Islabikes is one of the very small number of manufacturers who specialise in children’s bikes. In fact, we can’t think of another one with such a comprehensive range that doesn’t also do adult bikes – Islabikes has kids from two to 13 covered.
The big news for 2009 is the addition of a “proper mountain bike”. Several existing Islabikes models have been perfectly happy on light-to-middling off-road, but the new Creig 26 is designed for the sort of thing that enthusiastic mountain bikers think of as off-road.
Most of the spec is familiar territory – RockShox Recon fork, Avid Juicy 3 brakes, SRAM X5 transmission, Conti tyres – but it’s all been tweaked and tuned for riders from the age of nine. The Creig has full-sized 26in wheels but a tiny frame with an extra-short headtube and integrated headset to keep the front end height under control. The fork itself is tuned for very light riders, and of course as an air fork will be able to keep pace with them growing. The BB is lower than on an adult bike, and the cranks are 152mm long for short legs. The Avid levers have also been modified to shorten the reach and make them easier to operate for small hands.
Before reaching the dizzy heights of the Creig, though, there are plenty more bikes for your growing nipper to work through. Entry level is the hugely popular Rothan “balance bike”, which doesn’t have a transmission and is designed to get the tinies to learn how to balance before moving on to pedals. It’s suitable from about the age of two (depending on height). The original Rothan was a fantastic thing, and the new model has a few improvements – domed Allen key bolts on the wheels rather than hex nuts, a lighter chromoly fork, a slightly lighter frame, a steering limiter to prevent the front wheel turning too far and an optional brake. Islabikes has designed its own miniature brake lever for its smaller bikes, having previously eschewed lever-operated brakes because existing levers were all too big for small hands.
The new lever also finds its way on to the Cnoc “first bikes”, replacing the coaster brake that they used to come with. The Cnoc comes in 14 or 16in wheel versions and are now available with graphics in a choice of colours. They also get upgraded chromoly forks and bars.
Beyond the Cnoc, the Beinn range (ages 5-12) has a bunch of detail changes, including lower gear ratios and lighter frames. There’s also a new size for the biggest-wheeled Beinn 26, now available in a larger frame size. There’s also a larger size for the Luath range of road/CX/touring bikes.
All these bikes, and more, are available now. More details of the full range can be found at www.islabikes.co.uk, or call 01746 710835.