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My Boy has just started riding his bike and in typical pushy parent fashion (or bike obsessed), I'm looking for his next bike as a fifth birthday present in the summer.

I want something that is good quality, light and with enough gearing to let him cruise with mum and dad without killing him on the hills. I want him to have the chance to really enjoy it, and know that having a nice machine makes all the difference. I feel that it is a bit unfair that adults get lighter bikes than children!

He will be after a 16 incher I reckon, as it will give him enough growing room before he gets a proper junior bike.

Any recommendations greatly received!

27 comments

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Simon E [2541 posts] 1 year ago
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Islabikes Cnoc 14 or 16. Best kids bikes in the world. Measure him up and use their size chart to choose.

If you are really strapped for cash a secondhand Ridgeback MX16 from ebay would be OK. They're not much cheaper new and the Islabike is far better (and you will get a lot more for it when it's time to sell it). No-one ever regrets buying an Islabike.

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therevokid [911 posts] 1 year ago
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+1 Islabikes ... Mine youngest has had 2 now. +1 on the resale values too  1

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joemmo [1146 posts] 1 year ago
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we got a frog 52 for my 7yr old daughter, who has been a slow learner cyclist and she likes it. Plenty of room to grow so it should last her a good couple of years or more and be suitable to be passed down to her younger brother - being a gender neutral purple colour.
It has a decent alloy frame and wheels, effective tektro brakes with kid sized levers and shimano 7 speed gears with a twist shifter. Comes with some mudguards as well. It's quite long in the frame so there is plenty of space to grow and the seatpost is long too.

Isla bikes are undeniably nice machines and they are higher spec for the higher price but as everyone says, the resale value is good on the whole. We went with the frog because i was having a hard time justifying the price of that alone to the Mrs - let alone the cost of an Islabike - and we weren't planning to re-sell in a hurry.

Others we looked at were the Ridgebacks and Evans own brand childrens bikes, both look good options.

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simDP [1 post] 1 year ago
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+1 again for Islabikes. Wouldnt even bother looking at anything else. My 5 year old loves his CNOC 16, and his older brother (7) has moved onto the Beinn 20 as his first bike with gears. Having seen how good they are for little cyclists a number of their mates have now changed theirs for the Islabikes. They are very light and all the components are good quality, designed and sized for little hands and legs. Yes, pricey up front but worth every penny to see them come on and actually enjoy hills. Its no myth about the re-sales either. We sold the eldest's CNOC for only £30 less than we paid 2 years previously. Overall a bargain but more importantly the best option for getting them into riding and riding properly.

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willythepimp [50 posts] 1 year ago
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Thanks for the replies, quite a resounding win for the Islabike!

It will most likely be handed down twice, so the quality needs to be there from the start, and the Islabike seems to have that in spades.

Shame my LBS cannot get hold of them.

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GREGJONES [259 posts] 1 year ago
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I'd also recommend an isla bike. My boy of five has the Cnoc 16 and loves it. Well made, decent components and a sensible geometry too.

Incidentally my daughter of three also has an isla bike (the Cnoc 14) and loves it too. Both are great bikes.

They're both used extensively by mine on the local BMX track too.

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willythepimp [50 posts] 1 year ago
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did you get the Beinn 20 in the small or large?

It says that the Beinn 20 Small is for 5+ on their website, I'm trying to figure out if it is worth the extra step of gears now rather than later.

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Simon E [2541 posts] 1 year ago
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willythepimp, you really should use the size chart.

Most younger kids struggle with gears of any kind so the single gear is best until they're bigger. It's counterproductive getting one 'for them to grow into'.

They sell direct to keep the cost down. Visiting their modest HQ near Ludlow is the best way to buy. Isla is passionate, she has been in the industry and has been riding and racing bikes for many years.

We inherited a s/h Ridgeback MX20. In isolation it's OK but next to a Beinn it does not compare well at all.

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giff77 [1191 posts] 1 year ago
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+1 with Simon. The gears will only complicate things for the wee fellah. He'll not care if there's only one gear now he has a new found freedom.

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willythepimp [50 posts] 1 year ago
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I wasn't thinking along the grow into lines, more the if the small frame fits then jump straight to gears lines, but I get your point. My niece and nephew were bought 20 inch bikes at three and five and are still not riding without stabilisers at five and seven. I will definitely measure him, as it is a completely pointless exercise if you don't.

I was just weighing up that he will probably be able to change gears with a little coaching, He rings his bell enough!

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Flying Scot [908 posts] 1 year ago
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If you find the initial outlay for Isla bikes a bit of a leap, have a look in store at Decathlon, the kids can ride round the store on the bikes, just pick one off the shelf and off you go.

They are good enough, and better than the junk in most of the 'big retail' places.

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GREGJONES [259 posts] 1 year ago
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In my experience stabalisers are pointless, if anything they delay children learning to ride a bike. Either get a balance bike and then use the 'proper bike', or just get a proper bike and take off the peals so they can use it as a balance bike.

My daughter of three used a balance bike for an afternoon, then by the next afternoon was riding with pedals n' all.

My son on the other hand took much longer simply because he insisted on keeping the stabilizers (which ultimately I had to bend) to demonstrate they they were no good anymore.

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snappyandrew [44 posts] 1 year ago
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+1 for Isla bikes. Also have a look at how much they go for on ebay. If you look after it in effect you are renting the bike as , the last time I looked, you get at least 70% of the new price back.

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snappyandrew [44 posts] 1 year ago
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Oh and give Isla bikes a call. They really helped pick the right one

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David Portland [83 posts] 1 year ago
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My son's five in a couple of weeks, he's been on his sister's old Beinn 20 Small since as soon as he could fit on it (he's not unusually tall, she's on a 24 now). He finds it a lot easier off-road than his old Cnoc 14. Gears don't seem confusing, he just leaves it in the same one most of the time  3

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arfa [696 posts] 1 year ago
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Personally I went to wiggle for my children's' bikes. If you know what size you need then you're fine and I rate the felt mountain bikes highly.

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Jack Osbourne snr [385 posts] 1 year ago
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I have twins, so baulked at the double whammy that 2x Islabikes would have been.

2x Frog bikes has been a resounding success for both kids and Dad's wallet. We live on a slope with a sharp climb from pavement to house and although the kids (aged 7) can't manage it yet, my wife can carry both bikes up at the same time.

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Simon E [2541 posts] 1 year ago
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GREGJONES wrote:

In my experience stabalisers are pointless, if anything they delay children learning to ride a bike. Either get a balance bike and then use the 'proper bike', or just get a proper bike and take off the peals so they can use it as a balance bike.

I'd go as far as saying that stabilisers are the devil's work. They actively hinder a child learning to balance. When they are removed the child has to unlearn the way of turning and correcting, and most find this disconcerting. I would urge any parent to avoid them like the plague (this is another area where Isla's advice proved to be spot on).

As Greg says, start without pedals. Walk/trot alongside with your hands under their armpits; this way you can prevent them falling but they learn how to correct the wobbles themselves with steering and bodyweight. Remind them frequently to keep looking ahead, not at the front wheel. As they progress they need less support.

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joemmo [1146 posts] 1 year ago
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similar experience to Greg but other way round. Despite starting early, my daughter refused to ride without stabilisers and took until 7 to be convinced that 2 wheels were best, even though she could ride a scooter well before. As a contrast my 2.5 year old boy has had a balance bike since 2nd birthday - he can already coast along and balance with both feet up and has the reflexes to dab a foot when he needs to.

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willythepimp [50 posts] 1 year ago
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The balance bike was the proper job, one week of an hour hear and there, followed by the promise of some snazzy skull bike lights, and I did not even have to push him to get going. Jumped on, kicked along for momentum, and pedalled. Stopped with a skid ten metres down, and turned back and said "can I have those skull lights now?"

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willythepimp [50 posts] 1 year ago
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David Portland wrote:

My son's five in a couple of weeks, he's been on his sister's old Beinn 20 Small since as soon as he could fit on it (he's not unusually tall, she's on a 24 now). He finds it a lot easier off-road than his old Cnoc 14. Gears don't seem confusing, he just leaves it in the same one most of the time  3

Precisely what I thought would happen, then he will get the hang of gear changing at his leisure.
So long as it is a fit, I think the Beinn 20 small seems like the way ahead. Now to pay for it!

Thanks everyone for all your help!

Will

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bikerdavecycling [73 posts] 1 year ago
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I would go straight to the Beinn 20 iI your position. At 5, he'll want gears in no time as he'll soon out spin the Cnoc 16 gears on faster surfaces but wish they had lower gears up hills. It was about at 5 that we jumped from the Cnoc 16.

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simon.thornton [44 posts] 1 year ago
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We've had both makes - Islabikes are brilliant and now Frog have hopped into the pond and are similarly much lighter weight than mainstream rivals - and quite keenly priced - and you can get them from proper bike shops -
Whichever, just do it - A child on a properly designed 10kg Islabike or Frog is much more likely to love cycling than on one weighing half as much again ....
And, no, they don't need any suspension and no they don't need dozens of gears and no they don't need different models for boys and girls ....

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gmac101 [106 posts] 1 year ago
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We have 2 Isla bikes a small Beinn 20 and a Beinn 24. They have both been great and turned both of my girls into cyclists after they struggled with "superstore" bikes. The one mistake we made was to buy the larger bike as one "to grow into" and my older daughter struggled a bit with a frame that was too large, especially with the reach to the handle bars (she has long legs and a short body).

My brother bought a Frog for his son and he loves it and it means that he can cope with longer rides. Frog delivered the bike to his LBS who did the final assembly - the LBS were impressed with the bike.

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willythepimp [50 posts] 1 year ago
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*Update*

We went for the Islabikes bienn 20, and altough initially daunted, the boy is changing gears on the move, standing up to pedal and doing skids. A happy young lad!

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willythepimp [50 posts] 1 year ago
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And the quality of the bike is fantastic. A real machine rather than a toy.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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Simon E wrote:
GREGJONES wrote:

In my experience stabalisers are pointless, if anything they delay children learning to ride a bike. Either get a balance bike and then use the 'proper bike', or just get a proper bike and take off the peals so they can use it as a balance bike.

I'd go as far as saying that stabilisers are the devil's work. They actively hinder a child learning to balance. When they are removed the child has to unlearn the way of turning and correcting, and most find this disconcerting. I would urge any parent to avoid them like the plague (this is another area where Isla's advice proved to be spot on).

As Greg says, start without pedals. Walk/trot alongside with your hands under their armpits; this way you can prevent them falling but they learn how to correct the wobbles themselves with steering and bodyweight. Remind them frequently to keep looking ahead, not at the front wheel. As they progress they need less support.

I couldn't agree more. I taught both my kids to ride and have since taught various others, younger siblings of children in the club or children of friends mainly. Balance bikes are the way to go, or even a bike with the pedals (and possibly the cranks) taken off temporarily.

Holding onto the saddle while teaching a child is a common mistake and hinders learning as the child is not manoeuvring or balancing the bike, while holding the bars is worse still. Hold the child upright under the armpits is much better. Another way is to get the child to wear a backpack and hold that.