Islabikes Rothan 12″

Balance Bike Review

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Magnificent from handlebars to tires. Our top pick for kids ages 18-months to 3T (too small for 4T).

View on Islabikes

Product Specifications

MSRP: $239

Recommendation: Exceptional

Seat Height: 11" - 15"

Weight: 7.7 lb.

Brakes: Hand Brake

Footrest: No

Limiter: Yes

Tire Size: 12"

Grips Bumper: Yes

Bolts: Rounded

Frame Material: Aluminum Alloy


She’s finally here and she’s beautiful.  Developed ten years ago in England, the fine tuning the Rothan has had over the years has truly made it a work of art.  From it’s perfectly proportioned handlebars and grips, to the unique shape of the saddle, over a two month period, we tested out every feature of the Rothan and are still enamored with it as we were one day one.

rothan 700

Not only is she pretty, her digits are equally impressive.  Weighing in at only 7.7 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.

Safety Features

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.

rothan safety feature words

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 child to sit back, and the inclines at the rear of the seat prevents them from sliding off the back.   A turning limiter additionally prevents kids from oversteering, but is not overly restrictive.

Learning to Ride a the Rothan vs. a Tricycle

Hand Brake

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.

rothan brake words

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 features

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 other feature

Rothan vs. FirstBIKE

Along with the FirstBIKE, we have awarded the Rothan with an Exceptional Rating for the 18-month old and up group.  Due to it’s small size, the Rothan is a better fit for smaller framed kids as it has a lower step through, a shorter handlebar height as a lower minimum seat height of 11″ versus 12″ with the FirstBIKE (with lowering kit).  The taller handlebars of the FirstBIKE however, may be better suited for toddlers with longer torsos.

rothan vs. FirstBIKE

Rothan vs. Ridgeback Scoot

Compared to the 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 7.7 lb. of the Rothan is a much better fit for toddlers compared to the 12 lb. Scoot.

rothan vs. scoot

Bottom Line

The 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.

Available Colors

Islabikes is currently phasing out their red bikes and bringing in three new colors, orangey-red, pink and green.

Rothan 2015 colors

Rothan Green 490


The Rothan in Action

MSRP: $239

By: Natalie Martins

Last Updated: December 28, 2016

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