Spawn Cycles Savage 2.0 2014
Do you wish to share your love of cycling with your kids? I certainly do, but I have been careful to not push my two wheeled obsession on my son. That being said, you can imagine how thrilled I am that he loves to ride and proclaims cycling as his favorite outdoor activity. Garrett started on a Specialized kick bike when he was two and moved to a 16" Specialized Hotrock single speed when he was three and half. Since being on a pedal bike, our outings together have ranged from 15 minutes to well over an hour. The Specialized Hotrock was really starting to present some limitations in the type of terrain my son could comfortably and safely ride, not to mention the Specialized had become to small for him.
I wanted to get my son a bike that would fit his growing body and abilities. Anyone who has searched for quality 20" mountain bikes, knows the market is limited. Finding Spawn Cycles, was a result of my interest in another kids bike manufacture, Lil Shredder. From the first time I saw the Lil Shredder bikes, I wanted one for my son, but the cost was simply to high for me. In fact, the full suspension Lil Shredder comes in at $2900, which will seem absolutely ludicrous to some, despite the extravagant build specs and hand built in the USA frame. After lusting after a Lil Shredder for months I began my online search for other options.
I am getting a little ahead of myself though. My search for kids bikes started with less exotic options from Giant, Specialized, and several others. Most of the big bike manufactures offer a 20" wheeled kids bike with prices ranging from $240 to around $420. All of these are quality bikes and far better than anything you will find at a department store. However, none of the bikes I found were really designed for trail use, and most are relatively heavy considering the intended riders weight.
Enter the Savage 2.0 from Spawn Cycles. Following some kids bike forum, I don't recall which, I found Spawn Cycles, and placed an order. Communication with the company was excellent, and each of my emailed questions was answered promptly. In terms of price, I felt the Savage 2.0 offered the best value, considering the type of bike I was looking for. Of course the $1075 price tag will not be for everyone, but this bike hit all the major marks in my opinion. An aluminum frame, suspension that is reported to work quite well, and a component group that should perform well and hold up to some abuse.
To be clear this will be more of an overview, from a parent bicycle fanatic point of view. As my son gets more time on the bike I will update this to a more performance based review. Of course this will come mostly from my observations of him riding, but I will also try to relay my sons opinion.
Frame & Suspension Detail
The frame is aluminum and features some details any avid mountain biker would be pleased to see. First of all, the bike is chain guide compatible and has the latest ISCG-05 tabs. I will admit this was not something I was necessarily looking for, but having the ability to mount a guide is a nice option. The tire clearence is excellent and with the stock tires you have gobs of space between frame and tire. In fact, I would gues a 2.35" tire would still have great clearence if one is ever produced.
Also of note is the head tube, which is a new design for the Savage 2.0, and has a cool tapered extruded look. I am not sure what, if any, performance gains come from this design, but it does look better than straight head tube. Speaking of aesthetics, the matte pain looks great, and has a nearly anodized look to it. However, the paint does chip really easily, which is not a big deal, but does not seem powdercoat strong.
Drivetrain & Brakes
Right to the point, the bike comes pre-built to the same degree as any bike from the big bicycle manufactures. Meaning a competent bike mechanic should really asemble and tune the bike initially, but it could be handled by a home mechanic with the proper tools and experience. As a former bike shop mechanic with a complete tool set at my disposal, I had the Savage 2.0 in my bike stand immediately after opening the box.
The brakes were easy to setup drag free and the lever size seems appropriate for small hands. I was able to adjust the levers in close enough, so my son can easily use two fingers. The brakes seem to be more than adequate, in fact it will take Garrett a while to get used to the powerful stoppers.
The cranks are sized very appropraitely, at mm. They use a square taper bottom bracket, which you don't see often on bikes at this price point, but I am guessing crank choices in this length are very limited.
The shifter and deraileur are Sram X7, which are respectable componet pics for the price of the bike. The derailleur is a mid cage, which is also a good pic considering the 1x10 drivetrain.
While adjusting the derailleur, which was very close to ideal out of the box, although I did notice some limitations with the chainline. At first it seemed like the chainline was causing noise, but upon closer inspection I think its just a result of a short chainline. Regardless, the bike shifts great even with a little noise in the larger gears on the cassette.
Handlebars, Stem, Pedals, Seat & Post
The pedals are made by Wellgo, and appear to be made speciafically for a kids foot. I don't have a scale, but the pedals feel very light, in fact both of them feel roughly as heavy a single Straitline pedal for comparison. I will update this review with some weights in the future, but this was a good choice on the part of Spawn Cycles and my son seems to have much better grip compared to the plastic pedals on his other bike.
The stem and handlebars definitely look the part, but they also seem very functional. Like the pedals, I would guess the stem to be very light. It is obviously short and seems to complement the geometry well.