When my then just-turned-3-year-old first laid eyes on the Spawn Cycles Yoji at the bike shop, his eyes lit up. “Look at my brand new blue pedal bike!” he exclaimed, jumping up and down and waving his arms. “It’s a real grown-up bike just like Dada’s!”
This kid knows how to seal the deal on a purchase.
Before seeing this bike in person, he had shown little to no interest in trying to learn how to pedal. This was in spite of the fact that he had mastered coasting through all kinds of terrain on his balance bike.
He LOVED his little black bike and saw no need for things to change, even as his buddies started experimenting with pedals.
He is pretty timid and cautious, and was very comfortable with the amount of control he felt having his feet close to the ground. However, he was clearly too tall for the balance bike, and we could tell he was coordinated enough to take his biking journey to the next stage.
Spawn Cycles Yoji: A Little Kid Bike That Packs a Grown-Up Punch
We talked with some friends who we knew had started their kids on pedal bikes around the same age, and they highly recommended the Spawn Cycles Yoji 16″.
Spawn has started to get a lot of buzz in our local community where mountain biking has become increasingly popular. The bikes are well-known especially among families with small kids, so we started to do some research. On a whim we decided to stop in to a shop in Whistler, BC while we were there for a family ski trip.
We didn’t really plan on bringing home a bike.
But when we saw that the quality of the Yoji lived up to its hype, we knew we had met the newest member of our mountain biking family. It also helped that for the first time our little boy was so, so excited to try riding a bike “just like Dada’s”
Here’s how the Spawn Cycles Yoji has performed for us so far:
What we love
The 16″ Yoji comes in at just over 14lbs, which is really remarkable for a bike with this many features. Our son doesn’t have a whole lot of muscle mass, and we knew that a heavy bike would make it nearly impossible for him to gain confidence especially on any kind of variable terrain.
It is clear when watching him ride up hills on his own, walk the bike on his own, and roll over obstacles on his own that the bike is working for him.
We can see how this has made a huge difference in helping him build basic skills necessary for getting him out on mountain bike trails in the near future.
Note: Amelia’s daughter (who has been riding pedals for 2.5 years now) was able to easily ride the Yoji on trails. She found the traction to be great and is able to maneuver the bike easily. See photos throughout this post.
It has hand brakes.
This was a big priority for us in looking for an introductory pedal bike – we didn’t want to teach our kids how to use coaster brakes and then un-teach them that same skill when they stepped up to their next bike.
The Tektro Mini V-Brakes on the Spawn Yoji have short reach levers so even tiny hands can easily compress and manipulate them. I was blown away by how quickly my son figured out how to use these brakes properly (once he realized that running into the neighbors’ bushes was not an ideal way to stop himself).
It has legit tires.
Spawn built these exclusive Loam Star tires because there wasn’t a 16″ knobby tire on the market that met their standards, and these puppies can handle what the trails throw at them.
Not only do these tires let us spread our wings a little bit in terms of the terrain we’re exploring, but their durability means we don’t have to constantly stress about a blowout if we accidentally hit something sketchy.
What we don’t love
It ain’t cheap.
It’s hard not to have a bit of sticker shock when you see a kids’ bike come in at just under $400. For our family, biking is a priority. We had to see this as an investment in something that we will hopefully enjoy doing together for the long haul.
Truly as far as kids bikes are concerned, you get what you pay for.
We plan on getting a few more years out of it for our younger child. The other thing we realized when we looked into buying the same bike used is that they really do hold their value (it was rare to find one in good condition for under $350).
So we pay a lot up front, we take good care of the bike, and we hope to get at least a good chunk of change back when we re-sell it eventually. Not everyone’s family economy works this way, but for us it has been an investment that has already paid off.
One of the ways Spawn saved some weight on this bike was to build its wheels with a lower spoke count. We’ve found that because of this (in combination with the rim brakes) the wheels need truing more frequently than usual.
Especially if you’re not accustomed to doing your own bike maintenance, this could be annoying.
It was a conscious weight-saving decision that doesn’t impact the quality of the wheels themselves, but it’s something to consider in terms of ongoing maintenance on the bike.
The Bottom Line
Spawn is a relatively young Canadian company that has really honed in on building dirt jumping and mountain bikes specifically for kids. They have a narrow focus, and they do what they do really, really well. We have been so impressed with the quality of the components, the design of the bike, and the way they’ve set the stage for really young kids to get exposed to mountain biking.
Our son LOVES this bike. The first time we took him to the local pump track to test it out, he literally screamed, “WHEEEEEEEEE! WAHOOOOOOO!” as he flew by me and navigated features that I thought would have intimidated him with confidence and ease.
The weight, geometry, and build of this bike have helped him push himself to take his riding to the next level, and for us the smile on his face when we ask him if he wants to go for a bike ride is worth every single penny.
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