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  1. #1
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    Review of the Spawn Cycles Banshee (16" wheeled bike)

    A couple of months ago, I posted a question on this forum about trying to find a 16" wheeled bike for my at the time 3 year old daughter, that had a free-wheel and hand brakes. I thought I researched everything, but someone on that post recommended me to look at the Spawn Cycles Banshee (2012 Spawn Cycles Banshee 16" Bike - Spawn Cycles - The World's Best Kids' Bikes!). It was everything that I wanted spec wise (aluminum frame, free-wheel, v-brakes and lightweight), and delivered it was less than $400.

    I had originally bought a Specialized Hotrock 16" for her a year before, and even though she was progressing fast with the bike, it was limiting her true potential. So I bought the only type of brakes that fit on it (U-brakes), and they were terrible even though I adjusted them as intended. So I had a bike that weighed almost 23 pounds, had crappy brakes, still had the crutch coaster brakes and had too big of gearing for her and an inefficient drivetrain. She weighs 37 pounds, so that is like my 200 pound self pedaling a 124 pound bike. And I now had spent around $300 for this.

    Now with the Banshee, it weighs around 16 pounds, an almost one third reduction in weight, and a lower gearing, she cranks up hills that she had to walk before. The bike has decent components on it, and I don't see anything that would be considered lightweight and after many crashes, it is proven to be durable. The only change that I would make is changing out the tires, as they seem to be more suited for pavement than dirt. The drivetrain is efficient (meaning that if I spin up the wheel and then let go of the crank, the rear Spesh wheel stops spinning in 5 wheel revs, where the Banshee spins for at least 10 times longer), and it is amazing the night and day difference between her climbing ability. It took her several rides to get past the involuntary response for her to pedal backwards when she is scared, but she is really coming to her own now with the v-brakes. The brakes are plenty strong, and I don't see any reason why kids should be ever using coaster brakes.

    But now with a good 50 miles and 20 rides on the Banshee, she went from crying when I said we weren't going to take her Specialized bike to our Moab trip, to now telling me that I can sell it now, because she doesn't like the Specialized bike anymore.

    I know a lot of people are doing a bunch of mods to make Hotrocks a lot nicer, and spending much more than this bike costs. I was going to go down that street, but I'm glad I found this. And another part I like is that this isn't done by some huge company like most kids bikes are, but a small company based out of Canada. Designed and built by a dad who got tired of his son riding crappy bikes, kind of like the rest of us.

    If anyone is interested, here is her at the Trailside Bike Park in Park City, UT, I wish I could have muted out me, so please turn some loud music up instead. She just turned 4 a couple of weeks ago, and I look forward to kicking my butt in a few years:

    Addz in the Trailside Bike Park - YouTube


    PM me if you still think Specialized is king, and you are interested in a white Specialized Hotrock 16" with front and rear hand brakes.
    Last edited by BullSCit; 07-11-2012 at 01:17 PM.

  2. #2
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    I'm having a hard enough time justifying $200 for a used Hardrock 20" for my son about to turn 6, no way I would have paid $350 for a 16" bike 2 years ago, you sir are a baller, props to you
    Hardrock 29er, Niner EMD9, Cannondale F29, Camber Expert, 650b Nickel all gone.
    2014 Giant Anthem 27.5 here.

  3. #3
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    I'm also lucky enough to have a 1.5 year old son, so now it comes down to $200 per kid for the bike. Everybody's situation is different, and if I can ride with my daughter all the way to the park, instead of having to get off my bike and push her up the hills, that is priceless to me. And to see how excited she is when she gets to the top of a hill that she never climbed before, that is priceless too. We probably ride 6 days a week, so price per ride is pretty cheap in the long run. And maybe I am a baller, as the after-market rear shock on my Niner WFO cost more than her complete bike.

  4. #4
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    The vid was cool. You sound like every other dad following their kid, no worries. A baller straps the strider bike to the backpack before running course... you sir are a baller. Careful, or the smaller one will be hucking that bike his sis is on.
    veelz

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    The only one consistently and constantly applied, no exceptions.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Veelz. My son was riding the pump track before this on his Strider and was tearing it up. But I don't think he is quite ready for the flow track, especially with the cheezy plastic small diameter wheels, because there is no way he could get up the front side of the tabletops. Having the GoPro on my helmet really makes the tabletops look small, but you can see how it is jerking the front end of my bike around, even with a 29" wheel.

    You should see us when we ride singletrack around our house. My son will be on the steerer tube mounted iBert seat, my daughter in a trailer bike, and then their two bikes strapped to my pack on the uphills, but then all is good when we get to the top and they can ride down. But nothing like adding 130 pounds of weight to make the local hills harder.

  6. #6
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    Just a little resistance training. Too cool!

    On the Banshee, we don't have one, but I sure wish they were around a few years ago when I dropped $300 on a Pitboss. Pitboss is a great bike expect the rear handed brake leaves something to be desired.


    I've been to the UK and the majority of the younger kids bikes their have hand brakes and not coaster brakes. We got to use a 16" big box store brand that the inlaws had picked up for about $30 used. It had plasticy hand brakes but they were easy enough for my 4 year old to use and the bike came in under 20#.

    Now my youngest is more than ready to move from a balance bike to a pedal bike. However he has low muscle tone and can't figure out the coaster brake on the hotrock. I am working on getting the pitboss ready for him. The brake it came with he didn't have the strength for, but I got an Avid 7 lever and new brake and now he has some control of the braking. His cycling and CONFIDENCE has taken off now that he can stop a bit. Next up brazed on bosses on the front fork for a V-brake.

    Really it shouldn't be so hard to get a decent kids bike (and it's not on the other side of the pond). Glad to see one company has stepped up.

  7. #7
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    Do you have any idea how much the Pitboss weighs? That was the bike that I was about ready to buy before I found the Banshee. But the deal killer was it having no front brake and no bosses for Vs. I remember when I installed Vs from cantis back 20 years ago, and the enormous difference in power, probably close to the Vs to hydro disks that I have now. Why it took engineers so long to develop Vs is unknown to me.

    The only argument that I have seen for the benefits of coaster brakes is that kids don't have enough hand strength to handle big downhills. My daughter is strong, but no freak of nature, and I am always asking her on big downhills if her hands hurt afterwards or if she was braking as hard as she could. And both answers are always no. So maybe that is true when you have crappy U-brakes or cantis, but with Vs, I'm pretty sure most average kids can do it. So someone please shed some light on why companies that know 10,000x more than I do about bikes (like Specialized), would put coasters on kids bikes. Is it cost savings? It definitely isn't efficiency or weight savings I would assume, and if coaster brakes are so great, why not have them on adult bikes.

    And my parting thought. Regarding some thinking these bikes are expensive. I paid $260 for my Specialized Hotrock 16" with tax (couldn't find anything used) and about $40 for the brakes including shipping. So for $300, I got what I described above. So with the Banshee, I paid $400, and lost 6 pounds of bike. Maybe everyone on this forum aren't the hard core bikers on the various other forums on MTBR, but I think most would pay $100 to lose 6 pounds on their bikes. I've seen some people pay $200 for titanium bolt replacement kits, and that may only take 100 grams off the total weight.

  8. #8
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    The Pitboss weighs between 15 and 15.5#. I changed out the seat from a hard plastic bmx seat to a padded bmx fmf.

    The whole kids don't have the strength for hand brakes argument is nonsense in my opinion. The only problem is not having a large selection of powerful brake levers for little hands. I do also have a Islabike Beinn 20 that the grandparents brought over from UK last year in a suitcase during their visit. When I tried out my youngest on the Islabike (which is too big for him so I held onto him) and said "try the brakes" he stopped almost instantly. We were both surprised as before whenever I asked him to stop the best he ever did on the Pitboss was a slight slow down. This is when I knew that I needed to work on redoing the brakes on the Pitboss. The avid 7 is much better but it's still not as good as the Islabike brakes. When I was biking with my eldest who is 7 on the Islabike last week he was going down some steep hills in complete control.

    I don't know why the American bike manufacturers can't figure out what the UK ones already have. I do occasionally see front and rear V-brakes on older American 16" bikes like the Haro. I am just guessing here but I wonder if it has anything to do with worries of liability and kids endoing on front hand brakes. When I used to be into babywearing there was a few UK manufacturers who wouldn't sell to North America because we were to litigious.

    Have you seen the schwinn micro mesa? Front and rear V-brakes and a coaster brake. I wonder how much it would weigh after changing out the rear wheel and if the brakes work well.

    I am glad I didn't spend too much on the hotrock. Got it for $40 of CL. I had an older aluminum one and once I changed out the seat it was in the #16 pound range. However the geometry was too upright and didn't suit my child. Glad to have passed that bike on.

    What gets me is the American big box store bikes that are cheap and heavy. An equivalent bike in the UK and similar to the one we used when we were over there Apollo Urchin 16. My child's riding was much better on that than the lightweight brand name coaster brake bike I had back home at the time. I would have brought that bike home too if I had space in my suitcase.
    Last edited by bikes&berries; 07-15-2012 at 11:35 AM. Reason: clairification and additional info

  9. #9
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    Well your review convinced me to get a Banshee for my 3.5 year old. I put some lower rise bars and fatter tires and off she went. So far so good!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Review of the Spawn Cycles Banshee (16" wheeled bike)-alauras-banshee.jpg  


  10. #10
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    I wish I could have gotten my daughter the pink bike too, but thought it would be easier to for her to rock the blue, than my younger son in two years with the pink. But I did order her some pink Jagwire brake cables off of Ebay, so it will be more girled out.

    Which tires are those? Kenda K50s? And I like your idea of the handle bar. Send a video link on here if you get a chance. My daughter is getting better everyday, but in 2-3 months riding season will be over, and then it will be time for skis.

  11. #11
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    I have another coming behind her so it was easy to pick pink. The tires are from Tarty bikes in the UK. Quick and cheap shipping. They are 16" trials tires. 2.4. They should work great in the soft stuff. We will find out tomorrow

  12. #12
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    Anybody got a picture of the green? It really sucks that you can't see the actual different pain colors on their website.

  13. #13
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    nice pinkbike! Tires look mega burly, what size are they?
    Climb it on your bike

  14. #14
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    They are 16 x 2.4. Tight fit but no rubbing.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Review of the Spawn Cycles Banshee (16" wheeled bike)-top-view-tire-banshee.jpg  

    Review of the Spawn Cycles Banshee (16" wheeled bike)-under-view-tire-banshee.jpg  


  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by devojrx7 View Post
    Anybody got a picture of the green? It really sucks that you can't see the actual different pain colors on their website.
    We liked the Banshee so much, we got a Tengu for my son too. Still trying to get him to understand that he can now brake with his hands, and not his feet. But with him having real rubber tires with air, sure makes for a safer ride, as those lightweight foam / plastic wheels from the Strider are cr@p.

    Anyway, I assume this would be the same green used for the other bikes, and the green is a tad bit darker in real life than the picture shows.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Review of the Spawn Cycles Banshee (16" wheeled bike)-tengu.jpg  


  16. #16
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    Thanks for the pic. I actually contacted Spawn and Max said that they are updating their site and will have a new site soon that will have all the pics. He sent me a link to a pic of the 14" bike in green here.

    Spawn Cycles Blog The Green Gremlin

    He also found a slightly cheaper place to get the 2.4 tires Adam has on his girls bike. It came out to just under 60 euros shipped. The place Adam got them was out of stock.

    Municycle.com - Unicycle.com Germany*-*16 x 2.4 Inch (64-305) Monty Trials Tire

  17. #17
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    I am looking to better the gearing on the Banshee for my little girl. Currently I have replaced the 28t chainring with a 22t and when I went to change the freewheel to something bigger I learned a lot about BMX stuff that I didnt know. Namely that they have Metric thread freewheels up to 15t and then they move to larger English threads for 16t and up. Typically the Metric are on flip flop hubs but the hub on the Banshee only has the Metric. She is wanting to follow me on some easy grades but she needs more gear.

    So I found a cheap flip flop hub that I will use on the rear to relace the wheel. I want to bling it up a little while its apart with some pink spoke nipples, but the Spawn site does not list the spoke size. Anyone have an idea?

  18. #18
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    Send them an email, they got back to me within hours of mine. Make sure to post pics when you get it done. Link to hub you are using?

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by devojrx7 View Post
    He also found a slightly cheaper place to get the 2.4 tires Adam has on his girls bike. It came out to just under 60 euros shipped. [/url]
    700g per tire!!!, Spawn talks about the advantage of a lightweight bike and those tires add 800g of extra rotating weight (compared to Schwalbe Mow Joe's).
    That's not really rewarding Span's efforts or am I missing something?
    Climb it on your bike

  21. #21
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    Did I miss where Mow Joe's are made in 16 x 2.4? They are definitely not light but with the sand around here I have found no better alternative. Everything else just sinks.

    I was a little hesitant too since my 26 x 2.4 tires weigh the same.
    Last edited by adamm3; 07-30-2012 at 08:00 PM.

  22. #22
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    You can get the Mad Mike's in 16x2.125 @ 540g.
    MAD MIKE

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by devojrx7 View Post
    You can get the Mad Mike's in 16x2.125 @ 540g.
    MAD MIKE
    I'm not sure what the difference is between the Mad Mike's and the Kenda K50s, but they look like the exact same tire, and can be found for cheap on Amazon:

    Kenda Comp III Style Wire Bead Bicycle Tire, Blackwall, 16-Inch x 2.125-Inch: Amazon.com: Sports & Outdoors

    And they look like a nice compromise to riding on both dirt and street. And those 2.4s look huge, but after doing lots of snow rides last year, float is very good. But still can't understand why those 16x2.4s weigh half of my 26x4.9s. Seems like they should be way lighter.

    For other people in my position that bought a neutral color frame for the future younger brother / sister, I got some Jagwire brake housings in pink on Ebay for $11.45 shipped, that even comes with the actual stranded wire brake cables. There were lots of color options too. My daughter loves it, and will put the original black ones back on when my son is old enough to ride it. Now, I'll get some pink grips, and call it good. It is amazing how such a simple upgrade has her so excited about her bike.

  24. #24
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    Looks the same to me, and about $5 cheaper, damn. I wonder what they weigh? I couldn't find it during a short search of the intraweb.

  25. #25
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    2.125 vs 2.4Review of the Spawn Cycles Banshee (16" wheeled bike)-imageuploadedbytapatalk1343790078.146134.jpg

    Pretty big diff

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