This review was written by Jake Burby (who also wrote our Luath 700 reivew) a friend whose expertise in biking far outweighs mine, as shown in his brilliantly insightful and thorough review.
Having been extremely impressed with the Islabike Luath in the 700 model, we opted to try a 26” model for my 11 year old daughter to see if we could dialed in the fit a bit more. And it should come as no surprise, that the 26” was perfect. Beyond perfect.
And I say this having been a bit skeptical of even trying to put her on a road bike at all. My daughter would not easily fall into the “try anything” category. She’s brave when it suits her, but not so coordinated and athletically gifted from birth so as to jump feet first into any sport. As a long time road racing parent, I of course, wanted to bring her up on Belgian waffles and Saturday mornings at the race course, but I just was not sure she had the personality, the drive, or the lack of fear (common sense?) that some of us hard core racers seem to have been born with.
But I think this bike may have changed that.
Once she climbed on the 26”, her center of gravity being slightly lower allowed her confidence to increase exponentially the minute she hit the road. I’ve always been a big believer in kids being on bikes slightly smaller than slightly larger. Not the most cost-effective approach, I know, but even after one ride, the dividends in quality and confidence are immeasurable. For children, building confidence, learning good bike handling skills, and developing a positive view of cycling in general is the real goal. We want them to love this sport! Getting into cycling, especially in a competitive sense, is already complex enough and there are so many obstacles already inherently in place to entering this odd, strange, and expensive sport. Add competition to that, and those obstacles increase. Confidence on the bike should not be one of them. Islabike has completely removed this obstacle.
As the tires hit the road, her form immediately moved into a near-perfect example of proper bike fit. I had done little other than adjust the saddle height, and yet the placement of top-bar brakes and smaller shifter brake levers allowed her to quickly, smoothly, and efficiently drop onto the hoods and even into the drops with ease. The gearing of course, allowed her to work on bike handling and the basics of safe and proper road cycling without having to focus yet on how to maneuver a brake lever shifting system.
But by the end of her first 45 minute ride, she was shifting and braking like a pro, dropping her elbows, sliding forward, and looking as smooth as Merckx himself on a slight climb.
Wow. Maybe she had a bit of potential cycling prodigy in her after all? The lungs opened up, the breathing was rhythmic and steady, her legs churned through the lower gears like a metronome, and she just looked…natural!
And that speaks volumes about the Luath. What we want is a kid learning to ride, learning to race, learning tactics, and skill, and strength. Not fighting against the hardware of the bike. The work at integrating the kid to the bike was done. Out of the box. Simple, fast, smooth, and ready to roll. The easy setup allowed us to jump right into the more important things. Things like technique, skill, safety, balance, positioning, fit. And the Luath made that transition smooth and fast.
Bikes change. This was not her first bike, nor will it be her last. But when she climbs onto that multi-thousand dollar carbon race bike in a few years, the techniques, the skills, and most importantly, the enjoyment of the sport, will already be firmly established. And that groundwork is owed to the thought, quality, and small details that make up the Islabike line. A little extra thought now, equals potentially life-changing results later. I can’t imagine putting our young cyclist on anything but an Islabike. We are very impressed!
Where to Purchase: Islabikes are only available by calling them directly at 530-954-2410. To ensure a proper fit, Islabikes requires you to have the measurements of your child available before you are ready to purchase.
FTC Disclosure: All opinions expressed are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC. No monetary compensation was provided for this review, but a Luath 26 was provided to help facilitate this review. Two Wheeling Tots is not an affiliate of Islabikes.