks great (just sae someone post about it, can i get in the usa is the issue)The bike research is frazzling my brain!

    • Wow, that’s awesome. Good for her! With her inseam at almost 17″, you do have some options. She will probably outgrow the Gecko too soon, so unless you have a younger child who can inherit it, I would try for a bigger bike. A 16″ will probably be too big, but she would fit fine on a 14″. If you don’t want a freewheel, I would look at the WOOM2 (which you can change over to freewheel with their kit) or the Spawn Furi. Actually, according to their website, they list 16.5″ as the minimum inseam for the Banshee, which means she could fit BUT, that means she can reach the pedals while on the seat, but not the ground. Assuming she is used to stopping with her handbrake on the Kinderbike, she may not need her feet to stop, but she will probably be pretty uneasy about the bike as she can’t sit and run on it to get started. If she is adventurous and eager to ride a bike, the you could give the 16″ a try, but there is a risk that she will be turned off by the bikes size and her inability to get on/off and even start the bike every easily (or even of her own). As a result, I would probably lean towards the Furi as she will most likely be more comfortable with it. To be sure though, I would call Spawn to get their opinion.

      As for the Norco lines of bikes, they are available in the US and their new 2016 are certainly lighter than other brands, but their 12″, 14″ and 16″ all have coaster brakes.

      • Jessika Napua Akana-Palmer

        Thank you! I received a reply from spawn and they said that she might outgrow the Furi really soon too and will fit the banshee but not be able to be flat footed.Blah. at least the standover is 15 inch on banshee so maybe she can slide off easy? Today she was at 17 inch inseam exactly and eating like a horse. She did grow an inch in the last month. She is in the inbetween stage and I don’t want her overwhelmed, bit we do not have anyone to pass it on too.Even the Hedgehog is a bit big. Will have to re look at the woom. Thank you for your time!

        • Ugh, that in between stage is hard! Some adventurous kids, however, do just fine on larger bikes, so the Banshee could be an option is you think she is the eager, adventurous type. Since she is already familiar stopping with a hand brake, she might be fine once the bike gets going, but may need some help getting started, it all really depends on her personality.

  • Danielle

    I am leaning towards a cleary gecko for my 3 year old son. He is 38 in tall with a 15″ inseam. He will be graduating from a balance bike. How long do you think the gecko will last him? Are there any other longer lasting options available? Thank you!

    • The Gecko will probably last him about a year. The Gecko fits kids in 3T and 4T clothes just fine, but is a bit small for kids in size 5 clothes. If you want a bike that will provide more room for growth, I would look at the ByK E-250.

  • Jenny

    First off – GREAT informative site – THANK YOU!!! My son turns 3 end of Jan 2016 and he has been on a Strider balance bike for about 9m – he’s coasting and all he says he wants for Christmas is a bike with pedals – I’m not kidding. At any rate – I want to graduate him soon but not sure if it’s too early. I was going to invest in the Woom or the Isla but he needs to be a bit taller. He’s currently 37.5″ tall with an inseam of 13″. Would you recommend me waiting until his JAN 31st Bday to get the Woom or the Isla? Or get the Cleary Gecko for Christmas?
    Thanks so much!!

    • You’re welcome, I’m glad you stumbled upon us :). Ha! I love that your son is asking for a bike with pedals, love it. Smart little guy! With a 13″ inseam, that is a hard one. If he is really eager, kids his size have certainly mastered pedaling (well with mom and dad by their side to catch them since they can’t stop themselves), but that is pretty rare. The Cleary Gecko is an option, and if he is an adventurous kid, he will probably do great on the bike, but it is small, so he will outgrow it within a year or two, leaving you back to square one.

      Actually, had another thought, have you looked into the LittleBig? It is a convertible balance bike with 14″ air tires. The larger air tires in balance bike mode will certainly be a big improvement for him over the Strider, plus if that isn’t god enough for him, you could switch it over to a pedal bike. Okay, scratch that, the minimum seat height of the LittleBig in pedal mode is 20.5″, which is way too big for him.

      So in the end, if he is adventurous and you don’t mind buying another bike in the year to two years, I would go for the Gecko. If not, then I would wait until he is ready to fit onto the WOOM2.

      • Jenny

        Thank you so so much -! I think I will go ahead with the Gecko and then upgrade to a Woom2 when we need to…I hate to get him something too big right now and just have it sit there and he get frustrated 🙂 Thank you!!

        • You’re welcome, I hope he loves it!

  • I’m so thankful for all the time and effort you put into reviews. We are about to purchase a pedal bike for our soon to be 4 yr. old. She’s tall, 42″ and has an inseam of 17″. We’d like a bike for her to learn to ride and feel comfortable on. We’re drawn to cleary bikes but are having a hard time determining whether to go with the gecko or hedgehog. She’s very comfortable on her strider and is clearly a bit too tall for it. She’s been riding that for the past two years. We’ve tried her on a traditional pedal bike with training wheels, a friends, and she is more than frustrated, in part due to the coaster brake and the position in which she sits. She just cannot get it going or stay going. Can you help us determine what to get for her? We are moving to a very bike-able neighborhood and hope to enjoy many family bike adventures:) Thanks!

    • Right now, she will fit better on the Gecko, but she will likely outgrow it very quickly. It is only sightly bigger than the Strider, so she would have limited time on it. The Hedgehog would provide her plenty of time to grow into it, but the minimum seat height is 19″, which means she would have to stand on her tippy toes to stand over the bike. Since this is her first pedal bike, that will probably make her pretty uncomfortable since she is only used to using her feet to start and stop on the Strider. On the Hedgehog, she won’t be able to stop with her feet and will have to learn to use the handbrakes very quickly as that will be her only way to stop the bike. For a 4yo, that is a pretty big task, so I would probably go with the Gecko simply for safety reasons. Another option I would consider, would be the WOOM2 with a freewheel. It is much larger than the Gecko, but smaller than the Hedgehog. With the minimum seat at 16.7″ it will fit her perfectly from day one.

      • So I thought I would chime back in with some thoughts now that we gave it to her. She picked it up and after a little lesson on the brakes she tried it and the second try she was pedaling. It didn’t take her long to be able to pedal from the start and keep going. We were blown away and were so glad we went with a bike that did not have a coaster brake. She did back pedal quite a bit so a coaster would have been super frustrating. At 42″ she does seem a bit big for the bike especially since it’s only a bit bigger than her strider and her knees are almost hitting her elbows when pedaling. But because her little sister is tiny and will inherit it we are still glad we went with this one for her to get off on the right foot. A friend bought the hedgehog for their slightly shorter son and ended up needing to cut the seat post down. After seeing it in person it definitely would not have been a good option as I feel she would have been too timid to ride without being able to put her feet down. We will certainly be buying another bike for her next year but feel now that we will be able to better assess her needs and bike size. Thanks for helping us fit a bike to our daughter…she’s loving biking and her timidity has turned to enthusiastic riding.

        • Whoops we went with the gecko:)

          • Awesome, glad to hear. As you notice, not having a coaster brake as kids naturally pedal backwards when they are learning to pedal. Thanks for reporting back 🙂 Happy riding!

  • Prakash

    Thanks to your review, bought Cleary Gecko 12 for my kid ( 2.5 yrs, 36″ tall, 14″ inseam ). He already mastered Strider and within 10 minutes started riding this bike. This is the only bike that fits his height and also has freewheel and handbrake options.
    Only issue is, he is still short with shorter seat post and i had to hold him for starting/stopping. Overall satisfied with purchase and i can pass it on to my second kid. So worth the penny. Heres my kid riding his bike on first day

    https://www.facebook.com/shobana.prakash.3/videos/1040973245986539/

    • Wow, I love it, thanks for sharing! He is amazing at 2.5 years! I love the determination as well as the pure joy in his eyes :). Hope this is just the beginning of his life long love of biking!

  • Megarajan

    thanks for your detailed review .

    It helped me to zero in on the cleary gecko for my 2 year old with an inseam of 35 cms. Since I would be buying this from india and using it in india , Is it durable enough to last maybe 4 years till he outgrows it assuming the vehicle is not abused.
    I have another kid who can use this next to bring down the cost of investment for me but my worry is will it be durable enough to last years.

    • Yes, the bike is durable enough to last, but probably not big enough. The Gecko is a really small bike and most kids outgrow it within a year. Since kids grow really fast, there really isn’t a pedal bike that they can ride for four years, but higher-end bikes, such as the Cleary, are certainly built well enough to last for over 4 years.

  • Jessica

    Hi I am currently ttying to find a byk e 250 for my son, I can only find the pink and lilack colors in stock. Any idea where you can buy the byk e 250 in orange or blue?

    • It looks like they are out-of-stock at Cycle Force Group, the US Distributor for ByK Bikes, which means they will be sold out everywhere. Sorry!

  • Ryan

    14″ wheel typo in “quick look” at top

    • Good eye. Thanks so much for pointing that out, I really appreciate it!

  • Laura

    Looking for a pedal bike for my son who turns 4 in November. He’s about 37″ tall, 27 lbs, with a 14″ inseam. He LOVES to bike on his Yedoo TooToo balance bike (we average about 5mph when riding together!), and craves a bike with pedals. Looking at this site, I’m leaning towards the Cleary Gecko, but I’m wondering how much use he’d get out of it before outgrowing it. Do you think it’d be better to wait until spring and see if he’s grown enough for something bigger to start on, or do you think he’d be able to get some good use out of the Gecko this fall and then continue to fit it for a decent length of time?

    • If you live in a colder climate I would certainly hold off until Spring to see if he could fit on a larger bike. The Gecko is a great bike, but it is really small and he will outgrow it much quicker than a 14″, such as the Islabike CNOC 14 Small.

  • Seth

    Thanks for all the wonderful info on your site. I am trying to select a 1st pedal bike for my daughter, who will be 3 in February, and wondering if you could help me make a decision. She has a 13.5″ inseam, and is getting pretty good with a very small balance bike (Chicco Red Bullet). Right now I am torn between a Cleary Gecko 12 and a Byk e-250 14.

    I am leaning toward the e-250 for the 14″ tires – and I can add a freewheel later on my own. However, the Cleary Gecko might be easier for her to start riding immediately due to its slightly smaller size. Do you think one is easier than the other for small riders?

    My son learned on the same balance bike, and when he turned 3 I bought him a Hotrock 12. Unfortunately, it was too big a jump, and he wanted to stick to the balance bike until he was around 3.5 years old. I don’t want the same thing to happen again, where the new bike is too much to handle and sits for 6 months…

    • Based on our experience, I believe the ByK is actually an easier bike for kids to learn on as it has a more upright position. For really aggressive riders, the Gecko has been great, but for kids hesitant at all, the forward positioning of the bike has scared them off. Plus, the Chicco Red Bullet is REALLY upright compared to the Gecko, so I think she would be much more comfortable on the ByK, plus, as you said, it will last longer.

  • Suzanne

    Hi! I’m interested in buying a bike for my 2.5 year old. I would love to get the cleary gecko. Do you have any ideas wehre to buy one used? Thanks!! and Thanks for your awesome sight!

    • Kels

      That will be a challenge. I would suggest that you use apps that will send you alerts because if they come up, they will go fast. Get a craigslist app and set an alert for any city where you have friends who might pick one up for you. Set up a saved search on eBay with an alert. Post a wanted ad on pinkbike.com. Or, buy it new and know that you can resell it in about two minutes next year for a great price.

      • Great ideas, thanks for sharing!

    • I agree with Kels below. There really isn’t a great place online to look for used kid’s bikes. Packaging and shipping bikes is pretty expensive, used bikes online are always going to be limited.

  • Kels**

    Hi Natalie thanks for all your information. I have twin boys that we want to get bikes for as we moved out of apartments and into a house with space for them now. They haven’t riden a bike before and have just turned 4 yrs old. The smaller boy has a 13.5″ inseam and 37″ height (the taller is only .5 -1″ in additional to this). should I start them on a balance or go straight to a Woom 2 which seems to be available at the moment? Thanks for your advice!

    • It really depends on how fast you think they will pick up on riding. If you were to buy them the WOOM2 now, it make take them a while to learn how to ride and balance on it and by the time they master balancing, they may be too big for the bike. If you they are ambitious and athletic, they you could start them out on the WOOM2 and just remove the pedals while they learn to run and balance the bike. The downside is that they could outgrow the bike before they are ready to use it as a pedal bike. Considering balance bikes are generally a lot cheaper than a bike, my preference is to start there and then get a pedal bike that you know will fit them when they are ready.

      • Kels**

        Thanks I re read all your comments a few times and felt confident that your would suggest balance bikes and so I got some second hand striders (they are tiny!!) but went by their inseams of 13.5 and 14″. Then we’ll likely move to the BYK E250 when they are back in stock after may when they master the balance bikes. The boys are a little cautious in nature despite being confident on their scooters so think that will be a good match. Thanks for all of your advice and help – you do a great service to this confusing subject!

        • Thanks! Secondhand Strider are usually always a good bet as they are easy to come by and are don’t brake the bank 🙂

  • samsella

    Hi,I just posted the info below on one of your other pages but then just saw this and thought it might be a better option given he has only just turned 2? Would be so grateful for your opinion! He will have the Specialised 16″ bike waiting for him from his sister so we aren’t too concerned about him growing out of it quickly…Thank you for generously spending time to provide all this info – have been following you for years!

    “Hi, we have been a Specialised family from balance bikes all the way to 20 inch and the kids have done great on them. We are now living overseas and looking at the WOOM2 for our “just” turned 2 year old boy. He is the size of a 3 year old and has been riding his Specialized balance bike every day for the last 6 months and loves riding over small skate ramps and down driveways/over gutters and he is very confident and fast! He is a bit obsessed with riding and has been trying to climb onto and getting upset he can’t ride his sister’s 16 inch bike. My Husband really wants to buy him a pedal bike (WOOM2) and we both feel he is ready skill wise BUT he only turned 2 this month so we can’t help but wonder if it is the right thing to do??? Any advice would be very appreciated!”

    Thanks!

    • Glad to help and thanks for returning 🙂 First off, I LOVE the thought of your little guy happily cruising along on his balance bike, always fun to watch. For a bike, I would first make sure your little guy has an interest in moving up to a pedal bike. If he is pointing to and asking to ride a the Hotrock 16, then he might just be ready for a pedal bike. If he happily content on ripping it up on his balance bike, then I wouldn’t push him towards a pedal bike. Balance bikes are generally much easier for toddlers to manage and can be a lot more fun for them as they can easily go over jumps and curbs, which they won’t be able to do on a pedal bike for a while.

      If he is wanting to move up, the Cleary Gecko is probably going to be your best bet as it is the smallest pedal bike. In fact, yesterday I was teaching a smaller 3yo to ride on the Gecko and it was a much more comfortable fit for her than the 14″ pedal bikes we had. The one downside of the Gecko is that it is REALLY small. He will outgrow the it before he is ready to ride the Hotrock 16. As a result, unless he is very eager to pedal, I think it would be better to go with the WOOM2 in a couple months (when he is a little taller/older), which is still small, but will allow him to transition straight to the Hotrock.

      Hope that helps!

      • samsella

        Natalie thank you SO much for your reply- really appreciate your time and energy in sharing your knowledge! We do just love watching him ride around – still blows my mind. That is exactly what we are concerned about – he loves riding the balance bike so much – we don’t want to dampen that enthusiasm by putting him on a bike that will frustrate him by being the wrong size or with pedals too early. Would you consider the Islabike CNOC 14 a good compromise or will that be too big for him? They both have 15 inch minimum seat height but does the 14 inch wheel make a difference? Apparently if you order from the UK it comes with the freewheel option standard! His inseam is 15inches. Thank you again!

        • The CNOC 14 Small would be a good bike for him as the 14″ tires will provide more room for growth than the Cleary.

  • Lai Chau

    My son is turning 2 soon and I was wondering if you could put training wheels on the clearly gecko?

    • No, I don’t believe it is compatible with training wheels as it doesn’t have a mount for them.