Gear Review: WOOM 2 Bike Review

    • Rating:
    • Reviewed by: Amelia
    • Price (MSRP): $339
    • Category:
    • Best Use: Multi-use
    • Where to Buy: Woom Bikes Site
    • Testing Location: Trails and paved areas
    • Testing Environment: All conditions

    If you aren’t familiar with WOOM Bikes, take a look at our post about the company and what makes the bikes stand out as a fantastic and highly-recommended choice for kids. Teaser: they are THE best bikes we have seen for kids.

     

    The WOOM2 is the next step up from the WOOM1, which is a 12″ balance bike. As a bit of a comparison, all other balance bikes that my kids have been on have had smaller than 12″ wheels. Before riding the WOOM2, P had been on a 12″ Specialized Hotrock. He is small for his age, so finding bikes that fit his ability has been a bit trickier. He weighs about ~27 pounds and wears a size 3T pant. I was honestly a little concerned that the WOOM2 would be too big for him since the bike has 14″ wheels.

     

    WOOM 2 Bike Review

     

    In the United States, CPSC 15.12 requires that all sidewalk bikes must have a coaster brake (coaster brake = a brake in the hub of the rear wheel of a bicycle operated by reverse pressure on the pedals.) As a bit of a note, if you do some research you’ll notice there are other bikes on the market without a coaster brake but they are illegal. Because of their deep conviction in the fact that coaster brakes are in fact detrimental to the biking learning process, WOOM offers a “freewheeling kit” accessory you can buy for $29. The WOOM 2 and 3 both come equipped with hand brakes AND coaster brakes to make the process easy.

     

    A quick review as to why hand brakes are preferred:

    – The coaster brake is heavier than the freewheel. The bike is just easier to pedal without it.

    – When using coaster brakes, an emergency stop is only possible whenever one of the pedals is positioned at the 1 o ´clock position while riding.  This contains significant risks as the child can only perform an emergency stop whenever the pedal is in the right position. In case the pedal is in not in the correct position in an emergency situation, your child might not be able to brake adequately. We’ve seen this be an issue for both of our boys.

    – Introducing the concept of using the break will make their life much easier in the long run and most important of all, much safer. Especially important is the front brake, which delivers the braking power.  Learning how to work both brakes is essential for children as they grow up. P (aged 3.5) wants to ride all the trails that his older brother does (go figure). However, until he is proficient using BOTH handbrakes at the same time, we will not let him ride them. The coaster brake is just not safe because it only brakes one wheel.

     

    Because we didn’t think it was quite fair to throw our child from a coaster brake bike he had been riding for over a year to a freewheeling bike, we kept the coaster brake on for the first few weeks. However, if he had been young enough to be transitioning from a balance bike (preferably with handbrakes to start practicing with like the WOOM1), it would have made sense to skip the coaster brakes altogether. Just one less skill to master for a just-learning biker.

     

    As a bit of a background, we told P that he could not ride (steepish) trails like his big brother until he was not using a coaster brake and was confident with his hand brakes, from purely a safety standpoint. That was enough motivation for him to practice daily and be asking to get it switched out within a week.

     

    While WOOM recommends the switch out only be done by a bike shop professional, Mtn Papa has worked on bikes for years and years and was able to do it at home. He noticed right away a huge weight difference, which means a LOT when you are a small rider. While it did take P a week or so before he was confident to ride on the bigger hills (mostly hand and arm strength to be braking significantly), the improvements to his ease of riding make the transition absolutely worth it.

    – He can start himself much easier since the pedals easily turn front or back for proper placement for riding

    – The bike is lighter (even a pound or two make a really big difference) so he rides easier

    – The braking is more effective so he is more confident as a rider

     

    The video below shows P starting himself (notice him easily getting his pedals in the right place to start), riding up a slight incline and then coming back to me and using the brakes. He does put his feet down too in the video, but he is a good enough rider (AKA “braker”) that I let him ride on a substantial grade hill now without worry.

     

    The WOOM2 keeps riders at a more upright angle to help them feel more balanced and in control of the bike. I refer you to the Two Wheeling Tots review of the WOOM2 & WOOM3 because she does such an exceptional job at explaining the importance of good geometry. Right away, P felt more comfortable on his WOOM2 than the 12″ Specialized, despite it being a larger bike, mostly because of how he sat on the bike.

     

    WOOM 2 Bike Review

     

    The hand brakes are also built for small hands. However, I was skeptical as to whether they would fit P’s small hands. Even other balance bikes with “small hand grips” he has been on have been too difficult for him to work (mostly because the reach was too far). While it will only get easier as he gets bigger, the WOOM2 was not a problem. We continue to work on the importance of using BOTH hands and building that foreharm/hand strength for ease of braking – again, which only improves with practice.

     

    WOOM 2 Bike Review

     

    According to our scales, the 12″ Specialized Hotrock the WOOM2 (with the free wheel) and  were actually very close in weight (a little over ~15 lbs). However, the larger size of the wheel makes a big difference as far as a faster ride, but more importantly, a smoother ride on rougher terrain. Trails can be pretty hard to navigate on 12″ wheels because the bumps are so magnified. Removing that coaster brake brought the bike down about a pound. Might not seem like much, but when the bike only weighs 16 pounds to start with, that’s a significant reduction.

     

    WOOM 2 Bike Review


    The Bottom Line

    To be perfectly honest, if you want your child to LOVE biking and be successful (and you plan to foster that with family biking and biking opportunities), there is no other bike I would recommend spending the money on. I'm not saying that children could not be successful on other bikes (and totally are - our kids were some of them), but the WOOM2 stands out as such an exceptional bike that it is absolutely worth the little extra investment with the payoff of quicker successes, especially for smaller riders.

    The WOOM2 is built for small riders in mind and the entire package is obviously geared towards helping little ones become great bike riders fast.

    In our home we ride bikes daily. We live around some pretty serious hills and our kids really feel the weight of heavier bikes. Their bikes are THEIR "sanity time" and outlet time - they love riding and we love to see them succeeding! The WOOM2 has changed our 3 year old into a "lets get by and push this bike up the hill" to an independent and confident rider. Absolutely golden for us!

    WOOM generously provided us demo bikes in order to facilitate this review.  However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own.

    © 2015, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

      Comments

      1. Glad to read a review of these bikes, which look great. Just as a point of clarification, the CPSC “sidewalk bike” standards are a set of absurd alternative standards manufacturers can satisfy IF the bike cannot (or the manufacturer chooses not) to meet the more rigorous traditional CPSC “bike” regulations and the highest seat height is less than 25″. Both the sidewalk bike and bike standards can be found at 16 C.F.R. Part 1512. The Cleary Bikes 16″ Hedgehog (which we own and like) is entirely legal and has been reviewed and approved by the CPSC (which regrettably made Cleary change out the front quick release for allen key bolts).

      2. Melissa,
        Thank you for your kind words about WOOM Bikes. We are proud to offer parents another choice of high quality bikes for their young riders. We truly appreciate parents that are investing in and promoting an active lifestyle for their little ones. We count on parents like you to spread the word to others about the importance of quality bikes.
        I ‘d like to take a moment to comment about the CPSC “sidewalk bike” requirements. I’ll try to keep it short but here are my comments and some more insight: The European versions of WOOM2 and WOOM3 have two hand brakes only and do NOT have a coaster brake. Amelia summarized the advantages of this design in the above article very well. We honestly wish we could offer our European versions in the US without the coaster brake, but working with the CPSC and code 1512 showed that both WOOM2 and 3 are considered per definition: “sidewalk bicycles.” We have spent a significant amount of time and resources to modify our European design to fit this US requirement:
        Per CPSC §1512.2: Sidewalk bicycle means a bicycle with a seat height of no more than 635 mm (25.0 in); the seat height is measured with the seat adjusted to its highest position
        Max seat height of WOOM 2 = 54cm and WOOM 3 = 60.5 cm
        This implies that both models are considered “sidewalk bicycles” per definition and are required to have a “foot brake. ” Both models continue to have the two hand brakes but are also equipped with a coaster brake as well.
        Per CPSC §1512.5 Requirements for braking system
        (e) Sidewalk bicycles. (1) Sidewalk bicycles shall not have handbrakes only.
        We have contacted and worked with the CPSC to verify these regulatory requirements. The CPSC confirmed that our models 2 and 3 are required to have foot brakes. In addition, the CPSC did give us the green light to offer a “free wheeling kit” as an after market purchase to retrofit the bike with a free wheel.
        I am not very familiar with the bike that you own. I can only speculate: perhaps the maximum seat post height is greater than 63.5cm for this model which would no longer make it a “sidewalk bicycle” per CPSC definition?
        One more difference I wanted to highlight: There is one other requirement that is different to the European version of the bike: The “protective guard.”
        Per CPSC §1512.9 outlines the requirements for protective guards.
        (a) Chain guard. Bicycles having a single front sprocket and a single rear sprocket shall have a chain guard ……
        Based on this requirement, we have to offer WOOM2 and 3 in the US also with the chainguard.
        Hope this helps a little bit. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me directly at infousa@woombikes.com and I’d be happy to provide more insight or discuss this further.
        Thank you
        Your WOOM Team

      3. So, can i ask:
        if I’m planning on a pedal bike for my shortish 2.5yo (for his next birthday), who is an experienced and confident balance bike rider, would it be right to say that you do not recommend the specialized 12″ so much, and would opt for woom? BTW, in the UK there is no coaster brake in either, yet a huge price difference between them: £150 vs £260.
        What do you think?

        • So….really depends on how small your son is! My son is tiny for his age and was pedaling a bike before he was 3. At that point, the WOOM2 would have been too big for him. Both are good bikes, but the Specialized really is substantially heavier. What is his inseam measurement? That could rule out one of them right away. However, I always say buy the bike you can afford. If you can afford the WOOM, you have measured and know he will fit on it AND you have other kids (or plan to) to pass it down to (or take advantage of their buy back program), then I would go WOOM. It’s hands-down a better bike. If you just can’t, you won’t be disappointed with a Specialized AND your kid is on pedals 😉

      4. maude derome says:

        Hi Amelia, thank you so much for this great review which adds quite well to the one I read on TwoWheelingTots. I am about to buy a new bike for my 3 1/2 years old boy and I am hesitating between an Islabikes CNOC14 and WOOM2. Like you, we live in the outdoors (in a regional park) on a hilly dirt/paved road and, as the CNOC14 has a lower weight (12,4 lbs) and a lower gear ratio, I thought it would be easier for my son to start pedaling the bike and go up these (gentle) hills withe Islabike. Apparently, the WOOM2 would fit his size better (inseam 15,5″, 40″ tall) so I am confused now. What is your experience with the WOOM2 and your son riding his bike on an uphill incline ? What about the hand brakes, did it take long for him to master them ? My son is on the athletic side and very agile and fast on his balance bike but he has never used a hand brake and I don’t know how he will do with it (and I need him to be able to brake…gentle hills means we go down as well 😉
        Oh one last thing, I know this has nothing to do with the bike review but are you still satisfied with your ducksday rain suit ? I have been looking for real waterproof jacket / pants for my son and it is so hard to find (especially here in Quebec) ! We tried Oakiwear but we had a pretty bad experience (the chemical smell was awful, the hood would not even cover his head, the mittens lasted less than 3 days (!!), the boots only one summer (totally unglued) and the velcro from the pants a few months only…) I was about to try Abeko but then I found your review of Ducksday with sealed zippers, woohoo !!!! Are you still sastisfied with their product ? If not, any other suggestion? Thank you again so much for your work, you are definitely helping a lot of parents taking their kids outside !

        • HI Maude – to be fair, I haven’t had my kids on Isla bikes. However, my son can do hills he could NEVER do on other bikes on the WOOM2 and apparently it’s even lighter now that it used to be. He had to build his hand strength a little bit at first with the hand brakes, but we switched him over cold turkey (just kept him on flat roads for a week or so) and he did just fine. I understand your concern, though – I felt the same way! I can’t recommend WOOM enough – I Have been nothing but 100% pleased with them.

          So sorry Oakiwear was horrible for you! I agree the hoods aren’t as great as I wish they were, but we have never dealt with other quality issues. 🙁 and yes, we still love DucKsday. I prefer them because of the generous hood particularly. And they are a bit softer and more comfortable I think. My kids are really rough on them and eventually the zippers are a bit tougher to zip…but I think some lube would help. They keep the kids dry! Looking up Abeko now too.. 😉

          Let me know if you have any other questions!
          =) Amelia

          • maude derome says:

            Thank you so much for your quick answer, I have just ordered the WOOM2 and can’t wait for my son to try it (he has been asking for it every 30 minutes for the last week…) ! I chose the WOOM over the Islabikes because of (1) your good review, (2) the smaller size, (3) the fact that I could get it with the freewheel kit installed for free (we don’t have the same laws here in Canada about the coaster brakes) and, due to the bad exchange rate, (4) we get free delivery to Canada (and free 90 days return), yeahhh ! About the rain gear, my son doesn’t want a one-piece suit anymore (boohoo !!!) and I am looking for some overalls instead, which apparently DucKsday don’t make 🙁 If you had no issue with the Oakiwear quality, I might give them another try with the neoprene trousers instead, I really want to like them, their ideas are great, I don’t know why ours didn’t last…Any recommandation for playing in big water puddles and mud (in cool weather) between Ducksday pants or Oakiwear trousers (or anything else)? You were lucky enough to try them both so I am using your great knowledge and experience again, sorry for all these questions ! As French Canadians living on the East Coast, it is SO hard and expensive to get good gear for our kids, I am trying to make sure I order the right stuff before being bankrupted…and wet 😉 Thanks again and enjoy the Spring, if it has arrived at Yellowstone (we’ve just got a new 30 cm of snow here…)

      5. Great review! We are testing the Woom 1 & Woom 2 right now and love them! I agree with all your points. So surprised to hear coaster brakes are the law. I only had them on my 1st bike and find them downright dangerous! They also don’t work as well as hand brakes, so I was happy to see that even the Woom 1 has a hand brake. My youngest is so much more confident with brakes that work.

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