The Spawn Yoji 14 is a wicked little bike packed full of features that your child most likely won’t notice but that will delight mountain biking parents. Read our review!
Spawn Yoji Review
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: The smallest but most eager balance bike grads who have parents with a passion for mountain biking.
SEAT HEIGHT: 16.5″ – 18″
WEIGHT: 14.25 lb.
BRAKES: Tektro Dual Hand, No Coaster
- Kid-specific geometry and design for a comfortable and efficient ride
- Dual hand brakes and no coaster brake
- Short-reach brake hand levers are easy to engage
- Wider, aggressive-tread tires for better stability and tackling any terrain
- Handlebar can be adjusted for more room in the cockpit as kids grow
- Five bright and fun colors to choose from
- US residents required to buy an additional seat post
- Very expensive due to high-end components that aren’t always necessary
- Seat height range is small – limited room for growth
- Professional assembly most likely required
Spawn Yoji 14 Review – Results of our Test Rides
The Spawn Yoji 14″ is one wicked little bike. Built for the tiniest groms-in-training, the Yoji 14″ is packed full of features that your child most likely won’t notice but that will delight mountain biking parents who have visions of the future full of tackling technical single track as a family. We haven’t had a chance yet to try out the bike on rugged terrain, but we’ll update the review when we do!
Buckle up, because we’re about to take you on a ride to explain the confusing saga of the Yoji 14’s seat height. Spawn is a Canadian bike company and any Yoji sold in Canada or anywhere else internationally has the standard seat height range of 16.5″ to 18″. If you live outside of the US, the saga ends there and it’s actually quite simple.
However, if you live in the US, bikes are governed by different rules and regulations. The Spawn Yoji comes equipped with high-end dual handbrakes and does not have a coaster brake (back pedal brake). In order for a bike to be sold in the US without a coaster brake, it must have a designated maximum seat height that is usually far higher than any 12″ or 14″ bike would comfortably seat a rider. What this does is ensure that small kids’ bikes come with coaster brakes, which the US government has deemed as safer than allowing a young child to rely solely on handbrakes. Whether we agree with that or not is another story. 🙂
Because many bike companies and bike-loving parents understand that a coaster brake can actually be a detriment to kids learning to ride, many high-end brands manufacture and sell their 12″ or 14″ bikes with a coaster brake and then sell optional freewheel kits so that parents can swap out the rear wheel, removing the coaster brake on their own.
This is not what Spawn does. In order to comply with US CPSC standards regarding coaster brakes and maximum seat height, any Yoji 14″ bike shipped to the US comes installed with a different, taller seat post (300mm) with a higher minimum and maximum seat height. US residents do have the option of purchasing the standard Yoji seat post (125mm) for $15. This second seat post is the same seat post that comes with any Yoji sold internationally.
Yoji’s Standard and Taller Seat Posts, Swapped Out Through Top of Saddle
Here’s the thing – if you don’t buy the second seat post, your child is not going to be able to comfortably ride the Yoji. The taller US seat post is comically big, even at its shortest setting. Our 7-year-old rode around on it like a clown bike. It’s basically a throw away. The company even says as much on their website, recommending that you either cut off the bottom of the longer seat post to shorten it, or, as we said, just buy the shorter one.
So it a nutshell, if you live in the US, you’ll have to buy a second seat post and swap it out with the one that comes attached to the bike. The longer seat post is not a seat post extension that will allow you to get more use out of the bike. It’s just too long. Even with the shorter seat post set at its maximum height, our tester was almost too big for the bike. We do also want to point out that with a seat height range of 16.5″ to 18″, your child does not have much room to grow. Other high-end 12″ and 14″ bikes have at least 2″, if not 3″ or 4″ of seat height range, while the Yoji only has 1.5″. (This is measured with the rear reflector installed.)
Regular Seat Post vs. Long Seat Post
Through a combination of multiple headset spacers and a handlebar that can be flipped, the handlebar height can be adjusted to accommodate growing kids. We flipped the handlebar to test this out, and it didn’t make a huge difference. But if this is an important feature for you, just know it’s an option!
Weighing in at 14.25 lbs., the Yoji is lighter than the previous Furi model because in addition to the aluminum frame, Spawn swapped out older components with hollow axles and a hollow bottom bracket spindle to shave weight off the bike. 14.25 lbs. is pretty on-par with most other high-end 14″ bikes. The Yoji has a lot of high-end components that we don’t really think are necessary, but that add weight to the bike, so they’ve taken other measures like the hollowing out the bottom bracket and adding a 3-piece cranksett (which also cost you more money!) to keep the weight down.
The Yoji’s tires are exclusive to, and developed by, Spawn cycles. The 14” x 1.90” Spawn Cycles Loam Stars are wider than most 14″ tires (which are normally 1.5″ wide) and feature aggressive tread for better traction and stability on all-terrain rides. They also come with puncture protection, which is a small strip inside the tire that helps prevent punctures, but not in all cases, and is often seen on higher-end brands. However, the Yoji’s tires offer an additional layer of puncture protection that is exclusive to Spawn.
As should be expected for a high-end 14″ bike, the front and rear hubs have sealed bearings for smoother rolling.
Spawn Yoji’s Short-reach Stem, Headset Spacers, and All-terrain 14″ Tires
The Spawn Yoji is a pretty impeccable specimen of a tiny bike. It’s hard not to be impressed with the obvious attention to kid-specific details and design. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bike more perfectly suited for the youngest groms.
That said, no bike is actually perfect and there are a few elements of the bike that we weren’t totally in love with. For the price, you’d kind of expect this bike to be perfect. But as you can see below, for a mountain bike brand, the Yoji actually pushes the rider up into a more upright position more than we expected it to. There’s not anything wrong with an upright position – in fact, most young riders prefer this! But for all of the hype about a mini mountain bike, we did expect the body positioning to be more leaned in and aggressive. We even flipped the handlebars to produce a slightly more leaned-in stance, but the difference was negligible.
Additionally, there’s not a ton of room to grow with the Spawn and at its maximum seat height, there’s also not a ton of room in the cockpit for the rider to move around. There’s definitely enough space, but as said above, for the price of the bike, we expected there to be more space to allow for better maneuverability and comfort. Obviously, if this rider were smaller and the seat height were set to the minimum seat height, there would be more room. But given there’s only 1.5″ of adjustable seat height to work with, it becomes more of a concern. The company’s website does state that the handlebar can be adjusted for more room in the cockpit as kids grow, but once again, we didn’t really find this change to offer a significant amount of additional space.
Yoji 14″ More Upright, Less Room than Expected for Mini Mountain Bike
With short cranks (89mm), the Yoji once again shows that’s it’s built from the ground up just for kids, similar to the high-end Islabikes CNOC 14″ 90 mm cranks, and the Prevelo Alpha One‘s 85mm cranks. The crank design also features a narrow q-factor which allows a child’s narrow frame to sit naturally on the bike with their feet placed and spaced comfortably on the pedals. Aligned with their hips, a child doesn’t have to splay their legs out awkwardly to pedal and gets more power and efficiency with each stroke.
In order for a bike to have a short crank arms and a narrow q-factor, a bike company must spend quite a bit of additional time and money to manufacture or acquire kid-specific parts. This means Spawn is serious about creating a bike just for kids!
The Yoji features a 3-piece crank set set which is typically lighter, easier to install, and easier to repair. In our opinion, besides the weight, the 3-piece is really just for show as young riders don’t ride hard enough to break bike components.
Spawn Yoji’s Short Cranks and 3-Piece Crank Set
The Yoji’s hand brake components are just as impressive as any of its other components. Tektro mini v-brakes are easy for the tiniest hands to reach and engage, and the Brood Tenderiderz grips make for a comfy grip. As this will likely be your child’s first experience with high-quality hand brakes, please take the time to have them walk the bike and engage the brakes so they understand their stopping power. We’ve had kids stop so quickly they fall over the first time they used high-end brakes!
As noted in the Seat Height section, the Spawn Yoji does not come with a coaster brake. This is definitely an advantage for kids first learning to pedal. Kids (and adults!) naturally pedal backwards when they begin to lose their balance. When bikes have a coaster brake and kids try to pedal backwards, instead of maintaining momentum and balance, they come to a sudden stop and often fall over.
The one disadvantage of the Yoji’s brakes is that the front brakes don’t come assembled at all so they required an extensive and full adjustment. We even had to crimp a brake cable and put on a faring. Some bike-centric parents may not mind or may even enjoy making these adjustments, but the average parent won’t have the know-how to do this and will have to take the bike to a shop for assembly.
Spawn Yoji’s Dual Tektro Mini V-brakes
Gearing (Gain Ratio)
The Yoji 14″ comes standard with a pretty average gain ratio of 3.67 for aggressive riders (that’s who this bike is designed for!) – it’s not too difficult to get started pedaling and can reach decent speeds. For timid riders, this gain ratio is a little high as it would be more difficult for a less confident rider to get started and initially reach sufficient speeds for maintaining balance. Our confident but slightly timid tester did have difficulty riding up inclines as a result. She would stop and put her feet down, walking the bike instead.
For ambitious parents with serious bike-know-how, the common 64mm BCD (bolt circle diameter) chainring size makes it easy to swap out the front chainring to change the gain ratio of the bike. The true cassette hub with Shimano compatible cog in the rear also allows you to swap out the rear cassette as another way to change the gain ratio to your preference. Let’s be real here, though. Very few parents even know what this means! But I guess if you’re still reading at this point, you are one of the few that might! Unless your 3-year-old is some crazy rider though, there’s no reason for swapping any of this out. These features do, however, greatly increase the cost of the bike.
Ease of Assembly
You know the saying “Don’t try this at home”? Yeah, well, don’t try this at home. The instruction booklet actually states that you should have a professional bike shop assemble the bike. We thought it was just a CYA statement, but they’re serious. It took us a good hour and a half to assemble and adjust a 14″ kid’s bike and required more tools in more sizes than other bikes we traditionally assemble. Your average parent will not have the right tools and will NOT be able to assemble the bike and adjust it properly for a safe ride. If you’re a bike guru though, you might be in bike assembly heaven.
Among other things, the front brakes don’t come assembled at all so they required an extensive and full adjustment. We even had to crimp a brake cable and put on a faring. The rear wheel was out of true (most likely from shipping) and was rubbing the brake pad, which then added to assembly time with some pretty time-consuming tweaks.
As a comparison, other high-end kids’ bikes like woom and Prevelo come with all the tools you’ll need to assemble the bike and also come almost entirely assembled already. It takes 5 – 10 minutes to actually put them together.
The Spawn Yoji 14″ truly is an exceptional first bike for kids in a bike-obsessed family. It does, however, come with a hefty price tag – starting with a high MSRP, along with the $15 seat post, $40 in shipping, and potentially paying to have it assembled, it’s a very expensive option for a bike that your child will grow out of pretty quickly.