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Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike

8
£130.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Well designed balance bike of impressive quality, and surprisingly light – ideal for beginners
Very light
Good price
Easy to adjust for multiple kids
Lifetime warranty
No rear brake
Weight: 
2,890g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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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.

> Buy this online here

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - saddle QR.jpg

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - rear.jpg

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - footplate gripper.jpg

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - stem.jpg

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - head tube.jpg

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - tyre.jpg

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - saffle underside.jpg

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - frame.jpg

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).

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - stays.jpg

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.

> 16 of the best kids' bikes – we take a look at everything from balance bikes to junior superbikes

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.

2022 Kidvelo Rookie 12 Balance Bike - head tube badge.jpg

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.

Value

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.

Overall

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.

Verdict

Well designed balance bike of impressive quality, and surprisingly light – ideal for beginners

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

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

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

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

The drivetrain

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
8/10

Solid wheels with a good set of tyres.

Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10

Controls

Your summary

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.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

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.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 36  Height: 5'10  Weight: 80kg

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. 

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