We've had a hard time finding and stocking a good selection of quality kid bikes. When Torker discontinued the nice 20" and 24" models we picked up a few years ago, our scramble put us on the path to Cleary. We think they compare well to the nice but direct-only Isla bikes.
Not named after famous Portland children's book author Beverly Cleary, creator of Ramona and Beezus Quimby, Henry Huggins, and of course The Mouse and the Motorcycle, no, Tom Cleary is just the name of some dad in the shadow of Mt. Tamalpais who saw a need for better kid's bikes. You could be forgiven for thinking that Klickitat Street's many-time Newbery Award for Children's Literature recipient was somehow involved, though, with the Cleary bike decals in tall spindly all-caps on shaky baselines reminiscent of the title lettering of some of her books. And even Cleary has used kid's books in marketing materials, obviously lining up one clue after another for our sleuthing.
Cleary bikes are light, strong, attractive, well-specced, and well-reviewed. Even the smallest 12" models come with front and rear hand brakes, with special light-action, short reach levers. It's always seemed to us that hand brakes offer a shorter, easier path to safety and confidence on the bike than coaster brakes, whose main virtue is cheap indestructibility. Smart sloping top tubes and long wheelbases assure a wide range of adjustment to serve several kids well into the Young Adult literature stage.
We're working on a fender solution, but naturally there are kickstands. Ride on over to test ride!