If you’re looking for a bike that will essentially guarantee a good young riding experience, look no further than the woom 3. Meticulously designed for a child’s specific needs and proportions, the woom 3 features a super lightweight frame and upright body positioning.
These features (along with many others!) make the woom 3 incredibly easy to ride and maneuver. As a result, it’s our top pick for the average beginner rider and is especially ideal for timid kids.
In our review, we put the woom 3 and woom 3 AUTOMAGIC (2 geared model) to the test with several 3, 4 and 5 year-olds to see how they compare with other top brands. Keep reading to discover what makes woom bikes special, and if the woom 3 is right for your little one.
woom 3 Overview
MSRP: $449 (Original), $499 (AUTOMAGIC)
BEST FOR: Balance bike graduates in at least 4T pants. Upright position makes it better suited for timid and average riders.
SEAT HEIGHT: 19.1″ – 25.2″
WEIGHT: 13.1 lb. (with pedals and kickstand), 14.6 lbs. (AUTOMAGIC 2-geared model)
BRAKE TYPE: Dual Hand (no Coaster)
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
WHEEL SIZE: 16″
GAIN RATIO: 3.88 (woom 3), 3.2 and 4.4 (woom 3 Automagic)
WHEELBASE: 711 mm
woom 3 Bike Video Review
See our kids bike testers go to work testing out the woom 3. Learn why we love the woom 3 for timid and beginning riders and see how it compares in size to the smaller woom 2!
woom 3 Review – Results of our Test Rides
This review covers the standard woom 3 as well as the woom 3 AUTOMAGIC, which has two gears. The bikes are essentially identical, except for the gearing. If you’re interested in how the AUTOMAGIC works, click here to jump down to that part of the review.
What makes the woom 3 so exceptional?
Perfectly designed for the beginning rider, the woom 3 features natural, upright body positioning, a lightweight frame, and a low bottom bracket (for a lower center of gravity). To top it off, it also has color-coded safety brake levers, a narrow q-factor for minimal leg splay, and a gentle turning limiter.
Weighing a mere 13.1 lbs., the woom 3 is the lightest 16″ bike on the market and is much easier for children to handle than the common 20 pound + bike. Its light weight in combination with the way it positions riders on the bike makes it significantly easier to ride and balance than most 16 inch bikes.
We’ll detail each of these features in the remainder of the review below. We’ll also help you determine if the woom 3 is the right size bike for your child.
Upright Positioning = Easier to Ride
When learning to walk, kids learn to center their body weight over their hips. This position is very natural, which is why it’s much easier for a child to learn to ride a scooter versus a bike.
When designing the woom 3, the frame was specially crafted and the components carefully selected to allow a child’s weight to be centered on their hips (like when walking!), making it a more natural process to learn to balance and pedal at the same time.
Time and time again the woom 3 has amazed parents and kids with how easy it is to ride compared to other bikes. While the woom 3 is excellent for any child, its lightweight and upright positioning have made it our go-to bike for beginning or timid riders who most benefit from being upright.
More aggressive or ambitious riders, or those who plan on riding on all-terrain trails, pump tracks, or around a lot of hills, are likely better off on a more aggressive bike such as the Prevelo Alpha 2. This style of bike allows a child to lean in as they are attempting to gain speed or tackle hills and obstacles.
The difference in body position of a child on an upright bike versus a more aggressive leaned-in bike is easy to spot. As you can see, our (very tall) 3-year-old tester on the woom 3 is positioned much more upright on the bike vs. the more aggressive Prevelo Alpha 2.
What size child will fit on the woom 3?
The woom 3 has a seat height range of 19.1″ to 25.2″ and is a best fit for your average 4 to 6-year-old.
First-time pedal bike riders: For first-time pedal bike riders, the woom 3 would be a perfect fit for a child with an inseam of 19″ to 20″. Setting the seat height just under or equal to their inseam will allow first-time riders to comfortably start and stop the bike with their feet. Timid riders usually also prefer to set the seat low enough so they can touch the ground with their whole foot.
Experienced pedal bike riders: For experienced pedal bike riders moving up from a 12″ or 14″ bike, the woom 3 is a great buy for kids with an inseam of 17″ to 21″. With the seat set about 2″ inches above their inseam, kids will be able to get proper leg extension while pedaling as well as be able to touch the ground with their tippy toes while sitting on the seat. This also allows for plenty of room to grow.
For reference, our little tester here is 41″ tall, has a 17.5″ inseam, and is an experienced rider on her tip toes.
If you’re unsure what your child’s inseam is, refer to our guide on Kids Bike Sizes to help you measure your child to ensure a perfect fit!
How long will my child fit on the woom 3?
Based on our experience over the last 5 years, we’ve found that most kids will get about two years out of the woom 3, which is typical for most 16 inch bikes. Our tester shown below started riding the woom 3 at age 4 and as a 6-year-old (almost 7), could still comfortably ride this 16″ bike. However, at that point he was ready to advance to the 20″ woom 4.
woom 3 fit at 4-Years-Old vs. 6-Years-Old
Narrow Q-Factor = More Natural Pedaling
The q-factor of a bike is the distance between the pedals. The wider the q-factor of a bike, the more kids have to splay their legs out in order to pedal. Asking kids to walk with wide steps is awkward, just as is asking them to pedal with wide legs.
woom bikes was one of the first bike brands to champion the idea of a more narrow q-factor to allow kids to pedal straight down versus at an angle. While many kid-centric brands have since followed suit, the woom 3’s narrow q-factor will always be one of its most important and distinguishing kid-friendly features.
Safe Braking – No coaster brake, and color-coded brake levers
Most 16″ kids bikes have a coaster brake (back pedal brake), but the woom 3 boasts dual hand brakes and NO coaster brake. Why does NO coaster brake matter?
When learning to pedal, kids often pedal backward before they understand that pedaling foward moves the bike forward. They also instinctively pedal backward to regain their balance. When a bike has a coaster brake (back pedal brake), pedaling backward quickly and unexpectedly stops the bike, which usually leads to a crash.
woom’s dual handbrake set-up is designed to make learning how to use handbrakes much less confusing. One of the problems with dual handbrakes is the potential for kids to brake too quickly with the front brake, causing them to fly over the handlebars (endo). While endos are rare on 16″ bikes, learning to brake primarily with the rear brake can prevent future accidents.
To facilitate proper technique, the right-hand brake lever on the woom 3 (which is attached to the rear brake in the US) is green to help kids remember to brake with the right hand first. Its corresponding brake pad on the rear wheel is also green.
As you can see above, the grips on the woom 3 are ergonomically designed so that small hands can comfortably grip the handlebars. The inner portion of the grip is thinner to allow kids to grip while the outer portion is wider to provide support for the palm and prevent wrist fatigue.
An outside bumper also protects hands from potential bumps into walls, fences, etc. As an added bonus, the grips are locking (via a screw) to prevent them from sliding off.
Higher gain ratio in 2021 means higher top speeds
With the 2021 update to the woom 3 (the most current model), the bike’s gain ratio increased from 3.56 to 3.88. While the bike requires a bit more effort to get started pedaling from a standstill, it can now reach much higher speeds without your child spinning their legs like a hamster in a wheel! This higher gain ratio will be a huge benefit for your child as they try to keep up with older siblings. It’s also still easy to get started.
The Prevelo Alpha 2, which is designed for more aggressive riders, has a gain ratio of 3.8.
woom 3 AUTOMAGIC Offers Two Gears
For an additional $50 and an increase in 1.5 pounds, the woom 3 AUTOMAGIC comes with an internally geared 2-speed rear hub made by Sturmey Archer. While the woom 3 has a single gain ratio of 3.88, the AUTOMAGIC’s two gears are 3.2 and 4.4.
The low gear makes it easy to move the pedals to get started from a standstill. Then when the rider hits about 7 mph, the hub automatically shifts into the higher gear. This allows the rider to go farther with each pedal stroke compared to the lower 3.88 gain ratio of the standard woom 3.
Why is this helpful? With a single speed kids bike, it’s impossible to choose just one gear (or gain ratio) that is ideal for every situation as your child progresses from a beginning to an advanced rider.
The 3.88 gain ratio of the woom 3 is perfect for young riders just getting the hang of pedals. It’s a low enough gear to be easy enough to get started, and high enough to provide some oomph as they start to go faster and farther. If you can truly only choose one gear for a 16″ bike, we’ve found 3.8 or 3.9 to be pretty ideal.
However, as kids gain confidence and strength, 3.8 or 3.9 is a little low to allow for higher speeds and efficiency for longer distances. Kids end up “spinning their wheels” a bit.
The AUTOMAGIC solves this problem by providing a super low gear to get started, and then pretty quickly kicks into a higher gear to allow kids to go faster and farther than the standard woom 3.
How helpful is AUTOMAGIC in real life?
AUTOMAGIC absolutely helps to reduce excessive leg spinning for confident speed demons. We conducted test races at our local skatepark with three of our regular test riders.
We had each of them race the length of the skatepark on the standard woom 3 and the AUTOMAGIC woom 3, back to back. Observing them, the decrease in leg spinning on the AUTOMAGIC was obvious. When asked which bike was faster, all three kids said the AUTOMAGIC. And when asked which one they preferred? AUTOMAGIC for the win again.
If you think your child will be a confident and aggressive rider, the AUTOMAGIC system may be a good solve for them until they are big enough for a 20″ bike with a set of 6 to 9 gears.
Is a woom 3 AUTOMAGIC great for everyone?
Not necessarily. The one drawback we found was that the woom 3 AUTOMAGIC tends to stay in the higher gear on hills, even if you’re moving below the 7 mph threshold.
In our tests, the AUTOMAGIC hub switched to the higher gear after just a few seconds of pedaling quickly on a flat road. As a result, our testers were already in the 2nd (higher gear) by the time they reached any hills (even if the hills or ramps were only a few feet away from where they started), and therefore had to climb the hills in the higher 4.4 gear versus the lower 3.2.
While the hub is supposed to drop back to the lower 3.2 gain ratio when the rider slows down below 7mph, we were unable to get the hub to “downshift” when on an uphill, even after weeks of extensive testing. (It does “downshift” on flat road if you decrease your speed enough.)
If you are considering the AUTOMAGIC because you want the lower gear to make tackling hills more manageable, the standard woom 3 (with a consistent 3.8 gain ratio) may be a better choice.
Fully Enclosed Chain Guard
To prevent pants from coming into contact with the chain during use, the woom 3 comes with a fully enclosed chain guard already installed on the bike. The guard not only keeps grease away from pants and curious fingers, it also keeps dust and grime out of the chain and chainrings to help keep them clean and prolong their life.
The 2021 woom 3 re-designed chain guard (shown below) can rattle over time, and is also a bit of a pain to take off if you need to service the chain.
The woom 3 AUTOMAGIC features an even newer re-design for the chain guard. (See below on the red bike.) This newer design is not fully enclosed, which makes it easier to lube the chain, and which also won’t produce the same rattling issue over time. We much prefer this newest design, which will eventually be featured on all woom 3 models.
Turning Limiter Can Easily Be Removed on the woom 3
Turning limiters prevent kids from steering too sharply. The woom 3 has a removable, elastic turning limiter that gently corrects oversteering to prevent jack-knifing. We recommend using the limiter for new riders who are learning to master steering.
The limiter on the new 2021 models have been improved to prevent the limited from accidentally slipping off. The limiter can be removed for experienced riders.
Kickstand Doesn’t Get in the Way of Pedals
Kickstands can be lifesavers for kids’ bikes, but they can also be a pain. The vast majority of kickstands are mounted right behind the crank arms of the bike. As a result, if kids don’t remember to put up the kickstand before they pedal, the crank arm of the bike will get jammed in the kickstand.
The woom 3’s included kickstand is unique in that it mounts on the rear of the bike, away from the crank arms. As a result, if a child forgets to put up the kickstand, they can still pedal their bike without a problem. The kickstand will then bounce up and out of the way whenever it comes into contact with the sidewalk, grass, or anything in its path.
Improved headset for 2022
woom is contantly innovating and evolving. Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of riding many iterations of woom bikes. And even though you think they’re pretty perfect at the time, woom always finds ways to make them even better.
The headset of the 2021 woom 3 was re-designed to provide more secure connections with the head tube and the handlebars. In 2022 they added a top bolt to the stem to make it even more secure. Essentially the headset and handlebars are less likely to slip out of place over time or in the event of a crash.
Little details make the woom 3 exceptional
One thing that makes woom bikes truly exceptional is the brand’s obsession with tiny details to improve your experience. For example, the seat post on the woom 3 was upgraded in 2021 with two simple features that are actually quite helpful.
First, there is now a small plastic insert in the seat tube so that when you raise and lower the seat post, the post doesn’t get scratched. As moms who have raised and lowered a lot of seat posts, we can testify that this a small but welcomed improvement.
Additionally, the minimum insertion point on the seat post is now clearly marked with a white line and large letters. You can’t miss it! Most other seat posts have black minimum insertion markings that are etched into the black seat post. They can be quite difficult to even see! Thank you, woom, for taking the time to improve even these minor pain points for parents.
While not a functional update, the woom 3 now features a matte-finish seat post quick release, which matches the matte sliver of the crank arms and headset. Certainly not a necessary change, but it looks gorgeous and we love it!
woom 3 vs. Other Brands
Compared to other high-end 16″ bikes, the woom 3 stands out for its light weight as well as its unique chain guard, locking ergo grips, and color-coded braking system.
woom 3 Comparison
|Bike (review link)||WOOM 3||Prevelo Alpha Two||Priority Start 16|
|Seat Height||19.1″ – 25.2″||18″ – 26″||19″ – 23″|
|Handlebar||High||Low||High or Low|
|Weight||13.1 lb.||14.9 lb.||15.9 lb.|
|Brakes||Dual Hand||Dual Hand||Dual Hand|
woom 3: Extremely lightweight, the woom 3’s weight, in combination with its upright geometry and low q-factor, make it our top pick for beginning and really timid riders.
Prevelo Alpha Two: Designed with more aggressive geometry, Prevelo’s lower handlebars and more leaned in positioning make it a great choice for ambitious and adventurous riders.
Guardian Airos 16: Guardian’s unique SureStop braking system completely eliminates the possibility of incorrect braking and allows kids to stop their bike easier, faster, and with more control. Also featuring an upright position, the Guardian is a good choice for riders who can handle a couple extra pounds.
Priority Start 16: The most affordable of the group, the Priority is an excellent choice for those on a tighter budget. It also features an upright geometry as well as a unique grease-free and essentially maintenance-free belt drive.
woom 3 Bike Bottom Line
The woom 3 is one incredible little pedaling machine. Everything about it is impressive – from its lightweight frame and gorgeous paint job to its high-powered brakes and color-coded brake levers. But most impressive of all is how we’ve seen this little bike transform hesitant little riders into completely confident neighborhood adventurers. The proof is in the smiles, and the woom 3 is certainly a smile-maker.
The AUTOMAGIC 2-speed model is worth considering if you think your child will develop a need for speed and won’t be tackling hills frequently.