Spawn Savage 2.0: Are You Dad Enough?

Words Omar Bhimji
Photos Omar Bhimji
Date Jun 9, 2014

As recently as five years ago, mountain bikes for kids universally featured low end parts and poorly considered designs, and often weighed as much as their riders. Lil Shredder is largely credited for changing the status quo, designing capable bikes for little riders and causing grown men to contemplate shelling out thousands of dollars for a bike they could never ride. Today, the middle ground of a shreddable, affordable bike for pint-sized riders seems on the cusp of being realized.

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I first learned about Spawn Cycles in 2012 when I saw their impressive 16” wheeled model, the Banshee, at a local shop. I checked out their website and fired off an email to owner Max with the subject line: “great bikes! where’s the 20?” Turns out Max, whose son is just a few months younger than mine, was already working on a design and hoped to have something ready by the summer of 2013. But breaking new ground isn’t quick or easy, and testing prototypes and sourcing parts for a bike that didn’t have much precedent took longer than expected. I ended up biting the bullet and building my son a bike from scratch for his sixth birthday – but kept my eye on Spawn, as Max seemed committed and his ideas were sound.

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Fast forward to the winter of 2014 and Max dropped by with a Spawn Savage 2.0 for us to “review”. Out of the box the bike certainly looked the part, like a scaled down version of the hardtails we like to ride. Max walked me through the design process and explained how he’d figured out the spec. My first impressions were positive, but of course I would have to defer to our test rider for confirmation. I picked my son up from school, we headed over to the Shore and pedalled up to his favourite trail: Bobsled. We dropped in, ripped down to mountain highway, and when my son turned around and exclaimed “that was awesome!” I knew Max had a winner on his hands. Here’s an overview of the biggest and baddest bike in Spawn’s lineup: the Savage 2.0.

make-and-model

The Savage models both come with a 6061 aluminum frame. The Savage 1.0 comes with a rigid fork and rim brakes, while the 2.0 seen here sports hydraulic disc brakes and front suspension.

drive-train

It’s never too early to start fostering a healthy fear of front derailleurs. The Savage sports an Enduro-approved 1×10 drive train, though the 32 tooth ring, 11-36 cassette and 20” wheels provide a decently low gear ratio for pedalling.

chainstay-yoke

Getting the chainstays down below 14 inches without breaking the bank on the CNC machine took a lot of figuring. Eventually, Max managed to trim them down to 340mm, shorter by an inch than the Savage’s closest competitor on the market. Those stubby stays may have something to do with the fact that switchbacks are my son’s new favourite trail feature.

crank-and-pedal

The Savage comes with custom-made (i.e. factory chopped, drilled and tapped) 127mm crank arms, a 32 tooth front ring, a lightweight bash guard and small pedals for small feet. And yes, with its 104mm bolt-circle-diameter, the crank will take a 30 tooth N/W ring – though it should be said that the bike hasn’t dropped a chain yet.

brake-lever

The Tektro Drako hydraulic disc brakes have adjustable reach levers and come spec’d on adult bikes retailing for twice as much as the Savage, so stopping power shouldn’t be an issue. Plus they run on mineral oil, so you can teach junior how to bleed his own brakes without catching hell from mom.

cockpit

The Savage comes stock with a 500mm wide riser bar and a 50mm stem. Both are on the short side, which along with the bike’s low stand over height mean the bike should fit most 5 year olds while leaving them room to grow. The 1 1/8” head tube and 27.2mm seat tube are the perfect retirement home for your old Chris King and Thomson bits.

spinner

The Savage’s wheels have 28 spokes and alloy rims, run on quick-release, sealed bearing hubs, and are lighter than any BMX option you’re likely to find.

spinner2

Now don’t let all that exposed stanchion get you too excited. The (elusive) Spinner Air 20 gets a bit less than its advertised 50mm of travel – but it’s light, there’s little stiction off the top, and the suspension feel is impressive. The Kenda Small Block Eight tires aren’t generally considered Shore-ready rubber, but I’ve been impressed with the traction they’ve provided my son. And they offer a good opportunity to have the all important John Tomac conversation.

full-profile-closer

Like I said, it certainly looks the part. And, after watching my son rally it around our local trails with ever-growing confidence and skill these past few months, it would seem it rides the part, too. The only fault I could find with the bike is that the seat post and fork steerer-tube are on the short side – though adding a longer post and high-rise bar down the line would allow a little rider room to grow.

I’ve spent way too much time looking at and thinking about kids bikes over the past few years; while many bike companies are stepping up their offerings for little riders, the Spawn Savage’s impressive geometry and spec put it in a class of its own. The Savage 2.0 weighs in at 22 lbs (w/ pedals) and retails for $975. That’s a lot of money to drop on a kids’ bike, but arguably pretty good value for a few years of sweet after-school shred sessions with your favourite grom.


Are you dad enough? Check out the Spawn Cycles line HERE.

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Comments

JonnyBoy
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Jonny  - July 21, 2014, 8:23 a.m.

"Now don’t let all that exposed stanchion get you too excited. The (elusive) Spinner Air 20 gets a bit less than its advertised 50mm of travel"

A quick fix will see you get all of the travel.
Release the pressure, undo the bolt on the bottom of the fork. Remove the air cap, remove the rod contained inside the fork. Remove the short vinyl covered spring. cut in half, re install., re-assemble.
2″/50mm - check!

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trevor-kavanaugh
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Trevor Kavanaugh  - July 11, 2014, 1:23 p.m.

I would of really liked to move my son up from his banshee to a savage, sadly they are sold out for pretty much the rest of the year, which is a bit insane! had to buy my son a commencal instead so we can move my daughter to the banshee. Hopefully they figure out how to have some bikes in stock in a reasonable amount of time…

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - July 11, 2014, 1:41 p.m.

hmmm, different bikes had the savage in stock as of last week:

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trevor-kavanaugh
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Trevor Kavanaugh  - July 11, 2014, 1:48 p.m.

I checked out their site, didn't see it for sale, they had banshee's available though… Was kind of bummed, had a bike up for sale to fund the purchase for my son, by the time is sold they were all out.

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Henry-Chinaski
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Henry Chinaski  - June 10, 2014, 7:53 a.m.

I took my 5-year old riding around the Lost Lake area a couple months ago on his Haro 16’’ BMX. I felt bad spinning an easy gear while the little guy ground it out. I was also getting questioning looks from the fully armored adults that we passed. Shortly thereafter, I picked up this exact bike. I was uncomfortable shelling out 1k. But, many of my son’s mates play ipad/video games (which we constantly bag on), so I decided to throw him a bone.

In the end, I’m extremely happy with the purchase. We’ve been on a plethora of 4-7 mile rides in the endowment lands and it pedals really well. In fact, my son fixates on the climbs the same way he does riding little features. I’ll be crushed if he asks for a road bike next.

He’s average size for a 5-year old, so the bike is definitely on the big side. As a result, even with the reach adjust on the Tektro, the lever is a stretch for him (especially on steeper sections). Though, that’s more about him being small and ditching the coaster.

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - June 10, 2014, 12:29 p.m.

that's cool, i haven't seen any other savage's out in the wild

re. the brakes, if they're a real issue, you might consider swapping them for a set of current generation shimano brakes, which have adjustable reach and very small-hand friendly levers.

also, i don't think i mentioned it specifically, but i was really impressed with how well the savage climbed - i don't think there's another 20″ kids bike on the market that comes close to offering the kind of low-end gearing on tap here

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Henry-Chinaski
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Henry Chinaski  - June 11, 2014, 9:02 a.m.

Thanks! If we go bobsledding this summer I’ll probably explore the Shimano route.

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seans
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SeanS.  - June 11, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

Save some money on the whole brakes and just get levers.

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - June 16, 2014, 11:08 a.m.

interesting idea, and possible since the draco's use mineral oil, too. but fluid displacement levels and hardware might not necessarily be compatible between the two

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sean-philbrick
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Sean Philbrick  - June 10, 2014, 7 a.m.

I'd love to see a comparison between this and the 2014 Commencal Ramones 20″. . When Mt. biking my 4 year old rides a Spawn Banshee and My 6 year old rides his Communal Ramones 20″. Really want to see a high end kids 20″ bike shootout!

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - June 10, 2014, 12:22 p.m.

with its long chainstays, lack of gears and coil spring fork, the ramones would seem to sit squarely in the (thankfully) growing "high end kids bike from a big company" niche - from what i've see, i think the savage is on a another level, pretty much by itself

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Lalena
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Lalena Desautels  - June 10, 2014, 6:54 a.m.

I know a lot of women out there who are certainly "mom enough".

On a side note, as a teacher, I've been sending a lot of families to check the Spawn lineup for their children. Definitely a quality bike.

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morgman
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Morgan Taylor  - June 10, 2014, 8:37 a.m.

The titling was a nod to father's day, this weekend.

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Lalena
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Lalena Desautels  - June 10, 2014, 12:12 p.m.

Doh! Yeah… Sorry. Didn't mean to sound grumpy.

Dads are rad.

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blunt
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Blunt  - June 11, 2014, 9:52 a.m.

thank You

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - June 10, 2014, 12:26 p.m.

i thought about that when suggesting the title lalena, but as morgan says it was meant as a father's day reference/tie in. and for what its worth, i think the savage comes in blue, green and pink (the color of my son's last bike) so little rippers of any orientation should be covered

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jared
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jared  - June 10, 2014, 6:48 a.m.

We absolutely love our 16″ wheeled Banshee. My son got it when he was 4 and he felt like such a badass with a free hub and handbrakes. Confidence and skill level shot up considerably. Now at 5, I can really see the benefit of the low weight of the bike when he gets proud at hills he climbs!

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - June 10, 2014, 12:30 p.m.

the banshee looks great, wish it had been around when my son was ready for a 16″

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