The woom 3 is our favorite 16 inch bike for beginning or timid riders. In our review, we put the woom 3 to the test with several 4 and 5 year-olds to see how it compares with other top brands.
woom 3 Review
BEST FOR: Balance bike graduates in at least 4T pants. Upright position makes it better suited for timid or average riders.
SEAT HEIGHT: 19.1″ – 24.8″
WEIGHT: 11.7 lb.
BRAKE TYPE: Dual Hand (no Coaster)
woom 3 Review – Results of our Test Rides
If you’re looking for a bike for a timid, beginning rider or simply want a bike that will essentially guarantee a good first riding experience, look no further than the woom 3. Amazingly built for child-specific needs, the woom 3 is our top pick for the average child rider and is especially ideal for timid riders.
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 splay, and a gentle turning limiter.
Weighing a mere 11.7 lbs., the woom 3 is the lightest 16″ bike on the market and is much easier for children to handle than the common 20 lb.+ 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″ bikes.
Upright Positioning = Easier to Ride
To learn 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 and components of the bike were selected to allow a child’s weight to be centered on their hips, thereby making it more natural to balance and to learn to pedal.
Having tested the woom 3 on numerous kids over the last three years, its light weight and upright positioning have made it our go-to bike for those kids struggling to master a pedal bike. Time and time again the woom 3 has amazed parents and kids on how easy it is to ride as compared to other bikes.
Most bikes, including adult bikes, have the rider leaned forward on the bike, which helps the rider better shift around their weight while riding. Shifting your weight around is essential for adult and experienced riders, but is very uncomfortable and quite daunting for new riders. As a result, upright positioning (when paired with a lightweight frame) is ideal for essentially all younger riders, including first-time and timid riders.
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 shown below.
woom 3’s Upright Body Position as Compared to Other 16″ Bikes
The woom 3 has a seat height range of 19.1″ to 24.8″ and best fits ages 4 to 6. 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.
For experienced pedal bike riders moving up from a 12″ or 14″ bike, the woom 3 is a great fit 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 room to grow.
Based on our experience over the last 3 years, we’ve found that most kids will get 2 to 3 years of use out of the woom 3, which is typical for most 16″ bikes. Our tester shown below starting riding the woom 3 at age 4 and while as a 6-year-old (almost 7) he still enjoys riding the woom 3, the woom 4 is a better fit for him now.
As a three-year-old he rode the woom 1. He also fit on the woom 2 at that time but was not yet ready to transition to a pedal bike (the pedals overwhelmed him). A year later he was ready to tackle pedals and by then he was tall enough to ride the woom 3. By age 6 he was ready to ride the 20-inch woom 4.
woom 3 Use by Ages 4, 5 and 6
Narrow Q-Factor = Less Splay
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 spread their legs out in order to pedal. The woom 3’s q-factor is a couple of inches narrower than most 16″ bikes, which allows kids to pedal straight down versus at an angle.
Asking kids to walk with wide steps is awkward, just as asking them to pedal at an angle is. But the woom 3 is built to address children’s unique physical build – narrower frames, larger heads, and longer torsos for their height as compared the adults, as well as less hand/eye coordination. As a result, many of the unnerving first impressions kids often feel on bikes won’t be experienced on the woom 3.
Beyond just feeling good, the woom 3 is also built for safety. When learning to pedal, kids naturally pedal backward. When losing their balance on a bike, adults instinctively pedal backward as well. Most adult bikes don’t have coaster brakes (back pedal brakes) so it generally isn’t a problem, but most kids’ bikes do have a coaster brake. As a result, upon pedaling backward to regain their balance, coaster brakes quickly and unexpectedly stop the bike, which usually leads to a crash.
Determined to address the needs of children, the woom 3 does not have a coaster brake, but rather easy-pull, dual-hand brakes. One of the problems with dual handbrakes, however, 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 that brake first. Its corresponding brake pad on the rear brake is also green.
woom’s Unique Hand Grip and Colored Braking System
The grips on the woom 3 are ergonomically designed to allow kids to comfortably grip the handlebars. The inner portion of the grip is thinner to allow small hands 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 lock in place via a screw to prevent them from sliding off.
Gain Ratio and Chainguard
To make pedaling easier from a standstill, the woom 3 is geared slightly lower as compared to most 16″ bikes. With a 3.56 gain ratio, the bike is easy to get started but requires kids to pedal fast to gain a lot of speed. A 3.56 gain ratio means that the bike will move forward 3.56 inches with every inch the pedals move. As a comparison, the Prevelo Alpha 2, which is designed for more aggressive riders, has a gain ratio of 3.7. That bike will travel farther with every pedal stroke, but every pedal stroke also requires slightly more effort.
To prevent pants from coming into contact with the chain during use, the woom 3 comes with an amazing 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.
woom’s Fully Enclosed Chainguard
The prevent kids from steering too sharply, the woom 3 has a removable, elastic turning limiter than gently corrects oversteering to prevent jack-knifing. We recommend using the limiter for new riders who are learning to master steering. The limiter can be removed for experienced riders.
woom 3’s Removable Turning Limiter
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 them bounce up and out of the way whenever it comes into contact with the sidewalk, grass, or anything in its path.
woom’s Included Kickstand
Compared to other high-end 16″ bikes, the woom 3 stands out for its lightweight as well as its unique chain guard, grips, and color-coded braking system.
woom 3 Comparison
|Features||WOOM 3||Prevelo Alpha Two||Guardian 16 Original||Priority Start 16|
|Bike (review link)||WOOM 3||Prevelo Alpha Two||Guardian 16 Original||Priority Start 16|
|Seat Height||19.1" - 24.8"||18" - 26"||18.5" - 23"||19" - 23"|
|Handlebar||High||Low||High||High or Low|
|Weight||11.7 lb.||14.9 lb.||16 lb.||17 lb.|
|Brakes||Dual-hand, color-coded||Tektro Dual-hand||Tektro dual-hand w/ SureStop||Tektro Dual-hand|
woom 3: Two pounds lighter than its nearest competitor, the woom 3’s lightweight, in combination with its upright geometry and low q-factor, make it our top pick for beginning and really timid riders.
Guardian Original 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 greaseless and essentially maintenance-free belt drive.
The woom 3 is our hands-down favorite bike for the average child rider and is especially ideal for timid riders. Lightweight, easy to ride, and with color-coded safety brake levers, it’s sure to be loved by parents and kids alike.