The Raleigh Molli 16 is part of its latest children's range and it offers a great introduction to riding. It's a decent weight, the paintwork will stand up to plenty of abuse, although the biggest draw for our youngest tester was Molli the dog...
- Pros: Decent quality frame, powerful brakes for little hands
- Cons: Rough feeling headset to start with
Many kids' bikes we test here at road.cc are designed to be smaller versions of adult bikes, from the likes of Islabike and Hoy to name just a couple, but the Molli is a much more traditional model. Its step-through frame makes it easier for young riders to get on and off, and with the higher front end than normal they are encouraged to look further ahead to avoid accidents, or so says Raleigh.
Our tester, Isla, is nearly five and found the Molli very easy to master. She hasn't been riding very long, teaching herself to pedal after mastering the balance bike mode of the Black Mountain Pinto back in the summer, but even with the move to the bigger 16in wheel size of the Molli she didn't need the addition of the included stabilisers.
The length of the wheelbase and the easy-to-live-with neutral handling means that the Raleigh is very well behaved. Even on the first couple of rides getting familiar with its characteristics, Isla never looked to be finding it difficult to get to grips with the steering.
Unlike a lot of this style of kid's bike, the Molli uses an aluminium alloy frame rather than a heavy cheap basic steel and that brings the weight down to just 8.3kg without stabilisers.
Not exactly a lightweight, admittedly, but by ditching a couple of kilos the Raleigh was much easier for her to manoeuvre whether on or off of the bike, plus pulling away and accelerating were all more achievable.
The singlespeed gearing offered plenty of speed to be whizzing along on the flat without making short inclines too much of a chore, especially if she stood out of the saddle to accelerate up them. If you do live anywhere too lumpy, it might become a bit of a challenge.
With the amount of speed available it is good to see that the Molli comes with a decent performing set of V-brakes, and while I have seen many children's bikes with painted rims, the machined braking surface of the Raleigh helped Isla to slow or stop quickly without too much lever pressure.
The levers can be adjusted closer to the handlebar too, should you need to.
When it comes to overall quality the Molli goes a long way to justifying its £170 price tag.
The welding on the frame isn't the prettiest but it is acceptable for the money, and it does have a solid coat of paint over the top. Both it and the decals are then covered by a clear lacquer to stop scratches and paint chips from the inevitable crashes and from getting rested up against walls.
The fork is hi-tensile steel which, although it does add to the overall weight, will stand up well to front end crashes into kerbs and walls and the like.
The wheels are solid and are laced up with 20 spokes front and rear. Riding on the byways and dirt tracks near home saw some mild abuse from stones and the odd pothole but we never had any issues with the wheels going out of true. The bearings in the hubs felt smooth too.
Tyre-wise, the Molli is equipped with 16in x 2.125in rubber and they stood up pretty well to punctures and the like. Being white, though, even the driest of rides will see them look grubby after just a few miles.
One thing that wasn't running that smoothly straight out of the box was the headset, which felt a little rough when turning the handlebar. After the first ride I was going to check how much grease had been used during installation, but after Isla had been whizzing around on it for a few hours everything had settled down and the steering was feeling smooth.
The drivetrain is hidden behind the chainguard which helps keep it clean and stops little fingers from getting trapped. It's all basic stuff but works fine enough and everything remained tight and creak-free.
The large platform plastic pedals are a nice touch, giving plenty of area for small shoes to push against.
The handlebar uses an old school quill style stem which gives a much bigger range of height adjustment than the more common A-head type. It was easy to adjust and with the bar having a width of 520mm it also calms the steering down a bit.
And it gives plenty of space to fit the basket for Molli the dog to perch in too.
The seatpost and saddle are all steel, again with easy adjustment. The saddle upper felt reasonably soft to the touch and I never heard Isla complain about any discomfort on the longer rides around the park.
Most of the kids' bikes we've tested are larger and have extras like gears, which puts the price up so it's a little difficult to gauge the cost against others that we have first hand knowledge of.
A quick trawl around the internet in places like Halfords, for example, will see you getting a similarly sized and specced bike for around the hundred quid mark, but as I said further up the review, those pretty much always have a hi-tensile frame which adds around 2kg to the overall weight. That is a fair amount of heft for a young child and can easily be the difference between them loving to cycle and it becoming a chore.
On the whole, I'd say that the Raleigh is priced higher than many but that doesn't mean it is overpriced; it comes down to how much you think that extra weight of the cheaper bikes will affect your little 'un.
A fun and easy-to-ride young kids' bike thanks to the low weight and decent performing kit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Raleigh Molli 16
Size tested: 16in wheels
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Age Range 5 Years and up
Wheel Size 16 inch Wheel
Frame Size 10"
Frame Aluminium, low step-through
Headset Steel 8pc
Brake Levers Resin bracket aluminium lever, 2 finger, adjustment screws
Brakes Aluminium V-brake, silver with front brake modulator
Chain 1/2" x 1/8"
Pedals Resin junior, rubber non slip pads, 1/2", white/purple
Wheels Aluminium 16" single wall 20h, silver
Rims Aluminium 16" single wall 20h, silver
Stem Steel, purple
Handlebars Steel, 520mm wide, 100mm rise, purple
Grips Junior, 100mm, brown
Saddle Molli, silver steel rail, brown
Seatpost Steel, 27.2 x 152mm, silver
Seat Clamp Aluminium, 31.8, silver
Mudguards Plastic, purple
Chainguard Fully enclosed, purple
Fork Hi-Tensile steel, rigid, 28.6mm
Crankset Steel 1 piece, silver crank
Bottom Bracket Steel 9pc
Front Hub Steel 20h, nutted, silver
Rear Hub Steel 20h, nutted, silver
Inner Tubes Standard 16" schrader valve
Spokes Silver 14g
Also Included Stabilisers, Molli plush dog
Front Mudguard Plastic, purple
Rear Mudguard Plastic, purple
Basket Natural wicker, handlebar straps, brown
Front Tyres 16 x 2.125, white
Rear Tyres 16 x 2.125, white
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Raleigh says, "The Molli is every little girl's dream bike. Inspired by grown up classic bikes the Molli features a beautiful traditional wicker basket, tan grips & saddle and your child's very own Molli Dog toy which is sure to be their new best friend.
"Built with a lightweight aluminium frame and high-rise handlebars, allowing a more upright riding position to encourage young riders to look ahead while riding and avoid accidents. The Molli also comes with stabilisers; an essential feature for your child's first bike which provides them with confidence during their first cycling adventures and allowing them to learn balance and co-ordination safely. Plus, the stabilisers are simple and easy for you to remove once they're ready."
The Molli seems a very easy bike to ride because of its neutral handling and its light weight.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The Molli also comes in a 12in size (£150) and a 14in size for £160.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The welding is neat enough for the money and it has a very hardwearing paint job.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from aluminium alloy while the fork is hi-tensile steel.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Isla never made any complaints about the contact points being uncomfortable.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling of the Molli seemed to be very smooth and steady which gave Isla plenty of confidence.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle had plenty of padding.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
All of the components look pretty basic but feel durable enough to last plenty of miles of abuse.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
Hardwearing wheels with a good braking surface.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
There is a little bit of grip for riding away from the tarmac and they shrugged off any punctures.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The quill stem design gives plenty of adjustment as the child grows.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a fair chunk more expensive than the steel framed bikes on the market, but it does weigh around 2kg less.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The whole package feels well made and Raleigh has delivered a durable, solid bike without making it too heavy to enjoy, if you don't mind paying for it.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.