Kidvelo Rookie 14 review – balance bike mode
The Kidvelo Rookie 14 is a larger-than-usual balance bike that converts into a pedal bike when your child is ready.
We've been sent the bike to test and in this article we'll be looking at how our 5 year old reviewer has handled the transition from a 12 inch to a 14 inch wheel balance bike.
If you've not yet heard of Kidvelo it may be because they're a relatively new brand on the block. However, the owners have been in the cycle trade for a long time, and know exactly what does, and doesn't, make a great balance bike.
Having been distributors for one of the world's best known balance bikes, they started producing their own bikes in 2019 and haven't looked back.
They started with a 12-inch balance bike and have more recently released a 14" and 18" wheel balance to pedal bike to add to the range and have a 24" wheeler coming later in the year.
Bike Model: Kidvelo Rookie 14
Child age: 3 – 6 years
Inside Leg: 40 – 59 cm inseam
Tester Age/Height: 4 yrs 10 months old, 111 cm tall, 47cm inside leg (at the end of the review period)
Weight: 4.7 kg balance bike mode. 6.2 kg pedal mode.
Date of review: June 2023
What we like: Fun, easy-to-ride balance bike that promises an easy transition to pedalling when the child is ready!
The Rookie 14 balance bike review
Having spent time with the Rookie 12, we were excited to get our hands on the next bike in the Kidvelo lineup.
We were even more excited to learn it was a convertible balance bike that would ease the transition from scooting to pedalling!
We really enjoyed the Rookie 12 and you can read our review here. It didn't try to reinvent the balance bike, but rather produce a great example of how to do it well.
With clean lines, lightweight, footrests, and a great price, Kidvelo obviously know what they are doing.
For my little tester, moving up from the 12-inch rookie, was an easy transition. It was simply a slightly larger bike, only this time with brakes.
Oh, and the colour was different, but fortunately they approved and on they hopped.
Essentially the Rookie 14 is 'just' a bigger version, but that's what is great if you stick with the same brand.
It's lightweight, looks good and is easy to ride.
The frame is made of 6061 aluminium it weighs in at 4.7kg in 'balance' mode making it easy for little people to get around.
It is furnished with 14-inch wheels, as per the name, and this makes it a little bigger than the 'classic' 12-inch wheeled balance bike which is the most common size.
Those wheels run with slick tyres nodding towards a pavement bike that might not be looking to get off-road so I was interested to see how it handled more challenging terrain.
As this is a bike that converts to a pedal bike it comes with brakes, both front and rear, with small-sized levers for small-sized hands!
Everything about the bike has a quality and robust feel, from the saddle to the handlebars.
The handlebars have a high-rise shape putting hands higher than is normal with most balance bikes, and there is some adjustment with spacers under the stem.
Given this is converting bike, there is a cog on the back wheel ready to be engaged, and also a 'split' in the frame with a couple of bolts, where a chain or belt can be fitted.
Riding the Rookie 14 (balance bike)
We will concentrate on the balance bike mode for now. My little rider is nearly 5, pretty tall, but still not keen on pedalling. Once we have the pedals on we will write a separate review of the bike in pedal mode but these things just can't be rushed!
So for my rider who was moving on from the 12-inch version, there was little difficulty in swapping over.
The transition was seamless, the only difference being the addition of brakes.
These were largely ignored for a while, but more recently they have engaged with these to good effect, and is great to be learning to brake before the pedals go on.
The bike is light, and the slick tyres roll very easily on the pavement and the footrests mean feet can be tucked out of the way on downhills to pick up speed.
As suspected when we went off-road a couple of times there were issues with the slick tyres. They don't offer much grip on sandy/muddy trails.
We had one tumble when attempting to find the limits of grip over some off-road lumps and bumps.
The larger wheels have helped a bit while keeping up with the older sibling, and the Rookie 14 is highly manoeuvrable for chasing each other down the street.
Pump tracks have been a winner, and we have enjoyed laps upon laps with the Rookie 14.
The addition of brakes has been useful for controlling some of the steeper rollers and the upright riding position has proven very successful. It keeps the rider upright, and comfortable and seems to make for a stable and secure position.
We have talked about pedals... but for now, we haven't committed to bolting them on, but the beauty of the Rookie 14 is that there is no rush and no pressure.
I know when they are ready, the transition will be pretty straightforward as they are pretty handy on the bike and can cruise along with feet up on the rests.
It will happen, but when they are ready, which is how it should be!
Alternatives to the Rookie 14
The Rookie 14 sits in a very niche space as there are so very few bikes that bridge the gap between balance biking and pedalling, particularly at this price point (£235).
The Black Mountain Skog (£399) is the only real alternative, but comes in at a much higher price, due to the growing frame technology. The tyres on the SKOG are more suited to off road riding, so it may appeal if you're planning on raising a mini-mountain biker.
However, for most families, the other alternatives are to either:
b) take the pedals off a regular 14" wheel pedal bike until your child is ready to learn.
With such limited competition, the Kidvelo 14 really has hit a niche and we're looking forward to transitioning this bike through to the pedalling phase in the next few months.
Final thoughts on the Rookie 14 balance bike
The Rookie 14 balance bike is fun, lightweight and easy to ride.
It is a good choice for a 3 or 4 year old who has never had a balance bike before or who is struggling on stabilisers and needs to learn to balance.
Knowing that it can convert from a balance bike into a pedal bike allows young riders to stay in the balance mode for as long as they need without any pressure to 'progress'.
With two bikes for the price of one in an affordable package, it's a brilliant option for a child who is almost-but-not-quite-ready for a "proper" bike.
Before you go...
Have you thought about how you will know when your child is ready to learn to pedal?
There's a temptation to start early, but if it's too soon it can leave them anxious and you frustrated.
Take our questionnaire, which is cunningly called "Is my child ready to learn to ride" and we'll send you a personalised report with hints and tips for getting your child pedalling at the right time for them and you.
Keep up to date with the latest Cycle Sprog articles
Sign up to receive our newsletter straight to your inbox.
Other articles you might be interested in: