You could say that Islabikes has been leading the way for many years in the world of childrens’ bikes. Well thought-out and lightweight aluminium frames, components specifically made for small people and proper tyres mean an end to kids having to make do with bikes that they “will grow into” and/or fall apart in record time.
Enlightened parents understand that a wrong-size, heavy, badly thought-out bicycle will quite easily put little Johnny or little Harriet off cycling – or at least hasten the arrival of the dreaded Mid-Ride Moaning. Those same enlightened parents buy Islabikes (and sell them later without making much of a loss) in favour of cheaper supermarket or toy shop specials in spite of the higher cost. The brilliant resale value is mainly because Islabikes is an incredibly well-regarded and high-quality brand.
Now though, you can buy a proper bike for your youngster. And I mean PROPER. As good as, if not better than, ‘grown-up’ mountain bikes.
The Islabikes ‘Pro Series’ is a step up, or rather several steps up, from their standard bikes.
The 26 inch-wheeled Creig 26 has a frame made from 7005 aluminium with nice smooth welds, curvy downtube and stays and a purposeful-looking and classy paint job. The Creig’s appearance, with its lack of loud colours, superheroes and pink tassles, is almost pulling up a chair, staring at you sternly and stating “THIS IS NO TOY, KID”.
Nope, it’s definitely not a toy.
The frame has been designed to specifically fit younger riders around 9 years and upwards and our test pilot (Rachael, aged 10) has been more comfortable on this bike than her own bike, which we thought fitted her quite well until she swung a leg over this one.
Build-wise, it’s amazing. Highlights are the narrow-gauge handlebar and grips (for small hands), the small-but-racy saddle atop a comfortable-for-light-people 25mm carbon seatpost, SRAM GX 1×11 transmission with a huge 11-42 XT cassette, KCNC stem, a Rockshox TK Gold fork with lockout and rebound damping and a brilliant Stan’s Crest tubeless wheelset, shod with Schwalbe “pretty good for most stuff” Rocket Rons.
It’s a specification worthy of anyone’s ‘best’ bike in fact.
As well as all of that, there’s a titanium/carbon bottom bracket mated to a 152mm long crankset which has been designed and manufactured specifically for Islabikes. The cranks have an impressively narrow Q factor (the distance between the pedals) of 135mm.
It’s quite tricky to review a bike that I’ve never ridden (much), but in the time Rachael’s been riding the Creig 26 I’ve see huge differences in her level of confidence, willingness to ride ‘harder’ stuff and her overall enjoyment.
Her climbing, especially offroad, has been the most-improved aspect of her riding. The Creig’s lack of weight (it’s a shade over 20Ibs), the wide gear range and the pretty-much perfect fit of the bike means that younger riders are able to conquer steep hills in a way that they quite often simply can’t do on ‘regular’ bikes.
The brilliant SRAM brakes (with short-reach levers, naturally), great tyres and a suspension fork that actually works mean that there’s no lack of confidence riding back down the hill either.
In her words, “I love this bike. Do we have to give it back?”.
So who is Islabikes aiming the Pro Series bikes at? We all know that there are children out there who are pretty good at this cycling lark and that some of them are better at it than you and me – and how much did your bike cost? If your boy or girl has got talent, maybe they’re fast, maybe they can win races, maybe they’re willing to push themselves to achieve an ambition in the sport – why shouldn’t they have a bike as good as they are?
All the way through this review there’s been an elephant in the room – the price. Unless (or even if) you’re an oil tycoon you’re probably still wondering whether £1500 is a printing error. It’s not. 1500 quid for a kid’s bike is a lot of money, that’s true. You’re probably thinking that you’d never pay that that sort of money in a million years for a pushbike for your son or daughter. For most people that’s more than a reasonable conclusion.
If your child is really good at riding bikes though, maybe you can justify the cost.
Either that or tell them to go and get a very, very long paper round and save up.
Overall: It’s spendy, but it’s as good a bike as anyone could want – child or grown up.
- Frame // 7005 aluminium
- Fork // Rockshox 30 TK Gold, 80mm travel
- Hubs // Islabikes
- Rims // Stans Crest
- Tyres // Schwalbe Rocket Ron
- Chainset // Islabikes 152mm cranks, 32 tooth narrow/wide ring
- Rear Mech // Sram GX 11 speed type 2
- Shifter // SRAM GX Gripshift
- Brakes // SRAM DB5
- Stem // KCNC
- Bars // Islabikes 590mm
- Grips // Islabikes
- Seatpost // Islabikes carbon
- Saddle // Islabikes Pro Series
- Weight // 9Kg
|Product:||Pro Series Creig 26|
|Tested:||by Jason and Rachael Miles for 4 months|