Parents all over the world better be preparing to dig deep at the next anniversary of their sprogs because today Islabikes announced a brand new range of performance bikes for children.
Pioneered by entrepreneur Isla Rowntree [read our interview here] Islabikes arrived on the scene in 2006 – they were the first brand to introduce premium lightweight children’s bikes that wouldn’t weigh a significant portion of the child’s body mass.
Having reached their tenth year trading, the brand have brought out a new range of models: The Pro Series. The bikes in the range – which consists of starter bikes, cyclocross bikes, cross country mountain bikes and mixed terrain bikes - sit above the current offering, and are designed to cater for the needs of young racers looking to progress through the Junior racing scene.
Across the range shoppers will find top end highlights such as custom carbon forks, seatposts, mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes, newly developed Stan's NoTubes rims to allow for tubeless systems, and Shimano Ultegra shifters.
Islabikes have gone so far as to create brand new tyre designs where they were unable to find adequate options in the wheel sizes they were catering for - such attention to detail is a first in the children's market.
All bikes within the range feature custom handlebars, chainsets, pedals, grips, saddles and seatposts, to ensure they meet the needs of children. The components are designed to gel with the ergonomically designed frames to offer comfort and performance.
The brand only makes unisex children's bikes - when we spoke to founder Rowntree, she told us: "We don't do gendered bikes, because we don't need to. One of the things I use to inform my design decisions is a huge book of child data sets. It’s got every body measurement that you could think of – the obvious things like height and weight and chest and hip and waist, but also the less obvious, inside leg and hand grip strength and hand girth diameter. It’s got each of those for male and female, from aged two up.
“In the data sets, pre-puberty, there is no significant difference between boys and girls on anything that affects the fit of the bike. Girls are generally very slightly smaller for their age, so then they’d still be on our bikes but would move up to the next size a little bit later."
Speaking about the new bike range, she said: “Every year we attend numerous races and cycling festivals with our bikes. At certain events, Tweedlove and cyclocross races in particular, we have been in awe of the speed and skill levels of some of the young riders. I wanted to deliver a range of even lighter, higher specification, performance focused Islabikes with all the benefits of our holistic design approach for those whose lives revolve around youth cycling competition."
"These are serious bikes for children who are serious about their cycling. I hope we see some of their names crop up as Olympians in the future."
Describing some of the key selling points, she said: "We have designed full carbon forks that perfectly match the geometry of each bicycle size, low Q factor [distance between the pedal attachment points on the crank arms] cranks, our own superlight and grippy cyclocross tyres and sprinkled each bike with titanium and aluminium finishing bits to shave off the last bit of weight. These are serious bikes for children who are serious about their cycling. I hope we see some of their names crop up as Olympians in the future."
Without further ado, here's a look at the range...
Luath Pro Series £1599.99
Designed for a cyclocross enthusiast, the Luath Pro Series is similar in geometry to the existing Luath – which can be altered to suit cyclocross, touring and road riding or racing needs.
The bike will be available in 24" (age 8+), 26" (age 9+) and 700c (age 11+) sizes, with mechanical disc brakes and Shimano Ultegra shifters.
The seat tube angle on the Luath is steep to cater for the way children carry weight lower - in their hips as opposed to the torso - and their shorter arms. Low Q-Factor cranks and low bottom bracket allow for a reduced standover height for little legs.
The Pro Series bike has a custom designed full carbon fork, and tyres created specifically for cyclocross by Islabikes – after the brand found little choice for children’s sized bikes. Measuring 33c when paired with a 700c Stan’s rim, the Grèim Islabikes Cyclocross tyres are lightweight, with a folding bead, and meet all UCI regulations for racing.
Finally – the shining glory – is a pair of Avid BB7 mechanical disc. Mechanical brakes were selected as the levers are better suited for smaller riders and offer greater reach adjustment than their hydraulic counterparts. It is worth bearing in mind that the addition of disc brakes mean these bikes couldn’t be used for children’s circuit races, so Road focused kids would want to stick with the existing Luath.
Creig Pro Series £1499.99
Available in both 24" and 26" wheel sizes, the Creig Pro Series is a lightweight XC mountain bike for little rippers.
Both bikes have been specced with the Rockshox 30 Gold TK forks, selected due to their narrow 30mm stanchions which allows them to be run at lower pressures.
The brand have worked closely with Stan’s Rims, and all wheel sizes come with Stan’s NoTube Rims so they can be run tubeless with the Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres fitted. This allows for lower pressures to be run, and cuts down on punctures as well as weight.
Islabikes have designed their own low Q-Factor cranks to bring the child’s legs closer together, to improve pedalling ergonomics for cross country riding. This also allows or a lower bottom bracket and thus helps reduce overall standover height - meaning children can get their feet down when they want to stop, helping them to feel safer in the saddle.
Beinn 20 Pro Series £999.99
The Beinn is aimed at riders from just five years old – and it weighs only 6.5kg. Huge efforts have been made to keep the weight low – right down to using a lower number of spokes and aliminum nipples.
The brand struggled to provide a wide enough ratio cassette to give such small riders adequate gears. They overcame issues with chain alignment caused by short chainstays by speccing a 10 speed SRAM cassette, which was converted it to 9 speed by removing the 15 and 17 tooth sprockets and replacing with a 16 tooth.
The Beinn also has disc brakes – this time Avid DB5 hydraulic’s which provide impeccable stopping power, and Islabikes own Rèidh tyres and Stan’s rims – which allow for a tubeless system.
Cnoc Pro Series £799.99
Designed for children as young as four, this smooth welded 7005 aluminium frame keeps weight low, and is fitted with a cabon fork and seat post. The Rèidh tyres are also custom designed – the order of the day being to provide fast and grippy, performance for lighter riders.
More weight savings are present in the use of a hollow titanium bottom bracket with carbon shell, with sealed cartridge bearings ensure smooth pedalling efficiency.
Islabikes own pedals also feature titanium axles and pins keeping the weight to a minimum. And where does the package tip the scales? At 4.8kg.
All the bikes are available to pre-order, and you can find out more here.
We're pretty bowled over by the immense attention to detail offered by Islabikes here. We've got to admit, though it's incredible to see children being offered such amazing spec, we're intrigued to see how many parents will be ready to part with such high figures for little (but fast growing) legs. Though we do hear quality children's bikes tend to hold their value...