Smaller bikes for smaller people: Islabike challenges the social norms of adult bikes
UK brand Islabike has launched it's latest range of bikes, which it says truly fit smaller adult riders.
Best know for producing some of the best kids bikes, the road going dropped bar Luath and off-road flat bar Creig are the brand's newest editions of especially adapted bikes for grown-ups.
With stock bike setups often stacked against women and smaller adult cyclists, the adult versions of the Luath and Creig bikes have been especially designed to target riders between 4'11" and 5'9" tall.
Speaking at the time of the launch, Tim Goodall, Managing Director at Islabikes commented that the brand had "completely revisited what a bike for someone below 5’ 9” should be. And that’s a bike that has components that fit smaller riders".
Although the bikes look exactly like just smaller regular road or mountain bikes, the brand says it has also shrunk the components too.
Areas such as handlebars and levers have all been scaled down to make it easier for someone with small hands to change gear, or reach the brakes from the drops.
It's an occupational hazard for me personally, and something that can't come soon enough.
"It's a seemingly obvious expectation" agrees Goodall, "sadly, something many people can’t do – and that’s nuts!"
It's not the first time that Islabikes has dabbled in adult bikes. The brand first expanded it's range to include more mature riders in 2019 when it launched the Islabike's Icons range , the worlds first bikes that were especially adapted to over 65's.
The low weight, step through bikes came with light controls and very low gearing. The range was later followed up with the Islabike eJanis and eJimi range of electric bikes, which had a similar ethos.
Now the brand's focus is on the general inclusion of most women and below average height men, which Islabike believe that, until now, have been poorly catered for.
There's plenty of research to back up common issues faced by smaller adult cyclists; although addressing size rather than the sex of rider, does add questions around women's specific geometry , suggesting that perhaps best women's road bikes are better repurposed as 'best small persons' instead.
Gender debate aside, bikes specifically designed and constructed for smaller adults can only offer better choice in the long run. The few bikes currently on the market that already offer smaller size framesets, with 650b wheel options, are few and far between. The ones that also scale down the Q-factor, handlebars and brake set-up are practically non-existent.
It's hard to argue with the Islabike philosophy when you've personally spent hours sourcing the best road bike handlebars to allow you to safely control your bike when sprinting or descending - thank goodness for the compact bar invention.
Other adjusted size points on the bike are shorter reach brakes, and shorter cranks, which Islabike say should both reduce discomfort and take the strain out of riding bikes as a smaller than average adult.
Islabike believe both bikes, which are available to purchase now directly from islabikes.co.uk, offer plenty of riding options, with features such as wide gear ratios, plenty of clearance for mudguards and cargo mounts, bottle cages and luggage rack mounts as standard.
The brand say the Luath design is best suited to gravel, riding to work, touring and multi-day adventures. Priced at £999 and weighing a claimed £9.8kg for a size small, the aluminium frame and carbon fork is partnered with Tektro mechanical disc brakes and an 8-speed Shimano Claris drive train (36t x 11-40t), with a custom short reach brake lever, and Islabike's own aluminium cranks.
The adult Creig, weighing a claimed 11.8kg for a size small, conversely, is best for trail centres, singletrack trails, bridleways, and off- road bikepacking adventures. Again cranks are shortened to between 155 - 165mm (bike size depending), with sensibly proportioned' handlebars. Priced at £1,249.99 the Creig also faetures an aluminium frame, but this time teamed with RockShox Judy Gold RL Solo Air forks, which come with 100mm of suspension travel. The other deviation from it's road fairing sibling is that the Tektro disc brakes are upgraded to hydraulic, and gears are swopped to 10-speed Microshift Advent X, again with Islabike's own aluminium cranks.
Each bike comes in three sizes, which incrementally grow in both frame and component departments and all with 700c wheels.