Raleigh Lily 16″
A well-made budget bike for young aggressive riders who are ready to tackle the road before them.
BEST FOR: Aggressive riders looking for an affordable, durable bike for on and off-roading adventures.
SEAT HEIGHT: 21.25" – 25.5"
WEIGHT: 16.1 lb.
21.25" – 25.5"
Dual Hand (No Coaster)
Pros & Cons
- Great quality and design for the price
- Lightweight for the price and size
- Responsive hand brakes, no coaster brake
- Durable frame and components
- Flat handlebars too aggressive for some riders
You get a ton of bang for your buck with the Raleigh Lily 16″. The “girl” version of the Raleigh Rowdy, this mid-priced but impressively well-built bike is perfect for aggressive balance bike graduates or adventurous kids moving up from a 12″ or 14″ bike. It features high-quality dual hand brakes and no coaster brake which is pretty unheard of at this price point. We’re not sure how Raleigh managed to produce such a great little bike for such a fair price, but we’re happy we got our hands on one!
There may not be any high-end, name-brand components on the Raleigh Lily 16″, but this affordable little pre-mountain bike is a durable workhorse and a dream ride for adventurous budding cyclists.
Much lighter than other budget bikes and more aggressive in riding-style, the Raleigh Lily 16″ gives 5 and 6-year-old riders a taste of the adventures that lie ahead of them on two wheels.
Our primary tester regularly rides a RoyalBaby 16″ which is almost 5 lbs. heavier and much more upright. We were pleasantly surprised to see her hop on the Lily and ride faster than she ever had before, as well as instinctively lean into tight, sharp turns up and down the driveways. It was as if we were seeing a little adventurer being born right before our eyes.
Watching her ride the Raleigh Lily was clear evidence that kids are often prevented from progressing while riding a heavy bike with less-than-ideal geometry. A well-designed bike can make a world of difference in a child’s ability to ride. And the Lily 16″ also proves that you don’t have to spend a fortune for a good little bike.
Raleigh Lily 16 in Action
The handlebars on the Raleigh Lily 16″ are pretty wide and very low, as you can see in the photos on the left below. Our testers arms are fully extended and wider set than the more standard bike on the right. While the 16″ handlebars measure 540mm, the Lily 20″ only measure 560mm – just 20 less mm on a 16″ bike for much smaller riders.
On longer rides this could result in a rider fatiguing more quickly, but average neighborhood riding should not be a problem. If you anticipate that your child will be going on long rides with you, the Lily’s threadless headset makes it easy to swap out the standard handlebar with a higher-rise or more narrow bar. Given the $230 price tag of the Lily, this additional purchase at the local bike shop would still get you a very affordable bike.
Raleigh Lily 16″ Has Wider Handlebars than Similar 16″ Bikes
The low, almost flat handlebars put the rider in a very aggressive, leaned forward position on the Lily 16″. It was this more aggressive position that inspired our 5-year-old casual rider to ride faster and with more confidence than we’d ever seen previously.
With over a year of pedal bike experience under her belt, I can’t say how she would have responded to the Lily 16″ versus her more casual, upright bike as she transitioned from a balance bike. I will say that the Lily 16″ is likely to be better suited for balance bike graduates who are aggressive riders who have truly mastered their balance bike, or for adventure-seeking kids who are upgrading from a 12″ or 14″ pedal bike.
You can see how the handlebar height difference translates to the bike in action below. The Raleigh Lily’s leaned forward stand puts a rider more “at the ready” to tackle or even seek out every possible challenge or adventure.
You can also see in the images below that the Lily 16″ is designed with more space between the rider and the handlebars than other budget bikes. This additional room allows a rider more flexibility in movement and will be particularly helpful for more aggressive riders. The handlebars on the RoyalBaby can be tilted forward to provide more room, but still not as much as the Lily.
Handlebar Height of Lily 16 vs. RoyalBaby Determines Body Positioning
The Lily 16 has a seat height range of 21.25″ to 25.5″ and does not come with training wheels. With a standover height of 16″, there is plenty of seat tube clearance for its riders.
For first-time pedal bike riders (or first time without training wheels), a bike seat should be set at or near a child’s inseam so their feet can rest flat on the ground to help them regain balance and safely stop. A rider of this type would need a 21.25″ inseam to ride the Lily.
The Lily is lightweight enough for first-time pedal bike riders, but its low handlebars and aggressive body positioning are best reserved for ambitious riders.
If a child is graduating from a smaller pedal bike without training wheels, they can be on their tiptoes while sitting on the bike. A rider of this type could have a minimum inseam of about 23″.
5-Year-Old Rider in Size 5 Pants
There are very few (if none??) other 16″ bikes at a price under $250 with quality dual handbrakes and no coaster brake. The Raleigh Lily 16″ features v-pull brakes with easy-reach kid-sized levers that are super easy to engage.
Raleigh Lily’s Easy-Reach Brake Levers
Because it doesn’t have a coaster brake, the Lily allows riders to pedal backward without stopping the bike. This makes it easier for kids to regain their balance, and also allows them to easily move the pedal to an upright position to initially begin pedaling the bike. For this price point, you don’t get a better braking system than the Raleigh Lily 16″.
Raleigh Lily 16’s V-Pull Brakes and Brake Cable
The threadless headset on the Lily 16″ helps keeps the handlebars aligned over time and after crashes. While not a name-brand headset, we’re impressed with its design and quality for this price point. The stem on the bike also doesn’t have much rise, which plays a role in the handlebars being set low on the bike. In addition to getting a shorter handlebar, the stem can also easily be swapped for one with more rise.
While the tread of the wheels on the Lily 16 isn’t exactly mountain-trail ready, the mild tread combined with the wider tire does make it suitable for packed dirt trails and paved aggressive riding.
Soft, cushioned, and solid-quality, the Lily’s saddle will keep your little rider’s bum comfy. We do wish, however, that it were a little better proportioned for 5 and 6-year-olds. The Lily 16’s saddle is the same saddle that is used for the 20″, and is better suited for the size of those older riders.
Crank Arms, Chain Guard, and Bolt Covers
The aluminum alloy crank arms are a nice upgrade from cheaper, thinner steel crank arms found on more budget bikes. The Lily’s chain guard prevents pants from getting stuck in the chain, and snug-fitting axle covers prevent legs from getting scratched on the exposed bolts underneath.
In a direct comparison to similarly designed “mini-mountain bikes” with 16″ tires, the Raleigh Lily is easily the most affordable option, while also being the most leaned forward or aggressive.
The Cleary Hedgehog and the Pello Revo both come with handlebars that are more narrow and higher-rise, which will be more comfortable for longer rides and everyday neighborhood riding. They both, however, feature high-end components and are considerably more expensive.
Lightweight, aggressive, and fun to ride, the Raleigh Lily 16 is a solid, affordable choice for adventurous 5 and 6-year-olds who want to dominate the pavement and get started tackling those dirt trails.