Those of you who have bought bikes for children likely know the frustration of finding a decent bike for your offspring. Even bikes from the specialty brands are often clunky, heavy, and difficult to ride.
During the Sea Otter Classic 2015 the other week in Monterey, CA, I met Isla Rowntree and some of her USA staff for Isla Bikes. They design and build higher quality bicycles specifically for children.
Isla (prounounced “EYE-lah”) describes herself as a keen cyclist. For this one-time British national champion, cycling is a means of transportation for herself and her family.
Her attention to detail on children bikes borders on the obsessive, and I love it. I wasn’t able to capture everything she told me about her bikes, but here’s a sampling:
- Custom designed and manufactured brake levers to fit smaller hands.
- Cables and housing minimized to reduce friction, which results in easier shifting and braking.
- Return springs in brakes replaced with lighter springs for easier braking.
- Handlebars with smaller diameters for weight reduction smaller hands.
- Smaller diameter pedal axles for weight reduction, because child bike pedals don’t need to support 250 lbs of weight.
- Better quality alloy frames made with butted tubing and CroMo forks.
- Custom bottom brackets specifically for children.
- Fender and rack mounting points and build options.
There’s more, but I think you get my drift. Isla offers everything from balance bikes for the beginner to junior sized road bikes for the aspiring roadie.
USA purchase is online only through IslaBikes.com. Assembly and shipping happens in Portland, OR. Prices are reasonable for the quality. Carlton Reid, who purchased Isla bikes for his children, tells me the resale value is excellent.
You can see and hear some of Isla’s passion about these bikes in this video from her company.