LittleBig Convertible

Balance Bike, Pedal Bike Review

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The LittleBig converts from a small to large balance bike as well as a 14" pedal bike. Extremely well made, the quality of the LittleBig will certainly last you through many years of riding.

View on LittleBig

Product Specifications

MSRP: $182+

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Seat Height: 14" - 21"

Weight: 11.2 lb.

Brakes: Hand Brake

Footrest: No

Limiter: Yes

Tire Size: 14"

Grips Bumper: Yes

Bolts: Rounded

Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy

Review

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-award

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.

littlebig-small-balance-bike

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.

littlebig-review-balance-bike2

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.
littlebig-review-pedal-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.

littlebig-review-pedal-bike-compare

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.

littlebig-review-tires-brakes

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.

littlebig-changing-modes2

 

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.

littlebig-review-adding-pedals_edited-1

 

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.

MSRP: $182+

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: December 20, 2016

FTC Disclosure: No monetary compensation was provided for this review. For many, but not all reviews, products are provided by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate the review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC and should not be used or replicated in any way. The majority of, but not all, links provided are affiliate links. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is an affiliate of Amazon.com, Backcountry.com, Chain Reaction Cycles.com, Cruzee.com, REI.com, bikeshophub.com, prioritybicycles.com, guardianbikes.com and weebikeshop.com.

  • Maria Cole

    Hello, higher up you write littlebig fits 2T to 5, but then say it’s “too big for petite kids in 2T and smaller”. My son is turning 2 and 2T tends to fit perfectly, so I’m trying to figure out if this bike would work for him. Living in an apartment, we would love to have a convertible option. Thank you for all of the reviews and detailed info you provide!

    • You’re right, I need to fix that. If your son is solidly in 2T it will probably fit him just fine as long as he doesn’t have a short torso. The reach on the littleBig is more than most balance bikes, which would be quite the stretch for a child in 2t who has a short torso (or even arms). Being in an apartment, the littlebig would be a good choice as it is going to fit him for several years.

  • Lisa Coomer Queen

    I love the littlebig bike! I think it would be great from my little granddaughter. She is 2 and it would last a while. Thanks for all the great informations!

  • Tanya Gordon

    Hello, my daughter is 5 and very high for her age – 46in, not sure about the inseam. We only have a scooter and she was asking for a balance bike for a while now, as she likes to ride one in her preschool (not sure which one they have). But she doesn’t want to even try a pedal bike yet. So I was thinking that maybe a convertible can be a great option at this stage. Do you think the LittleBig can be a good solution for us, or it might be already too small for her? Any other suggestions? What about buying a regular bike and removing the pedals temporarily? Thanks!

    • If she has already used a balance bike at preschool, I would first try her out on a regular bike to see how she does. If she is able to run and balance on a regular pedal bike (no need to pedal at first), then she is ready for a pedal bike and I would go against a convertible. If she can’t balance the bike, but it close, I would probably go for a regular pedal bike, but just remove the pedals for a couple weeks. If she is no where near balancing the bike, I would consider a convertible.

  • Phil C.

    Hi,
    My son is 4.5 years old, 41″ tall, has a 17″ inseam, wears 4T bottoms and has never been on a two wheeler before. From the information presented above, the littlebig (with the pedal option) seems like it would be the perfect first bike for him. But, I’m a little confused about one comment. You stated, “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.

    ” Does this mean that if the child’s inseam exceeds 21″ within a year, he will have outgrown the bike or is there some other reason a child would outgrow the bike in that span of time?
    Thanks and best regards.

    • anon

      A child who is first learning to pedal a bike, graduating from a balance bike, is best off with their feet flat on the ground. Once they have figured out pedaling, however, it is best for the seat height to be 2-3in higher than their inseam such that tippy toes are on the ground, for more efficient pedaling. Because of this and the low handlebar height the LittleBig will not last long in pedal bike mode.

      • PCinCT

        Thank you for the explanation. Might you have any recommendations on the best way to teach my son to ride? Should we invest in a 14″ balance bike and then, once he’s comfortable, purchase a 16″ pedal bike? I’d rather not go that route simply based on cost. (14″ balance bikes appear to cost a lot more than the 12″ balance bikes and the recommended 16″ pedal bikes are pretty costly as well.) But, I want him to have the best learning experience possible (within $ reason). I’m hoping the right bike or bikes will spark his interest.
        Thanks again.

        • As anon suggested, your son will likely quickly outgrow the pedal bike mode and I agree that 14″ balance bikes are pretty pricey. I would consider removing the pedals from a cheap 14″ bikes to turn it into a balance bike. The converted bike will be heavier and not as ideal for teaching balance as a real balance bike, but it should do the trick. Once balance has been mastered, I would then purchase a 16″ pedal bike.

          • PCinCT

            Thank you!

      • You can raise the handlebars on the LittleBig by moving the spacer. You can see in the photo with the IslaBikes Cnoc 16 the 1″ spacer is above the stem. By moving this spacer below the stem it will raise the bars. The negative rise stem can also be flipped to give an additional 1″ of handlebar height bringing it in line with the Cnoc 16.

        • Thanks for chiming in, I really appreciate it! I do need to do a better job pointing out that the spacer can be moved to raise the handlebar height.

  • A-L

    My son is 3.5 and 37.75″ tall with an inseam of 15.75″ and weighs about 32 pounds. He has never been on a 2-wheeler either. This seems like it might be the ideal option, particularly if we could keep this until our son was ready for a 20″ bike (as 18″ bikes are not all that common or inexpensive). Or would it be better to get a less expensive balance bike (like the Kinderbike Laufrad ($100 and under) and then learn to pedal on a budget 16″ bike? Also, would the weight difference (8.5 pounds for the Kinderbike vs. 11.2 for the LittleBig) make much of a difference at our son’s weight?

    • Glad to help! In pedal bike mode, the LittleBig it on the smaller side, so you will likely have to also buy a 16″ pedal bike. The LittleBig is the perfect size for him now and will work great as a balance bike and a first pedal bike, but you won’t be able to skip to a 20″ bike. If you are on a tighter budget, I would go with a balance bike and then a budget 16″ bike. The LittleBig will be better quality than those, but since it is a 14″ instead of a 16″ bike, it does have some limits on size.

      • A-L

        Thank you for sharing your experience and expertise. We’re going to get a Kinderbike for him. Thanks so much!