Experiencing an Islabikes is akin to sitting behind the wheel of a high-end sports car. Even though you can’t drive it, you can feel its potential and appreciate the quality of the build simply being in its presence. Every component on an Islabikes, from the brakes to the crankshaft is tooled and designed to efficiently fit a child’s body.
Ready to move up from his 14″ bikes, we decided to test our four-year-old out on as many 16″ bikes as possible (see our final results here: Ultimate 16″ Bike Review) and after riding over twenty 16″ bikes, the Islabikes CNOC 16 was a standout favorite. Like all bikes, the CNOC 16 is certainly not the ideal bike for every ride and riders, but it is our top pick for kids who may be hesitant to learn to ride, but are likely to ride more aggressive, or for longer distances, down the road.
Weighing in at just 13.2 lb., the CNOC 16 is only a pound or two heavier than many 12″ balance bikes, making the transition much easier. With a minimum seat height of 18.8″, it was a great fit our 42″ tall four-year-old in 4T pants. While standing over the seat in its lowest position, he was able to touch the ground with the top half of his foot (see the image on the bottom left in the collage below).
Having already mastered pedaling and braking, starting with just his toes wasn’t a problem. For those considering using the CNOC 16 as a first pedal bike, a child whose 4T pants are getting too short or who is already in size 5 would be best as they would be able to touch the ground with their heels. For kids in 3T or just starting 4T pants, the CNOC 14 Large would be a better choice.
Well balanced and easy to ride, the CNOC performed great in a variety of setting. Whether being pushed from behind up a long hill, towed along a long ride (using the Bicycle Bungee) or trying out new tricks, the CNOC maintained stability and easy rolled along. As shown below, our five-year-old testers, was finally able to master standing on the top bar on the CNOC 16 while our four-year-old felt comfortable enough to ride down longer, steeper inclines(he held his feet off the pedals for extra balancing).
The rider’s position in the CNOC is a major contributor to its stability. Compared to other 16″ bikes, the CNOC has a lower bottom bracket (where the pedals attach to the frame), creating a lower center-of-gravity for the rider. With mid-height handlebars, the rider sits more upright on the bike, allowing a portion of their weight to be naturally centered over their hips. The CNOC also has a longer wheelbase, creating a larger cockpit (the space between the seat and the handlebars) which helps to increased handling. Less upright that the WOOM3 (which is our top pick for hesitant riders, who don’t anticipate to ride more aggressively once pedaling is mastered), the CNOC is the perfect combination for kids hesitant to get started, but eager to take off once they do.
The CNOC also has a very narrow q-factor, making it ideal for petite riders and ensuring it will fit under most riders. The larger the q-factor, the more kids have to pedal at an angle. While a wider q-factor can provide a wider base for aggressive all-terrain riders, for the average child rider, minimal splay is ideal as it provides for more efficient pedaling.
Some additional features of the CNOC 16 include a fully encased, yet removable chain guard, short-reach hand brake levers and adjustable handlebars. The chain guard is a life saver for parents as it keeps the chain clean, prevents grease from getting on clothes and legs as well as keeps the chain from falling off. Powerful and responsive, the front and rear brakes are easy to use for even the smallest hands. Before their maiden voyage, be sure to have your child walk next to the bike to learn that minimal pressure is needed to activate the brakes. Lastly, the CNOC does have a coaster brake. Coaster brakes do make learning how to pedal more difficult, but once a child masters pedaling, coaster brakes only become a problem when riding up hills (kids naturally pedal backward when trying to catch their balance). The inability to backpedal to get the pedal in the ideal position for takeoff is also a downside to coaster brakes.
Like a cherry on top, Islabikes also offers a removable name transfer for $15. Our four-year-old tester loved seeing his name on the bike!
Bottom Line: The CNOC 16 is the perfect start bike for kids who will likely transition into slightly more aggressive riding, including basic all-terrain trails and longer paved bike trails. The coaster brake will likely be problematic for beginning riders, but once mastered, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Where to Purchase: Islabikes are only available at their physical location in Portland, Oregon or by calling them at (503) 954-2410. The do not take orders online as they want to be able to answer any questions before your order as well as ensure you are purchasing the correct size bike. As a result, try to have your child’s height and inseam ready before you call.