Islabikes just began selling into the United States with its line of smartly designed, lightweight kids bikes. BikeRadar US recently received the Cnoc 16 for test.
Per designer Isla Rowntree’s philosophy, the Cnoc 16 features a tiny, reach-adjust handbrake; per US CPSC laws that specify all “sidewalk bicycles” must have coaster brakes, it also features a coaster brake. Nonetheless, the complete bike with pedals weighs a scant 13.27lbs (6kg) — roughly half what some other 16-inch-wheel kids bikes weigh.
Isla Rowntree, a three-time British national champion in cyclocross and a former national championship medalist across virtually all disciplines: road, downhill, track and cross-country. With her company — which only builds children’s bikes — the focus is on proper ergonomics and high-performance parts. For instance, the Q-factor is much narrower on an Islabike than many kids bikes, and the two-bolt seatpost functions just like an adult model, compared to the typical fixed seat-on-post design.
Every single bike in the Islabikes line — which begins with a no-pedals balance bike and progresses up through junior road and mountain bikes — comes with hand brakes, including the balance bike. The first pedal bikes, the Cnoc 14 and the Cnoc 16, do not come with training wheels, but are equipped to have them installed. The theory is to teach children to balance and brake with their hands – then only pedaling needs to be learned. Conversely, learning to brake with the feet (on a coaster brake) and then switching to hand brakes later adds another step in the process. In the UK, the coaster brake is not required as it is in the US. One US company, Redline, has found an end-around to this regulation with its bikes, which are categorized as BMX race bikes, not sidewalk bikes. All other kids bikes in the US that BikeRadar is aware of use only coaster brakes for 16-inch bikes.
Pricewise, the $269 Cnoc 16 is in line with offerings from big companies like Specialized or Trek.
Parts-wise, much of the spec is recognizable from its adult counterparts: Kenda Small Block Eight tires on the aluminum rims, a TRP mini V-brake, and Presta-valve tubes – a true rarity on kids’ bikes of this size.
One sticking point – at least for one particular young female tester – is the color: it only comes in red.
Look for a review soon on BikeRadar.