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The first in our six part mini series of a road bike build, a quick video tutorial by new CyclingShorts.cc team member Richard Soh. Lets start with… Handlebars & Headset.
Founder of SOHBike
I have been commuting from NJ to NYC by bicycle for 7 years. The bus made me nauseous. Driving into the city involved too much traffic as well as expensive gas, tolls, and parking. Eventually I decided to ride my bicycle to work. I now look forward to my daily commute, I find it to be meditative. Over time I have tried out dozens of different bicycles and components. 3 years ago, I built my first experimental dream bike from scratch. It has carbon everything except for an aluminum frame and a Di2 Ultegra groupset. With pedals and battery, it weighs 17.75 lbs and it cost a fraction of comparably equipped bicycle.
I am now offering my custom built bicycles to the public. I use only the best components based on my personal experience. I believe if more people rode their bicycles the population would be physically and mentally healthier, and the world would be cleaner and greener. To promote bicycling I actively volunteer in bike-a-thons, teach kids and adults to ride bicycles, and work to influence public policy to help make bicycling safer.
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Islabikes are produced by former British national champion and medallist Isla Rowntree. With experience in all forms of cycling and extensive experience in bike design and frame building the brand is well known and respected. They offer a fantastic range of bikes from toddler to adulthood.
We have been lucky enough to have an Islabike Luath (meaning swift, quick, speedy in Gaelic) on long term test. At £549.99 the Luath is not the cheapest bike in its category so it needed to impress…..
After checking the detailed sizing chart on the website and an email exchange it was decided the small would be the best fit for both my 13 year old daughter and 11 year old son. This is an 18 inch frame with 700cc wheels. Islabikes also offer bikefits in their studio in Ludlow and tour around the country to various events (details on their website) so you can try before you buy if you are unsure of the size or model required.
The bike arrived well packaged and almost ready to ride. We all loved the beautiful red paintwork and I was delighted to find both the frame and wheels lighter than anticipated. (Official weight including pedals 9.9Kg).
The tyres were already inflated, the rear wheel in situ, brakes and gears adjusted perfectly so that all I needed to do was turn and tighten the handlebars, put on the pedals, insert the front wheel, fasten the front brake and adjust the saddle height. The brilliant instructions and good quality allen keys meant assembly was super easy and the bike ready to ride in less than 30 minutes! I am confident any parent would be able to safely follow the instructions with ease.
The frame is lightweight aluminium with proportional geometry specific to the young rider and the sloping top tube gives good stand over clearance. The fork is cro-moly with mudguard and rack eyes. This bike has been designed for both road and off road/touring use and would be more than suitable for cross racing with a change of tyres. This flexibility in a youth’s bike is fantastic and keeps their riding options open.
The Tektro cantilever brakes are ideal as they shouldn’t get as clogged up as caliper brakes and the additional top mount brakes are brilliant for safety and confidence and great for small hands.
There is good clearance for bigger cyclo-cross style tyres and mud and leaves collected on route.
Adjustable Shimano Claris STI levers provide the 8-speed transmission with an 11-32 cassette combined with a 46/34 crankset. The shifting is crisp and effortless, the range is great for young legs with a granny gear of 32 for the hills and the shifters can be adjusted for little hands. Flat Wellgo metal pedals are provided.
The 38cm handlebars are well proportioned with a shallow drop that is more comfortable and easy for small hands and the 60mm stem makes the reach comfortable, these are finished off with anti slip bar tape.
The quick release wheels are Islabikes-branded double-wall alloy rims, black anodised with machined sidewalls and integrated wear-indicator groove. The hubs are smooth and the wheels feel strong yet light for a child’s bike.
Lightweight 23mm Kenda Kontenders tyres are supplied; these have a light tread and are good all purpose tyres that should work all year round. In 6 months of use, on a variety of surfaces and in all weather conditions, we only had one puncture.
An Islabikes-branded saddle tops the aluminium seatpost, with a well portioned racy shape it is lightweight, looks good and there were no complaints from our young testers.
Both children jumped on the bike with no hesitation and felt both stable and fast. The ride to school was significantly quicker. They quickly grasped the gear changes and had no issues reaching the brakes. It took a few minutes to gain the confidence to look over their shoulder properly and relax enough that the bars didn’t turn too much as the front end is much lighter than their current mountain bikes, but once this was cracked one handed riding quickly followed as did expertly moving from the tops to hoods to drops. Riding in the park led to smiles and whoops of joy as they confidently descended in full control.
Being not much bigger than them myself I was keen to try it too, and although not comparable to my usual steed, it certainly didn’t feel like a typical, heavy child’s bike. It felt solid yet responsive, planted yet light, comfortable over the rough road surface and the tyres feel grippy and safe in the corners. The gear changes were smooth, braking was smooth and efficient and I struggled to find fault with anything.
Delivery is free; there is a 90 day free return policy and a 5 year guarantee. Every tiny detail has been well thought out resulting in a bike that is well designed, rides beautifully, looks good, is flexible, practical and built to last. The perfect bike for under the Christmas tree!
With the summer finally arriving and the long school holidays on the horizon we asked Isla Rowntree, ex-national
cyclocross champion and founder of Islabikes how to approach teaching you child to ride a bike.
What are your thoughts on stabilisers?
For years children’s bikes have come fitted with stabilisers, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right thing to use. We encourage parents to avoid stabilisers as they prevent children from learning to balance naturally and actually make the process of learning to ride a bike trickier.
Far better is to let your child use a balance bike before starting to learn a pedal bike. A balance bike will teach them the basics of balancing on two wheels and make the transition to first pedal bike much easier.
How old should my child be?
Most children learn to ride their first pedal bike unaided between the ages of 3 1/2 and 4 1/2. But children develop their cycling skills at different times. If it seems that your child isn’t quite get the hang of it, don’t worry, let them keep enjoying their balance bike for a few more weeks and try again later.
How do I teach my child to ride?
Find a large, safe, flat open space to use as your learning zone. Something with tarmac or a fairly firm surface is perfect. Long grass is too tricky for new riders to pedal on.
Now adjust the height of your child’s saddle so they can get the balls of their feet on the floor.
Put your child on their bike and stand behind them, holding them under their armpits. Don’t hold any part of the bike. We want the new rider to feel how their bike naturally moves underneath them.
Push your child along and let the bike wander in any direction. You can help steer the bike by leaning your child right and left. Doing this will let your child learn that leaning is part of the steering process.
If your children have learnt to balance on a balance bike, they may take a little while to grasp the concept of forward pedalling. Encourage them while they practise pedalling forwards.
If your child is ready to cycle unaided they should quickly get a feel for balance and you can gradually let go, but stay close by to catch them if anything goes wrong.
For nervous riders, you may need to stay with them a bit longer. That’s fine. Just let them know that you’re there, but you’re very gradually going to loosen your hold on them. Eventually they’ll be cycling unaided without even knowing it. The look of delight when they realise you’re no longer holding them and they’re cycling all by themselves is a moment to treasure.
The final part of the jigsaw is learning how to set off from stationary unaided. For this, have your child put one of their pedals just past the top most part of the pedal circle. That means around the ‘5 to the hour’ position with the left leg, or ‘5 past the hour’ position with the right leg.
Now ask them to give a good push on this leg. With enough forward momentum they should be able to transfer both feet to the pedals, start pedalling and be a completely independent rider.
Islabikes build quality lightweight bikes that are gender neutral in their aesthetics, CyclingShorts.cc will be reviewing them shortly – so watch this space.
You can find more information at:
Spin part two. The reviews…
Ok. So “Spin” the show, was spun into something a tad more than it ought to have been. I’m saying no more about the show, but nothing is completely bad and in amongst some very quirky stuff, were some very interesting products indeed and what follows is a concise (for me) look at the best and the noteworthy if only…
Jivr (Jiver) was the first exhibit we saw and it definitely has the WOW factor. Yes, I said an electric bike has the Wow factor. It is a folder that packs down into a size as compact as a Brompton (yes, I know nothing folds like a Brompton…until this) up and back down again in 22 seconds… and that was me at my first attempt. Martin Piatkowski, its designer and head of the company can do it in about 18.
It is light too at a mere 10 Kilos, which when you consider that it houses a motor, a battery and a chain free drive system, that is pretty amazing. The company claim a top speed on its motor of 25 km/h which is governed to make it legal in the company’s widening market place. Jivr also clocked in at 30KM on one charge, which if you only use the motor to arrive at work without needing to change your sweaty shirt because you’ve been climbing hills, will do you just fine. Pedal the remainder or indeed all of your journey although, because of its direct drive (hidden in the single beam of 7005 aluminium) peddling looks odd….no chain rings.
A fast nimble little folding electric bike that is stylish (my partner Carol wants one) light enough and looks amazing, make this a serious contender to Brompton. Yes its more expensive, has a two hour reachable battery and high tech motor and drive system on board. But if you’re after a commuter for on and off the train and you’d like the extra help of a motor to help with your briefcase etc, then its very well worth a look. If you can push the boat out to £1,200 plus for a Brompton, then I would suggest that the hike up to 2K must be in you remit. Especially when you take into account their unique way of selling this brilliantly crowd funded initiative. Jivr will place 70 hand made bikes per month on the market. Getting one initially works like this; pay £99 deposit refundable in 48 hours if you change your mind. You then go on the waiting list. Each month the waiting list members will be given the opportunity of getting their machine on a first come first served basis. Pay your balance and away you go.
Cycling Shorts unleashes Santa’s Little Helpers.
Yes the panic is setting in, so much to get organised and so little time, so we’ve all got together to give you a list of gift ideas that won’t disappoint the fussiest cyclist or cycling fan in your life.
We’ve split our choices into four perfect price packages, click on the images to be taken to the retailers website.
Wishing you a Merry Festivemas from all at CyclingShorts.cc!
While browsing t’internet I came across this wild idea, it’s not a lingering April fool that’s doing the rounds, it’s quite a fun idea’ if a little unstable looking…. but will it really take off?
It combines cycling with a running motion which I’m not sure would be comfortable over a long distance. With an expected $399 price tag. It was developed through Kickstarter and now they are getting ready to release a
The designers say, ‘We took the core driving mechanism of a classical bicycle (a wheel connected to a crankset) but redesigned pretty much everything else. The result – a vehicle that trains your balance and reflexes in a new way. It brings you closer to natural walking and it’s the only way to control the vehicle with your whole body and not just your hands. Halfbike is a sort of an extension to the body that allows a smooth and intuitive ride. It’s really nothing like the experience you get when riding a bike’.
Could become the next Sinclair C5 for the hipster generation?
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