Cleary Hedgehog Review

Pure biking goodness in a pint-size package, the Cleary Hedgehog 16 inch bike is the perfect single-speed bike for aggressive young riders. Super stable for tackling jumps, curbs, and all-terrain, this little bike is ideal for young kids who seek out adventure on two wheels.

With a durable steel frame, the Hedgehog is slightly heavier than other 16 inch bikes in its price range, but it’s also insanely durable. If you have a kid that’s hard on their bike, or you want a bike that can last through 3 or 4 kids, the Cleary Hedgehog was built to last the long haul. Read our review below to see if it’s the right 16 inch bike for your family.

3 year old riding Cleary Hedgehog on a dirt path through the forest

Cleary Hedgehog Overview

RATING: Exceptional

MSRP$390

BEST FOR: Confident kids who want to adventure through the neighborhood

SEAT HEIGHT: 20.25″ – 24.5″ (can be lowered to 17.5″ with optional seat post)

WEIGHT: 17.3 lb. (with pedals)

GEARS: Single Speed

ADDITIONAL SPECS

BRAKE: Dual Hand Brake, no Coaster
WHEELBASE: 708 mm
GAIN RATIO: 3.1

PROS:

  • Steel frame is very durable and absorbs more vibrations for a smoother ride
  • Lightweight at just 17.3 pounds
  • Easy-pull, small reach brake levers
  • No coaster brake
  • Gain ratio is customizable with purchase of optional rear cogs
  • Flip-flop rear hub enables two freewheels – gain ratios ranging from 3.8 to 2.76 (comes as 3.1)
  • Very stable base (slightly wider pedals) an advantage for aggressive riders doing tricks

CONS:

  • Saddle isn’t quick release – requires allen key to adjust height
  • Lower top speed than most 16″ bikes

Cleary Hedgehog 16 Video Review

Want to see the Hedgehog in action with our Baby Bike Tester? Check out our video review right here!

Cleary Hedgehog Review – Results of Our Test Rides

No crazy graphics or cartoon faces, but rather a purely perfect bike for adventurous young riders. With great emphasis placed on keeping the bike light weight with kid-friendly geometry, the Cleary Hedgehog is fine-tuned to ensure proper stability and responsive handling. In fact, it had our testers exclaiming, “It’s perfect!”

Young girl riding Cleary Hedgehog down ramp at skatepark

Performance

The Hedgehog is a delight to watch our kid testers 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 (3.1 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, up a ramp, or around a cone obstacle course much easier to tackle.

Child riding Cleary Hedgehog up dirt trail

A low gain ratio, however, does limit the amount of speed the bike can gain. While this gearing is great around the neighborhood and at the skatepark, 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).

The Cleary is also extremely stable, even at lower speeds as our riders quickly gained confidence and were able to try new tricks on the bike. From going down curbs or zig-zagging down the bike trail, the Hedgehog provided the stability and confidence kids need to up their game.

Young girl riding Cleary Hedgehog 16 inch bike while standing up on the pedals.

Sizing – One of the Smallest 16″ Bikes

The Hedgehog is a small 16″ bike with a seat range of 17.5″ to 24.5″ and weighs 17.3 pounds. IMPORTANT NOTE: To achieve the 17.5″ minimum seat height, you must buy a shorter 160mm or 190 mm seat post at purchase. Otherwise, the minimum seat height is 20.25″.

With the shorter seat post, the Hedgehog was a great fit for our 3 year old tester in 4T clothes. As an experienced rider who is 41.5″ tall and has an inseam of 17.75″, the seat height is set to 19.5″. The Hedgehog is a comfortable and natural fit for her. She could technically ride the Hedgehog with the longer seat post (set to 20.25″), but had difficulty starting the bike, and staying upright after stopping on an incline.

3-Year-Old, 41.5″ Tall, 4T Clothes

3 year old riding Cleary Hedgehog and turning around a corner

For parents who are looking for a small 16″ bike for young or short riders, the Cleary Hedgehog and the Prevelo Alpha Two are your smallest options. The Hedgehog’s minimum seat height is 17.5″ (with the purchase of the shorter seat post), while the Alpha Two’s minimum seat height is 17″ (no additional purchase required).

Take a look at our shorter 3-year-old tester on the Hedgehog and the Alpha Two. She is in 3T clothes, 38″ tall and has an inseam of 16.25″. The seat of both bikes is set to 18″.

3-Year-Old, 38″ Tall, 3T Clothes

Side by side comparison of small rider on Cleary Hedgehog and Prevelo 16 inch bikes

Both bikes are a great fit for her and offer plenty of room for growth. On the Alpha Two she does have to stretch out a bit more, but either bike is a solid fit.

Also remember that the Prevelo’s minimum seat height is 17″ vs. the Hedgehog’s 17.5″. So while the Prevelo is is a little smaller on the low end, the Hedgehog will offer a bit more growth on the high end.

If this is your 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 16″, the smaller 12″ Cleary Gecko would be a better fit. For taller, experienced riders with an inseam greater than 19″, the larger 20 inch Cleary Owl would be a better choice. You can find step by step instructions on how to find the right bike for your child in our Kids Bike Sizes Guide.

Semi-Aggressive Geometry for Adventurous Riders

With Cleary Bikes’ 2021 update of the Hedgehog, a child’s body position changed slightly on the bike. While still leaned forward in a semi-aggressive positioning, it’s a little more upright than previous models. With a shorter stem and low-rise handlebars, a child now doesn’t need to lean forward quite so much to reach the handlebars.

We prefer this new, slightly more upright position which is more natural and relaxing for young, confident riders. The Hedgehog’s mid-range positioning – not too upright and not too aggressive – is particularly awesome for adventurous kids riding 16″ bikes.

It allows them to lean in to get speed or tackle pump tracks and ramps, and to shift their weight in and out of turns. It also makes the Hedgehog a great candidate for a beginning 16 inch mountain bike, especially if you upgrade to the Crown Gem wide tires offered by Cleary.

Compared to other “aggressive” 16 inch bikes like the Prevelo Alpha Two, the Hedgehog is a little more upright, but the difference in body positioning is minimal. This is in part due to the Cleary’s slightly higher handlebars in comparison to the Prevelo as seen below.

Cleary Hedgehog Body Position vs. Prevelo

Side by side comparison of the Hedgehog and Prevelo 16 inch bikes

Traditional “neighborhood” bikes like the Guardian 16 or woom 3 have high-rise handlebars which keep a child more upright. Timid and hesitant riders do better on upright bikes like these. Below you can see how the higher handlebars of the woom 3 affect the body position of our tester.

Cleary Hedgehog vs. woom 3’s Higher Handelbars

Side by side body position comparison of 3 year old on Cleary Hedgehog and woom 3

Slightly Wider Q-factor (Bike Width) – more stable base for tricks

The q-factor of the bike is the width between the pedals. A narrow q-factor allows kids to pedal straight down, increasing the comfort and efficiency of pedaling.

Unlike other high-end kids bikes like woom, Islabikes, and others who aim for a super narrow q-factor, Cleary intentionally made their q-factor slightly wider at 6″. While still narrow compared to cheap budget bikes, it’s wider than other boutique brands.

The Hedgehog achieves this with angled crank arms. This narrow, yet wide base creates a more athletic stance 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.

Tektro Dual Hand 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.

Brake lever and brake pads on Cleary Hedgehog

Coming standard with front and rear hand brakes, the Cleary Hedgehog does not have a coaster brake! This is a huge bonus and allows kids to naturally pedal backwards when they lose their balance. It also makes it much easier for kids to set the pedals in “start” position.

Gearing – What Comes Standard and Options for Changing

Standard Gearing – Low Gain Ratio

The Cleary Hedgehog comes standard with a low gain ratio of 3.1, 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”).

Riding Cleary Hedgehog Uphill

A bike with a high gain ratio is harder to start pedaling, but the wheel travels farther with each pedal stroke (which is why high gears are better for flat terrain).

With a gain ratio lower than WOOM and Prevelo’s 16″ bikes, the Hedgehog allowed our testers to climb hills without stopping that they couldn’t on other bikes. The low gear also allowed them to gain speed quicker when attempting jumps and dodging obstacles.

As mentioned above, however, the low gain ratio did limit overall speed on long flat rides, which can be frustrating, especially when trying to keep up with older siblings.

Optional Lower and Higher Gearing for the Hedgehog

To help parents and kids customize their riding experience, replacement freewheel cogs can be purchased to raise or lower the bike’s standard gain ratio from 3.1.

While the Hedgehog’s standard gain ratio is achieved with a 16t freewheel cog, the rear freewheel cog can be replaced with a different one with fewer or more teeth to change the gain ratio to as low as 2.76 or as high as 3.83. (For reference, the woom 3 and Prevelo Alpha 2 both have gain ratios of 3.8.)

How Different Freewheel Cog Sizes Affect Gearing

The ideal gain ratio for your child will depend on the terrain and elevation changes you’ll be riding. It may also change as your child gets older and stronger.

The higher number of teeth on the freewheel cog, the lower the gain ratio on the bike. The lower number of teeth, the higher the gain ratio. Therefore 13t to 15t freewheels will raise the gain ratio and the 17t and 18t freewheels will lower the gain ratio on the Cleary Hedgehog.

Lowering the Gain Ratio:  Adding the 17t or 18t freewheel cog would decrease the standard 3.1 gain ration to 2.93 with the 17t or 2.76 with the 18t.  Remember, the lower the gain ratio, the easier it is to climb hills but the lower the top speed of the bike. We would only recommend lowering the gain ratio if you plan on riding a lot of hills.

Raising the Gain Ratio:  Adding a 13t to 15t freewheel cog will raise the standard 3.1 gain ratio. With the 13t freewheel the gain ratio would be raised to 3.83, with the 14t it would be 3.55 and 3.31 with the 15t. Raising the gain ratio will make it more challenging to pedal uphill, but also increases the top speed of the bike.   For the average child who wants a little extra speed on their Hedgehog, we would recommend the 13t or 14t.

Flip Flop Hub Can Offer Two Different Gain Ratios

Cleary’s flip flop hub gives parents the option of adding a second freewheel cog (“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 swap the gearing of the bike from ride to ride.

When a second freewheel cog is utilized, the Hedgehog is still a single-speed bike – 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 changed the gain ratio as kids get older, or to set the bike to a higher gear before a flat ride or to a lower gear before a hilly ride. This “flippable” rear wheel system is unique to Cleary Bikes and is not available with any other brand.

Reversible Wheel Allows Hedgehog to be Used in Two Different Gears

Rear hub of the Cleary Hedgehog, showing the process for changing freewheel cogs

The Hedgehog does not come with a second freewheel cog, but the can be purchased directly from Cleary for $22.  The right side of the hub can accommodate freewheels with 16 to 18t (standard thread), while the left side of the hub accommodates freewheels with 13 to 15t (metric thread). Be sure to take into account that the Hedgehog comes standard with a 16t freewheel (16t = 16 teeth) which creates its standard 3.1 gain ratio.

How to Use the Flip Flop Hub

To add the second freewheel you will need to first remove the rear tire.  Once removed, the second freewheel cog can then be screwed onto the opposite side of the rear hub.  The standard freewheel does not need to be removed!  To engage the new freewheel, simply reverse the rear wheel (remove it, flip it 180 degrees and then replace) to engage the new freewheel with the chain.

Adding the second freewheel isn’t difficult, but properly adjusting the brakes and the chain tension after adding the new freewheel can be challenging for those not familiar with working on bikes. If you are not comfortable with basic bike maintenance, you should have a bike shop do this for you.

When testing out the Hedgehog, we added a 15T freewheel to the rear wheel, which changed the standard 3.1 gain ratio to a 3.31. While slight, the difference was noticeable to both myself and our tester. The bike took more effort to get started, which this tester was not fond of, but they did enjoy being able to ride faster.

Aesthetic Details of the Cleary Hedgehog

While looks certainly aren’t the first thing that matter when buying a bike, a beautiful paint job and other aesthetically-pleasing details don’t hurt!

Cleary Hedgehog matte frame, internally routed brake cable, and vegan leather saddle

The matte paint on the Cleary Hedgehog is a modern detail hard to find on kids bikes. Offered in army green, deep red, navy blue, and fuschia, these little ponies are just gorgeous. We especially appreciate that so many of the colors are gender-neutral so they can easily be passed down from one sibling to another.

The embossed logo vegan leather saddle and internally routed brake cable are two additional details that give the Hedgehog an air of sophistication.

Comparison – Cleary Hedgehog vs. Others

Cleary Hedgehog: This 16″ bike has the lowest gain ratio out of all the mid to high-range 16 inch 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 hill in the neighborhood. While heavier than other bikes, its steel frame is incredibly durable.

Prevelo Alpha Two: Coming standard with a higher gain ratio, all-terrain tires, and a more lightweight frame, the Alpha Two is a great starter bike for trail and mountain bikers in the making. Its also a tad smaller than the Hedgehog, making it better for the smallest riders.

woom 3: More timid riders who simply want to ride and not necessarily jump or be adventurous, are likely to prefer the upright positioing of the woom 3. Its super lightweight frame is also beneficial for beginners.

FeatureCleary HedgehogPrevelo Alpha Twowoom 3
BikeCleary HedgehogPrevelo Alpha Twowoom 3
MSRP$390$379$389
Best ForEager beginning riders likely ready to tackle jumps, basic single-track trails or the pump track fairly quickly.Beginning riders likely to advance to more adventurous riding (ex: curbs, jumps, pump track.Timid, beginning riders who plan on sticking to neighborhood riding, or just an overall great bike for your average rider.
Seat Range17.5" - 24.5"17" - 25"19.1" - 24.8"
BrakesDual Hand, No coasterDual Hand, No coasterDual Hand, No coaster
Weight17.3 lb.14.9 lb.13.1 lb.
Gain Ratio3.1, Low gain ratio allows kids to easily start pedaling, but greatly limits top speed.3.8, Mid-range gain ratio allows kids to start pedaling with slight effort and pedal towards a fast top speed.3.34, Low gain ratio allows for quick starts and a decent top speed.
Read the ReviewYou're reading it!Prevelo Alpha Twowoom 3

Bottom Line on the Cleary Hedgehog

The Cleary Hedgehog is a solid and rad little ride for beginning to advanced riders. With high-end components, a durable steel frame, and kid-friendly geometry, it’s an ideal bike to pass down to multiple siblings.

While its gearing is low compared to other high-end 16 inch bikes, Cleary offers many freewheel cog options to customize the gearing to the terrain you’ll most frequently be riding.

When used with the optional smaller seat post, the Hedgehog can accommodate experienced riders with inseams as small as 16″.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, the reviewed product was supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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