Islabikes can arguably be credited with revolutionising the kid's bike market, creating high quality, low weight machines a cut above the usual superstore fodder. With its new Pro Series range, the brand has taken another leap forward, creating a full range of race-ready bikes stuffed with technology comparable to top-end adult machines.
We had a sneak peek at the range before it was launched today. US pricing was not immediately available but we'll add it as soon as we have it.
Islabikes is very proud of the attention to detail paid to every element of its children's bikes, and how it all works together. That means size specific geometry, narrow Q-factors, extra narrow grips and in-house designed finishing kit but the Pro Series range takes this to another level. The bikes on offer range from 16in wheeled models up to 26in wheeled mountain bikes and 700c cyclocross machines, but all use beautifully finished, smooth welded alloy frames to keep weight down and offer greater compliance thanks to flattened stays.
They're also coated in equipment that makes liberal use of top-end materials, the custom bottom bracket used across the range that has a titanium axle and carbon shell being a prime example. All the rigid forks fitted to the bikes are now custom carbon items, making them much lighter and more compliant than the steel model used on the standard range. All the bikes also feature custom carbon seatposts that are designed to still give plenty of flex and comfort, even under the lower weight of a child. The handlebars are also double-butted rather than the plain gauge items of the normal range, giving more compliance and lower weight.
The idea behind this range came about when Islabikes founder Isla Rowntree saw how hard some young riders were pushing the brand's equipment: "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."
Cnoc 16 Pro Series
Designed for riders of four years and above, the Cnoc 16 gets a fully enclosed single speed transmission and rolls on 16in rims. They're shod in Islabikes' very own custom tyres, which have folding Kelvar beads and a super high 185TPI thread count to make them extra compliant. The carbon fork is very light as well as looking wonderfully dinky, especially as the TRP Mini V-brakes look almost proportional. The 102mm long cranks have a low 135mm Q-factor and still use that titanium and carbon BB.
It tipped our scales at a very impressive 4.7kg and will cost £799.99.
Beinn 20 Pro Series
Moving up to 20in wheels and a 10in frame the Beinn also gets disc brakes, with Avid DB5 stoppers paired to 140mm rotors. While higher end stoppers are available, Islabikes chose this brake specifically because the lever throw means it works really well with little hands.
The drivetrain is also a thing of beauty, using a 11-36t 10spd SRAM GX cassette that's been modified to a 9spd unit by removing the 15 and 17t cogs and replacing them with a 16t item. The reason for this is that to achieve the chainline required for a 10spd block to work properly would need a longer chainstay, something Islabikes was unwilling to do.
The result is very neat, almost looking like a scaled down version of SRAM's Eagle super wide range transmission. The chain is kept in place on the 114mm long custom crankset with a narrow-wide chainring too and a GX level Gripshift allows little hands to apply enough force to shift, something Islabikes says is not possible with a thumbshifter or a trigger.
Elsewhere, developers worked with Stan's to create a custom version of the Crest rim, which is paired to Islabikes' own tyre. Both are tubeless ready, meaning you can run lower pressure and fend off punctures. A carbon seatpost and fork paired with size specific bars and saddle finish off the build, which weighs 6.4kg including Islabike's custom titanium-axled flat pedal. The Beinn will retail at £999.99.
Creig 24 and 26 Pro Series
Moving into the world of proper mountain biking, the Creig Pro Series bikes come in a 24in wheel for ages eight and up and a 26in version for children of around nine years and older. Both of the bikes get a RockShox TK30 suspension fork with 80mm of travel. Islabikes chose this fork specifically for the fact that it's got skinny 30mm legs, which mean less seal friction and therefore sensitivity at the low air pressures needed for a child's weight. The 26in wheeled fork is used across both bikes because Islabikes couldn't find a 24in specific fork of high enough quality, with the Creig 24 simply having the geometry corrected to work properly.
Both of the bikes also share a SRAM GX 11spd transmission paired to a 11-42t Shimano XT cassette. Again, a Gripshift is used rather than a thumbie or trigger. Just like the Beinn 20, the Stan's rims are tubeless ready, but are wrapped in Schwalbe Rocket Ron rubber. A full spec of custom length cranks, saddles and bars is boosted by some lightweight bling from KCNC too.
Tipping the scales at 8.8kg for the Creig 24 and 9.1kg for the Creig 26 – either bike will set you back £1499.99.
Luath Pro Series
If cyclocross racing is more your budding Olympian's thing, then the Luath Pro range will be most suitable. There are three bikes to choose from, starting with the 24in wheel model that's suitable for ages 8 and up. The 26in model is suitable for nine years and over, while the full size 700c wheel bike will fit riders of 11 years and older.
All of the bikes use lightweight alloy frames and carbon forks, with geometry specifically designed to work with the needs of smaller riders. That means a steep seat angle to ensure a child's lower centre of mass is kept central and that they can reach the bars more easily. The head angle is also designed to ensure that there's no toe-overlap when turning the bars, often an issue on small frames with big wheels.
All the bikes get Shimano Ultegra 11spd derailleur and shifter paired to a single ring up front and an 11-36t SRAM cassette at the rear. Avid BB7 cable operated discs on 140mm rotors do the stopping and the Ultegra STIs are supplemented by carbon TRP top mount levers. The Stan's Crest rims are paired to a custom Islabikes cyclocross tyre that's fully UCI compliant and can be run tubeless in races.
If the Pro series seems a little too costly for your budding Bradley Wiggins or putatuve Paulie Ferrand-Prevot, then Islabikes has also refreshed its standard range for this year.