Owen and his first bike, a Spawn Banshee

Spawn builds bikes for young kids who are ready to ride

One of the by-products of the strider bikes you see toddlers riding in all the parks these days — not to mention programs like Pedalheads —is that kids are learning to ride much earlier than in the past. It’s not uncommon to see three-year-olds who are pedalling away, nary a training wheel in sight.

The drawback to this early-onset skills training, though, is that there aren’t many bicycles that are being built with three- and four-year-olds in mind. So while the youngsters may be ready to tear up the trail, they struggle on bikes that are too big, heavy, and cumbersome. And trying to pedal a big, heavy, beast of a bike just isn’t fun.

Spawn Cycles to the rescue.


Product: Two-wheel 16” bicycle
Manufacturer: Spawn Cycles
Price: $395

The company, based in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, has a number of bikes that are designed for young kids who are ready to transition to a pedal bike. I was ecstatic to discover Spawn bikes just in time to get my son a blue Banshee for his fourth birthday this spring.

Owen had never tried to ride a pedal bike before we took his shiny new bike to the local playground to give it a try. On his first attempt, he was up and riding. The video at the bottom of this story was taken ten minutes later.

With an aluminium frame, the Banshee is only 15 pounds, so it’s light enough that Owen can pedal it with ease, even up small hills. And if he needs to pick it up and move it around an obstacle, or change directions, he can. The Banshee also has two hand brakes, so he’s already learning to squeeze his fingers to slowly come to a stop. No back-pedal coaster brakes on this bike. And with a free spinning back wheel Owen won’t crash if his feet sometimes pedal the wrong way.

Owen’s immediate love of his bike prompted me to suggest a Banshee for my nephew, who is a year older and has been frustrated with the bike he was trying to learn on. He had a similar experience: Within minutes he was zooming around on his new Banshee, with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen.

The Banshee comes in blue, green, red, and pink. And Spawn also has a 14” Furi and a 20” Savage for kids of different sizes.

The price tag may come as a shock, but let me assure you the $400 is money well spent. Seeing your child up and riding with such ease, which is all but guaranteed if they’ve had some good training on a strider bike, makes you forget what you paid. And a well-built bike like those designed by Spawn is sturdy enough to become the first pedal bike for a second child, and even a third, so you can amortize the price over a couple of children or be confident you can easily sell the bike after your kids grows out of it.

I’m a believer in spending money on proper equipment, because it makes the experience so much better for kids.

When our daughter was in her first year of Pedalheads the instructor said she was ready for a proper pedal bike after her first day. I zipped out to the local store that sells a variety of things, including bikes, and picked up one for under $100. But my daughter struggled on that bike. It was heavy and she couldn’t pedal it, and every time her feet slipped backward, the coaster brakes caught and flipped her off the bike.

I spent about $500 to get her a higher-end bike for her fifth birthday, and she was up and riding that down the street on her very first attempt. And sometime next year, when she’s ready for a new bike, my son will be big enough to start riding the one she’s on now.

If there’s a problem with Spawn Cycles it’s that they are in such high demand that bike stores can’t keep them in stock. You can order them direct from Spawn if you don’t mind a bit of assembly, and the owner is doing his best to keep up, but I recommend placing an order months early so you can make sure you’ve got one when you need it.

And what kid doesn’t want a shiny new bicycle for Christmas?