Jen and Sim bought their kids the highly recommended Islabikes. But just how good are they for the money?
Who are Islabikes?
Ex-pro cyclist Isla Rowntree set up Islabikes in 2006, designing lightweight, high-performance bikes specifically for kids. Based near Ludlow in Shropshire, the company has gone from strength to strength and now has a loyal following and a great reputation.
The Islabikes range has something to suit every child, from balance bikes for toddlers to the new high-spec, ultralightweight Pro-Series road and mountain bikes. They even stock a full-size Beinn 29, a multi-purpose bike for all the parents who couldn’t in their own words “Find a bike that was as good as their child’s.”
Getting the right size bike for your child is essential – the Islabikes website has sizing charts for all of their bikes, plus plenty of great advice for choosing the right model.
Our kids have always loved being self-propelled on a good set of wheels. From the early days riding their Scuttlebugs at full speed around the kitchen, through getting the hang of their balance bikes, to our daughter who, at 5, is now fully-fledged on two wheels.
even if the bike costs a bit in the first place, cycling is free!
We’re both keen cyclists with many years of mountain biking, adventure racing and triathlons behind us, and we absolutely know and understand the importance of a good bike. Having had a variable selection growing up, and watched other children struggling with heavy, poorly-designed bikes, we were determined to get the best we possibly could for our kids. Even if that meant going without anything new for ourselves for a few years.... After all, even if the bike costs a bit in the first place, cycling is free!
We did our research and quizzed other cycling families to see what recommendations were out there, and Islabikes definitely came out on top.
Islabikes Rothan Balance Bike
We bought our son a Rothan balance bike for his 2nd birthday and he hasn’t looked back.
He bunny-hops it off the sofa, zips along the trails and takes corners like a pro.
It took him a while to master the brake lever (mainly because his hands weren’t quite big enough) and ‘gliding’ along without his feet on the ground. But now, a month away from his 3rd birthday, he’s a very competent rider and we’re already considering upgrading to a pedal bike.
Islabikes Cnoc 16
Our daughter also started off on a balance bike, but by her 5th birthday, she was definitely ready to move on.
We really wanted her first experiences of ‘proper’ cycling to be positive, so we went for a Cnoc 16, the second-smallest in Islabikes’ pedal range.
She made the transition to pedalling easily and without the need for stabilisers and was already used to braking and steering while balancing which is one of the trickiest things to grasp when you’re learning to ride a bike.
The bike’s minimal weight means she can start, stop, manoeuvre and even carry it with ease.
It’s a wonderful sight watching as she pedals off across the fields all under her own steam.
She quickly adapted to having two brake levers – partly because they’re perfectly designed for small hands. Brilliantly, the Cnoc’s chain guard completely encases the chainset, eliminating the hazards of oil smearing, sprocket-catching and finger-trapping we grew up with.
Overall, we’re absolutely delighted with our Islabikes and the joy and freedom our children are getting from them.
They’re so well-designed and aimed perfectly at each age group and, importantly, are lightweight enough that even very young children can handle them with ease.
They are a reasonably large investment and they do get outgrown fairly quickly. However, Islabikes keep their value well and there’s never a shortage of buyers for second-hand models. Plus there’s always the next model up for the next birthday, or even a foray into the Pro Series to consider. Because, as any parent cyclist will know, the perfect number of bikes is the number you already have +1, and it’s no different when you start buying them for your kids.