Below is a response we had to a post on @MTBR regarding why a parent purchased a geared 20" bike from another brand as opposed to a Cleary Owl 20" singlespeed bike. We do love gears, but...
We went with a singlespeed drive train on our bikes because we found kids derailleurs are really cheap and failure-prone. Also, almost every child we tested on a geared bike rode with his chain crossed over. Why they do this is a total mystery to us, but they all do it. Our Owl 20" has a 32x19 gear on it. Mixed with the low bottom bracket and true 19lb weight, the bike climbs really well. We've heard from parents that their kids climb better on their Cleary singlespeed than they did on a previous geared bike. Proper positioning, low weight and smooth chain line go a long way.
And...We are testing a 24" bike that will use a 1x9 drivetrain. By the time a kid is old enough for that bike, we believe she will be able to use gears more appropriately. We'll offer two component choices, race and town. Stay tuned!
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