What We Would Ride
The WOOM3 is our hands-down favorite bike for timid riders - it's lightweight, easy to ride, and even has color coded safety brake levers.
Seat Height: 18.8" - 23.8"
Weight: 13 lb.
Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy
Tire Size: 16"
Brakes: Dual Hand
Gain Ratio: 3.34
Q Factor: 5.25"
Available Online: Yes
If you are looking for a bike for a timid, beginning rider or simply want a bike that will essentially guarantee a good first riding experience, look no farther than the WOOM3. Amazingly built for child-specific needs, the WOOM3 is our top pick for timid riders. The WOOM3 is available in two models, the WOOM3 single-speed for $369 and the WOOM3 Automatix for $429 that has 2-speeds that automatically change when the child gains speed.
Perfectly designed for the beginner rider, the WOOM3 features upright positioning, a lightweight frame, a low bottom bracket (for a lower center of gravity), color coded safety brake levers, a narrow q-factor for minimal splay and a gentle turning limiter. Weighing a mere 13 lb. is much easier for children to handle than the common 20+ lb. bike, but its unique rider position on the bike make it significantly easier to ride than most 16″ bikes.
To learn to walk, kids learn to center their body weight over their hips. This position is very natural, which is why it is much easier for a child to learn to ride a scooter versus a bike. When designing the WOOM3, the frame and components of the bike were selected to allow a child’s weight to be centered on their hips, thereby making their bikes easier to balance and to learn to pedal. Bikes with a more aggressive, forward position are better for aggressive riders but can be daunting and difficult to balance for timid kids.
The WOOM3 is also narrower than most 16″ bikes, which allows kids to pedal straight down versus at an angle. Asking kids to walk with wide steps is awkward, just as asking them to pedal at an angle is. Built to address children’s kinesiology, many of the unnerving first impressions kids often feel on bikes won’t be experienced on the WOOM3.
Beyond just feeling good, the WOOM3 is also built safe. When learning to pedal, kids naturally pedal backwards. When losing their balance on a bike, adults instinctively pedal backwards as well. Most adult bikes don’t have coaster brakes (back pedal brakes) so it generally isn’t a problem, but most kids bike do have a coaster brake. As a result, upon pedaling backward to regain their balance, coaster brakes quickly and unexpectedly stop the bike, which usually leads to a crash.
Determined to address the needs of children, the WOOM3 does not have a coaster brake, but rather easy-pull, dual-hands brakes. One of the problems with dual handbrakes, however, is the potential for kids too quickly with the front brake, causing then to fly over the handlebars (endo). While rare on 16″ bikes, learning to brake with their rear brake will prevent future accidents. To facilitate proper technique, the right-hand brake lever, which is attached to the rear brake in the US, is green to help kids to remember to brake with that brake first. Its corresponding brake pad on the rear brake is also green.
To make pedaling easier from a standstill, the WOOM3 is also geared lower than most 16″ bikes. With a 3.34 gain ratio, the bike is easy to pedal, but requires kids to pedal fast to gain a lot of speed. The prevent kids from steering too sharply, the WOOM3 has a removable, elastic turning limiter than gently corrects oversteering to prevent jack-knifing.
To compensate for the low gain ration and allow more advanced riders to gain faster speed, WOOM has introduced the WOOM3 Automatix model. With a 2-speed internally geared rear hub, the Automatix hub automatically (no shifters needed) shifts from a low gear (3.34 gain ratio) to a high gear (4.54 gain ratio) when the child reaches about 7mph. The higher gear allows kids to gain more distance with every pedal, which allows them to ride faster with less spinning of the pedals.
Having tested out both models, the WOOM3 Automatix was much preferred on longer rides. The higher gear allowed our 4-year-old to ride faster and longer with less effort. The Automatix hub also automatically downshifts at lower speeds, which came in handy when riding up hills.
The SRAM Automatix hub is located on the rear tire and while bigger, it does not increase the width (q-factor) of the bike, but does increase the overall weight of the bike to 14 lb. as raises the price to $429. Like the WOOM3, the Automatix is available in red, purple, green and blue, but production of the Automatix is limited and various colors are likely to sell out throughout the year.
WOOM3 vs. Islabikes
The bike most comparable to the WOOM3 is the Islabikes CNOC 16. It is also lightweight at 13.2 lb. but has a longer wheelbase, lower handlebars as well as a coaster brake.
While still an amazing bike, we found the WOOM3 to be preferred my more timid testers, while the Islabikes was better suited for hesitant riders who will likely graduate to more advanced riding.
Bottom Line: The WOOM3 is our hands-down favorite bike for timid riders. Lightweight, easy to ride, and with color coded safety brake levers it is sure to be loved by parents and kids alike. The WOOM3 Automatix is a great option for any beginning rider with longer bike rides in their future.
By: Natalie Martins
Last Updated: January 30, 2017
FTC Disclosure: No monetary compensation was provided for this review. All opinions are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is an affiliate of WOOM Bikes USA and Amazon. A demo WOOM3 was provided by WOOM Bikes USA to help facilitate this review.