With an impressively light build and powerful Tektro brakes, the CYCLE Kids 16 inch is a great bike for aggressive city riders. Read the full review!
CYCLE Kids 16 inch
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Adventurous neighborhood riders eager to tackle any hill or obstacle in their path.
SEAT HEIGHT: 21″ – 25″
WEIGHT: 15.75 lb.
BRAKES: Dual Hand, no coaster
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
GAIN RATIO: 4.3
- High-performing Tektro v-pull brakes
- Lightweight aluminum frame
- Fun, bright color options with contrasting silver accents
- 5% of every bike goes to a non-profit that helps lower-income kids get bikes
- Brakes needed a lot of tuning in order to work properly
- High gain ratio not ideal for inclines
CYCLE Kids 16 Inch Review: Results from Our Test Rides
CYCLE Kids is a new high-end bike brand from the Kent family of bikes. Built to last, their bikes feature responsive Tektro brakes, lightweight aluminum frames, and durable Shimano components.
To help give back to the biking community, Kent teamed up with cyclekids.org, a non-profit dedicated to increasing lower-income students’ accessibility to bikes. As a result of their partnership, 5% of the proceeds from every CYCLE Kids bike goes directly towards getting more kids on bikes. While other higher-end companies also donate bikes to kids in need, CYCLE Kids is unique in that it has a direct relationship with an established non-profit already dedicated to the cause.
To get to know CYCLE Kids, we had a chance to test out their 16″ and 20″ models. Compared to Kent’s other line of bikes, CYCLE Kids is truly a higher-end build, offering great performance that quickly won over our testers ages 5 to 7.
Our 5-year-old tester shown below was particularly a fan of the CYCLE Kids 16 inch. Having just learned to confidently ride a bike a month ago, the CYCLE Kids 16″ helped him bloom from a hesitant rider into a skid-mark-leaving, excited rider. Now he comes knocking on my door to ride the bike any chance he gets!
With school just out for the summer, the CYCLE Kids 16 inch arrived at the perfect time! “Can we please ride your bikes?” Every day, multiple times a day, our eager testers wanted to ride. With many other 16″ bikes in my garage, what made them ask for the CYCLE Kids?
Weighing just under 16 pounds, the CYCLE Kids 16″ is not only lighter than many of its similarly priced competitors, it’s also faster! With a gain ratio of 4.3 – the highest gain ratio we’ve ever seen on a 16″ bike – the CYCLE Kids 16″ allows kids to not only quickly gain fast speeds, but to reach higher speeds than possible on other 16″ bikes.
With a need for speed, our testers would run the bike up the nearest driveway only to fly down on the bike over and over again. With this high gain ratio, they could quickly gain speed once they started pedaling, but the higher speeds came at a cost.
The high gain ratio of the CYCLE Kids made it very hard for our testers to pedal up the driveways, which is why they often walked it up to the top. As a result, we wouldn’t recommend the CYCLE Kids 16″ for anyone riding around hills! A bike with a lower gain ratio, such as the Cleary Hedgehog (2.8 gain ratio) is much better suited for inclines as its low gearing makes it much easier to pedal uphill.
To complement that extra speed, the CYCLE Kids 16″ also comes with an amazing set of Tektro v-pull handbrakes. Responsive and easy to use, the Tektro brakes very quickly stop the bike. And much to our testers’ delight, they leave cool skid marks as proof. Of all the components on the CYCLE Kids, we found the brakes to be its standout feature.
Responsive brakes = Fun Skid Marks
CYCLEKids recommends their 16″ bike for kids ranging in height from 41″ to 47″. The seat height on the 16″ ranges from 21″ to 25″. To get a good feel of the fit and performance of the bike for various ages and heights, we tested out the CYCLE Kids 16″ on three kids ages 5 to 7 ranging in height from 42″ to 47.5″.
Our 42″ 5-year-old tester was by far the best fit on the CYCLE Kids 16″. Just over the minimum suggested height, the bike offered a slightly aggressive position without making him feel too stretched out on the bike.
At 47″, which is the maximum height recommended, his older brother also loved the bike. While the bike offered no room for growth, he happily and eagerly rode the bike without any concerns.
CYCLE Kids 16″ vs. 20″
While the 16″ CYCLE Kids has a seat height range of 21″ to 25″, the larger 20″ CYCLE Kids has a similar seat height range of 23″ to 27″ – just 2″ difference. To get a good comparison of sizing between the two, we also tested the 16″ on our 47.5″ tall 7-year-old rider who was our main tester for the 20″.
It was apparent pretty quickly that the 16″ was not good for him – he immediately asked if I could raise the handlebars as soon as he got on the bike. As a result, we would be hesitant to recommend the CYCLE Kids 16″ for a child taller than 46″ as they would be a much better fit on the CYCLE Kids 20″.
CYCLE Kids 16″ vs. 20″: 7-year-old 47.5″ tall tester
That being said, with only a 0.5″ difference in height between our 6 and 7-year-old testers, it was interesting to see that one looked great on and preferred the 20″, while the other looked great on and preferred the 16″. The difference lies in their preference for seat height.
The more confident 7-year-old tester prefers his seat set several inches above his inseam so that only his tip toes can touch the ground. Our 6-year-old tester, while confident, is still new to pedaling and preferred to have his seat set so that his feet could touch the ground flat.
As a result, even though our 47″ tall 6-year-old tester loved the 16″ bike, it offered no room for him to grow, so we would not recommend buying it for a child his height. Even for a timid rider, the 20″ would be a better choice as the 23″ minimum seat height on the 20″ would still allow the seat height to be set low enough that they could almost touch the ground with feet flat. Using your child’s inseam in relation to the bike’s seat height is the most accurate way to find a best bike fit.
Frame & Geometry
The CYCLE Kids 16″ has a flat handlebar that provides a more aggressive positioning as compared to most 16″ bikes. For timid kids riding a pedal bike for the first time, the CYCLE Kids may be too aggressive for them. Most timid riders prefer not to sit leaned forward on the bike as they naturally want to balance themselves upright with their weight centered over their hips.
It is always better to err on the side of too upright with first-time riders. Because you just can’t be sure how a child will take to pedaling and balancing at the same time, the more likely success is with an upright bike. For confident riders who are advancing from a 12″ or 14″ pedal bike, the CYCLE Kids could be a perfect choice.
As shown below with our 5-year-old tester, the woom 3 provides a much more upright position as compared to the more aggressive CYCLE Kids. The woom 3, however, is more expensive than the CYCLE Kids, but the Priority Start 16, is the same price as the CYCLE Kids and provides great upright geometry for first-time riders.
5-year-old Tester on CYCLE Kids vs. woom 3
Compared to the similarly priced and designed Raleigh Rowdy (and Lily), the CYCLE Kids is actually less aggressive. Although the bikes share a similar wheelbase and frame style, the handlebars on the Raleigh are set lower than the CYCLE Kids which leads to a more aggressive body position.
6-year-old on CYCLE Kids vs. Raleigh Rowdy
“I love these brakes!” Built with Tektro levers and calipers, the brakes on the CYCLE Kids are very responsive and were well-loved by our testers. Being a fast bike, the CYCLE Kids is smartly paired with dual handbrakes that quickly and efficiently stop the bike. As mentioned previously, upon realizing how great the brakes are on the CYCLE Kids, zooming down driveways and hitting the brakes to create skid marks became a daily event.
CYCLE Kids Powerful Tektro V-brakes
One major concern we had with the brakes on the CYCLE Kids was the initial tuning that the brakes required to work properly. Both the front and the rear brakes needed significant tuning in order for them to work properly.
In fact, one of the brake pads on the caliper had completely fallen off the bike during shipping and we had to dig through the bike to find the small parts to put the brake back together.
The included manual does give decent directions on how to tune the brakes, but brakes are also one thing on the bike that you certainly don’t want to get wrong! As a result, if you aren’t handy with bikes and don’t have a local bike shop to help you out, the CYCLE Kids may not be the best bike for you.
The CYCLE Kids 16″ has a gain ratio of 4.3, which is one of the high we have seen on a 16″ bike. This means that for every inch the pedals travel, the bike will move forward 4.3 inches.
With a 4.3 gain ratio, the CYCLE Kids 16″ takes more effort to start pedaling, but once the bike gets going, the bike can travel faster and farther which each pedal stroke as compared to other 16″ bikes. This increased distance per pedal stroke is very beneficial when riding on relatively flat areas. For those kids who need a fast bike to help keep up with the family while riding in flat areas, the CYCLE Kids would be a great option.
The downside to a higher gain ratio is that starting the bike from a stop takes considerably more effort than a bike with a lower gain ratio. As a result, we typically don’t recommend bikes with higher gain ratios for beginning or really timid riders as that initial push can deter some riders. Higher gain ratios are also not recommended when riding on hilly terrains as pedaling a bike with a high gain ratio up a hill is also very challenging.
To put gain ratios into perspective, the woom 3 which is our top pick for really timid riders, has a gain ratio of 3.56. The woom is very easy to start pedaling, but doesn’t reach as high of maximum speeds. The woom 3’s gain ratio is actually close to the rough average gain ratio for a 16″ of 3. The popular Guardian Ethos 16 Inch and the Raleigh Rowdy also have 3.5 gain ratios. The only other 16″ bike that has a gain ratio over 4 is the Ridgeback Dimensions at 4.2.
The q-factor of a bike is the inside distance between the two pedals. This measurement correlates to how much a child has to splay their legs in order to pedal the bike. The less splay required to pedal, the more efficient the pedal stroke.
The q-factor of the CYCLE Kids 16″ is about 8″ wide, which is average for a 16″ bike. Most higher-end bikes have a slightly narrower q-factor. For example, the q-factor on the woom 3 is 6″.
While the splay on the CYCLE Kids wasn’t an issue for our testers, it could potentially be an issue for beginning or timid riders. Since bikes with high gain ratios aren’t recommended for timid riders anyway, we don’t anticipate the q-factor of the CYCLE Kids to be an issue.
With a thickly padded seat, a thick plastic chain guard, and true threadless headset, the CYCLE Kids 16″ certainly has upgraded components as compared to most 16″ kids bikes. The seat is one of most padded seats we’ve seen, even compared to high-end bikes!
The true threadless headset (the portion of the bike that attaches the handlebars and front fork to the bike), is a significant upgrade to the average bike and helps to increase the handling and maneuverability of the bike.
Available in several fun colors, CYCLE Kids 16″ bikes feature colored rims and fun pops of silver paint on the fork and frame of the bike. Simple, yet playful, our testers loved the overall design and look of the bike.
CYCLE Kids Paint and Design
CYCLE Kids Life Manual
All CYCLE Kids bikes come with a fun and informative Life Manual. WAY more than your traditional owners manual, the Life Manual comes with detailed instructions and graphics on how to assemble your bike, how all the individual components work, how to properly fit a bike helmet, and even tips on nutrition.
We LOVED this guide as there is something in there for everyone – from new riders excited to get their first pedal bike to experienced parents. A digital version of the Life Manual is available directly through CYCLE Kids.
While detailed and complete, we would still recommend taking the bike into a bike shop for any major adjustments such as the brake issues mentioned previously.
CYCLE Kids Life Manual Example Pages
The CYCLE Kids 16″ is most similar to the Raleigh Rowdy (and Lily) and the Cleary Hedgehog. All three bikes are similar in size and geometry and offer dual hand brakes with no coaster brake, but vary greatly in gain ratios and weight.
CYCLE Kids 16″: The lightest of the three, but with the highest gain ratio, the CYCLE Kids is best for kids riding mainly in flat areas. The CYCLE Kids is also a great option for kids who need a fast bike to help keep up on family rides.
With its minimum seat height at 21″, the CYCLE Kids 16″ is also on the larger end of 16″ bikes, making it similar in size to many small 20″ bikes, including the CYCLE Kids 20″.
Raleigh Rowdy/Lily: With a mid-range gain ratio and a more affordable price tag, the Raleighs are great for everyday aggressive riders who want a fun and adventurous bike for tackling the neighborhood. Their mid-range gain ratio makes them suitable for climbing everything from rolling hills to jumps on the local pump track.
Cleary Hedgehog: From climbing hills to tackling skate parks, the Hedgehog 16″ is best for aggressive riders who need a low gain ratio to help them power up inclines. Light and nimble, the Hedgehog is best suited for advanced riders.
|21″ – 25.5″
|19.5″ – 24″
|19″ – 26″
CycleKids 16 Inch Bottom Line
With an impressively light build and powerful Tektro brakes, the CYCLE Kids 16 inch is a great bike for aggressive city riders. Its high gain ratio makes for one speedy bike around town, but is likely to be problematic around true inclines.
A taller 16″ bike, the CYCLE Kids is best suited for kids 41″ to 45″ tall. Taller kids should consider looking at a 20″ bike including the CYCLE Kids 20″.