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  1. #1
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    New question here. Spawn Banshee or Cleary Bikes Hedgehog?

    I am trying to figure out which bike to buy for my huge almost 4 year old. He flies through the regular BMX park course on his Strider (I have no idea how with those Eva wheels), and will take it on any trail we let him, over rocks, roots, etc. Jumps don't phase him and falling due to lack of traction doesn't bother him. We bought the extra long seatpost but he looks pretty big on it. Realistically, he is just ready for a real big boy bike...

    So I know nothing about bikes. I am a mom who never learned to ride as a kid. My husband is willing to buy a good bike if I can pick one. We are relocating to an area that happens to have amazing mountain biking, lift served trails, and bike parks. I think my son, given his current love for the bike and personality, will only get more into it. I want him on something relatively safe and high quality that will keep up with him... And not too heavy in case I get stuck carrying it.

    So I am eyeing...

    The Spawn Banshee
    Spawn Cycles Banshee | Spawn Cycles - Born to Ride

    and

    The Cleary Bikes Hedgehog
    Hedgehog - Super Cream - 16" Singlespeed Bike | Cleary Bikes

    The hedgehog is 2 pounds more but is about $100 cheaper and is made in the US. There seems to be a lot of love from people for the banshee but all I have seen on Cleary is an article, I think it was on bikerumor SOC14: Well Engineered Bikes for Children From Cleary. I would prefer the Hedgehog be a different color, but function is more important.

    My worry is that my son might outgrow this bike in a year. He is already 43" tall. How long (tall) can or should a kid ride the banshee or a 16" bike in general? Does the Hedgehog look like a bike that can handle a real trail if the rider has the skills?

    Am I even considering the right questions? I don't even know what to ask.

    Thanks for any help. Even general comments on the bike specs would be helpful. I will be taking biking and mountain biking lessons at a LBS after we get settled in. Maybe I have a shot with keeping up with him someday!
    Last edited by Amom; 04-25-2014 at 07:47 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hmmm, the Cleary bike looks interesting! Based on what I see on their website, however, they're a new company and won't be shipping until August for the Hedgehog... are you comfortable waiting that long? Also, I would recommend contacting them to find out if that rear wheel has a coaster brake. I can see front/rear levers, so hopefully you're good, but most kids bikes are required, by law, to be sold with a coaster in the US (ugh).

    Regarding the Banshee... we're on our second Spawn bike now (A Gremlin/Furi, passed down to daughter #2 and replaced with a Banshee for daughter #1). They are absolutely fantastic bikes, and have been great for our girls... who are very SMALL for their age (5-10% in height). The 4.5 year old is just big enough for the banshee... sounds like that won't be an issue for your son, though!

    If he's coming off a strider, I think you're likely to be fine on a 16" bike for a while... and you don't want him struggling with something way too big for him as he's learning. One of the nice things about the good kids bikes is that they hold their resale value pretty well... when he does outgrow it, you should be able to sell it on.

  3. #3
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    August is a bit longer than I wanted to wait. I was hoping July.

    My son is over 95% for height and might be made of lead. . I just don't want to something that is already too small I guess. If I can resell it after then it isn't so bad. Jumping from a 12" to a 16" is already a lot... Along with figuring out breaks and pedals.

    I am leaning Spawn because it seems to have a pretty good reputation and Cleary is so new.

  4. #4
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    Ok. I have thought about it and I really want to get it in June and not later than July, so that means a Banshee will probably be coming to live in our new home (assuming I can figure out if resale value is ok). Would still love to figure out the maximum height that it fits, but I think it looks like a good bike.

    Anything that makes me feel better about spending this much would also be welcome. :-)

    ...and a huge thanks to evandy for the great points that pretty much made this decision for me. I wou rather a bike that is a little too small to learn on that something too big that make him hate it! I also don't want a coaster brake because he stands on the strider footrests to coast downhill and I think a coaster brake might teach bad habits that won't help for his next bike. I don't know from personal experience, but coaster brake just doesn't seem like a good idea.

  5. #5
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    I would seriously think about getting a 20" biked instead, as the 16" bike will be small soon. I wrote the original Spawn Banshee review a couple years ago, and I love that bike, and am about ready for my son to start riding it (he is 3.5 and about 41" tall). But when my daughter was probably around 44-45", I started her on her current 20" wheeled bike. It was big for her, but she really wanted to ride her new big girl bike with gears.

    I have to thoroughly applaud Spawn's efforts to get a freewheel and 2 v-brakes onto a small bike (my son right now rides the Spawn 14" wheel bike), but adding gears to the bike is just a big of a deal too. So if I was in your shoes, I would buy the 20" wheeled bike. It may be big at first (especially coming from a Stider), but he will get used to it. You also have to figure, your son could grow a couple inches this summer.

    It won't be bad for him to be on the 16", but it has a ceiling in terms of performance and size. If you are wanting to do trails and not have to get off every hill to give him a push or having to go really slow on downhills because they are spinning out, go with the 20". I know the second my son is big enough to ride the 20" bike, he'll be on it.

  6. #6
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    Thanks so much for the reply. Hmm... if he grows a couple inches this summer, which he probably will, that could be an issue. He is already over 43". The embarrassing thing is that since I don't know how to ride, I don't know how to teach him him how to use gears... I hope my LBS classes get me there soon. I really should have learned a long time ago.

    This kid seriously wants a big boy bike and has really wanted one since last fall. I think he will ride anything we give him. How bad is it to try something too big?

    I wonder how different in terms of distance to the ground the Banshee and 20" are. 20 just seems so big, especially coming from a 12" strider.

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    How heavy is the 20" in real life?

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    The only fear of having too big of wheels and the bike being a little taller is what happens when they come to a stop and can't get their feet down in time, something your son had no problem with at all on the Strider. The other problem is that not all 20" wheeled bikes are the same size. So you may want to try and find one that is on the smaller side. I'm not sure which brand makes a smaller bike, but my daughter rides a Specialized Hard Rock now (they didn't have the Spawn 20" bikes when I bought it), and it was a little smaller than the Gary Fisher Pre-Caliber 20" wheeled bike we borrowed from a neighbor. So might be best to go to the local bike shops and see which one fits him best. Maybe someone with a Spawn can chirp in on it's sizing, as it looks to bes a good bike.

    My daughter picked up gears pretty quickly. Especially with a 1x10 system, so she didn't have to worry about shifting up front. Just have to let them feel what is spinning too fast or too slow with their legs, and what to do to make it better.

    Where you are moving to, sounds like where I live (Park City, UT), with great trails, ski resorts bike systems and several bike parks, and there are several places that you can get lessons, so I am sure you location will too.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    How heavy is the 20" in real life?
    The Specialized bike we got her was heavily modified by the original owner, and then I modified it even more, so our bike is not a good judge of weight for a 20" bike. We ride a lot (3-4 times a week), and then my son will use it after my daughter has outgrown it and then my brother's son will be after that, and my other brother's daughter after that, so I have somewhat used that to justify spending around a grand on the bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BullSCit View Post
    Where you are moving to, sounds like where I live (Park City, UT), with great trails, ski resorts bike systems and several bike parks, and there are several places that you can get lessons, so I am sure you location will too.
    You are making me feel a lot better about the 20". He is eating way more than usual this week, so I think another growth spurt is coming too...

    Worse comes to worse, if he needs help with the gears, I am sure I can find someone nearby who has a better idea how to help than I do.

    Thanks so much for all of the help. Maybe this time next year I will be able to ride as well as my then-4 year old. A girl can dream, plus I am highly motivated.
    Last edited by Amom; 04-25-2014 at 06:54 PM.

  11. #11
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    Can anyone with a Spawn Savage weigh in on whether it is on the bigger or smaller side for a 20" bike? The website says it is 20 pounds.
    Last edited by Amom; 04-25-2014 at 06:55 PM.

  12. #12
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    I can't speak to the 16" vs 20" side... my girls aren't NEAR ready for that transition yet... I would think that at 20" you start having a lot more options (especially used). You note you are moving somewhere with lots of biking; check out craigslist and see if there are some 20" bikes that might do. If they're too big, then you know you need the 16, and have a 20" ready to go. If not, then you have a bike for your son.

  13. #13
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    I actually disagree strongly with suggestions about getting the 20" bike for a kid this young. It is a huge mistake that will set your kid's riding ability back quite a bit.

    Here is a post that I wrote that gives my reasons why. I figured that I would start another thread so that I was not completely derailing your thread.

    How to buy a bike for your kid.

  14. #14
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    Very helpful new thread. Thanks!

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    I will be curious to see what you end up with.

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    I am changing my mind a lot today but I am leaning towards buying a Banshee, even if he only gets a year out of it, and then getting him the next bike when he is ready for it... Whether that is a Savage or other bike I will know better then. He is really big so a Banshee will fit him no problem and I hope I can resell it when the time comes without too much loss. I do like the simplicity of the Cleary Bikes, that they are made in the US, and the price point... But I don't want to make him wait until August for a bike when I should really have bought one last year when he was happy cruising the pump track as 2 year old.

    I have consistently found the Pitboss tempting, but it has skinnier wheels, which I think might be an issue when he goes on trails with my husband. Maybe it doesn't matter so much at this age...?

    Besides the Banshee is a great bike. I won't be able to keep up with him anyway. By the time he gets the next one, I will have a better shot at keeping up with him and I will be more informed.

  17. #17
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    The skinny wheels matter less when you are little. You can also easily replace them if you need. The Pitboss is a really nice bike, and the lightest on the list. Considered the best non-mini BMX training bike out there by many. Also, don't let the single brake scare you. That brake goes a long way for little kids. Can't go wrong with any of the ones on that list though.

  18. #18
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    You could always check out islabikes... They have a coaster, but otherwise look pretty awesome.

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    The islabikes look nice but I see more trails, rocks, and roots in our future. He is a kid who likes to jump and I doubt that will go away. Seems like the islabikes are more for touring, but I don't really know.

    It is solidly between the Spawn and Pitboss. I think the Spawn Banshee might have the edge for now.

  20. #20
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    You'll not see me arguing too hard against the Spawn bikes... They're awesome and I have two for my girls. Just wanted to point out some other options.

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    I really appreciate all of your help. I always appreciate more options... Just trying not to change my mind every 5 minutes.

  22. #22
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    I'm of the mindset that I'd rather not spend a lot on a 16" bike. Kids grow out of that size quickly that I personally don't see the value in an expensive 16er. I would get a used 16er that will tide him over. Also, most 16er bikes are not geared so it's gonna be hard for the little ones to go uphill. I remember taking my son out to the local trails for some very mild riding when he was on his Hotrock 16. He had fun but it was really hard work for him. We had to walk uphill a bit. I suppose you have to balance fitment and gears/useability...

    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    How heavy is the 20" in real life?
    We have a speccy 20 with some mods that comes in at 22-23lbs with kickstand. It was my son's, but is handed down to his sister. I swapped in a 8spd freewheel, sram x4, sb8 tires, and light weight parts wherever I could fit it.


    I'm glad I did the mods to the Hotrock 20 because he was able to ride the lifts in Big Bear with it. There was a ton of climbing too.

  23. #23
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    I think IdahoLee's advice is generally correct, but when your kids are taller than average and are progressing faster than average, bigger wheels, suspension and gears are a huge difference. There is no way my daughter would be able to ride a quarter of the trails she does with a 16" wheeled bike with no gearing. There is one thing to be too small and struggling to hang on to a bike, and there is another to have a bigger radius wheel to roll over different rocks and bumps when you have confident control of your bike. If money isn't a big factor, then yes it would be best to get a good 16" bike for this year and get the 20" next year. If it is, I still stand behind my thought it is best to get a good 20" bike, than a decent 16" and a decent 20" bike.

    Before you wrote that you were moving to Park City, but now that has been removed. But if you are still moving there, there is a good swap done by the Young Riders (area kids bike club) in early May I believe, where you will find a lot of really good used kids bikes. My advice is to take him to that, and pick out the bike that works best. You can hopefully buy a big 16" or a small 20", and make it last for the summer and some.

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    Thanks! I would love to check out the Young Riders. How do I find them? Would love to meet families with other young kids who bike.

    I don't think it will take long for my son to get used to the pedals and brakes. We take rides or go to the bike park here 3-6 days a week here, so I am expecting it to be similar there, assuming I can get up to speed.

    Are there any local bike shops you recommend? I was going to go with Jans/White Pine Touring...

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    Just found information on the Young Riders swap, May 10. Unfortunately we won't be in town. Looks great.

    YR BIKE SWAP | Young Riders

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    Yeah, I knew the swap was soon. And Jans and White Pine are good shops, with lots of floor space. Not a crazy amount of kids gear, but better than most.

    My 5 year old will be doing the Young Riders camp this summer, and hopefully she will like it. We ride at Trailside bike park and Round Valley a lot, (northeast side of town and where we live), and there are always families riding around. Trailside bike park is a great place to start, as it has a good pump track, and a couple good beginner trails (and really good intermediate/expert trails too).

    Hope you enjoy Park City, as we certainly have for the 3 years we have lived here.

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    Thanks for your replies. That bike park looks like a lot of fun. That will probably be one of our first stops in town. :-). I am really look forward to the move.

    The Young Riders camp looks great. I was wishing I could put my son in it. He has a late birthday, so will still be only 3. I am going to keep it in mind for the next 2 summers and see how he is then. It looks like a great program.

    Maybe we will see you on the trails or at the bike park in PC! :-)

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    My worry is that my son might outgrow this bike in a year. He is already 43" tall. How long (tall) can or should a kid ride the banshee or a 16" bike in general?
    Have you measured his inseam and compared it to some of the fitting charts?

    My five year old rides a Specialized Hotrock 16 with the bars tilted pretty far forward to make up for his relatively long upper body. He's too big for it now but that's not the point. The point is that his younger brother (turns five in July) was also able to ride it comfortably when he was 42" tall. We didn't change handlebar angle but just lowered the seat. For reference his inseam measured barefoot was a bit under 16" when he was 42" tall.

    In my situation I'd never buy a new 16" bike for him based on how quickly his older brother outgrew his. Older brother turns six in June and also has the relatively long upper body.

    From the sounds of your boy's size I'd be concerned about him outgrowing a 16" bike. But many he has long legs and a short torso?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CJH View Post
    Have you measured his inseam and compared it to some of the fitting charts?
    ...
    From the sounds of your boy's size I'd be concerned about him outgrowing a 16" bike. But many he has long legs and a short torso?
    Last I measured his inseam, it was a bit above 17". Fully within Banshee recommendations but almost 2 inches short for the 19" minimum inseam for the 20" Savage. Nowhere have I found a size chart that tracks how fast an inseam grows. If he is at 17" inseam, that gives me 4" of inseam before he hits the 21" max for the banshee (which may require an extended seatpost -- we have had one on the Strider for ages). I just can't see putting a 3 year old who has never had pedals on a 20" bike with gears, so I think (assuming I measure and he hasn't rocketed above a 19" inseam) he will be getting a banshee and then getting a savage next year and selling the banshee then. I understand I will be losing some money, but I don't want to make him hate riding by putting him on something too big. I'm willing to make the investment in him learning to love it.

    He does seem to have long legs and a shorter torso, but he has long arms and a wingspan that is long for height. He might be in the middle of a growth spurt though. I swear he eats more than I do these days...

    The banshee is on backorder so I am holding off a bit before ordering just so I can wait until the last minute to take a final measurement.

    I keep eyeing the Cleary because it is only 2 lbs heavier, over $100 cheaper, and they are willing to make the 16" hedgehog in orange (my son's current favorite color). The delivery date is a no go for us so far though.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    I just can't see putting a 3 year old who has never had pedals on a 20" bike with gears...
    I agree. My younger son started riding a pedal bike a month before his third birthday and no way was he ready for gears or even a hand brake.

    On that note, I'm pretty sure both of the smaller Spawns have a coaster brake, at least those imported into the US.

    The Cleary's have a freewheel.

    As much as I dislike the coaster brake on our Hotrock 16 I wouldn't have wanted my three year olds to be without them.

    Islabikes has another sizing chart worth looking at. Unfortunately they don't list their geometries so you have to piece together your own from forum posts here.

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    Both of the small spawns (we own both) have freewheels, not a coaster. This is one of the major points in their favor. The 14" Furi (nee Gremlin) has special brake levers for super-small hands. The 16" has small (but not extra-small) brake levers.

    I got an eMail from the folks at Cleary; they state that their smallest bike (12") has a coaster-brake, but their 16" bike does not.

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    Thanks for the replies. I think as long as the bike fits, he will be able to figure out the hand breaks. I think he will be fine without a coaster break because he has never had one. It is all just a learning curve... Trying to make it as smooth as possible.

    I really appreciate everyone on this forum. Such a great help!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    Thanks for the replies. I think as long as the bike fits, he will be able to figure out the hand breaks. I think he will be fine without a coaster break because he has never had one. It is all just a learning curve... Trying to make it as smooth as possible.

    I really appreciate everyone on this forum. Such a great help!
    I think you're right on there. My girls started off with just hand brakes, and no problems at all. When learning to pedal, both of them tended to pedal backwards half the time, because they didn't quite know what forwards was. If they had coaster brakes, they would probably have crashed a lot more.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by evandy View Post
    Both of the small spawns (we own both) have freewheels, not a coaster. This is one of the major points in their favor.
    When did you buy them? If you read through all of the posts on this forum it seems that at one point you could order a 16" Spawn with a freewheel but that they changed that at some point, at least for the bikes shipped to the US.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CJH View Post
    When did you buy them? If you read through all of the posts on this forum it seems that at one point you could order a 16" Spawn with a freewheel but that they changed that at some point, at least for the bikes shipped to the US.
    The issue was actually with the 14" bike; there was much speculation and fear that the reason they couldn't ship it to the US was due to the coaster issue, but it turned out to be a trademark issue with Schwinn. They renamed the bike to Furi, instead of Gremlin, and are once again shipping to the states. The Banshee has always been fine

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    I emailed Spawn and confirmed there is no coaster brake on the Banshee.

    Thanks.

  37. #37
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    The Banshee is an awesome bike, but I wouldn't write off the Islabikes 16" (with a 17" inseam he would be too small for their small 20") just yet. We recently got our 5 year old the small 20" and were amazed at the night and day difference the bike made for him. Besides weight, Islabikes has a lot of other features going on that other bikes simply can't compete with. This comparative review does a good job pointing out the differences: Islabikes Beinn 20? Small | Two Wheeling Tots. I will say however, that while my son does awesome with the bike on single track, the bike is too big for him to use at the skate park were he does much better with his old, $30 used 16" Specialized.
    Get out there and ride!

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    We bought a Spawn Banshee today. They are on backorder, so we begin to wait patiently. It should arrive right after we do. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    We bought a Spawn Banshee today. They are on backorder, so we begin to wait patiently. It should arrive right after we do. :-)
    Nice! If you hit up singletrack, you may want to swap out the tires. We put some 2.4" knobbies on our Banshee at maybe $15 a piece and they helped immensely.

    '15 Specialized Fatboy
    '14 Kona Zone Two
    '13 Surly Big Dummy

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    Thanks! Great picture. Definitely a happy kid!

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    We received our Banshee and paid a local bike shop to put it together. The bike mechanic and owner kept commenting about how nice it is. They were great and the mechanic even let my son watch, hand him tools, and use an Allen wrench a few times. Really a great experience.

    My husband was commenting on the quality of the welds and parts. He is really happy. I love how light it is. The quality of the bike is head and shoulders over others I have seen. (Still haven't seen a Cleary because they aren't out. They will probably be very nice.)

    My son loves his new bike. It is hard to get him off it. Unfortunately, he keeps asking if he can ride down stairs... He is accepting no for an answer so far, but I think I might be investing in a full face helmet sooner than expected...

    Only trouble we are having is my son getting used to having brakes. He loves that he can make the bike hop by slamming the hand brakes. I wish we had started on a balance bike with hand brakes. Maybe I just wish my child had more of an interest in self preservation... Or maybe just a little bit of fear... My husband thinks it is hilarious. I'm just... Mom. I have enough fear for all of us. ;-)

    Bottom line... Amazing bike. Worth every penny to us. I hope it fits him at least a year. If it doesn't (which is a very real possibility, having seen him on it), I am okay with that. This is the right bike for him for right now.

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    By the way, Spawn has changed the tires to Schwalbe Black Jack tires now. The LBS bike mechanic said they are great tires. Look good to me. :-)

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    Amom,

    Anecdotal story possibly relevant to your stairs issue: Awhile back my 5 y.o. (then 4) wanted to go over a jump that I knew was too big for him. I told him exactly how he would crash but he kept insisting. I figured it was one of those things I just had to let him do even through it was scary for me since I thought it was unlikely he'd get very hurt. Of course he crashed, and cried, but wasn't really hurt. Last weekend when he wanted to go over a big jump I told him "no." He asked, "why?" I explained exactly how I thought he'd crash and then said, "ok."

    Of course YMMV with your kid. Please don't be offended if this is taken as unsolicited parental advice.

    Back to the thread: I've got him on a Spec 16" hot rock right now. On steeper trails he fishtails with the rear coaster locked -- which is kinda cool and scary at the same time. I really think he needs a bike with brakes and am tempted to get the Spawn even though I think he'll outgrown in a year or so. That's what little brothers are for, though, right?

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    I am always happy for advice from those who have been there already. :-). If it were one or two stairs, I would let him have at it. But I wasn't going to let my 3 year-old take his bike down 8 concrete stairs on his first day ever with pedals and brakes...

    I know it will happen. Just not yet. ;-)

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    Yeah, that makes sense

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    Anything that makes me feel better about spending this much would also be welcome. :-)
    I gawked at the prices when I first looked at the Spawn Furi (14"), but as soon as I realized the following points, it became a done deal in my head:

    - i have 2 kids (2 yrs apart) that will use any bike I buy
    - it's only 1/10th the price of my own bike... hee hee.
    - resale value will be high... so $ per kid per year is relatively small
    - riding is a lifestyle for my family... not just a past time

    As you've noted as well, the quality and build is outstanding on the Spawn's. Worth every penny.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    He loves that he can make the bike hop by slamming the hand brakes.
    In addition to teaching about front versus rear brake use, I set the front brake so that it really doesn't do much. As he gets more mileage into understanding the brakes, I just use the barrel adjuster to slowly add a bit more effectiveness. You may wish to do the same

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    After seeing the bike in action, I have no qualms about the price. It is serious quality. While many kids learn on department store bikes, this bike is head & shoulders above what we have seen and the weight difference is noticeable. My 3 year-old could barely budge the bikes in toys r us two weeks ago when we were in there for something else and he can now bunny hop the Banshee... It would be years before he could be strong enough to do that on a department store bike. To us, those years of biking as a family are worth the price premium, even if I pick up a few grey hairs along the way. :-)

    Genuine thanks to all in the forum who have helped us. I really appreciate it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CeUnit View Post
    I gawked at the prices when I first looked at the Spawn Furi (14"), but as soon as I realized the following points, it became a done deal in my head:

    - i have 2 kids (2 yrs apart) that will use any bike I buy
    - it's only 1/10th the price of my own bike... hee hee.
    - resale value will be high... so $ per kid per year is relatively small
    - riding is a lifestyle for my family... not just a past time
    I would also add that modding something like a Specialized Hotrock to have a freewheel quickly makes it cost MORE than the Spawn bikes.

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    Amom, how long did it take to get your bike from canada? Also, how much was the shipping? I'm choosing a 16" for my 5yo girl right now. We relatively close to Cleary bikes, so have been leaning towards them, but they mentioned their lead time is the end of the month. Also, 15 vs. 17 lbs seems significant to me. I'm glad your son likes the banshee. My daughter's riding style is more tame than your son's, so either will probably be fine.

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    We chose the cheapest shipping option. I think it was called purolator. They had an online calculator on the Spawn order page where it calculated my cost to ship based on my US zipcode. From the time it came into stock, we received the bike in less than a week. I got a tracking number the day it shipped and my son got a kick out of tracking the shipment online.

    It took a day to leave from Spawn in Canada and pass through customs in Seattle and then they hand it to UPS to deliver. If you can guess how long something might take to get from Seattle to you via UPS ground, and add 1 day, that is probably a good estimate. Of course your experience may vary.

    We are really happy with the bike. I have still never seen a Cleary, but I bet any kid would be thrilled with either bike. We are lucky to have such great options.

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