Islabikes Beinn 20 L kid’s mountain bike review

Lightweight kid-specific MTB for the advancing young rider

The Islabikes Beinn is a 20” wheeled bike with a 7 speed drivetrain, light weight and a well proportioned fit.

The Islabikes Beinn is a lightweight 20” wheeled bike with 7-speed drivetrain.

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.

Stat Box
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 Flamin' Chili Peppers 5 out of 5

  • Lightweight
  • A bit pricey
  • Quality fit in every detail
  • Tires will need to be upgraded
  • V-brakes
  • Real gearing
  • Versatile

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 Beinn 20 L on scale shows a real world weight of 18.1 pounds including pedals and a bottle cage.

The Beinn 20 L on scale shows a real world weight of 18.09 lbs. including pedals and a bottle cage.

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.

A side view of the Islabikes Beinn 20 L with an 11” aluminum frame and rigid, cromoly fork shown here in orangey-red color.

The Islabikes Beinn 20 L has an 11” aluminum frame and rigid, cromoly fork.

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.

Our young rider is battling a head wind here, but smiles and dreams of pizza at the end of the ride nonetheless.

Our young rider is battling a head wind here, but smiles and dreams of pizza at the end of the ride keep him going.

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 Islabikes Beinn 20 L in bright green.

The Islabikes Beinn 20 L in bright green.

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.

This side view shows that the seating position strikes a good balance of forward weight placement without being too extreme for less committed types of rides. The water bottle cage provides enough room for young riders to take the bottle out themselves, but be sure they practice at a standstill first.

The seated position strikes a balance of forward weight placement without being too extreme for less committed types of rides. The water bottle cage provides enough room for young riders to take the bottle out themselves, but be sure they practice at a standstill first.

Bottom line

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.

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About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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