Islabikes has just taken kids bikes to a whole new level.
The UK-based company that opened their North American headquarters in southeast Portland three years ago has just launched the new ‘Pro Series’ range. They call it “the pinnacle of performance for youth that really want to push limits in regards to stealth and handling.”
Islabikes has been very successful in the last three years in providing real children’s bikes with components made specifically for smaller hands and an attention to detail often not available from the major brands. Unlike other companies, Islabike is a children’s bike specialist: It’s all they do and their expertise shines through like never before with these new Pro models.
I got a sneak peek at these last week from Islabikes GM Tim Goddall. He said the project started out of frustration over seeing kids at races using adult-sized bikes modified for their smaller bodies. As youth bike racing has grown (in both the UK and the US), so too has the market for higher-performance bikes that fit them perfectly.
The Pro Series features four new bikes for kids ages four to eight (and over). Check out the details and photos below:
Luath Pro Series
Ideal for the cyclocross enthusiast and budding racer, the Luath Pro Series is optimized in both fit and performance. The Luath inspires confidence thanks to a long wheel base and slightly slack head angle which helps keep the bike stable. The geometry of the frame has been optimized to keep the smaller rider centered, in control, and efficient. This includes a steeper seat tube angle to further assist with reach for smaller arms. The Luath Pro Series is designed with child specific drop handlebars that measure just 22.2mm in diameter.
Steep seat tube angle for keep weight central
Super low Q-Factor Islabikes cranks
Child specific drop handlebars (22.2mm diameter on Luath 24 and 26)
In house designed tires proportional to each model and meet all UCI regulations when paired with Stans rims.
Creig Pro Series
The Creig Pro Series is a lightweight MTB that is ready to tackle even the most advanced single track. Built with smaller riders in mind, both the geometry and component choices maximize the ride quality for the young shredder. With Rockshox 30 Gold TK forks, the Creig Pro Series comes with Stans NoTube Rims in all wheel sizes meaning these bikes can be run tubeless with the Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires.
Rockshox 30 Gold TK Forks
24 and 26 inch Wheel sizes
Stans NoTube Rims
Cross Country Geometry
Proprietary Low Q-Factor cranks for pedaling ergonomics & efficiency
Low Bottom Bracket
Beinn Pro Series
Smaller riders get their shot at the mountain with the Beinn Pro Series. The Beinn 20 Pro Series features an in-house designed full carbon fiber fork, a custom 9-speed SRAM cassette to help manage all terrains with even-spaced gearing and optimized chain line.
Islabike proprietary full carbon fiber fork
Low spoke count / aluminum nipples reduce rotating weight
Wide ratio SRAM cassette to manage all terrain and reduce chain wear and improve alignment.
Avid DB5 Hydraulic Disk Brakes
Cnoc Pro Series
The Cnoc Pro Series perfectly illustrates Islabikes’ approach to holistic design. With the exception of chain, bottom bracket and hubs, every element of this bike has been custom designed and manufactured by Islabikes. A 7005 aluminum frame and proprietary full carbon fork keeps weight low while offering excellent steering agility. Further weight savings come from Islabikes’ custom tires which feature a very supple 185TPI construction. Customized tread pattern provides fast and grippy performance for lighter riders. The Cnoc 16 Pro Series is intended for sanctioned racing only.
Proprietary Full Carbon Fork
7005 aluminum frame
Nearly all components designed and manufactured by Islabikes (Excluding chain, bottom bracket, and hubs)
Proprietary 25.4 full carbon seatpost
Islabikes custom tires featuring 185TPI construction
Hollow titanium bottom bracket
Sealed cartridge bearings in bottom bracket
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…lacing-up an alfine 8 for a 5yo’s 16in specialized hotrock?
This is really quite unfortunate. Having a conversation of youth and bicycles becoming more and more dominated by recreational/sport/exercise use, I believe, is not the most effective strategy if we want youth to believe in the bicycle as an everyday and normal part of life. What we should be calling for are more youth bikes that come with lights, racks, components of “commuter” bicycles. Everyday bikes promoting everyday use.
I hear you Tony… But don’t you think we’re capable of having more than one conversation at a time?
We should be able to, yes, but when there’s an obvious lack of culture where youth believe in using bicycles, there needs to be more consideration of the types of trips they are already making. Bicycle producers need to pay more attention to the largest hole in the bicycle market – intelligently designed youth bicycles that plant the seed for future, everyday, “utilitarian” riding.
I hear you. But have you ever tried to get a young person to ride a “utilitarian” looking bike? I have and it’s not easy. The ones I know actually prefer more sporty looking bikes. It’s an American thing. I wish we had more European sensibilities but it’s just not in our DNA IMO
It is generally not an issue when they are looking at their parents bikes. They really stop complaining when they get a bike with more legs (gears, liter and urban tires) and don’t have to chase after you on their single speed kids bike to get to the park or go down town.
The challenges present with encouraging youth to ride “utilitarian” looking bikes aren’t going to be solved overnight. However, we can’t remotely engage those challenges if that type of bicycle isn’t readily available for them to use. Bike share programs could be great example of how the “youth market” can be tapped into for this topic.
I don’t agree that producing bikes obligates you to advocate for cultural shift.
Besides, Islabikes already makes rack and fender kids bikes. If they want to sell high-end offroad bikes, more power to them.
I’ll agree with you regarding not being obligated to advocate. I just think it’s an interesting coincidence that the type of bike kids are least familiar with, and the bike most uncommon in the US, may be the type of bike that inspires them to be life-long riders.
Well, except that $2300 bikes that will be quickly outgrown may be a sad symptom of something else besides what Tony said.
Their presence suggests that enough parents, somewhere, may be taking their kids’ riding and racing way too seriously — much like some soccer/hoops/football/hockey/baseball/etc. parents who, for instance, argue with coaches and refs and may push their kids too hard for participation to catch on as lighthearted lifelong fun.
That is: Bikes like this might be more for parents than kids.
And then you and I can buy them used on Craigslist for pennies on the dollar. If people want to burn money on expensive bikes for kids, more power to them. I love to buy quality used items.
Good luck finding a used Islabike in town. They get snapped up quickly, and they have a high resale value.
“might be”? What kid has that kind of money?
If you spent a day riding at a place like the Whistler Bike Park, you would know why it makes sense to spend money on a quality bike.
So you’re saying a standard, non-Pro Creig, Beinn or Cnoc, at half the price or less, wouldn’t do for a day of riding at Whistler? Why exactly?
Do a Google search for Whistler Bike Park videos…
Ok, I searched. I saw a whole lot of specifically freeride and downhill bikes in their element, whereas both “Pro” and ordinary Islabikes are XC or ‘cross or sort of general small-kid. So I think my question still stands: A standard Islabike wouldn’t do for a day at Whistler but its “Pro” version would? Why, exactly?
seems like a strider would do the trick
Totally. I mean, who’s ever heard of a child going on to be a professional athlete? That’s grownup stuff.
Planting the seed needs simplicity… for example, coaster brakes for learning riders.
I do a lot of riding with kids and the most intuitive setup always gets the preference. Shifting is not an easy concept for learning riders.
A single speed bike with coaster brake gives the rider a more direct / visceral connection to the bicycle. This is not dis-similar to the appeal of fixed gear bikes for some riders.
Totally disagree, John. My son learned to ride on an Isla that had both coaster and hand brakes. Hand brakes were simple and intuitive. Coaster brakes force you to make difficult decisions about when to take the foot off the brake to be able to set it on the ground.
Can’t wait for the BikeSnobNYC writeup on this…
Like these? http://www.islabikes.com/product-category/accessories/accessories-of-for-your-beinn-20-large/
So start a company, offer such kid-sized utility bikes, and see if you go bankrupt . . . Islabikes is meeting a market demand, they have every right to do so, and I disagree that kids must ride one and only kind of bike in order to fall in love with cycling. Kids fall in love with cycling if and when they are having fun. A kid’s idea of fun is not a heavy bike laden with racks and commuter gear. Adults shouldn’t impose their sense of political correctness on kids who don’t, for some blessed years, have to pedal off to work in the dark carrying their work clothes. Let them be kids.
My first bikes were skinny tire “ten speeds”, my son’s first bikes were a 16″ wheel BMX and then a banana seat Stingray. Oddly, those didn’t turn us off cycling.
This is not political correctness. This is saying that bicycles are not ONLY exercise tools. Kids should be able to grasp that concept. “Let them be kids” YES. That’s the goal. Kids have stuff to carry, kids want to ride at night, the list goes on!
I couldn’t disagree more. Biking should be fun, that is what creates lifelong riders. The “fun” bikes become the commuter bikes for kids. My son commutes all over the place, just as i did, on his 16″ BMX bike.
Bike for kids should be fun. I don’t think pushing them into the adult world of slogging commutes has anything to do with fun. Sports like BMX are having a hard enough time as it is surviving without putting kids on miniature adult commuters.
Here’s an idea: ask the kid what kind of bike they want.
But that’s the rub: those are labeled “accessories.” Their not yet viewed is inseparable components of a standard bicycle.
Islabikes is the last bike company you should be having a problem with. Gimme a break. Go pick on Magna or something.
We own 2 (Beinn 20 & 24) and they are awesome. Totally glad we bought them, and they were assembled IN PORTLAND. Wish my kids were into racing enough for me to justify buying one of these race versions; they are nicer than any of the bikes I ride.
Maybe those kids can ride those sensible bikes to 8 to 5 jobs while they’re at it, just to reinforce the concept of earning a living.
Jeez, let ’em be kids!
That’s exactly what this is about. Kids go places, they carry things, they want to ride from dawn til dusk, they don’t just use a bike to exercise.
If you make your kids ride from dawn til dusk carrying loads, then you can load their bikes up with racks, panniers, etc. Why should you criticize other kids who instead want to race, to ride for recreation, to ride unladen? Why should a bike company be criticized for offering bikes to meet those needs? Just because you want X, doesn’t mean others don’t want Y.
These comments are classic Bikeportland. Wow.
Feeling entitled to judge the decisions of others that in no way impact the life of the one doing the judging is bigger than BP, it’s a Portland thing.
I love that photo.
Me too. That is a fantastic illustration of a kid being a kid!
Isla bikes are simply the best for kids. I trust that if they think there’s a market for racing bikes for kids, they’ll make the best ones. I’m glad they’re out there.
Isla bikes already offers the Luath at about $600, 1/4 the price of the lightweight pro version, but looks to be about the same design.. I probably wouldn’t drop that kinda cash on something that’s gonna get outgrown, and I’m not sure why anyone would, but spending way too much for something you don’t need definitely sounds American to me.
What kind of bike(s) do you ride?
Not sure what difference that makes for my comment, but I’ll bite once. I ride a Surly cross check set up as a fixed with a “porteur” front rack that carries my panniers; it has schwalbe marathon plus 28’s and bullhorn bars. What do you ride?
And to clarify, I’m not saying he $600 price is out of line, I’m wondering who would spend $2400 on a bike with a very limited resale market that will be outgrown within a few years
This isn’t a new thing – people already do this. And no, regular Islabikes are not designed for hardcore mountain biking. They are great bikes and very light, but underbuilt for this stuff:
That’s a really nice bike, but do you really *need* it? I mean, you could get place to place on a used Magna from Wal-Mart.
Why does it matter to you who would spend that much? I’ll bite once, too. How about parents of three children who ride off-road, tour by bike, and race cyclocross? Maybe they recognized early on that their oldest daughter has serious potential to be a competitive racer, and she really loves the sport and it is just that important to her. The bike could get handed down twice, and then given to a friend who has a daughter who is just about to fit it. A quality build will last a long time.
Considering I bought it in 2009, I’ve already gotten more life out of a bike that cost half as much as your projected fantasy of three children who all follow the same competitive interest.
Is Portland known for smugness? Perhaps, but pointing out how others are being judgemental is an implied judgement, and the logical path that follows yields division by zero.
I must’ve missed where you mentioned what sort of bike you ride?
But do you need it? I must have missed your reply, as well. I ride lots of bikes, depending on what type of riding I am doing. I will assume you mean commuting, in which case I ride a Soma Smoothie. It’s a beautiful white, steel frame. I only ride 25mm tires, though. Gatorskins, Great price and not a single flat this entire Winter. I prefer the lighter, 25mm tire for commuting up and over the Zoo. The bars are a standard, aluminum drop bar. I need some new wheels, though. Mine are about to wear through.
BTW-having three children is definitely not a fantasy of mine. One is more than I can handle.
Ones that won’t be outgrown, most likely.
Brilliant pics of the kids enjoying riding the new Islabikes. The fact that they were from East Bradford CC is entirely beside the point (ahem).
I wouldn’t bet against Isla Rowntree’s judgement, bearing in mind that the bike biz was very sniffy about her original models, “Parents won’t be prepared to pay that much[!!] for a kid’s bike”. If the new models resale value holds as well as her standard ones, the cost per week may well be pretty low.
Anway, I’ve seen the standard of bike that kids are racing on in the UK go up and up, with £2k/£3k becoming more common, even for U14s, so It makes sense for Islabikes to move into that valu level. And if your youngster really gets into racing successfully and you need to upgrade his/her bike(s), wouldn’t you go with the same proven philosophy if they already love their standard Islabikes?