High performance racing bicycle technology and technique
Bikes & Frames - Islabikes Beinn 20
Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Islabikes Beinn 20

Josh Ross

A review of the Islabikes Beinn 20

For many children their first bike is a cheap BSO (Bike Shaped Object), with plastic parts, brakes that don’t, which weighs more than they do. However if you want your child to experience how much fun cycling can be, you could be a good dad like Josh. Start them off on a quality bike like the Islabikes Beinn 20 and watch them fly.

The Islabikes Beinn 20

I heard endurance cyclist Laura Scott in an interview recently reference teachings from her parents and the impact they had on her as an adult. In her case, she was grateful for the confidence that she gained in the outdoors. As I sat there contemplating what I might be passing down, I thought about how I’d never taken my boy camping.  It struck me that while I knew how to camp, it wasn’t actually something I felt the need to pass down.

What I think is more important to pass down is confidence in what he can do. I could teach him how to camp, but if I’m being honest, I don’t much care about camping at this point in my life. I’m passionate about cycling, and I want to pass that down to him in the form of a confidence that if he sets his mind to something, he can do it. If he wants to ride up a hill, all he has to do is set his mind to the task, and he can do it.

Set your kids up with a properly sized bike, one that doesn’t weigh more than them!

With that in mind, the last thing I want to do is set up failure with a bike that isn’t up to the task. Of course, he’s always had pretty good bikes, but the products that Islabikes puts out are a step above. When my boy moved from his previous bike to the Islabikes Beinn 20, his cycling, and cycling related confidence, took a big jump forward.

The thing that makes the Beinn 20, and all Islabikes, so good is the incredible attention to detail that Islabikes puts into designing products meant for small people. Isla Rowntree fits the profile for a professional bike racer to the T. In person, she’s both surprisingly small and fierce. She’s got a passion for what she does, and after dealing with the struggles of being a small adult who needed gear that performed to the level she needed, she turned her attention to the children’s bike market.

Islabikes equip decent, child-sized components that actually work

“A person’s a person, no matter how small” feels like an apt reference to describe the way in which Islabikes treats children’s bike design. Here are some examples of Islabikes attention to details. The handlebars are the perfect diameter for small hands, and the brake levers are designed so that there’s an appropriate amount of reach for small hands. If those details aren’t right, then children can’t generate an appropriate amount of force to get a good brake feel. Islabikes also carefully considers the angle of the brake lever, so that when children spend time on the bike, they won’t have sore wrists.

And when it was brought to their attention that one of the most common injuries children get from their bikes is penetration of the bar ends into the abdomen, Islabikes added a plug to the end of the bars, despite the fact that they already met all the required standards.

Built-in bar end plugs prevent what is a common injury for many children

When children have a wide Q factor, it causes them to push slightly outwards as they pedal, and that causes the bike to weave slightly leading to instability, so Islabikes are designed with a narrow Q factor. Most children’s pedals are overly square, and it’s common for children to push with the pedal flipped up on its edge, so Islabikes designed their own pedal to combat this.

Islabikes even designed their own tyre, so that they could get the performance they wanted in the sizes they needed. There is literally nothing that hasn’t been thoroughly considered in relation to its performance for small people.

Islabikes attention to detail even extends to their own brand of tyre

This attention to detail is also reflected in the breadth of products that Islabikes offers. They offer sizes in tight steps, so that no matter where a child is, they can find a bike that will fit them for around two years. During those two years, it’s expected that there will be some period of time where the frame is a bit too big, then a window where it’s perfect, and eventually some time where it’s a bit too small.

They offer frames sizes so that whenever your child comes to Islabikes, there is an appropriate size for that window. Parents are expected to then skip a size and upgrade to the next size in around two years. Of course, if you wanted to upgrade every year, the option is there, but it’s understood that most parents opt to space things out a little.

Treat your kid to a visit to a ‘proper’ bike shop

If you are near Portland, Oregon in the US, or Ludlow in the UK, you can stop by a fitting studio to make sure that your child is getting the perfect size for them. Of course, Islabikes also offers shipping, free within the continental United States and to the EU countries they ship to. If you are going the shipping route, then you can feel assured that your bike will arrive nearly fully assembled and with a 90 day, no questions asked, free return guarantee.

It’s not just the many sizes that are available, though. There are also bikes offered for whatever your child’s interests are. Geared bikes start with the Beinn 20 small, and once children have reached a 24 inch wheel size, there is the Creig 24 mountain bike as well as the Luath 24 drop bar bike.

Feeling flush, or maybe you’re a rich relative? The Islabikes Pro series are full-on race bikes

For those children who are seriously competitive at a young age, Islabikes does have the pro series which is the same profile as the Cnoc, Beinn, Creig, and Luath but with upgraded frames and components. It’s not going to be for everyone, but the choices are there.

My boy had a great bike, but when he started riding the Beinn 20, his riding, and confidence, took a huge step forward. In the past, he had complained about pain in his wrists, and I personally noticed the subtle weaving, from a wide Q factor, and the regularity of his pushing on the side of the pedal. I hadn’t thought much about it, but when it was suddenly gone, it was wonderful to see him performing to his best potential.

The Beinn 20 comes in two sizes and four colours

I’ve seen him tackle some pretty serious hills, and on a recent training ride in the hills, I saw a little girl, on the same Beinn 20, and her father riding up a hill steep enough that I was using it to train on. I slowed a bit and briefly watched her pushing her body in the same way I was. I said, “Just keep the pedals turning, you can do it!”, and she thanked me as she continued to push herself up the hill. With a supportive father and a great bike, she was accomplishing what she had set out to do, and this kind of confidence is something that lasts a lifetime.

The Islabikes Beinn 20 is priced at $549 in the US with the fenders running an additional $39.99, the kickstand $19.99, and the bottle cage $9.99, but, and I know this sounds corny, the joy that it has given us is something that’s incredibly precious to both of us and worth every penny.

Islabikes



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