Excellent Mountain Bike that just happens to be designed for 24" wheels and kids
Jul 31 2017
Superb proportionally designed kids bike
Very low weight overall
Proper adjustable fork and excellent Drivetrain
Supplied without pedals and kids sized flat pedals can be hard to find
You'll want to clean it all the time after they use it
Your child is pushing their limits, wants to race, you have the money and/or the siblings to hand it on to.
The Islabikes Creig 24 Pro Series is the new top of the range performance 24” mountain bike for young racers and enthusiasts in the 8-10 age range. Islabike has already ushered in a new era of quality kid's bikes, but their new Pro Series range of bikes ups the ante when it comes to weight and performance.
It’s hard to go to any trail centre or local woods, school bike park or cycling club without seeing a selection of small brightly painted Islabikes and kids whizzing about all over the place. It’s a good sight – one that cannot help but put a smile on your face.
If you have not picked up an Islabike ever, then next time you see one ask if you can feel the weight and whilst you are doing that check out the reach on the brake levers, the small grips, the short cranks with small pedals and high-quality wheels and the superb fit for smaller riders. This is where Islabikes proportional design and fit really shines. Then think about how much your child weighs and how much a few extra kgs will mean to them as they attempt to keep up with you in the local woods. As adults, we kid ourselves that it is worth spending £1000 to save a few hundred grammes, so should this not be even more important for children with their power to weight ratio. Islabike thinks so, which was the genesis behind the new Pro Series line.
The Pro Series bikes push what were already significantly light kids bikes into a different ballpark. Their idea is to give the keen young cyclist the perfect bike to allow them to improve their skills and push themselves to the limit of their abilities. The Creig 24” 8+ model that we are looking at here is 9.02kg without pedals. That’s 19.9 lbs, which doesn’t sound bad for an adult bike but is super light for a kid’s model. There are a few ‘similar’ weights from several other brands, but none with suspension forks and disc brakes and that is the key.
This bike is designed to be ridden hard over any type of terrain, not just at the local grassy park, but at the races and trail centres all over the country. The Pro series is designed for the young rider to develop a wide range of mountain bike skills and perhaps have that extra edge when it comes to racing.
So what makes the Creig 24” Pro cost £1500? However you look at it, that's a lot of money for a kids bike that will last between 1-3 years depending on their unpredictable growth spurts.
For a start, it’s a great looking bike in satin grey with orange/fluro-red graphics and finishing details. It really does look like a quality bike and a quick look over the spec and things start to make sense. Instantly visible is the Rock Shox fork and the huge cassette on the rear wheel. It's running 1x11spd drivetrain using a combination of SRAM GX gripsgifter shifter and mech with an 11-42T Shimano XT cassette. The cranks are proportionally sized at 152mm and beautifully finished with a polished face which will look good forever because of it. Note to other crank manufacturers - black wears off.
The fork is Rock Shox 30 TK Gold 26” version, as used on the Creig's 26” wheeled big brother. Instead of reducing the fork travel and axle to crown length, Islabikes have opted to design the frame around the stock 26” fork as they felt it was the best performing quality fork they could find for the bike.
What makes it special for the younger rider is that the fork stations are ‘only’ 30mm in diameter. That may be out of fashion due to their unwanted flex issues for adults but are perfect for smaller riders who are able to benefit from reduced stiction (aka seal friction) that these smaller stations provide. The fork offers compression adjustment with lockout facility and there is a rebound adjuster at the foot of the right leg.
The wheels are Stans NoTubes ZTR Crest 24 hole rims with sealed cartridge disc hubs with hollow axles and although not set up out of the box tubeless they can be converted as both rim and tyre are tubeless ready. Theoretically, this could save you about 200g or so. It’s something I have yet to do but will be on the list for a future upgrade. To be fair I’ve struggled to find Presta valve 24” tubes in shops so this would be a really sensible upgrade.
The finishing kit is worth a comment as well as it’s a little out of the ordinary on a kid’s bike. The handle bars are 25.4mm aluminium and are mated to a short 60mm KCNC stem, a brand well known for lightweight components. The seat post is carbon and 25.4 and the saddle has hollow cro-mo rails both of which are specced for their comfort and weight. A special mention goes to the Token BB which has a Ti 4Taper axle in a carbon shell and saves a few extra grammes no doubt, but more importantly it enables fine tuning of the Q factor with Islabikes own specially made cranks.
Step forward the test pilot –Fin aged nearly 9 and who has been riding forever. He is a member of cycle club and rides Aston Court and Leigh Woods regularly. He’s also done his fair share riding in the mountains in France and Wales and I’d say he is pretty confident with most situations. He’s been riding the Creig 24 Pro for about four months and has raced it, taken it to skills centres in the FOD, wooden decking in Swindon’s Croft Park and generally blasted around on it with a huge grin on his face.
His regular heavily modified bike has an alloy frame, V-brakes, decent wheels with the same tyres and old modified Pace suspension forks. It weighs 2 lbs heavier than the Islabike which makes it light but it is not a particularly ergonomic fit and there are a fair few compromises with it so it would be interesting to see what he thought about the Creig 24 Pro Series.
Fin’s first experience with the Creig 24 Pro was at Battle on the Beach in March where he entered the under 10’s race and was incredibly nervous amongst some very serious ‘local’ racers. He needn’t have worried as both he and the bike performed fantastically finishing in the top half. Not bad for his first ride on the bike.
He has had trouble with twist shift gears in the past but the GX shifter seems to be so smooth that he was finally able to use a good range of the gears throughout the race and keep ahead of the chasing pack. In fact, the 1x11 system is the first revelation of the bike. Previously he never liked to shift in and out of the granny gear during hilly rides because he found his hands were either not strong enough or they got tired quickly.
With the Creig 24 Pro he has found not needing to use the left hand and finding all the gears he needs on a smooth right-hand shifter much easier. Overall the simplicity of the 1x11 GX system has massively improved his ability to keep his speed up and climb hills. He has even found to his surprise that there were more gears left than he thought whilst climbing and I have noticed he has never actually used the 42T through his own choice and managed all the climbs he has come across without it.
Previously, he has not liked the standard grips and they don't seem to have lasted well on his other bikes so they been swapped for other models but these grips seem to be lasting well at the moment.
The forks are the second revelation and put simply are the best I have found on any kids bike. They are smooth and light, having less stiction and being more active for the lighter rider. They have been put through their paces with relentless enthusiasm, leaping off anything he can find in order to test them – a big thank you to the Forest of Dean skills and pump tracks for helping here.
The fit of this bike is perfect at the moment. It is tricky to say how long it will last as he grows in spurts, like most kids. This is obviously a strong consideration for any parent and potentially the only downside of this bike as the standard response to a normal Islabike is that it costs too much for a bike that will only last X amount of time. However time has proved that Islabikes, if looked after, will hold their value. In fact I cannot think of any other bike that performs so well on the 2nd and 3rd hand market. This is presumably why there are now so many at my son’s school and at the trail centres’ around the country.
There is no getting away from the fact that this is an expensive bike but - and it’s a decent size but - if you have the budget and your child is serious about either racing or just pushing their skills to the limit this is a superb investment that should provide 1.5-3 years of turbo charged fun and performance for them. The care and attention to detail in the spec choices are as close to perfect for a confident emerging rider as you could wish for and will undoubtedly lead to improvement in their riding ability and their enjoyment of the sport.
If current resale values of classic Islabikes are anything to go by, it should hold its value well and you can recoup a large chunk of that initial outlay on the next size up where the competition is much much broader.
Overall this is an excellent mountain bike that just happens to be designed for 24” wheels and children between 8-10 years of age or 128-138cm in height. Islabikes choice of kit and beautifully proportioned frame will allow any aspiring your rider to go that bit further, higher or harder.
Test report Islabike Creig 24 Pro Series £1,500.00X
About the bike
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own :
Creig Pro 24 is for young riders aged 8-10 who are thinking about racing with a local club, pushing the limits of their current bike and wanting to explore trail centres and the great outdoors.
Isla bikes describe it as "An enticing blend of confident, trail honed handling and high spec performance. The Creig 24 Pro Series is the perfect partner for conquering technical trails or when riding flat-out, pushing your limits on race day."
It's an accurate description and well suited to the Creig 24 Pro
State the frame material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.:
Constructed from smooth welded 7005 aluminium and finished in a durable satin grey, the Creig Pro Series frames feature Islabikes proportional fit and geometry. Curved downtube and shaped stays enhance frame durability and ride responsiveness. Integrated headsets enable us to keep the front of the bike as low as possible, giving a more efficient riding position and feeling of connection with the trail.
Frame & Fork
How much suspension travel does the fork have?:
80mm of travel and the rubber o-ring shows we are getting close to that.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.:
No issues with sore body parts
How was the bike in terms of sizing and angles? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size and intent?:
The Creig 24 Pro is a much better fit than other 24" bikes that we have tried. With the saddle in the desired position for riding he still feels agile and comfortable and able to touch the ground on one side. He has much more clearance between himself and the top tube than his own bike by a decent margin and as a result makes the chance of injury much less.
Overall rating for frame
How much suspension travel does the rear end have?:
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?:
He says it accelerates much better than his other bike but i suspect this is due to gearing and wheels rather than stiffness - that he can feel anyway.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame:
Beautifully finished smooth welded frame which has been carefully designed to fit the 26" fork rather than a lower quality 24" fork. The result is easy riding and handling for riders without the traditional super high front end often required to make aftermarket forks fit.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame:
Isla Bikes do not publish geometry of their bike but rather work on the Height and Min and Max Inside Leg measurements. This bike is designed for riders approx 128mm tall with Min inside leg of 58cm and Max inside leg of 68cm.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame:
7005 T6 Heat treated Aluminium.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?:
Very much so the gearing has proved excellent match for his young legs.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive?:
Very lively and fun
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?:
His handling skills have improved a long way on this bike. He has handled very tight switchbacks in the FOD and very fast descents with small jumps and drops without issue. He has raced amongst 30 other riders and fought his way around the tight course without issues.
Rate the bike for sprinting:
Any comments on sprinting?:
Light wheels and tyres produce a very quick reacting bike. Stamp on the pedals and off you go
Rate the bike for high speed descending
Any comments on high speed descending?:
Fork and quality brakes has led to much improved descending finesse
Rate the bike for technical descending:
Any comments on technical descending?:
With no rear suspension or dropper available technical descending is limited to nerve and ability to get off the back of the saddle. Again reliable strong brakes help here.
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
Any comments on flat cornering?:
A narrow Q factor and short cranks mean less pedal strikes in sharp corners as practiced regularly in the club
Rate the bike for technical climbing:
Any comments on technical climbing?:
Super low weight overall and wide range cassette help here
Rate the bike for climbing efficiency:
Any comments on climbing efficiency?:
Rate the bike for agility:
Any comments on agility?:
Proportional geometry helps the rider move around easily and control the bike easily
Rate the fork for performance:
Any comments on fork performance?:
Sensitive air spring and low stiction mean good overall fork performance
Rate the fork for durability:
Any comments on fork durability?:
to early to tell but RS are normally strong in this area
Rate the fork for efficiency:
Any comments on fork efficiency?:
Air spring works fine as does fairly basic rebound control and lock-out function for road work.
Rate the fork for value:
Any comments on fork value?:
The best suspension fork available on a kids bike at the moment.
Tell us some more about the fork. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any features which didn't work well together?:
Fork works well and offers a lot of travel for a young rider. We will need to play with setup more experimenting with more or less air and explain the rebound theory to him. At the moment initial set up is pretty much spot on.
Rate the drivetrain for performance:
Any comments on drivetrain performance?:
Excellent GX shifters and Mech Combo.
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
Any comments on drivetrain durability?:
To early to say but GX appears to have a decent track record.
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well to:
Excellent choice of cranks in length and Q factor allowing better cornering and the narrow wide chainring hasn't dropped the chain once. GX shifters and rear mech working beautifully with only a slight tweak to the replaceable dropout hanger after one crash.
Rate the drivetrain for value:
Wheels & tyres
Rate the wheels for performance:
Rate the wheels for durability:
Any comments on wheel durability?:
Low spoke count may count against them long term but the rider weight is low so it may never become an issue
Rate the wheels for weight:
Any comments on wheel weight?:
As good as you can find for this size on kids bike
Rate the wheels for comfort:
Rate the wheels for value:
Any comments on wheel value?:
Quality wheels with Stans rims and light hubs and light QR skewers.
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, wha:
The wheels are super light with a low spoke count 24h for an adult but spot on for a 8-10 year old weight rider.
Rate the tyres for performance:
Any comments on tyre performance?:
Used the same tyres on own bike and had no issues yet
Rate the tyres for durability:
Any comments on tyre durability?:
With such light tyres I would expect some sidewall damage to occur but as yet nothing.
Rate the tyres for weight:
Any comments on tyre weight?:
Some of the lightest proper MTB tyres available in this size.
Rate the tyres for value:
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what:
The wheel will benefit from a tubeless conversion further reducing their weight and providing more grip and feel but possibly more importantly their puncture resistance which, with rarer tubes; 24 x 1.75-2 Presta, it's the Presta bit that's unusual, Schraeder is easily found, will save us from getting caught out on the trail if we had multiple punctures heaven forbid. The tyres are tubeless ready which is a good start.
Rate the controls for performance:
Any comments on controls performance?:
All specced for small hands and light weight.
Rate the controls for durability:
Any comments on controls durability?:
Carbon post showing some signs of movement already.
Rate the controls for weight:
Any comments on controls weight?:
Super light Stem, Carbon Seatpost and Alloy handlebar all help the overall weight.
Rate the controls for comfort:
Any comments on controls comfort?:
Grips are not the most forgiving.
Rate the controls for value:
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components?:
Carbon seatpost designed for young riders weight and comfort will inevitably show wear as it goes up as he grows. On an adult bike you don't tend to change the post height so the post doesn't get marked. He's snapped brake hose already in a crash but it's an easy fit for small amount of money at local shop. I suspect a cable brake would not have had this issue but cannot be certain. The grips are hard and thin. We've changed these before but i think the fork is helping offset the lack of cushion in these grips. They are an easy swap out should the need arrise.
Did you enjoy riding the bike?:
Would you consider buying the bike?:
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike\'s performance? would you recommend any changes?:
The biggest impact has been the forks and the gearing. Forks because the work really well for him and the gearing being simple to understand and all on one side with no front shifter to worry about. He still needs to change gear moire often but that will come with time. We have thought about changing his grips to the brand he has
Would you recommend the bike to a friend?:
Rate the bike overall for performance:
Rate the bike overall for value:
Use this box to explain your score:
The Creig 24 Pro is a stunning example of a kids mtb. It's as light as it is possible to go without getting silly with XTR and XX1 and full carbon. It initially looks expensive on paper but it's not far off an adult hardtail with a high quality Alloy frame, light wheels and fork with GX and SLX. It's well thought out using a mixed range of components to make the bike fit and handle as well as it does. Isla Bikes attention to detail has always been evident in their normal line but they have now raised the bar for all other performance orientated kids bike manufacturers out there.