Words: Trina and Stephen Haynes. Photos: Justin Steiner
Cleary Bikes is a new company founded by Jeff Cleary, a father of two who understands the need for a good quality bike that will be reliable and long lasting. We got our hands on a prototype 20-inch wheeled Cleary Owl.
The Owl ($325) is a stripped down single speed that comes in subtle blue or grey, has front and rear hand brakes and is reminiscent of a BMX bike, only lighter (just 17lbs) and more refined. Internally routed brake cables and cool, minimalist graphics add to the bike’s good looks, without shouting at you.
This lightweight, steel-framed newcomer is easy to wrangle for most kids. The geometry of the Owl aims to center the child’s weight between the saddle and handlebars, giving the rider an attentive stance. The saddle, handlebars, grips and brake levers have all been scaled down to accommodate the small features of children. The grips also feature a “no drop” bar-end designed to keep your Mini Me’s mitts attached to their grips.
Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #31 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a bike review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.
Our seven-year-old son, Odin, immediately took to the Owl, having already mastered the use of handbrakes. This is a point that’s easy to overlook. There aren’t many kid’s bikes out there that are designed with a free wheel and hand brakes. As parents and cyclists, we struggled to find a bike that wouldn’t be a step back developmentally for Odin.
It’s great to see another bike company use parental experience to create a solid bike, with a good price point. The Owl is at home on the street or on the trail and wouldn’t find itself out of place at the local bike park either.
Cleary Bikes offers four different models starting at $205, from gliders to the 20-inch Owl. All of them have two handbrakes, internal cable routing and are singlespeeds. The bikes are currently available to order through the website, and you can receive a sticker kit for your kid to customize their ride.
Tech Editor’s note: The prototype we received had vertical dropouts, but I’m happy to report Cleary Bikes will be implementing horizontal dropouts for easier singlespeed setup. Also, our prototype had riser bars, while the production bikes will feature flat bars.