A Little Kids’ Bike that Packs a Grown-Up Punch: Spawn Cycles Yoji 16″ Review
When my then just-turned-3-year-old first laid eyes on the Spawn Cycles Yoji, he couldn’t contain his excitement. “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!”
Before seeing this bike in person, he had shown little to no interest in learning how to pedal. He LOVED his balance 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 had mastered coasting through all kinds of terrain, and we could tell he was coordinated enough to take his biking journey to the next stage.
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 gets a lot of buzz in our local community where mountain biking is an incredibly popular family activity. They focus entirely on building high-quality kids bikes and are well-known especially among families with small kids, so we started to do some research.
We’re fortunate enough to be only a couple hours from their headquarters and showroom in Squamish, BC which allowed us the opportunity to check out the bikes in person while in Whistler for a family ski trip.
We didn’t 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.”
Specs & Features of the Spawn Cycles Yoji
- Weight: Just over 14lb
- Exclusive 16” x 1.90” Spawn Cycles Loam Star tires with puncture protection
- 6061-T6 aluminum frame
- 4130 Chromoly fork
- Tektro Mini V-brakes with miniature levers
- Forged short-reach stem that can be flipped to raise handlebar height in increments
- 102mm 3-piece alloy cranks
- Real cassette hub with a Shimano compatible cog
What the Spawn Cycles Yoji is Best For
The Yoji is designed to handle variable trail conditions, and also performs really well on paved paths and trails. It’s an excellent bike for 3-5 year-olds who are ready to expand the type of terrain they are pedaling on and do some entry level mountain biking.
What We Love About the Spawn Cycles Yoji
It’s incredibly lightweight
The 16″ Yoji comes in at just over 14lbs, which is really remarkable for a bike with this many features. Our kids don’t have a whole lot of muscle mass, and we knew that a heavy bike would make it nearly impossible for them to gain confidence especially on any kind of variable terrain.
It has been clear when watching them ride up hills on their own, walk the bike on their own, and roll over obstacles on their own that the bike is working for them. My daughter transitioned to this bike when she was 3.5, and was thrilled to be able to ride on gravel trails with relative ease.
The weight of this bike made a huge difference in helping our son build basic skills necessary for getting him out on more technical mountain bike trails. We spent a lot of time on our local pump tracks practicing standing up on pedals to tackle smaller hills, and were so impressed with how the Yoji helped him progress as a rider.
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 teach them a whole new braking system when they stepped up to their next bike.
The Tektro Mini V-Brakes on the Spawn Cycles 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. We live in a very wet climate, so slippery roots are a commonly-encountered obstacle on our local bike trails and these tires are a huge asset.
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 Would Improve About the Spawn Cycles Yoji
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 pretty regularly. Especially if your kids ride their bikes hard.
Whether or not 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 price tag
It’s hard not to have a bit of sticker shock when you see a kids’ bike come in at over $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. Sharing the trails with our kids and seeing them get excited about mountain biking with us has brought us all so much joy.
Truly as far as kids bikes are concerned, you get what you pay for.
We plan on getting at least another year or two 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 is 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 decent amount of money 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.
Spawn Cycles Yoji: 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.
The Yoji is an excellent investment for families with young kids who are really interested in exposing their kids to entry-level mountain biking. We have been so impressed with the quality of the components, the design of the bike, and the way Spawn has set the stage for really young riders to get out on the trails.
Where to buy the Spawn Cycles Yoji
Like all of Spawn Cycles’ bikes, the Yoji is only available direct from the manufacturer at SpawnCycles.com (MSRP $460).
Spawn Cycles Yoji 16″ Review
© 2021, Kids Ride Bikes. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.