You might not have heard of Avanti Bikes, originally based out of New Zealand, they are also found in Australia and a few other countries around the world. They do a good range of bikes and the Lil Ripper is their take on a girls balance bike. There’s also a boys version (blue with black tires) so they’re not left out.
Intended as a robust, first bike for toddlers and kids who like to test their limits, it uses a tough, traditional looking frame with a large saddle and spoked wheels with air-filled tires. If your kids particularly hard on their gear this might be the one you’ve been looking for.
I bought the Lil Ripper before my daughter turned 1, she’s now 2 1/2 and it’s now starting to be used more frequently, with the air filled tires I expect we will be doing some trips to the skatepark and BMX track in the future.
Avanti Lil Ripper Details
- 12″ Wheel Size
- Air Filled (pneumatic tires) with inner tubes
- Separate handlebar and quill stem for extra adjustability
- Large, well-padded saddle
- Aluminum Frame
- Aluminum Rims
- Steel Fork
- Weight: 10 pounds
- Seat Height Range : 12.2” – 15” (310mm – 380mm)
- Boys and Girls Colors available
- Price: $179.00 NZD (Only available for NZ and Aus Customers)
- Where to Buy: AvantiPlus stores or AvantiPlus.co.nz, or Australia: AvantiPlus.com.au
- **Spokey Dokey’s not included!
A closer look at the Avanti Lil Ripper
On first impressions, the Lil Ripper is a great looking balance bike, this colors the girl’s version but there’s also a boys on which comes in a pastel blue with black and orange decals, it’s exactly the same bike just a different color. The paint finish is excellent and it appears very thick and tough and so-far it stood up well knock and bumps from use and from storage in the garage. The handlebars and quill stem also use a painted finish to match the front fork.
The overall build quality is excellent, in fact, I would go as far to say it’s slightly overbuilt and having a lighter weight handlebar setup and saddle might chop a bit of weight out but at 10 pounds it’s still light enough to be manageable for more petite riders.
The spoked wheels are super strong with color-coded alloy rims, also they use a steel hub front and rear, these are not sealed bearings just the traditional cup and cone type.
Steering duties are handled by the good old threaded headset. No bushing or plasticky headset pieces here, this is the type of system long used on adults bikes, although less common now. All the bolts and steel fitting are zinc plated so it will help to stop them turning rusty quickly when left out in the rain.
It has to be one of the sturdier frames I’ve come across, it has a good layout allowing decent stand-over height. In this case, the Lil Ripper uses a standard double diamond frame layout, there are other models out there using a single downtube for maximum stand-over clearance which is something I prefer but I’m just being picky.
For a child’s bike, the finish of the welds is superb, they’re uniform and well executed. Up front, the Lil Ripper uses a Hi-Tensile, steel fork. Being made from a better quality steel means the tubing thickness is thinner which helps to keep the weight down, also there are the safety washers underneath the wheel nut for extra security.
Outback the rear dropouts are over 5mm thick, a standard practice for this type of bicycle dropout made from aluminum.
Seat and Handlebars
Having an adjustable quill stem is handy since it’s a good, solid system that gives a decent range of adjustment, it won’t slip or slide down and shouldn’t give any trouble. The handlebars are steel, using a regular style stem system they can be rolled forward or backward and should go the distance. Also, the grips a quite soft, enough to be sticky but not to wear excessively quick.
The seat setup is the one area of the bike that could have been improved on in my opinion. This is a different shape than what has been used in the past (the previous version was shorter)
On one hand it’s a large, well-padded seat that will save some tears if your child misses their footing, but on the other hand, the nose contacts the top tube not allowing the seat to go down as far as it could. There is around 30mm of seatpost still showing at it’s lowest point if only the tip of the saddle was slightly shorter that extra distance could come in really handy for some children.
The entire seat base is made from steel with no moving parts so when it does eventually raise it will able to cope with the leverage from a child sitting on it toward the nose area.
So the Lil Ripper weighs exactly 10 pounds on the hanging scale. This is very much middle of the road, of course, there’s no brake to add extra weight and there are some models out there that are under 6 pounds but these use foam type tires and plastic wheels. When you look at the sheer durability of the Lil Ripper, I would consider the weight to be more than respectable.
The Avanti Lil Ripper is a good little bike, there is the niggle with the seat hitting the frame but still, the standover clearance is low at 12.2″. It’s the type of bike that will last, nothing is going to bend or break in a hurry and the tires are wide with good volume, also they are a standard 12″ size so it’s easy to find replacements.
If you live outside of New Zealand or Australia and like the build, the Woom 12″ balance bike has similar features as the Lil Ripper, such as the Aluminum frame, alloy wheels with air tires with a decent level of componentry also it’s got a rear brake, they are also hand assembled in the U.S.