Cleary Hedgehog

Cleary Hedgehog

No crazy graphics or clunky fenders, but rather pure biking goodness in a pint-size package. Why You Should Never Buy a 12″ Bike! (with a few exceptions)Designed and developed by a father in California, Cleary Bikes is a new line of kids bikes designed to meet the needs of the youngest riders. With great emphasis placed on weight and geometry, every aspect of Cleary Bikes is fine tuned to ensure proper stability and responsive handling throughout their line of bikes, which range from a 12″ balance bike to a 20″ pedal bike. Not yet having a bike to try out, a local reader was gracious enough to stop by to give us a chance to see their daughter’s new 16″ Cleary Bikes Hedgehog in action. After having a challenging time on her lower-end 12″ pedal bike, our reader set out to find a better bike for her daughter and soon came across Cleary Bikes. In addition to upgrading to a lighter-weight bike with kid-friendly geometry, she knew she needed a bike without the momentum-crushing, back pedal coaster brake, previously limiting her daughter’s progression.  One of the few 16″ without a coaster brake, she knew the Hedgehog was the perfect bike for her daughter.

Her daughter agreed. Within two days of having her bike, she happily and eagerly followed her mom on a nine-mile bike ride and begging for more upon completion. Quite the feat, especially since her previously record on her older bike was a long and painful two miles.

Cleary 3.5Working with her daughter, instead of against, our reader raved about the Hedgehog’s efficiency. From starting to stopping, the Hedgehog seemed to be in-sync with her daughter’s body as she easily leaned in and out of turns without much thought.  Even with the Hedgehog being slightly too big for her (done intentionally as the bike won’t get much use during the upcoming cold winter months), she was was much more comfortable on the Hedgehog than on the smallerand heavier 16″ Next Rocket (Walmart’s $50 16″ bike).  Unlike the Hedgehog, she was unable to start or stop the Next on her own.

Cleary 5

While only 3 lb. lighter, the difference in the geometry of the two bikes was a huge contributor to the Hedgehog’s performance. Compared to the Next, the Hedgehog’s longer wheelbase and flat handlebars creates a much lower-center of gravity for its riders, thereby increasing stability and maneuverability.

Cleary 2.5

The easy-pull hand brakes of the Cleary were also easily engaged by our tester. Having to reply solely on her hands (she refused to use a coaster brake after a bad experience with her 12″ bike), the brakes were quick and responsive, even when used at higher speeds.  Note of caution: kids should always be instructed to mainly use the brake on the back tire (generally the right hand brake) to stop and NOT just the front brake, which can cause a child to be thrown over the handlebars. The front brake, should only be used in conjunction with the back brake.

Cleary 6.5

A slim race-style saddle, an internally-routed brake cable, a solid three-piece crank and a threadless headset are just a few more of Cleary Bikes’ quality upgrades not typically found on kids bikes.

Cleary 7

 Compared to other bikes, the Hedgehog bikes offer the complete package of proper geometry, high quality and light weight without the cumbersome coaster brake. In addition, the extra-long seat posts (standard on all the bikes), allows for up to 5″ of seat height adjust.

Cleary 4.6

Lastly, although similar in may ways, the angled crank arms of the Cleary are intentionally used to allow for a wider, more athletic stance, which they found to be more stable.  During her short testing period, our tester rode both the Islabikes 14″ CNOC and the Cleary Hedgehog and performed equally well on both.

Cleary 1.5

Update: Since we published this review, we have had the chance to compare the Hedgehog to additional lightweight 16″ bikes and found the geometry of the Hedgehog to be too aggressive for the average rider.  When compared with the the WOOM3 and the Early Rider, the Cleary requires the rider to sit much more forward on the bike.  While good for really adventurous riders who plan on hitting trails, when given the choice, all of our riders preferred the bikes with the more upright body position.  When an upright position is paired with a lower-bottom bracket, allows kids to sit in a more natural position while still maintaining a low center-of-gravity on the bike.

WOOM3 compare2

Bottom Line: Pure biking goodness in a pint-size package, Cleary Bikes are the perfect single-speed bikes for aggressive young riders.  For the average rider, the geometry is not ideal.

Where to Purchase: The entire line of Cleary Bikes is currently available through their website.

      • aguilhon

        do you know how tall was the girl at the time ?

        • Sorry, I don’t. I’ll send a message to her mom to see what I can find out.

        • Dani

          Hi! This is my daughter in these pictures. At the time she was a little less than 40″ tall with a 17″ inseam.

          • aguilhon

            Thank you! this is perfect, my son is about this size. I think I’ll go for this bike. Any other things I should know about it that came up since this article was posted?

            • Dani

              This is really a very nice bike and very well made. I love that it doesn’t have a coaster brake, and my daughter has gone on several very long rides on it. The only complaint I have after owning it for a while is that I think the crank is too small. My daughter quickly maxes out on it and wishes she could go a little faster, and it (the crank) is smaller than most other 16″ bikes we’ve tried. It’s also a more aggressive riding position than most other bikes this size, which makes it great for adventurous riders (our 7-yr-old neighbor frequently asks to borrow it to jump a little ramp he has) but may be a challenge for more timid types. Hope that helps!

              • aguilhon

                yeah, I noticed on the pictures that the crank looks short, but I guess it’s better for beginners. Maybe it can be replaced later at the local bike store …

      • Vierka B.

        Hi Natalie,

        thank you for all the wonderful information you provide on your site.

        I found the Cleary Hedgehog on a 40% sale at a toy store (Mastermind) here in Canada, and that kind of swayed our decision making in its favor (otherwise I was kind of set on the Woom 3 for our 5 year old) but now another wrench has been thrown into it all – I also found a very used bike called B’TWIN 16″ HYPER HERO which to me looks like it could work well.

        So, since I know that you have researched many bikes, I wanted to ask if you have across this one and what your opinion would be.

        This used bikefor $40 is an older version of this one:, it does not have the chain guard but in other aspects it looks the same.

        Thank you!


      • I love Mastermind toys (well their online store) and 40% off, that’s a great deal! Between the two bikes, the Cleary is going to be easier to ride as the rider it positioned much lower on the bike than on the B’Twin. If you notice on the B’Twin, the seat and handlebars are farther apart from the wheels than on the Cleary. This positions the rider higher on the bike, which increases the center-or-gravity of the rider, making it harder to balance and negatively effecting the handling of the bike.

        • Vierka B.

          Thank you, Natalie! I really appreciate you looking into it. We have already assembled and tested the Cleary. Since we have another rider in waiting (a two year old) that will inherit the bike, plus the discount, we thought it would be a safer bet.
          Our 5 year old was comfortably riding on it in no time (well, within 15 min I guess, lol).

          • Glad to help and that the Cleary worked out. Hard to beat that discount.

      • Stacy B

        Hi there! Thanks so much for these reviews. My daughter has a 21.5 inch inseam and I’m wondering if this might be the bike for her. She is a newer rider and learning to pedal. She also has a younger sister who will be receiving the bike when she is done with it, so buying something a bit smaller that truly fits her before it is time to upgrade is fine with us. Would this one be a good fit for her? Or is there something else we should be looking at?

        • The Hedgehog is a great bike for more experienced and/or aggressive riders. If she is new to riding and does not eager to take on the world with her bike, I would consider another bike with a more relaxed geometry. The WOOM and Islabikes line are amazing, but pricey. A more affordable option is the ByK series. Take a look at those, and let me know if you have any other questions.

          • Stacy B

            Thanks so much for your response. Since her inseam is 21.5 inches, would we be looking at the Islabikes CNOC and the WOOM 3? It looks like the WOOM would give her another inch of seat height, but the CNOC is lighter in weight. Just wanted to be sure I’m looking at the correct models. I think the Islabikes Beinn small is too much bike for her (gears etc).

            • Yes, those are the right models. Both are great bikes, but are different. The Islabikes is lighter, but has a coaster brake. The WOOM is slightly heavier, but does have an option to remove the coaster brake. The WOOM also has a larger gear ratio, which allow your daughter to ride faster. The Islabikes won’t go as fast as the WOOM, but is plenty fast for the average rider. Both companies have amazing customer service and are very helpful, so I would call them both to get a better feel for what bike they would recommend. Islabikes can be reached at 503-954-2410 and WOOM at 512-695-9780.

      • Jessika Napua Akana-Palmer

        After draining my brain researching all the bikes on here, we ended up going with the hedgehog. She has been on Kinderbike Laufrad for a year, and takes stairs with it and speeds down big ramps, so a daredevil to begin with. She was always leaning over her bikes handelbars. She loves the positioning of the hedgehog. It is slightly big for my daughter 3. 5 years old (39 inch tall 17 inch inseam) so we changed to a straight seatpost which lowered it enough for her to use balls of feet, will pUT original seat post back on. The kinderbike had a handbrake so she easily took to using both handbrakes together, then Lenin to keep the bike steady when stopped.
        Yesterday, her first day on it she wasn’t able to tippy toe it to get it going fast enough to pick up her feet and pedal, but we had to run to keep up with when she was going. Today, her second day, she gets moving with her feet and takes off, and can glide while skipping her feet along so I can catch up hahahahha cause I am not a runner and can’t keep up lol! She also went down the steeper angled beach boardwalk ramp at full speed. She is going to give me a heart attack, but this bike is perfect for her!
        Thank you for providing all the info on this website!

        • Awesome, I’m glad she loves it! You make some great points about the Hedgehog, the geometry is pretty aggressive, but for some kids, it works great. Plus, I totally hear you about trying to keep up with the bike, it is fast and I am certainly not a runner either!

      • 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.

          • 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 ( 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.