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AIBU to think that Isla bikes are a con?

(323 Posts)
stringerbell Sun 26-Sep-10 11:01:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotAfraidOfTheBudget Sun 26-Sep-10 13:54:17

Raleigh!! every time!! My DS's best friend has an Isla bike, I had never heard of them, thought they were cheap Far East things blush But our DS is on a Freecycle Townsend bike, his brother is on the handmedown Raleigh and they are both very happy. The way boys treat their bikes it just isnt worth spending loads of money on them. A super lightweight bike is fun til you have to ride a hire/borrowed bike that is heavier and find you cant manage it grin

Oh and at the age of 5, the only thing you want to be 'investing' for your child is cash, in a savings account...

ragged Sun 26-Sep-10 14:02:28

Okay, I'll wade in.
DC learn to ride without stabs on carboot bikes, I totally agree with you that being fine. And if your DC really need bikes that are just used as "toys" (bumming around in the park at most) then I don't see a problem with BSOs.


Number one difference: weight. Your child will go faster and further on a lighter bike. This is important if you'd like to go 5-10 miles with them in a reasonable time frame. We are looking at an Islabike Beinn 24 or 26 for nearly 9yo DD; the similar price equivalents are all 3+ kg heavier; that's a shocking difference for a child who weighs under 24 kg herself.

Number two diff: Components. Take a close look at your carboot bike, the cranks might be 160 mm (adult size). The brake levers may be adult size. Ditto stems. Unnecessary and very heavy suspension is hard to avoid in a MTB style bike for age 5-14 bikes. Mudguards may not be proper ones if available at all.

Other Islabike features I quite appreciate that are missing from bikes in same price range (if you think Isla are expensive, try looking at the prices of equivalent quality kid bikes):
Foot brake on the Cnoc and brake levers on top of the drop bars on the Luath.

I agree with you that gears are useless for children under 8yo, btw. I wish the Isla Cnoc came in a 20" wheel size. And the Islabike mudguards aren't that great, and the pedals should come with reflectors. In fact, DD races on a BMX racing bike -- no gears and it weighs nothing, a wonderful all-purpose bike for her age range! But that costs 300 quid new, so not for everyone .

For the price, if you'd like DC to have real bikes (not Bicycle Shaped Objects), Islabikes are fab. They have good 2nd hand value, and will pass down thru your family well (still a good ride even after several others have used them). Far better than your standard Halford's jobbies.

Your doubts come up on cycling discussion fora. If it's any comfort, personally I think that balance bikes are rather over-rated, especially given the prices they sell at.

The other shocking thing is that Islabikes have cornered the market so thoroughly on this; there should be more equivalents for around the same price.

Put some very cool stickers on your son's Raleigh and he'll probably lose his Islabike envy .

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 26-Sep-10 14:19:06

Isla bikes are designed around the ergonimcs of a child.

This means that they are easier for the child to ride as they

1/ have child size parts not scaled down adults parts.

2/ Are lighter, meaning that they are better for longer distances.

3/ Are known by bike "geeks" for being of excellent quality.

Velvetbee Sun 26-Sep-10 15:01:36

My older two learned on bog standard bikes but DC3 (aged 5) had been struggling for weeks. He has a brain tumour and is blind in one eye and couldn't manage to balance, steer and pedal at the same time.
We bought an Isla bike out of his DLA. The older kids unpacked it and built it and 15 mins after it's arrival he was riding round the park. (While I stood under a tree and sobbed.)

So mixed feelings here...

thrifty Sun 26-Sep-10 15:26:05


I can see both sides here. yes, they are expnsive, but they have great second hand value. DS had a rothan run bike (70 quid) when he was 2, and when he was 3 we sold that for £50 and bought a cnoc 16, which he rode straight away. he's now a very tall 5yo, and when he's 6 he'll probably need a bigger one, in which case we'll sell his cnoc. I think the main difference is as others have said, the weight and components on the bike are superb, and ds rode with ease along the canal towpath 12 miles there and 12 miles back, and didnt once complain. (whereas my bum and back were killing me!)

I think it really depends what you want from the bike, if you want to go for long bike rides, they're great. If you want something for them to play in park/ride 10 mins to school then they're probably not worth the money.

WannabeNigella Tue 05-Oct-10 10:14:20

Am bumping in case anyone else has anything to add as I would like to get DS a bike for Christmas and DH is dead set on Raleigh.

ArcticRoll Tue 05-Oct-10 10:16:42

Isla bikes are pricey but are fantastic-also have good resale value.

amidaiwish Tue 05-Oct-10 10:21:33

we bought the DDs islabikes this summer
they are absolutely fantastic
DD1 was riding within a few sessions, after being nowhere near riding on her raleigh.

they are lighter and everything just seems easier.

yes we spent a lot... but they trade in on the next model and a few friends have already expressed an interest in taking DD2s off our hands when she grows out of it.

NewbeeMummy Tue 05-Oct-10 10:25:51

We're a geeky cycling family, and DD will be getting an Isla bike for xmas.

The main reason we want to get her one aside from the benefits listed above is it's a UK company, so you're supporting the UK economy if you buy one. They also hold their value incredibly well, so if you sell it on once your DC have out grown it, you're likely to recoup most of the money you spent in the first instance.

But we are a geeky cycling family and already have more bikes than most people would say you need.

ChippyMinton Tue 05-Oct-10 10:30:40

My friend's 3yo DS beetles around on an Isla bike, and yes they retain their value.

But mine all learned on hand-me-down bikes with no problem.

IMO stabilizers are the problem. Strip the pedals and chain off an old bike to use as a balance bike. When they have their balance they move easily onto pedalling.

nocake Tue 05-Oct-10 10:33:07

If your idea of a good bike is one that costs £200 then you'll never understand why an Isla bike is better. A cheap bike will be okay but a good bike will make cycling a pleasure.

YunoYurbubson Tue 05-Oct-10 10:34:55

Aaaaand... ludicrously expensive Christmas present from Grandparents is taken care of for another year.


prettybird Tue 05-Oct-10 10:44:36

Ds learnt initially on a Like-a-byke (present from his cycling grandparents), used to "cycle" at great speed to his nursery - to the extent that we had to go on our bikes to keep up, so that he could balance well before he got his first "proper" bike. This was an "ordinary" bike that weghed an absolute ton - so he got tired very quickly on it.

For his Chirstmas when he was 8 he got an Isla bike - a Beinn 26. He was just at the limit of its size range but it means that he should be able to keep it pretty much until he needs an adult bike.

He is now 10 and loves it - cycles to school every day and is getting really proficient. He is aspirng to be the next Andy Schleck (that is, in between playing srum half for the Scotland rugby team wink) and is going to the local park to do circuits around its cycle track.

It is good for all the reasons that ragged and BBJ say: light, components properly scaled for a child, unnecessary weight not included (a child doesn't need - not could cope with - the 24 gears that some Halfords bikes have, nor do they need the added weight of suspension).

We are planning on doing the Pedal for Scotland next year with him (50 miles, Glasgow to Edinburgh): he is really keen on the idea, becasue cycling is fun and not tiring to him.

But if you are only going to use a bike to pootle short distances round the local bikes, then yes, an IslaBike is not necessarily good value for you/your child.

Tangle Tue 05-Oct-10 10:45:05

DD (3) has an Islabike Rothan.

The brake doesn't squeak (unlike friends plastic balance bike)

The brake works (unlike different friends cheap pedal bike - hopefully just an adjustment, but a bit scary atm)

Its light (which I appreciate when carrying it to and from school so DD can ride there and back)

Necessary, no.
Nice, yes.

And given GP's wanted to buy it...

Habbibu Tue 05-Oct-10 10:50:55

No, not a con, and the resale value is so high that actually the difference in price ultimately between an Islabike and a poorer quality bike is surprisingly low.

prettybird Tue 05-Oct-10 10:50:56

Oh - and dh's and my bikes each cost under £500, so we are not fanatical cyclists.

But I am from a middle class cycling family, who used to take bikes on holiday back in the 60s (4 bikes on top of a Renault 4, being lifted on to the non roll-on, roll-off ferry shock), has cycled regualry since (including commuitng to work) and whose parents have gone off on cycling holidays all around the world grin

greedyguts Tue 05-Oct-10 10:54:16

DS1 got the Islabike Rothan balance bike for Christmas when he was 2.5 and he was amazing on it. Bought him a £60 Raleigh pedal bike for Christmas when he was 4.5 and he just couldn't go the thing at all - it was so heavy that his wee legs couldn't push round the pedals and keep his balance at the same time.

6 months later he still couldn't go it, so we bought him the Islabike CNOC 16 for his 5th birthday. What a difference! He was cycling on his own within the week. That was 3 months ago and he still loves it. He cycled 8 miles at the weekend.

They are expensive, but DS2 will be getting them as handmedowns so for us it's not too bad.

BTW: we're not bike geeks.

spinspinsugar Tue 05-Oct-10 10:55:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bran Tue 05-Oct-10 10:58:00

I know nothing at all about bikes so bought DS an Islabike on MN recommendation. DH has given me a hard time ever since for spending so much on a bike that DS can't ride. DH reckons it's much heavier than an equivalent Halfords cheapy bike, although I'm not sure how he would know this.

DS hates it with a passion, can't pedal it (even with stabilisers) and sobs if we make him take it out. So we've given up and it's rusting in the shed.

Habbibu Tue 05-Oct-10 11:00:55

Islabikes haven't cornered the market, though. Plenty of good bike companies are making similar bikes, notably Ridgeback, though the Scoot (balance) is a lot heavier than the Islabike Rothan.

FindingMyMojo Tue 05-Oct-10 11:01:26

like so many other things, if you have the money to spend there will be a perfectly designed product (or at least perfectly marketed product) out there waiting for you to spend your ££ on.

If not, there's the car boot/second hand/cheaper priced options, that generations before have done quite well with thanks very much.

Easywriter Tue 05-Oct-10 11:07:52

Isla bikes aren't a con, they're just expensive at the time of purchase.

My DD's (unfortunatly for our wallets the first two were twins!) all learnt on Isla bikes.

The child sized components really make a difference to a child's ability to ride a bike.

They may cost £220 but you can expect £170 -£200 of that back when you resell (that's on ebay not back to Isla). We got £185 back for each bike.

If you want a (slightly) cheaper alternative consider Specialized. They also have a good resale price.

Otherwise, start on an Isla bike so they can learn and then change to a Raleigh once they can do if.

nightshade Tue 05-Oct-10 16:20:32

agree with above. dd1 went from a puky balance bike at18mths to a specialized with no stabilisers on her fourth birthday.

i know plenty of kids who have been through twice as many cheap bikes, trikes, ride ons and other such items in this time frame and still have absolutely no ability to ride or enjoy a bike.

definitely worth it.

lisad123isgoingcrazy Tue 05-Oct-10 16:26:04

I am destrate for a Islabike for DD1 who had ASD and terrible blance. Her current toysrus bike is very hard for her to ride, and brakes are very hard to use I cant afford one and cant seem to find a good priced second hand one

I dont think they are a rip off at all (although wish they were cheaper) they are a great bit of kit for a child who will do alot of riding.

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