Kids' bikes typically come in one of two varieties: affordable but heavy, or trick but astronomically expensive. The Islabikes Cnoc 16 defies this rule by being a lightweight, ergonomic, adjustable, and perfectly proportioned 16in bike with a reasonable price tag. After a few months on it, our little test rider (and her father) could find only a single fault with the 13.27lb (6kg) bicycle – in North America, it's only offered in red.
- Pros: Ultralight, relatively affordable, adjustable saddle, proper Q factor, reach-adjust brake, light aluminum wheels with Presta tubes
- Cons: Only one color choice – red
Already well known in the UK, Islabikes recently began selling into the US. The company primarily produces children’s bikes, from a tiny balance model through 14in, 16in, 20in, and 24in bikes to junior road and mountain machines. The brand philosophy is to teach kids to ride bicycles in stages. First, balance with the body and practice braking. Then, pedal. Therefore, even the little balance bike comes with tiny, reach-adjust hand brakes.
US law, however, mandates that a coaster brake be added to all “sidewalk” bikes of 20in and smaller. So instead of the two tiny hand brakes used on the UK model, the US version of the Islabikes Cnoc 16 gets a single reach-adjust hand brake and a coaster brake.
The hand brake has a mini V-brake caliper and exemplifies the bike build as a whole – adult functionality in pint-size proportions. The brake lever is already quite small and close to the bar; we brought ours a touch closer with an Allen key. Our six-year-old, 35lb (16kg) tester routinely braked with a single finger, a testament to the braking power.
The small lever on the Cnoc 16 fits small hands perfectly, and the brake offers plenty of power
The Q factor (the stance width between pedals) is appropriate for the size, putting the child's feet beneath their hips instead of splayed way out as they often are on sports store kids' bikes.
The light aluminum wheels accelerate so quickly that our tester, accustomed to steel-rim bikes and heavier tires, was initially concerned that the bike was “too speedy”. At just over 13lb (6kg), the bike is quite a change for a 35lb (16kg) rider who has also ridden mainstream 16in bikes that weigh 20lb, even 25lb.
The frame geometry works great, providing plenty of stability for little riders to ride on and off-road. Honestly, the only downside to this bike, for our female tester, was the color. She wanted a pink bike, and the Cnoc 16 only comes in red.
Islabikes specializes in making kids' bikes, and the focus shows
The Cnoc 16 is recommended for kids aged four years and older, from 41in (104cm) and taller. By way of comparison, Trek offers a heavier $210/£160 16in bike with a steel frame and steel rims. Specialized has a $240/£170 aluminum-frame 16in bike with steel wheels. Both of these are coaster brake only; young riders will have to learn hand braking on another bike.
Years ago we bought a $499 Redline Micro for another child, wanting the superlight frame, wheels and overall ergonomic performance. And while the small hand brake was welcome, the hyper-narrow 18in race wheels weren't the best for all-round kids' riding.
Although not quite as difficult to find as 18in Presta tubes for the Redline, 16in Presta tubes for the Cnoc 16 aren't exactly common in bike shops. So if you buy this bike, stock up on a few tubes.
Color options aside, then, in terms of total performance and price the Islabikes Cnoc 16 is the best 16in kids bike we have ever seen.