With rotating handlebars, the Pello Ripple can be continuously adjusted to fit your child as they grow. Read the review below for more reasons to buy this rad little balance bike.
Pello Ripple Balance Bike Overview
BEST FOR: Toddlers in 24 mo to transitioning to 4T pants
SEAT HEIGHT: 11.25″ – 15.5″
WEIGHT: 9 lbs.
BRAKE: Hand Brake
FRAME: Aluminum alloy
- Rotating handlebars for a better fit as kids grow
- Highest quality components and durable frame
- Easy-reach, responsive hand brake
- Wide air tires for extra traction and cushioning
- Low-step-through frame allows kids to easily get on and off the bike
- Heavier than some other high-end balance bikes
Pello Ripple Review – Results of our Test Rides
The Pello Ripple is a versatile little workhorse of a balance bike with best-in-class components. It starts with wide air tires and a Cane Creek headset to tackle everything from sidewalks to dirt trails. Then add in a child-sized handbrake to control speed on hills, and seat and handlebar height adjustments to dial in the perfect fit as your rider grows… the Ripple is ready for action!
Size, Growth, and Handlebars
One of the most difficult things when designing a balance bike is that kids this age can grow so stinking fast! It’s hard to design a bike that fits a child really well for more than 1.5 to 2 years. While there are some kids that only ride a balance bike for a year or two before graduating to a pedal bike, other less ambitious or less athletic kids may prefer to stay on their balance bike for two to three years until they feel ready to attempt pedals.
What Pello has done with the Ripple is designed a bike that proportionately grows with your child. It’s not just about raising the height of the seat or handlebars, but about adjusting the distance between those handlebars and your rider to allow for maximum comfort and maneuverability over time.
The handlebars were specially designed to be rotated forward to extend the reach for taller, older riders, or rotated towards the rider so they are a natural reach for younger, smaller riders. So even if your child isn’t ready for pedals as early as you anticipated, with a few adjustments they can continue to ride the Ripple comfortably until they are ready.
Some balance bikes allow you to raise or lower the handlebars a few inches, and there are a few others with true headsets that allow small adjustments in the rotation of the handlebars like the Pello. The Ripple, however, is unique because its headset, stem, and handlebars were designed specifically to offer more handlebar placement adjustments than any other balance bike out there.
Take a look below at how the different handlebar placements allow three riders from 23 months to 4-years-old to all comfortably ride the Ripple.
23-Month-Old in 24 mo Pants – Handlebars Rotated All the Way In
With the handlebars rotated all the way towards the rider, this 23-month-old is easily able to reach the grips. The cockpit of the bike (space between the seat and the handlebars) becomes smaller, but at this size, a child is generally always just walking or starting to run on the balance bike and doesn’t need more room to lean in to gain speed as they run.
3 Year Old in 3T Pants – Handlebars Tilted Farther Up
While the handlebars are still tilted towards the rider, their higher position is raised for a natural grip, and also gives the child more room to maneuver.
4 Year Old in 4T Pants – Handlebars Tilted Away From Rider
With the handlebars rotated forward and away from the rider, our 4-year-old tester had plenty of room for her longer torso and arms. As an older and more aggressive rider, this was particularly important for her to be able to maneuver the bike for faster, more adventurous riding.
The beauty of Pello’s system is that you can truly adjust the bars to wherever your child finds them the most comfortable. Lean them if for more timid riders or more upright for kids who really like to lean in while riding.
With a seat height range of 11.25″ to 15.5″, the Pello is a great fit for kids in 24 month to transitioning to 4T pants. However, with the optional extended seat post, the seat can be raised an additional 1.5″ for kids who aren’t ready to graduate to a pedal bike and need a little more time on their balance bike.
Remember that the seat of a balance bike should be set 1″ to 1.5″ below your child’s inseam to allow them to sit with knees bent. This means the Pello Ripple is ideal for kids with inseams ranging from about 12.5″ to 17″.
At 9 lbs the Ripple is a bit heavier than some of the other high-end balance bikes, so it wouldn’t be ideal for petite or timid riders at the low end of the inseam range. If you have a young, timid toddler, the 6.6 lb. woom 1 would be a good option to consider, although it doesn’t have the handlebar adjustments of the Pello.
In addition to rotating the handlebars forwards and back, the stem of the Ripple can also be flipped to raise the handlebars. Flipping the stem will raise the handlebars about an 1″ without affecting the size of the cockpit. In the image below, the stem on the left is how the bikes come standard while the image on the right shows the handlebars slightly raised from flipping the stem.
While it will be unnecessary to flip the stem for most children, if you’re using the extended seat post for a taller child, it would be beneficial to raise the handlebars as well.
Ripple’s Lower Standard Stem vs. Higher Flipped Stem
Geometry and Riding Position
The position of the handlebars also has a huge effect on the position of the rider’s body. Toddlers on balance bikes generally prefer to be in a natural, upright position. As they get older and more adventurous, many kids prefer to be able to lean forward to get more speed.
With the Ripple’s rotating handlebars, you have the option of tucking in the bars for a more upright body position (shown on the left) or rotating those bars out to extend the reach and lean-in factor for your little ripper (shown on the right).
Brakes & Grips
A high-quality handbrake is not a feature you see on too many balance bikes. We love the handbrake on the Ripple! Given that the wide, cushioning Kenda tires on the Ripple encourage kids to get adventurous, it’s especially important for them to have extra stopping power beyond their feet.
The Ripple’s short-reach brake lever activates a rear Tektro v-brake and is adjustable to fit your child’s hand-reach just right. It’s adjusted with a tiny Allen key – you don’t have to take the brake apart in any way, you just have to find that tiny hole for adjusting. (Look harder… it’s there!)
Remember that most kids aren’t coordinated enough to use a handbrake until about 3-years-old. But most kids also aren’t aggressive enough to really need a handbrake until they’re 3 either. Whatever your child’s developmental stage, it’s advantageous to have that handbrake there when they’re ready to use it.
With soft rubber, small diameter grips, the Ripple is comfortable for little hands over extended periods of time.
Lightweight Aluminum Frame
While not the lightest balance bike on the market, the Ripple comes in at a respectable 9 lbs. This might be a little heavy for a very petite or timid rider, but it’s definitely light enough for your average to aggressive rider. Our testers had no issues with the weight and looked as effortless on the Ripple as they have on lighter bikes. In our experience, average riders begin to have trouble with bikes over 10 lbs.
There’s a lot of discussion around how much a balance bike should weigh, with lots of budget bikes starting to come out that feature lightweight aluminum frames and weight less than 5 pounds. But these bikes also don’t have a handbrake, feature very basic foam tires, hard plastic grips, and aren’t nearly as durable or comfortable.
The woom 1 is a high-end balance bike that has all the features of the Ripple but weighs about 2.5 lbs. less. It’s also a bike meant for the smallest and youngest balance bike riders – an age group that would benefit the most from a lightweight frame.
Wheels and Tires
Many balance bikes on the market have plastic rims and foam tires. High-end balance bikes like the Ripple cost more because their components are simply better. Built on durable aluminum rims with steel spokes, the Ripple features 12″ x 2.5″ Kenda Kontact tires. Wide and grippy, the Kontact tires offer amazing traction on paved surfaces and mild terrains.
Thicker from rim to tread than most balance bikes, the Kontact tires also provide more cushioning for bumps and jumps along the way. As a comparison, the woom 1 tires are 12″ x 1.35″. The thicker tires on the Ripple partially account for its heavier weight as compared to the woom 1. For smooth rolling for years to come, the Ripple’s hubs feature sealed bearings to keep out dust and grime.
Pello Kenda Air Tires
One of the most underrated components on a balance bike is the headset. The component that attaches the steer tube (the tube that comes up from the fork) to the handlebars to the bike, the headset plays the main role in the maneuverability and responsiveness of a bike.
Pello’s Cane Creek Headset
The many balance bikes on the market don’t even have a true headset! Instead, they have a cheap clamp that attempts to hold the bike together. With every fall or bump of the handlebars, these clamps are too weak to keep everything aligned, which causes the handlebars to become out of alignment with the fork. Fixing the alignment is easy, but annoying to have to fix often.
Taking it to the next level, Pello not only included a true headset on their balance bike, they include the king of all headsets – a Cane Creek. For over 10 years, Cane Creek has been the leader in headsets. They are known for their precision build and unmatched performance over time. As a result, once set, the proper alignment between the handlebars and fork is essentially guaranteed on the Ripple.
Saddle and Bolts
The Pello Ripple’s padded u-shaped saddle, which dips down in the center of the seat, keeps little bums comfortable and also helps prevent them from sliding off the seat.
Rounded, flat bolts are an upgraded feature that ensures that little legs won’t get scratched on exposed metal. As you can see below, the bolts are actually recessed into the frame so they can’t come into contact with kids’ legs at all. This minute attention to detail is not common and only found on the best and highest-end bikes.
There are just a few high-end brands that make truly outstanding balance bikes. Pello is one of them. Which brand you decide on is highly dependent on your child’s size when you’re making the purchase. You always want to choose a bike that fits now but has the most room for growth. Here’s how the Ripple stacks up against other bikes in its price range:
Pello Ripple Comparison
With so many balance bikes flooding the market, it’s hard to add value to what’s already out there. But that’s exactly what Pello did with the Ripple. Its unique rotating handlebars allow the Ripple to grow with your child, rather than only being a great fit for a short moment in time. And with best-in-class, durable components, the Ripple will last through several kids! If you have a little one itching for adventure, the Pello Ripple was designed to come along for the ride.