Lowdown: Islabikes Beinn 20 L
Islabikes is a U.K.-based company that has been around since 2005. The company is the namesake of the founder, Isla Rowntree, who was a competitive cyclist that saw a need for performance oriented kid’s bikes that fit well and were affordable. Islabikes has a U.S. headquarters in Portland, Oregon, and continues to specialize in lightweight mountain and road bikes for kids. Their current lineup includes 11 mountain bikes, three road bikes, and one balance bike. As an example of how serious they take the fit of their bikes, Isla offers two different sizes of 14” wheeled bikes and three different sizes of 20” wheeled bikes.
The kid bike business has been going very well and Islabikes recently announced the launch of their Pro Series of bikes that offer a higher level of performance and component spec for the young rider that is looking for a more serious bike for riding and/or racing. Mtbr will have a forthcoming review on one of these bikes soon.
Highlighted here is the Islabikes Beinn 20 L, with the “L” standing for Large and the 20 is the size of wheels. Also available is the Beinn 20 S with slightly smaller frame (and smaller cranks), but also rolling on 20” wheels. We had the Beinn 20 for a long term test with multiple riders and found it to be a high quality, lightweight bike with a solid component spec and a fit. The frame lends itself to a variety of uses and types of riding, as well. Read on for more details.
|Intended use: Cross country, bike path||Wheel size: 20-inches|
|Front fork: Rigid cromoly fork||Brakes: V-brakes|
|Suspension: None||Frame material: 7005 T6 aluminum|
|Stem: Islabikes aluminum 50mm||Bars: Islabikes aluminum flat|
|Grips: Islabikes ultra slim grips||Seatpost: Aluminum micro adjust 25.4 x 250mm|
|Saddle: Islabikes||Brake levers: Islabikes aluminum micro|
|Rims: Islabikes aluminum double wall||Spokes: 20 front/rear steel|
|Hubs: Aluminum quick release||Tires: Schwalbe BlackJack 20×1.9 tire|
|Cranks: Islabikes aluminum 127mm||Rear derailleur: SRAM X4 medium arm|
|Cassette: SRAM 12-32||Chainring: Islabikes aluminum 32t|
|Pedals: Islabikes flats||Color options: Red / Green / Pink|
|Drivetrain: SRAM 7 speed, grip shift||Price: $500|
|Weight: 18.1 pounds (with pedals and bottle cage)||Rating: 5 out of 5|
Review: Islabikes Beinn 20 L
Ordering bikes directly from the manufacturer has grown in popularity in the past two years and is no longer frowned upon as much as it once was. For the enthusiast cycling parent that understands the basics of bike geometry and fit, buying straight from the brand helps keep prices low.
Of course, we recommend supporting your local bike shop whenever possible. Local bike shops are great for maintenance/service needs or quick pick-up, refill items. Islabikes offers online bike fit sizing help (inseam and height measurements) as well as phone support if you have questions. They also have a 90-day free return policy to help ease buyer’s minds.
The bike is shipped in a well-packed box with simple, basic assembly instructions. It’s also fully tuned, which is key when your child is upgrading to a bike with gears (the Beinn 20 L has a 9-speed drivetrain). Any experienced mountain biking parent should be able to have their kid’s bike ready to go within 10 minutes. Islabikes also has a YouTube channel with videos that demonstrate how to assemble and adjust the bike.
We tested the Beinn 20 L for several months on a variety of trails and with two different testers. For those parents out there looking to upgrade their young rider to something that will help them keep up on “real” mountain bike rides, the Beinn is definitely worth a look. The light weight of the Beinn helps the rider climb and handle the bike better than a lot of the more well-known models out there that are similar in size but weigh more. For example, the Trek Superfly 20 is 1.5 pounds heavier. That might not sound like much, but when you are talking the difference between 18 pounds and 19.5 pounds, that is the roughly equivalent of dropping almost 2.5 pounds from a 30 pound bike. The lighter weight bike will allow your child to climb easier and farther.
The SRAM 7-speed drivetrain has a 12-32 cassette paired with a 32t chainring. The SRAM 3.0 Comp grip shifter is easy for small hands to operate, meaning they don’t have to remove their hands from the bar or shift hand positions to reach a shift lever. Once your rider is ready to break from the flat terrain and hit true dirt climbs, having real gearing is essential. Like the rest of the bike, the drivetrain of the Beinn worked flawlessly and we never encountered any missed shifts or dropped chains.
The grips and handlebars are sized perfectly for small hands, and the reach to the V-brake levers is spaced well, too. At this stage, disc brakes are overkill and not worth the weight and cost. Other component highlights include a well-padded child size saddle and the inclusion of pedals. The Beinn 20 can also be ordered with fenders and a rear rack.
The frame is constructed from 7005 T6 aluminum with clean welds and clearance to fit a full size water bottle. The rigid cromoly fork works well and when stacked up against the majority of kid’s suspension forks out there (that don’t provide much “real” suspension at all) it will suffice unless your rider is really stepping up their game, in which case you will want to take a look at Islabikes Pro Series of bikes.
The Islabikes Beinn 20 is available in three colors (orange-red, bright green, and purplish pink) and the paint quality and finish are top notch. The frame geometry allows the bike to work well for mountain biking, neighborhood cruising, and weekend bike path riding. Both of our testers found the bike to give them confidence to go faster both uphill and downhill and never felt nervous or twitchy. The bike setup allows you to teach the young rider about body positioning (forward for climbs, back for descents) and weight placement.
We found the Islabikes Beinn 20 to be a highly capable bike that made riding real trails and climbing real hills easier and more fun. The combination of light weight and able gearing allowed our young testers to climb farther. Having a bike that fits well is a feature that should also not be underrated. This bike can pull triple duty, since with a swap of rubber, it can work equally as well on dirt, pavement or gravel bike paths.
For more information visit islabikes.com.