Canyon's Offspring AL16 is a robust, quality kids bike for 98cm to 110cm tall nippers that really helps boost confidence when out riding thanks to powerful but controllable disc brakes and improved rollover from mismatched wheels. It's been a revelation for our young test rider and he's been inseparable since.
If you're a parent with young kids and you enjoy riding, you quickly realise is the fastest way to get over the initial few years of baggy-eyed rides is to get the kids involved. In the saving of mine and my wive's sanity (and possibly a young child's life) being able to ride as a family has been a blessing. Not only do you get out, you also get home with two tired kids who will eat all of their dinner without complaining AND go to bed on time. It's a virtuous circle that I'd recommend; the kids now see me getting ready to go ride without them and just kind of nod their heads sagely - they get it.
That means you end up wanting a decent kiddies bike and for a long time, there was only really one option for quality kids bikes, namely Islabike. That is, until recently. More and more brands are now offering quality 'mini-me' bikes that compliment the adult range, Canyon being no exception. Canyon's youth range is made up of four models with their 'Young Heroes' range of bikes with a 16", 20", and aluminium and carbon 24" wheeled models to choose from.
My two boys tested the AL16 model, which has some pretty unique features for a kiddies bike. Firstly, it has an 18" front wheel married to a 16" rear wheel for better stand over at the rear but better roll over at the front. There's also an integrated bar and stem with 'soft tissue' pad to reduce the consequences of any painful collisions and there are SRAM Level T hydraulic disc brakes with 140mm rotors at either end for powerful and consistent braking.
You also get a two-speed SRAM Automatix hub that uses a throw-out bearing to automatically engage a higher gear after a certain point, giving more gear range without the complexity and confusion of a shifter. There are loads of other nice touches too, such as a proper threaded bottom bracket, short but comfy saddle with reinforcement to stop it getting damaged, grips with flared ends to stop hands coming off and an all-in weight of 8.2kg.
More confidence, more fun
This review is, of course, an adult's interpretation of a very excited 5-year-old and smaller 3-year-old brother when he could occasionally cadge a go on the bike. Our oldest has been riding balance bike forever, but only transitioned to pealing properly a little while before getting the Canyon, unlike his younger brother he's moderately cautious which is either a blessing when he's listening about busy roads and a pain when he decides he can't ride something that he could previously.
That is until he got the Canyon - his confidence and riding have improved massively. The combination of powerful but useable disc brakes and the bigger wheel in front and the realisation that it will roll over stuff had been, well, revelatory for him. I was dubious as to whether he'd handle the power of the brakes, but it turns out he can lock them up if he wants to, but hasn't by accident and actually has far better control than on his previous V-brake equipped machine.
Local woodland trails that had him stopping and starting are now ridden in one go, and perhaps even more impressively, seven-mile rides around the blue route at Gisburn have been accomplished with only a couple of energy (or lack of) induced explosions along the way and a bit of towing from dad. In short, he loves the bike and has markedly improved as a rider since owning it.
My only slight question would be the rear hub. Either the shifting is incredibly subtle between higher and lower gears, or he (and I) can't make it happen. It's a big old chunk of weight at the bike of the bike and I'm pretty sure he'd be just fine with a nice light single speed hub. The SRAM Automatix hub isn't a hindrance in any way but doesn't seem to add to the bike either.
He's riding a lot more - so we're riding a lot more, he'd rather ride somewhere than do almost anything else and that really says it all for me, it's a fab bike that encourages a kid to ride, what more could you ask for?
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