Retrospec Cub Balance Bike Review

While certainly a great price, the Retrospec Cub balance bike has a poorly designed footrest that severely inhibits its performance. Read more in the review below to find out why it’s a sure pass.

boy riding an orange restrospec cub balance bike

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Retrospec Cub Review

RATING: Not Recommended

MSRP$69

BEST FOR: Kids ages 18 months old to 5 years. Extended seat post allows for longer use.

SEAT HEIGHT: 12.5″ – 16″

WEIGHT: 9.2 lb.

TIRES: Foam

ADDITIONAL SPECS

FITS PANTS SIZES: 18mo to 3T
FRAME:
Steel
FOOTREST:
Yes
BOLTS:
Exposed
BRAKE:
No

PROS:

  • Affordable

CONS:

  • Large footrest can interfere with a child’s stride
  • Foam tires

Retrospec Cub Balance Bike Review: Results of our Test Rides

Often found on sale for less than $60, the Restrospec Cub (formerly called Critical Cycles Cub) is a great deal for a balance bike, but its low price comes at a cost. While still ride-able and certainly enjoyable for kids, its extra large footrest design is problematic as kids often hit their legs on it as they ride.

Size and Weight

The Cub has a seat range of 12.5″ to 16″ is suitable for kids in 24-month to 3T pants.  Preschoolers in size 4T pants, as shown below, can ride the Cub, but it offers no room growth.

Weighing 9.2 lb., the Cub is on the heavier side for smaller bikes.  Ideally, it is best for a child’s bike to weigh no more than 30% of their weight.  As a result, the Cub is best for kids weighing close to or over 30 lb.

Preschool Testers on the Cub Balance Bike

Preschoolers riding the Critical Cycles Cub balance bike.

Problematic Footrest

The Cub’s extra large footrest platform offers plenty of room for kids to rest their feet, but is simply too big!  Located at the base of the seat post, the footrest extends well past the sides of the seat and intrudes into the space that kids need to run.  This exact same footrest platform can be found on the Schwinn balance bike (blue bike) and produces the same result, kids hitting their legs on the platform while riding. Other balance bikes, like Strider, have a footrest placed in a similar position, but they are much smaller and tucked back far enough to prevent contact with kids legs.

Cub’s Footrest versus Schwinn and Strider

Close up pictures of the Critical Cycles Cub footrest platform.

On both the Cub and the Schwinn, testers of all ages from 18-months to 5-year-old often hit the sides of their legs on the footrest.  With time, our older testers learned to slightly splay out their legs to run, but for younger kids, the frustration of hitting their legs very discouraging.

Kid’s Hitting Legs on Cub’s Footrest

Kids legs hitting the Critical Cycles Cub's footrest platform.

Tires

The Cub comes with puncture-proof 12″ foam tires.  Foam tires are great as parents never have to worry about flats, but they provide much less traction than air tires.  In addition to being foam, the tread on the Cub’s tire is very minimal which further decreases the tires ability to grip the road.  Lastly, foam tires offer little cushioning as they are not able to compress like air tires when traveling over bumps and uneven surfaces or when going down a curb or jump.

Retrospec Cub’s Foam Tires

Critical Cycles Cub foam tires versus air tires.

Comparison

While the Cub is certainly affordable, for $60 we believe you are better off finding a better quality balance bike used or purchasing the Radio Flyer Glide N Go.  The Glide N Go does not have a footrest and also has air tires.  For those riding more aggressively and may need increased stopping power and traction, the bike*star Sport 12″ has a handbrake and air tires.  Lastly, you can’t go wrong with a Strider.  With a great design and a wide range of optional upgrades available (air tires, foot brake, skis, etc.) the Strider is a great choice for any young rider.

BikeCritical Cycle CubRadio Flyer Glide N Go AirBikestar Sport 12Strider Classic
BikeRestrospec CubRadio Flyer Glide N Go AirBikestar Sport 12Strider Classic
MSRP$60$70$90$99
Best ForFamilies on a tight budgetTaller toddlers, especially those on non-paved surfaces.More amibitous riders who would benefit from air tires and a hand brakeMost universal fit for all sizes and types of riders.
Weight9.2 lb.9.5 lb.10.5 lb.6.4 lb.
Seat Height12.5" - 16"14.5" - 18"13.8" - 16.5"11" - 16"
TiresFoamAirAirFoam
FootrestYesNoNoYes
BrakesNoNoYesNo
Link to ReviewYou're reading it!Radio Flyer Glide N GoN/AStrider Classic

Bottom Line

While a great deal, the Cub’s poorly designed footrest severely inhibits the performance of the bike.  Families on a tight budget are better off purchasing a used balance bike or the Radio Flyer Glide N Go.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review.  The product reviewed was purchased by Two Wheeling Tots and not supplied by the manufacturer. 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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