The Creig 24 from Islabikes is a high-quality, lightweight kids mountain bike designed for riders 8-years-old and up. With a smart spec and simple design, the Creig 24 makes mountain biking fun and accessible for kids, while minimizing adult frustration.
Maybe it’s just me, but choosing bikes for my kids is difficult. They’re constantly growing which makes sizes a moving target, and at the same time their skills are progressing. Throw in the fact that kids use their bikes for everything from riding trails to commuting to school, and it’s no wonder many parents just settle for whatever is on the floor at Walmart. But as many of us have found, department store bikes are rarely satisfying.
Islabikes offers the Creig mountain bike in two sizes: 24″ and 26″. A two-inch difference in wheel diameter doesn’t seem like a lot, so Islabikes further differentiates the two models by recommending the Creig 24 for riders 8 years old and up, and the Creig 26 for riders 9+. Of course longtime mountain bikers will recognize ye olde 26er wheels from the days of yore, when that was the standard wheel size for adult mountain bikes as well.
Bike sizing is a big deal for adults, and it is for kids as well. According to Islabikes, “with the correct size bike, your child will develop their cycling skills quickly, easily, and safely while being more comfortable on their bike.” With that in mind, in addition to providing a rough age range for each bike, Islabikes also sets minimum and maximum height and inseam measurements for each bike.
The Creig 24 features a 7005-series aluminum frame with tube sizes that appear to be scaled appropriately for the small frame. All of the Islabikes models feature a similar red-orange paint scheme which is good branding, but it’s also gender-neutral, and prevents certain arguments before they even start.
Sizing isn’t just about frame and wheel sizes. For example, the crank arms on the Creig 24 are 140mm long, while the Creig 26 crank arms are 152mm. Similarly, the handlebars go from 560mm wide to 580mm between the two models. Even the brake levers are modified to offer a shorter reach.
Islabikes Creig 24 spec
The Islabikes Creig 24 offers an impressive spec for a kids’ bike. As a dad who has to pay for this stuff, my first inclination is to skimp on kids’ bike parts, but there are two things I’ve learned.
- I hate working on low-quality components. It’s already frustrating to have to maintain a fleet of bikes, and even more so when the parts just aren’t designed to be serviced. Ask any local bike mechanic which types of bikes they least enjoy working on, and they’ll tell you cheap kids’ bikes. Just last week I had to adjust the rim brakes on my son’s bike and it nearly brought me to tears. Get some disc brakes bro!
- Low-quality components ruin the ride for me, so the same is probably true for my kids. Having a shifter that is inconsistent or brakes that just stop OK takes the rider’s focus away from the trail, and leads to a bad experience.
That last part is the key. As mountain biking parents, most of us want to introduce our kids to the sport so they can participate with us, but it’s a delicate dance. Many kids are just one bad experience away from saying they never want to ride a mountain bike again. A solid component mix reduces the risk of a bad ride.
Starting at the front of the bike, Islabikes specs an RST F1RST 24 air-sprung suspension fork with 60mm of travel (the Creig 26 bumps the travel up to 80mm). While this is no RockShox or Fox fork, it does offer a lockout and external rebound adjustment. An aluminum bar and stem pull the cockpit together, and the Creig 24 features SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes with a 160mm rotor up front and a 140mm rotor in the rear.
The drivetrain is a key component on any bike, especially for young riders still developing their fitness. Not only that, the concept of shifting can be difficult to grasp. Islabikes specs a 1×10 drivetrain with a 32T crank and an 11-36 cassette, which is essentially the same gear range many adult bikes use. Based on my daughter’s test rides, she might prefer a 30T chainring up front to make steep ups a bit more manageable. A SRAM grip-shifter controls the rear GX derailleur.
It seems kids’ mountain bikes often ship with under-gunned tires, but not the Islabikes Creig 24. The 2.25″ Vee Tire Crown GEM tires are good all-rounders and are confidence-inspiring. Double-walled aluminum rims keep the wheels fairly lightweight, and the Islabikes-branded saddle seems like a good choice. There’s even a bell thrown in for good measure.
On the trail
The component spec leads to a light overall weight for the Creig 24 — just north of 23 lbs. with pedals. The light weight allowed my daughter to confidently climb hills but it also seemed to make handling much easier. Maneuvering the Creig 24 through twisty singletrack wasn’t a chore, and getting the bike up and over roots and rocks was never a problem. Admittedly there were times when I suggested choosing a line to avoid an obstacle, but it wasn’t necessary. My daughter — and the Creig — just popped right over and kept rolling.
Balance is one of the first things kids learn for biking, but riding a narrow, loose trail adds a whole new dimension. Thanks to the real, 2.25″ mountain bike tires on the Creig 24, keeping the bike upright was a cinch. Honestly there weren’t a lot of rowdy descents happening during this test; most began with a tentative and gradual release of the brakes. I must say the hydraulic brakes were confidence-inspiring, even if they were overused a bit.
Perhaps the best endorsement of the Creig 24 is that it made my daughter, who has been reluctant to dive into mountain biking, want to ride more. While she’s still focused mostly on cruising to the park, the mountain bike seed has been planted, and the Creig 24 has given her confidence in her ability to dip onto a singletrack trail whenever she feels like it. And that’s what progression is all about.
Thanks to Islabikes for providing the Creig 24 for review.