Three Bikes in One, Littlebig Convertible Balance Bike Review
If you read ENDURO, you will know that having a bike that fits is vital for enjoyment. However, it’s not so easy when that comes to kids bike – they grow so fast that the moment you roll a new bike into their lives, it’s already too small. Award-winning Irish brand Littlebig have a solution with their convertible bike
There is a lot to be said for a bike that grows with your child. Not only does it massively reduce manufacturing waste, helping to protect the world that our little ones will grow up into, but it also means that there will be less ‘transition stages’ where your child is riding a bike that is too small, or indeed too big. We reviewed the Black Mountain PINTO bike in midsummer, impressed with its versatility, and now we have discovered the original growing bike, designed and assembled in Ireland, the affordable €195 Littlebig balance bike (€250 for the balance bike and additional pedal conversion)..
The LittleBig is essentially three bikes in one, starting as a cool 14 inch wheeled balance bike, as your child gets bigger the bike can be converted to give 100 mm more seat height and 50 mm more reach. Once balancing has been mastered, you can attach the optional pedals and drivetrain so your wee shredder can take their first exciting steps into pedal power. LittleBig claim the bike will be suitable for your child from 2 – 7 years old, replacing a number of bikes. As soon as your child has an inside leg measurement of more than 37 cm, they will be able to comfortably put both feet on the ground and be ready to start their biking journey.
When it comes to kids bikes, weight is very important. Not only does the bike need to be manoeuvred by a small rider, but in many cases, you will end up carrying it back from the park. On our scales, the LittleBig worked out at 5.3 kg in its balance bike setup and 6.7 kg in the full bike with pedals. This is a little heavier than the Black Mountain and some of the more expensive kids’ bike on the market, but still significantly lighter than the average steel balance bike. This is mainly due to the 6061-T6 aluminium frame (the forks are steel). There are a lot of great features that mountain biking parents will like, the aheadset stem and 500 mm wide aluminium riser bars provide a light and strong cockpit. We like the slim kids grips and V-brakes with easy-reach brake levers than can be operated by even the smallest hands. The bike runs on 14-inch wheels with 20 spoke aluminium rims and Innova tyres. When the optional crank is attached, the gearing features a 28 tooth chainring with a chain guard and 14 tooth freewheel.
During testing, we passed the bike around out chief team of mini-shredders, between 2 and 4. Starting with the balance bike in its lowest setting, our smallest 2-year-old test pilot could comfortably put his feet down and scoot the bike. The slack 66 degree head angle and ‘oh so’ good 78 degree seat angle meant that the bike was very stable and it only took a few minutes before straight line blasts were mastered. When it came to the corners the slack head angle and long wheelbase meant that a little help was needed at times, so we would say the Littlebig should only be introduced at 2 for strong and tall toddlers – while those on the smaller end of the scale would best wait until they have a little more muscle. Converting the bike to the bigger balance bike impressed us with the quality of the fixtures and fittings, taking no more than 5 minutes to change the modes. In the ‘big’ balance bike mode, the Littlebig was an instant hit with our 3-4-year-old testers, with great brakes and a comfortable ride. Long, low and slack, the Littlebig ticks all the boxes and we were soon chasing down the park after the high-octane shredders.
NOTE: We always recommend wearing a helmet while riding. While our two-year-old tester above loves his Lazer Peanut helmet, getting him to wear it with a big camera around was not going to happen, kids eh…..
The beauty of bikes like the Littlebig is that it allows easy progression onto pedals. Your wee shredder will already be used to braking from the balance bike mode and the handling will feel familiar, so they are free to focus on pedalling. Fitting the pedals takes around 15 minutes and once setup you have a fully featured bike. Littlebig claim that the bike is suitable for kids up to seven but in our opinion that would have to be a very small seven year old. With the spacer under the stem and the negative rise stem flipped over, the handlebar height and seat height seemed a perfect fit for average sized kids in the 4-5 year range. We did feel that the 28/14 ratio was too high if you plan to ride where there are lots of hills, needing some muscle to get going, but on flat terrain, our testers were soon zipping about with huge smiles on their faces. Comparing it to other 16 inch bikes on the market, the Littlebig is a little more compact, and thus we would imagine most owners would look to change the bike at around 5 years.
We were very impressed with the Littlebig bike. With great build quality and an innovative design, it easily guides your mini-shredder through their exciting journey from balance bike to pedal powered adventures. While there are lighter options on the market, the Littlebig is a very affordable solution to ease the cost of parenthood.
For more information check out the Littlebig site.