Cleary Hedgehog (16") 3-speed conversion- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Cleary Hedgehog (16") 3-speed conversion

    So, my daughter (6.5) inherits her bikes from her older brother (9). However, she's very small, so a certain bike (say, the 16" or the 20") fits her about 2-2.5Y later than it fitted her brother.

    Which means that by now she can understand and maybe operate a shifter, but she's still too small for the 20" geared bike.

    We did have a 16" single speed Cleary Hedgehog, so I thought: can I upgrade this bike with gears?

    I didn't like the solutions I found on the forums, like 2x1 (with or without derailleur), or internal gear hub with 3 speed.

    I'll put the photos first, and then specify the process, which was somewhat challenging:

    Cleary Hedgehog (16") 3-speed conversion-dsc05547.jpg

    Cleary Hedgehog (16") 3-speed conversion-dsc05550.jpg

    So, the idea is based on the availability of

    1. A cassette BMX hub, which allows 3 cogs installation, with 9- or 10-speed spacing

    2. A derailleur hanger for single speed BMX bikes

    No. 2 was easy to find, but apparently No. 1 is quite rare: most modern BMX cassette hubs now has 14mm axles, which wouldn't fit the traditional slots of the Cleary frame. Also, high-end BMX hubs are expensive. Finally, I managed to find a cassette hub for 112mm frame spacing, with a 3/8" axle, that seamed to be able to load 3 cogs.

    First test was done on the hub alone:

    Cleary Hedgehog (16") 3-speed conversion-hub_1.jpg

    Cleary Hedgehog (16") 3-speed conversion-hub_2.jpg

    After the 3 cog installation was proven, I went to install the whole gearing system:

    Cleary Hedgehog (16") 3-speed conversion-hub_install_test2.jpg

    Success!

    Now I had to build a wheel.

    Most 16" rims are BMX-oriented rims, heavy and strong, with 36 holes. That's obviously an overkill for such a light kid. I managed to find a 24-hole light aluminum rim, and went for a specialist friend (www.velodrome.co.il) to design the spoke lengths for a wheel with 36-hole hub and 24-hole rim.

    I ordered the spokes, pre-cut to the required size on Ebay.

    The result works perfect. She can already upshift (that's always easier) and I guess will soon be able to downshift. The weight penalty seems to be OK, although I didn't weigh the bike before:

    Cleary Hedgehog (16") 3-speed conversion-thumbnail.jpg

  2. #2
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    Looks nice - I'd argue that based on the saddle height and angle of the brake levers I see, she could probably fit on a 20" with low standover.

    Cannondale cujo 20 + thin pivotal saddle gives a pretty similar minimum saddle height to some 16" bikes, and putting non-plus tires on would drop it even further.

    Admittedly my perspective comes from the XC racing oriented parents I know around here being pretty aggressive about moving kids up to bigger wheel sizes as quickly as they can.

    One note on ease of shifting down - try tilting the levers so that she's pushing more down than forward. That seems to be a common solution to make it easier for kids to get the force needed.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimTucker View Post

    One note on ease of shifting down - try tilting the levers so that she's pushing more down than forward. That seems to be a common solution to make it easier for kids to get the force needed.
    Thanks, I'll try that.

    As for moving her to 20": our 20" bike, Trek Superfly, has a bottom bracket which is only 1cm taller than the Cleary, so in terms of saddle height, that might work.

    BUT, the Trek is 7cm longer. Currently she would be too streched on that frame.
    Last edited by oren_hershco; 12-22-2019 at 04:31 AM.

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