Cleary Hedgehog 16″

Pedal Bike Review

Pure biking goodness in a pint-sized package, Cleary Bikes are the perfect single-speed bikes for adventurous young riders. Super stable for added confidence for tackling jumps, curbs, etc.

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Product Specifications

MSRP: $335

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Seat Height: 19" - 26"

Weight: 16 lb.

Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy

Tire Size: 16"

Brakes: Dual Hand

Handlebar: Low

Gain Ratio: 2.88

Q Factor: 6"

Wheelbase: 708

Available Online: Yes

Review

No crazy graphics or cartoon faces, but rather pure biking goodness in a pint-sized package. With great emphasis placed on weight and geometry, the Cleary Hedgehog is fine tuned to ensure proper stability and responsive handling that had our testers exclaiming, “It’s perfect!”

2017 Hedgehog Updates

Updated for 2017, the Cleary Hedgehog now comes with an optional low-rise handlebar, versus the standard flat bar, and a reversible wheel to allow for two different gears.

Low-rise handlebar: Positions the riders in a more upright position which is better for beginning and more timid riders. Previous models had a flat handlebar (which is still available upon request).

Reversible wheel: Cleary’s clever reversible wheel allows the bike to have 2 gears – one high, one low – for use during different types of rides. The gears cannot be used at the same time and it requires the rear wheel to be reversed to change the gear. While not ideal for everyday switching, it greatly improves the longevity of the bike by allowing the child to learn on a lower gear and them move up to a higher gear once they are more comfortable on the bike.

Performance

The Hedgehog was a delight to watch children ride. The more our testers rode the Hedgehog, the more we liked it. With easy- to-use brakes, a lightweight frame, and a low basic gear, the Hedgehog provides a smooth and easy ride. The standard low gear (2.88 gain ratio) allows kids to get the pedals moving with little resistance and quickly gain speed.  For young riders, a low gain ratio makes the bike feel fast and allows them to quickly gain higher speeds which makes it easier to balance the bike.  Quickly gaining speed in a short distance can also make going down a curb or around a cone obstacle course much easier to tackle.

A low gain ratio, however, does limit the amount of speed the bike can gain. While this gearing is great around the neighborhood, our tester had to pedal very quickly to gain speed on long, flat bike trails and family rides. For those kids who may want a faster top speed offered by a higher gear, the Hedgehog is designed to allow parents to change the gearing of the bike (explained further in the gearing section below).

3 image collage of 5-year-old tester enjoying riding the Cleary Hedgehog 16" bike on paved and gravel flat trails.

While at first out tester struggled on the Hedgehog as he wanted to go faster, the more he rode the Hedgehog, the more his love for it grew. No too upright or aggressive, the Cleary is extremely stable, even at lower speeds, and our tester quickly gained confidence and began to try new tricks on the bike. From going down curbs (a first for him!) or zig-zagging down the bike trail, the Hedgehog provided the stability and confidence he needed to up his game.

5-year-old boy doing tricks on the Cleary Owl 16"

Size & Weight

The Hedgehog is a mid-size 16″ bike with a seat range of 19″ to 26″ and weighs 16 pounds. It was a perfect fit for our 5 and 6-year old testers in size 5T and 6 clothes. The Hedgehog is ideal for a child with a 19″ inseam who is learning to ride a pedal bike for the first time or for a child with a 17″ inseam who is already confident riding a pedal bike without training wheels.

Remember that for a child’s first pedal bike without training wheels, they need to be able to stop the bike with feet flat on the ground. This means the minimum seat height of the bike should not be greater than the child’s inseam. The Hedgehog does not come with training wheels and is not compatible with them. For kids with an inseam less than 17″ (or 19″ for first-time riders) the smaller 12″ Cleary Gecko would be a better fit.

Hedgehog is a Perfect Fit for Kids in Size 5T & 6 Clothes

3 image collage: 1) 6-year-old in size 6 clothing on the Hedgehog, 2) 5-year-old in size 5 clothing on the Hedgehoge, and 3-year-old in size 3 clothing on the Cleary Gecko 12"

Geometry & Q-factor (Bike Width)

The new low-rise handlebar creates a more upright position for the rider, which provides a more natural and relaxing ride for young riders. Compared to the WOOM3, the Hedgehog is not as upright, but is much less aggressive than other bikes, like the Early Rider Belter. Its mid-range position makes it very similar to most mid to high-end 16″ bikes.

The Hedgehog’s mid-range positioning – not too upright and not too aggressive – is best for most children riding 16″ bikes. Really timid and hesitant riders do better on upright bikes and more adventurous riders do better on a bike with an aggressive position. The mid-range is a good middle ground for most kids. The Hedgehog is slightly more upright than the Stampede Sprinter 16, which is designed for more adventurous, all-terrain basic riding.

Separating themselves from WOOM, Islabikes, and others, Cleary intentionally made their q-factor (width of the bike between pedals) slightly wider at 6″. Wanting to provide a narrow, yet wide base for a more athletic stance, the Hedgehog has angled crank arms, creating a q-factor an inch wider then the Islabikes CNOC. Still narrower than the average kid’s bike, the extra inch helps to provide more stability for tricks (curbs!), leaning turns, and all-around more adventurous riders.

Hedgehog’s Wider Pedals Provide More Stability for Adventurous Riding

Side by side comparison of the width between pedals for the Cleary Owl and the Islabikes CNOC. Cleary Bikes' angled cranks make for a slightly wider q-factor than Islabikes.

Gearing

The Cleary Hedgehog comes standard with a low gain ratio of 2.88, which is the lowest gain ratio on a 16″ bike that we’ve tested. With a lower gain ratio, a bike requires less effort to pedal, but the wheel travels a shorter distance with each pedal stroke (which is why low gears are better for hills, jumps and “tricks”). A bike with a high gain ratio is harder to start pedaling, but the wheel travels farther with each pedal stoke (which is why high gears are better for flat terrain).

With a gain ratio lower than WOOM, Islabikes, and Prevelo’s 16″ bikes, the Hedgehog allowed our tester to climb hills without stopping that he couldn’t on his other bikes. The low gear also allowed him to gain speed quicker when attempting jumps and dodging obstacles. As mentioned above, however, the low gain ratio did limit his overall speed on longer flat rides, which was frustrating for him at times.

3 images showing 5-year-old riding up hills on the Cleary Hedgehog.

To help parents and kids find the best of both worlds, Cleary’s new 2017 Hedgehog is designed to give parents the option of adding a second freewheel (“rear cog”) to the bike to allow for two different gain ratios.  Adding the second freewheel is completely optional as most riders will not have the need to change the gearing of the bike.  When a second freewheel is utilized, the Hedgehog is still a single-speed bike as the gearing is NOT changed like a traditional multi-speed bike with shifters. The gear is changed by reversing the rear tire and engaging the chain with the new freewheel.  The change is not meant to be done on the fly, but rather to give parents the option to set the bike to a higher gear before a flat ride or to a lower gear before a hilly ride. This “flippable” rear tire system is unique to Cleary and is not available with any other brand.

When adding the second gear to the Hedgehog, the standard freewheel, which plays a role in creating the 2.88 gain ratio, remains on one side of the rear axle and a second freewheel can be screwed into the other side of the rear axle. By flipping the rear tire, the gain ratio is changed by putting the new freewheel into use. The Hedgehog will accommodate a freewheel with 13 to 18 teeth, which would change the gain ratio to between 2.56 and 3.54 (the higher the number of teeth, the lower the gain ratio). As as comparison, the standard rear cog included with the bike is a 16T (T=teeth). If you need a lower gear for more aggressive, hilly rides, an 18T rear cog would be ideal, while a 13T would create a higher gear better for flat rides. Freewheels (rear cogs) cost around $9 (be sure to purchase a 3/32″ size).

Reversible Wheel Allows Hedgehog to be Used in Two Different Gears

Adding the second freewheel isn’t difficult, but properly adjusting the brakes and the chain tension after adding the new freewheel can be challenging to those not familiar with working on bikes. If you are not familiar with bikes, we would recommend having a bike shop add the rear freewheel to ensure your child’s brakes work properly after. Adding the second freewheel shouldn’t cost more than $20 as it will likely take a bike shop less than 10 minutes to complete.

When testing out the Hedgehog, we added a 15T freewheel to the rear tire, which changed the standard 2.88 gain ratio to a 3.07. While slight, the difference was noticeable by both myself and our tester. Although slight, the bike took more effort to get started, which our tester was not fond of, BUT he did enjoy being able to ride faster.

Brakes

Easy-pull, small-reach Tektro brake levers provide responsive braking for young riders. Our testers had no trouble reaching the brake levers and we had no issues adjusting them.

Hedgehog’s Small-Reach, Responsive, Dual Hand Brakes

Clearly Hedgehog's short reach brakes are easy to engage

Coming standard with front and rear hand brakes, the Cleary Hedgehog does not have a coaster brake, allowing kids to naturally pedal backwards when they lose their balance. *The low-rise handlebars on the demo bike we received was not painted, but will be painted blank standard.

Front and side view of Tektro v-brakes on Cleary Hedgehog 16" bike

Comparison

As mentioned previously, the Cleary Hedgehog has the lowest gain ratio out of all the mid to high-range 16″ bikes we’ve tested. The low gain ratio, combined with the bike’s stability, make the Hedgehog ideal for adventurous young riders looking to explore every curb, jump and puddle in the neighborhood. More timid riders, who simply want to ride and not necessarily jump, are likely to prefer the WOOM3. The Sprinter 16 is also a great bike suitable for basic tricks, but has a minimum seat height 2″ taller than the Cleary. The Hedgehog, however, is the ONLY bike to have a reversible tire to allow for a second gear option.

Bottom Line

The Hedgehog is an excellent 16″ bike for beginning to advanced riders. When used with the new, standard low-rise bar, it provides a comfortable and stable ride, helping kids at all levels to gain confidence on two wheels. With a seat height of 21″ to 26″, it’s best for beginning riders with an inseam of at least 21″ and experienced riders with an inseam of 19″ (to allow for several years of growth).

MSRP: $335

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: January 3, 2017

FTC Disclosure: No monetary compensation was provided for this review. Cleary Bikes provided a demo bike to facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC and should not be used or replicated in any way. Two Wheeling Tots is an affiliate of Cleary Bikes, Stampded Bikes, WOOMB Bikes and Amazon. All links included in this review are affiliate links.

  • John

    Hi: Great information and I really enjoy the reviews. A question: the Cleary website sells a riser bar for the Hedgehog, and I wonder if anyone has tried it out. I know it won’t change the frame geometry, but I wonder if it creates a meaningful change in riding stance and allows for a more relaxed ride without creating awkwardness.

    • We haven’t tried it, but it would certainly help the bike to be less aggressive than the flat stick handlebars. Several other 16″ bike have mid-rise bars such as the one offered by the Cleary and they do help to create a comfortable position for the riders. Really timid riders are better off on an higher risers, like those found on the WOOM or the Islabikes, but for the average rider, the low rise bar offered by Cleary are just fine.

    • Bryan

      My 4.5yo wanted his Hedgehog to come with us to Vail this summer for vacation. He’d just learned to ride it after his Ridgeback Skoot. I still had to give him a gentle push to keep speed while his feet found the pedals at the time. I was leery, but he insisted. Well, to me he was obviously too far forward. I corrected by turning the seatpost around temporarily to get the saddle forward. Then, I ordered that riser bar to come with us, and installed it there (you can throw a rock from anywhere and hit 3 bike shops). He was noticeably much better with steering at slow speeds and keeping an erect posture for pedaling uphill. It was a really fast transition to competent after that. BTW, I do wish they had a bit lower gear ratio on that bike though. I don’t know how it compares since I haven’t gone and counted cog and ring teeth on every bike out there, but any really steep hill will challenge a kid that doesn’t know how to get out of the saddle. I just hopped off my ride to jog along and give him a little pressure on the long Colorado village bike trail hills. He adores this bike, and after another month or so I might take him back to the flat bars.

      • Having just watch my son on the Hedgehog, I agree, it is pretty aggressive, (I need to update this review as a result) I can certainly see the riser bar helping, especially when learning. As for gearing, we actually calculated the gain ratio of 12 mid-to-high range 16″ bikes this summer (http://www.twowheelingtots.com/ultimate-16-inch-kids-bikes-comparison/) and found that the Cleary was by far the lowest geared of the lot.

        • Bryan

          That’s great research. Thanks for the link. He’s put a couple dozen miles on the bike this month and he’s already trying to jump off curbs and ride the dirt trails. The bike is holding up to all of that really well. Now that he’s getting some good leg muscles for pedaling he’s not having trouble with hills any more. The gearing does seem to be pretty good on this bike.

  • Colleen H

    Hi there. After lots of research last year on your site I bought my 4yo son a Cleary Gecko and this year he’s 5 and ready to move to a bigger bike. He loves the Gecko and is comfortable with the more aggressive geometry. We mostly do our bike riding on long paved trails and I’m wondering about the low gain ratio being an issue? We also have a long hill back up from the trail to our house and I’m guessing a better gain ratio would also come in handy there. I’d love to know your thoughts.Thanks!

    • The low gain ratio is really going to keep him spinning on long flat rides, but will certainly help him when riding uphill. I think something a geared a little higher, like the CNOC 16 at 3.55 versus 3.02, would be a good compromise. The CNOC is more upright than the Gecko, but not as much as others. You an see my 4yo on both bikes here: https://www.twowheelingtots.com/ultimate-16-inch-bike-comparison/

  • Divya Singh

    Hi Natalie,
    I am researching for a first pedal bike for my son who is turning 5 in June. He is tall for his age( 44 inches) and his inseam is 20 inches. He is currently riding 12 inches tykes bykes balance bike that he loves. He is a cautious rider to begin with but having said that he is very comfortable on his current balance bike though (he can easily balance on it and ride on slopes etc). He himself asked for a pedal bike now. I am looking for a bike that he will not outgrow soon. We live in NE and during winters we will not be using the bike much. I am leaning towards stampede 16″ and Cleary Hedgehog (but not sure they are the right options for us). I do not want coaster brakes in the bike and want the bike to be easy to ride (I want to make his first experience with pedal bikes as enjoyable and easy as possible. My son is not very athletic and tends to get tired easily). My aim is to be below $300 (but willing to go above if you have strong suggestions for a bike that will be particularly suit his needs). He will mostly be riding on paved areas and on grass in parks around here. Are any of the highly rated bikes (on your website) available on local stores, we would love to see and try a bike before buying? Thanks in advance!

    • Divya, sorry for my delay, I’ve been swamped. I see that you have already tried out some bikes, so I’ll comment above.

  • Divya Singh

    Hi Natalie, I would also like to add that my son is only 17 pounds! So heavy bikes will not be good option for him.

  • Divya Singh

    Sorry… I meant 17 Kilograms (37 pounds).

  • Divya

    Hi Natalie , yesterday we went to one of the local stores and tried out hedgehog. We found that 16″ bikes are bit small for him. He will grow out within 1 year. The cleary guys and the store as well both suggested 20″ for him. He tried cleary owl in the store too. That seemed a bit heavy and my son could only touch the ground on his tippytoes. Also, the space between seat and handle was huge and put him in a very aggressive position. I like that if we go with owl it will last him long but I am not sure how easy will it be him to ride considering it’s his first pedal bike. I am very confused. Any bike that fits him for his height is heavy for his weight. Islabike cnoc 20 is out of my budget. What is my next best option? Pello Reddi?

    • Divya, At 37 lbs. I agree that the Owl is probably going to be a big step up for him, plus as you noticed, it was a very aggressive position, which can be intimidating a child transitioning from a 12 balance bike. With a 20″ inseam and for under $300 (or close to it), the Pello Reddi would be a great first bike for him. If he could touch the ground with his tippy toes on the Owl, the ByK 450 would fit him as well as it’s minimum seat height is an inch less than the Owl. It is not as good as quality as the Pello, but it is cheaper. The Pello is also a more universal bike for dirt and trail, while the ByK has a skinnier tire that isn’t suitable for regular use on dirt trails.

      • Divya

        Thanks for the reply Natalie. Pello reddi is not available untill sept this year. Which woom bike will fit him?Any idea?

        • The WOOM3’s minimum seat height is 3″ less than the Cleary Owl, so it should fit him just fine 🙂