A magnificent balance bike from handlebars to tires, the Islabikes Rothan 12 is the crown jewel of balance bikes. Read the review below for all the reasons it will impress you.
**Islabikes are no longer available in the US**
Islabikes Rothan 12 Review: Results of our Test Rides
She’s here and she’s beautiful. Developed over ten years ago in England, the fine-tuning that the Islabikes Rothan has had over the years has truly made it a work of art. From its perfectly proportioned handlebars and grips, to the unique shape of the saddle, the Rothan is simply one of the best balance bikes we’ve ever tested. We’ve had our Rothan for over four years and are still enamored with it as we were one day one.
Not only is she pretty, her digits are equally impressive. Weighing in at only 7.3 lbs., the Rothan weighs less than most balance bikes, yet is fully equipped with air tires, a hand brake and a padded seat. With a minimum seat height of 11″ and a max of 15″ the Rothan is small enough to fit most 18-month olds, but with an extended seat post, which raises the seat to 18″, the Rothan can grow with a child until they are ready to graduate to a pedal bike. To top it all off, the Rothan glides along on sealed bearings anchored by rounded bolts, to prevent your child from being scratched.
- Low step-through frame allows toddlers to easily get on and off
- Padded, saddle-shaped seat prevents kids from slipping off
- Lightweight, yet durable aluminum frame
- Incredibly easy to balance
- Fixed height handlebars
- Doesn’t have a quick release lever for seat height adjustments
Built for the smallest toddlers, Islabike took extra care to ensure the safety of its riders. Knowing very well that children with an 11″ inseam are unlikely to be able to glide on the bike for some time, features of the Rothan make it safe for walkers as well. The low step-through height of the bike’s frame easily allows toddlers to mount the bike, as well as get up after a fall. The threadless headset (the portion of the bike that attaches the front fork to the bike – the black round cap located just behind the handlebars) creates a surface free of protrusions, while the handlebar and grips are narrower than most and more suitable for smaller hands. Rounded bolts on the front and back axels, additional prevent a child’s leg from being scratched.
Once advanced enough to start sitting and gliding, the bike seat is designed for comfort and functionality. While padding provides comfort, the slight declines in the front of the seat, helps to teach the child to sit back, and the inclines at the rear of the seat prevent them from sliding off the back. A turning limiter additionally prevents kids from oversteering but is not overly restrictive.
The Rothan’s toddler-sized handbrake is not only easy to pull (quick tip: pull on a bike brake lever with your pinky finger to determine the ease of use for a child), the braking mechanism is smartly tucked beneath the frame as to not interfere with a child stride.
The handgrips of the Rothan are noteworthy as well. Like most balance bike grips, the Rothan has rubber end caps to protect hands during falls, but unlike other bikes, the end cap is composed of thick, solid rubber to help absorb the shock of a fall.
Other notable features include the frame, the material of the seat (saddle) and the seat post clamp. The frame is made of 7005 T6 aluminum, which provides strength without adding weight. Unlike other bikes, the brake cable of the Rothan is not internally routed through the frame, which although nice for aesthetics, generally does not affect the braking. Although not a quick-release, the seat post adjust is well made as we had no issues with the seat post slipping or sticking when adjusting the seat for various sized children.
Rothan vs. WOOM1
The Islabikes Rothan and the woom 1 are two of the best balance bike available. We love them both, but they do have slight differences that make them better suited for different riders. The woom1‘s handlebars are set slightly higher than the Rothan, which provides a more upright position for the child rider. It also weight less and has a shorter minimum seat height. As a result, we prefer the woom1 for small riders who are very timid as well as those who are likely to happily cruise around the neighborhood and on paved trails. The slightly more aggressive Rothan still does wonders for more timid riders, but it’s lower handlebars make it better suited for more adventurous riders who may want to also ride on pump tracks, single track trails as well as around the neighborhood.
Islabikes Rothan vs. WOOM1 Geometry
Rothan vs. Ridgeback Scoot
Compared to the Ridgeback Scoot, the Islabike is noticeably smaller. The fixed height of the handlebars of the Rothan are much shorter than the adjustable handlebars of the Scoot. As a result, the Scoot is a much better fit for older preschoolers, while the 7.3 lb. of the Rothan is a much better fit for toddlers compared to the 12 lb. Scoot.
The Islabikes Rothan hands-down one of the best balance bikes we have tested. From its lightweight frame to rounded bolts, the Rothan is an excellent choice for kids in size 24 and 2T clothes or preschoolers just transitioning into 3T clothes. Due to its small size, we wouldn’t recommend the Rothan for kids outgrowing 3T clothes or in size 4T.