I asked on Facebook for people who like Islabikes. I was inundated. While other child-specific bike brands also got a good mention, especially Frog Bikes, and also HOY bikes for kids, Islabikes have the biggest shout out.
I have picked three Islabike fans to tell us why they like the bikes. This year, Islabikes celebrates its 10th year.
Isla owns an Islabike Beinn 16 L
Dad Rob Waller reports that he was very sceptical when he first heard about Islabikes. He says: “Like a lot of people I was put off by the price at first. Even when a friend bought one for his daughter I thought it was an extravagance.”
So, when Rob’s daughter Isla, now eight, was ready to move to a “big bike”, he chose something from one of the big retail chains.
Rob says: “It was pink and with pretty stickers and Isla thought it was fab. But, sadly, it weighed a ton. Isla would struggle to keep up on any kind of slope and it was a fixed gear design with a front chain ring that was the size of a dinner plate and the one at the rear was like a five pence piece. It was ridiculous now I look back at it.”
It took just a few weeks for Rob to have a change of heart and make what seemed like a huge investment in an Islabike Beinn 20 Large.
But Rob says: “It was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. The difference was incredible. Not just in how much it weighed but how it transformed Isla’s enjoyment of cycling.
“With the Islabike she could keep up with me when we went on a ride together. With the seven-speed gears, hills were no longer an issue and her endurance was transformed. It made full family days out by bike a realistic proposition.
“I would never go back to a mainstream brand and when her birthday comes round in a few weeks I’ll be buying a 26-inch Islabike for her as she’s almost outgrown the existing one.”
Now that Rob’s youngest child, Angus, three, is ready to ride he has an Islabike too. Rob says: “I didn’t think about buying anything else. He has a Rothan balance bike. Once again, it’s amazingly light and yet robust enough to take all the abuse that a three-year-old boy dishes out.
“Sometimes I worry that I sound like an advert for Islabikes but they really are that special.”
Max owns an Islabike Luath 24
Seven-year-old Max McGarvie, of Symington, Ayrshire, has just become the proud owner of his first Islabike. Parents Lindsay and Kat paid £250 for the Islabike Luath 24 bike second-hand.
Lindsay says: “Our youngest son Max has been watching his big brothers Harry and Cammy race crits and cyclocross for the past couple of years and has been desperate to get a bike to join in.
“We were waiting for the spring to get him a new bike, but then spotted a perfect condition second-hand Luath 24 at Ayr Burners Cycling’s bike jumble.
“We knew the wee girl Holly that was selling the Islabike. It was a no-brainer as the bike was like new and it had obviously been loved and maintained perfectly.
“The really nice thing was that Max had his eye on the bike from the start of the jumble sale and, without knowing that I’d bought it for him, he went up to Holly’s mum Andrea and asked how much it was.
“Apparently his face was a picture when she told him, ‘Max, it’s your bike. Your dad just bought it for you.’
“The bike is really light and the gears levers fit his seven-year-old hands really well. I’m guessing he’ll get three years or so from it and I’m certain the demand for these bikes will still be high and we’ll be able to sell it on to another budding biker.”
Rowan owns an Islabike Luath 700
During a fairly long family bike ride late last summer, Rowan Seel, 13, could only look on with envy as his mum, Ellen Arnison, rode along, seemingly with a lot more ease, on her new (second-hand) racing bike. Meanwhile, Rowan had to work harder, pedalling a heavier, hybrid bike that he’s owned for a couple of years.
“I really liked the look of mum’s racer bike and I wished I had one of my own,” says Rowan, of Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire.
Ellen adds: “I could see that the old hybrid wasn’t doing him any favours but I wasn’t too sure about the right bike to buy for Rowan. He’s 13 and at that in-between age; a fast-growing child who will soon be adult sized.
“I didn’t know that there was a children’s brand that made bikes for teenagers but after asking around Islabikes was mentioned, more than a few times.”
At first, Ellen thought the bike was too expensive. Rowan wanted a racer bike and the Luath 700 retails at £549.99. She says: “I thought, that’s a lot and he will only outgrow it. However, I was then told how these bikes hold their value and he has a younger brother, too.
“Although it seems like a big investment upfront we could potentially have this bike in the family for years and I have now seen how well they sell on the second-hand market.”
Rowan is delighted with his new Islabike. He says: “Now I’m faster than mum! The bike looks good and it’s very sleek. The styling is also very green, which I love.
“I’m proud of my bike. I’ll do much more cycling now because I’ve got this bike. I really want to do the Pedal for Scotland (Glasgow to Edinburgh sportive) this year and I think I’ll find it quite easy on this bike. If you’re thinking about getting a bike, get this bike as it’s good and fast.”
Also see Islabike Luath 700 review.