A major breakthrough in well sorted good value kids bikes. Isla Rowntree is a successful racer, a bike designer and a custom frame builder. Over her many years in the bike business, she has worked on her own - she designed and built the original kid's 'Trailerbikes' - and in the industry at large - with Raleigh and Halfords.
She's recently decided to put all her knowledge and passion into her own company, Islabikes, to create a range of bikes for children that re-write the rule book on what a children's bike should be. These are not just ordinary small bikes. They're the best designed small bikes we've ever come across apart from the silly money custom options that pop up from time to time. The go-anywhere range kicks off with the £65 scoot-along Rothan, a far better solution than stabilisers for getting kids started, and tops out with a £250 26in wheeled Beinn mountain bike and the £299 Luath road bike Beinn 20in £149.99 (mudguards £14.99)
Versatility is one of the themes of the Islabike range - there are different tyre options for all the Beinn and Luath models. The Mtbs can be fitted with slicks and the road bike can take something knobblier for a bit of cyclo-cross action. That's not all; you can also get racks and mudguards for the bikes - turning them into all rounders ideal as school run commuters. That's what we did here. Having spent year's being protected by nothing more than a Crudguard on her trailer bike my younger daughter was alive to the advantages of mudguards. Swapping her 16in wheeled first bike for this was a revelation to her. For a start at 9.9kg (21.8lb) the Beinn was a good kilo lighter - uphills are now an option (crucial if you live on a 1in10) - in fact thanks to the excellent spread of six Shimano gears mated to SRAM Gripshifters she can nail hills.
Like the brakes the shifters are suitably sized for small hands. Also the slick tyres make for a faster ride on roads and smooth tracks than the knobbly tyred bike she usually rides. The frame and all the finishing kit are well thought out and well put together. The 20in bike is aimed at children of 5 and up, it was spot on for my small seven year old. All the bikes have been designed so that their riders can get maximum use from them for the maximum time, so even this little commuter can easily be turned into an Mtb race bike, and it has plenty of growing room. Likewise the bigger bikes make maximum use of sloping top tubes so that smaller children can comfortably get the benefit of smaller wheels.