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The Kidvelo Rookie 12 is an excellent choice for any new rider – well designed, well built, and surprisingly light.
Kidvelo is a relatively new name to us here at road.cc – they only formed in 2019, and launched bikes at the tail end of 2021. It's actually a joint venture between businesses in the UK and Australia, both being longterm official distributors for Strider Bikes and very familiar with the market.
There are currently three models in the range: the Rookie 12 we have here, the Rookie 14 and the Rookie 18. Interestingly, the larger models can be converted from balance bikes to pedal bikes with a few additions. Pedals, for instance...
Unsurprisingly, the Rookie 12 is pretty simple 10 minute job to assemble; it's a balance bike, there aren't many moving parts. You just use the supplied Allen keys to fit the front wheel, and the bars. The saddle height is easy to adjust with the quick release lever.
The frame is lightweight 6061 aluminum tubing, and the traditional double triangle gets a few alterations to suit smaller riders. The top tube sweeps down low so it's easy for even the smallest of legs to step over the frame – it was certainly fine for our three year-old test pilot to jump on and off with no problem at all. It's not as low or easy to mount as the Hornit Airo, though.
The short seat tube creates a low centre of gravity once they're on, and the chainstays flare out around the seat tube to create footrests. They're topped with black grip tape and ready for more confident riders as they pick up speed and want to keep their feet clear of the ground.
The head tube sits a few inches higher than many similar bikes, and the bars rise up and are slightly swept back. This definitely gave our test rider a more upright position than other balance bikes we've tried, and helped them keep looking forward whilst were riding.
The bike has a proper headset and sealed bearings on the wheels, and that means things stay running smoother for longer – handy if it's being handed down to another small cyclist.
The 12in pneumatic Compass Lite tyres on alloy rims make for a comfy ride, and are much better than the solid or plasticky tyres found on lower-end balance bikes. The bars have rubberised grips with end stoppers to prevent nasty injuries too, and there's even a neoprene cover over the stem for padding.
The saddle is comfy and padded, with a moulded handle under the back; useful if you're running alongside giving extra stability, and even more useful for carrying the bike once they're bored. The quick release saddle clamp is also really handy if the bike is being shared amongst siblings or friends.
The Rookie is available in a blue, green, pink or red, which should cover most kids' tastes, and the glossy paint with bold black and white decals has a hint of 'retro' about it. For me it doesn't quite hit the mark and can look a little clunky against the competition, such as that Hornit AIRO or the Early Rider range, though obviously looks are subjective. As is 'retro.' Especially if you're three and tired.
Like several other bikes in its class, the Rookie 12 doesn't have a rear brake. It's certainly not an essential on a first bike, but it's worth considering when investing – in Kidvelo's case they have that covered with the next bike in the range, so if it's important to you that's an option (for later, at least).
The Rookie 12 has a 30kg maximum weight limit, and a saddle height range of 30cm-44cm. Our own test rider fitted nicely into that bracket with a 40cm inside leg measurement.
The Rookie 12 gave us a shock when we stuck it on the road.cc scales of truth – it's 2.89kg, even lighter than the Hornit AIRO, which claims to be 'lighter than all 23 comparable competitors.' There's only a few grams in it (the AIRO is 2.95kg), but the Rookie is a very light bike. It's super easy for small children to manhandle (childhandle?) without it feeling so light it's flimsy.
Direct from Kidvelo this has an RRP of £130 (although it's currently £110), and that includes free DPD delivery and a 30-day returns policy. You also get a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork, a two-year component warranty and a one-year accessories warranty. All good bonuses.
Competition-wise there's the aforementioned Hornit AIRO which offers a similar spec and weight, but comes in slightly more expensive at £139. The Isla Bikes Rothan 12 is a similar weight again and has a rear brake, although you're paying £199.99 for the privilege.
The Ridgeback Scoot also has a rear brake but is both more expensive than the Kidvelo at £149 and heavier at 4.97kg. Lower down the price scale, Wiggle has the Vitus Smoothy balance bike at just over 3kg and £89.99.
The Rookie 12 really delivers in terms of quality, function and a confidence-inspiring ride. It may not stand out from the crowd in terms of looks, but it certainly delivers on all other fronts.
Well designed balance bike of impressive quality, and surprisingly light – ideal for beginners
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike
Size tested: n/a
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
The frame is 6061 aluminum tubing, there's an alloy bar and stem, pneumatic Compass Lite tyres, and alloy wheels with sealed bearings.
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?
It's a balance bike for first time riders. Kidvelo recommend it for ages of 18 months up to 4.5yrs.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This is their smallest in a range of three bikes; there are two larger sizes to upgrade to as the rider grows.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Classic looking double triangle design.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
6061 aluminum tubing
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Well thought through, with angles to suit a child rider.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It's a good size, with enough saddle height options to accommodate a growing child. The slightly higher than normal head tube works well to keep the rider's head up and looking ahead instead of downwards.
Riding the bike
Wheels and tyres
Solid wheels with a good set of tyres.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, it's a good bike for a first-timer
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 falls about where you'd expect for the spec and well thought-through design.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Rookie 12 really delivers in terms of quality and function. It may not stand out from the crowd in terms of looks, but it certainly delivers on all other fronts.
About the tester
I usually ride: Genesis Equilibrium 20, KHS Flite 100 Singlespeed/Fixed, Wattbike Atom My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Indoor training/Zwift
Oli has been a road.cc staffer since day one. He's the creative and photography force behind the site, and has got a keen eye for good quality, well designed cycling kit. You'll find him on his bike most days whether it's commuting, riding with his kids, or tackling a climb on Zwift. He's got a penchant for a steel frame and has had 'fit mudguards' on his To Do list for nearly 8 years now. Likes: France, gin, cat memes. Dislikes: fitting mudguards.