After years of waiting, a well-designed convertible balance bike is finally available. The cold fusion of the toddler bike world, creating a proper balance bike that seamlessly converts to a pedal bike has been attempted several times, but with poor results. Built with top-of-the-line components, the littlebig is a game changer as it is lightweight, well-made and performs great as a balance bike and as a beginning pedal bike. Designed and assembled in Ireland, every littlebig is inspected to ensure top-quality upon arrival. While not ideal for all kids, the littlebig is the great choice for parents of preschoolers or taller toddlers who don’t want to purchase a balance bike and a beginning 12″ or 14″ pedal bike.
littlebig as a Balance Bike
The littlebig really shines as a balance bike. Weighing in at 11.2 lb., it isn’t the lightest on the market, but it is packed with exemptional features, including dual hand brakes, wide and extra-cushioning 14″ tires and an internally routed brake cable. With a minimum seat height of 14″ as a small balance bike and 18″ as a larger balance bike, the bike fit kids in size 2T to size 5 clothes.
Similar in size to the Scoot XL (even in small bike mode), the littlebig is sized like a 14″ balance bike, not a 12″, making it too big for petite kids in 2T clothes and smaller. Compared to the Islabikes Rothan, which fits kids in 18-month clothes and up, the littlebig is significantly larger. The side-by-side pictures below show the littlebig in small balance bike mode.
For those in 3T and 4T clothes, the littlebig offers great handling and a comfortable, cushioning ride. While its 11.2 lb. weight is on the heavier side, the weight shouldn’t be an issue for kids tall enough to fit on the bike.
The bike itself was also designed to last for several years. Built to last,littlebig’s durable components will last through the balance and pedal bike years as well as through younger siblings.
littlebig as a Pedal Bike
The ability to convert to a pedal bike is littlebig’s standout feature. In pedal bike mode, the seat height range is 18.5 -21″, making it the perfect size for our 42″ tall, 4-year-old tester in 4T pants. Just shy of being able to stand over the seat with his feet flat on the ground, the bike would likely be too big as a beginning bike for smaller children. Already used to feel of the littlebig as a balance bike, children are likely to easily bike up pedaling. The lack of coaster brake, and having already learning how to stop with the hand brakes during balance bike mode, removes the hurdle of learning how to stop the bike.
With a max seat height of 21″, the littlebig does have its limitations in pedal bike mode as kids will likely outgrow the bike within a year. Although similar in size to smaller 16″ bikes (such as the Islabikes CNOC 16), the handlebars of the littlebig are significantly lower, limiting the lifespan of the pedal mode. The bike does come with a 1″ spacer above the stem that can be removed and placed below the stem to raise the handlebars, which helps. In the pictures above, you can see the spacer above the handlebars in the picture on the left and below in the pictures to the right.
As a pedal bike, the littlebig is geared higher than most 14″ bikes. With a 3.9 gain ratio, the littlebig takes more effort to pedal but travels faster with less spinning of the pedals than bikes with lower gain ratios. As a comparison, the lowest gain ratio we have found on a 16″ bike is 3.2 (Cleary Hedgehog) while a 4.5 is the highest (Dimensions 16).
Other notable components on the littlebig are easy-pull brake levers, a narrow q-factor and wider tires. The easy-pull brakes are easy for small hands to activate but are set up to European standards with the right hand activating the front tire and the left the back (the US standards are opposite). While this set-up is ideal for left-handed kids, it is not ideal for right-handers as it is safer and more efficient for their stronger hand to activate the rear brake. Upon request, however, littlebig will reverse the brake cables so the right brake can activate the rear tire brake.
Although it does have limitations, the real benefit of the littlebig pedal mode is that it prepares kids to advance to almost any 16″ pedal bike. Having mastered pedaling and hand brakes, they will likely be able to pick up and go on any 16″ bike, regardless of its geometry and brake set up, with a minimum seat height no great than 1.5″ great than their inseam.
Converting to From Mode to Mode
Switching from the small to large balance bike mode requires an allen wrench and less than 10 minutes. To reverse the frame, simply remove two allen bolts, rotate the rear portion of the bike and reattach with the same two bolts. The seat post and clamp will also have to be removed and flipped to the other end. For clarity, the bike is also clearly labeled “little bike” and “big bike”. The label on top designates the mode the bike is in. When changing balance bike modes, there is no need to adjust the brakes as the brake cable is internally routed through the frame.
Converting to a pedal bike takes more work, but can still be completed in about 15 to 20 minutes. To get started tip the bike upside down, unlatch the rear brake (done by hand) and remove the back tire. The rear tire setup is pretty basic, no fancy tools necessary. Then follow the steps as shown in the image below. First, slide on the provided non-quick-release seat collar. Our was a tight fit, so we added some bike grease to prevent scratching the bike. Littlebig assured us that this normally isn’t a problem, so not to worry if you don’t have grease. Next, insert the pedal system, adhere it to the frame with a bolt and then secure the seat collar. Once secure, wrap the chain around the chainring (front cog) but only around the rear axle of the rear tire. Slide the rear tire onto the frame and then wrap the chain around the rear cog. Tighten the rear axle, making sure the chain is tight and reattached the rear brake. If necessary, adjust the rear brake and raise the handlebars by swapping the placement of the spacer. More detailed instructions are provided with the bike.
Bottom Line: An excellent balance bike and starter pedal bike for taller toddlers or preschoolers in at least 2T clothes. Sized like a 14″ balance bike, the littlebig will likely last your child from ages 3 to 5 (or 6 depending on their size).
Where to Purchase: Littlebig bikes are currently only available directly through littlebig. Littlebig is located in Ireland, but they ship worldwide.