It is hard to decide what to like best about the Cleary Hedgehog–the beautifully painted steel frame, the top-notch componentry, or the way the little bike performs out on the trail. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose. Your child can have it all: form and function.
The Hedgehog is Cleary’s 16″ bike, sized for kids ages 4 to 6. The geometry and design make it look and perform like a real (albeit tiny) mountain bike. That said, it performs just as well on rides around town and on the kindergarten commute as it does on singletrack.
Review in a Nutshell
- Sturdy and attractive steel frame
- High-quality components
- Reversible freehub wheel provides two gear ratios
- Larger than average pedals provide stability and control
- No quick release for the seatpost
Price & Where to Buy:
Cleary Hedgehog Detailed Review
The most unique thing about the Cleary Hedgehog, and all Cleary bikes for that matter, is the steel frame. (Most high-end kids bikes have aluminum frames). Steel versus aluminum is largely a personal preference, although I personally like both the aesthetics and the durably of a steel frame.
The Hedgehog is so durable in fact that it has no maximum rider weight. On the Cleary website, they encourage parents to take the bike for a spin. I decided to take them up on this offer and rode the Hedgehog around one morning while my son was watching his cartoons. The thing was rad, and despite the cinnamon rolls I ate for breakfast, it didn’t so much as groan.
On a more cosmetic note, the paint job on the Hedgehog is beautiful. It has three coats of paint and a protective top coat, and despite multiple crashes while testing the bike, we didnt so much as scratch it.
The Cleary Hedgehog is more than just a nice frame. From the headset to the pedals to the tires and the brakes, each part is quality. The Ahead headset provides smooth steering and is guaranteed to last thru not one but tow kids (or more). Other brand name components include Kenda Kontact tires and Tektro handbrakes.
Speaking of the Tekro handbrakes, they are easy-to-reach and easy-to-pull. Even the smallest, weakest hands will have no problem mastering the brake levers. The Hedgehog does NOT have a coaster which we love. (If you’re not sure why we prefer bikes without a coaster, read this article).
The Kenda Kontact tires have a nice all-terrain tread that rolls fast on pavement but can still handle riding gravel, grass, and mud. If your child plans on doing more serious off-road riding, then you may consider upgrading their tires to something a little more knobby.
The last thing that we really dig about the Hedgehog are the nice big pedals. This gives kids more stability and makes their feet less likely to slip off. The crank arms are also slightly angled out, making the bike ideal for doing “tricks.” Compare the Hedgehog’s pedals (left) to more typical kids bike pedals (right).
The only thing that we can think of that is missing on the build is a quick-release for the seat post. A quick-release seat collar on a kids bike is a must, in my opinion. Kids grow quickly (seemingly overnight) which necessitates frequent seat-height adjustments. Additionally, if you are doing any mountain biking, there is nothing more obnoxious than having to pull out a multi-tool in order to drop the saddle for a big decent. If you decide to purchase the Hedgehog, you might want to invest in a quick-release saddle collar as an upgrade.
The Cleary Hedgehog is an average-sized 16″ bike and will comfortably fit most kids ages 4.5 to 6 years old. My son, who wears a 5T pant, fits perfectly on the bike. The minimum seat height is 19″, which makes it appropriate for kids with an inseam of AT LEAST 17″. If your child is not already a confident pedaler, you would be better off waiting until your child has an inseam closer to 19″.
Unlike many inferior kids bikes, the Cleary Hedgehog has been thoughtfully designed with child-appropriate geometry. It has a long wheelbase which adds stability and nice wide handlebars that improve steering. The handlebars are slightly upswept which provides a more upright riding position than a flat bar.
While not overly agressive, the Hedgehog does have a somewhat leaned-over position compared to a bike like the Woom 3. This is actually nice for athletic, confident kids, but if you have a child that is hesitant or has not yet learned to pedal, you might consider a bike with a more upright riding position.
Reversible freehub wheel
One interesting about the Cleary Hedgehog is that it has a reversible wheel with the option to install different sized cogs on each side. (It only comes with one cog). Whether or not you choose to install a second cog, will largely depend on on the kind of terrain your child is riding. If you go mountain biking on the weekend, and then ride around flat roads during the week, this might make sense.
It is important to note that you have to actually uninstall and flip the wheel to make this gear change so it is still a singlespeed bike, but one that offers slightly more flexibility.
The Cleary Hegehog is a solid bike at a solid price. While it compares favorably to any of the highest-end 16″ bikes out there, it has a more affordable pricetag than many. Because of the steel frame and quality components, you can also expect that this bike will fetch a good resale price on Craigslist or be able to be handed down to a younger sibling.
The Cleary Hedgehog tips the scales at 16 pounds. Compare this to many 16″ department store bikes that weigh nearly double that. A lighter weight bike will make a huge difference in your child’s enjoyment, endurance, and capability.
While light, the Hedgehog does weigh more than the very lightest 16″ bikes. The Prevelo Aplha Two, for instance, weighs 15 pounds, and the Woom 3 comes in at an amazing 13 pounds. (The Hedgehog also happens to be a little cheaper). While I wouldn’t necessarily pass over the Hedgehog based on its weight, I might think twice about a lighter bike if you have a child that is particularly small or lightweight.
Curious how the Cleary Hegehog compares to similar 16″ bikes? Let us help itch that scratch. Here are what we consider the nicest 16″ bikes on the market, and how the Hedgehog compares.
For more information on 16″ bikes, read our article on The Best 16″ Bikes for Kids.
|Bike||Price (MSRP)||Weight||Minimum Seat Height||Freewheel Option||Dual Handbrakes||Training Wheels||Frame Material|
|Prevelo Alpha Two||$370||14.9 lbs||18″||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Woom 3||$370||12.26 lbs||19”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Cnoc 16||$420||14.5 lbs||19”||No||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Pello Revo||$300||16.2 lbs||20”||No||No||No||Aluminum|
|Cleary Hedgehog||$370||16 lbs||19”||Yes||Yes||No||Steel|
|Early Rider Belter||$420||12.5 lbs||19.5”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Spawn Banshee||$350||15 lbs||18.5”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|Stampede Bikes Sprinter||$250||17.8 lbs||22”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
|ByK E-350*||$259||17.6 lbs||18”||No||Yes||Yes||Aluminum|
|Ridgeback Dimensions||$349||16 lbs||20.5”||Yes||Yes||No||Aluminum|
* All the bikes on this list have 16” wheels, with the exception of the ByK E-350 which has 18” wheels
For a parent that wants a nice-looking bike, and for a kid who wants a nice-riding bike, the Cleary Hedgehog is a winner. It is speced with top-shelf components, has a rock-solid steel frame, and rides like a dream. Whether your little one needs a new bike to ride to kindergarten or to hit the pump track, the Hedgehog will deliver.
Disclosure: We were given a loaner bike by Cleary Bikes to facilitate this review. We were not compensated in any way for writing the review, and all opinions are our own. Some links in this review are affiliate links–meaning if you end up clicking thru and making a purchase, we get a small percentage back.
Also a special thanks to Motion Makers in Asheville who built up our Hegehog and helped ship it back to Cleary. If you are in Asheville, NC check out their shop–they are Cleary dealers!