Choosing a junior road bike
Now, which one to go for?…

Miss OCG is still loving her cycling and wants a road bike.

Ever since watching the Milk Race in Nottingham back in May and being inspired to learn to ride her bike, she’s been asking for a road bike! She’s tried a few British Cycling Go Ride sessions and sampled a local club or two and she’s determined she’s ready to take it all a little bit further.

So, choosing that first junior road bike – where to start!?

There’s Islabikes, Kona bikes, Forme bikes, Frog bikes, Dawes bikes, Hoy bikes…and that’s just a few! Budget is obviously playing a big part in our decision so that discounts some of these brands straight away.

British Cycling 'Go Ride'
Little Miss OCG on her current lump if steel

Miss OCG is seven, very tall for her age but has a slight frame. Her current bike is a bog standard lump of steel, no gears and not an ounce of finesse. Her lifting that bike takes some almighty effort. Her cycling that bike up any kind of hill takes some power – but give her credit where credit is due, she can do it and she doesn’t complain.

So my OH and I have been on the hunt for a decent first road bike for her. She’s keen to join a cycling club and whilst she’s had a go a Go Ride sessions on her lump of steel and demonstrated she’s keen and willing, we think the time has come to feed her enthusiasm with something far more capable – and hopefully her enjoyment will continue to grow as a result.

Junior road bike
The Islabike Luath

Last weekend was spent checking out the options online and in store. All of the options retail new at around £450-£500, which seems like a lot of money for a child’s bike, although I know many of the components are the same as an adults bike. Our budget is ideally somewhere around £250. We’ve already spent sooo many hours on ebay hunting down the perfect second-hand bike locally and within our price range. So far without success. Islabikes have an excellent reputation – they’re light, practical and designed specifically for small bodies, but boy do they hold their value.  I’ve seen some selling second hand for virtually the new price! I’d far rather, for say an extra £50-£75 or so, purchase a new one which comes with some kind of warranty, but at the moment that’s not financially an option.

We have of course visited our local Halfords – sorry Halfords, but what a waste of time that was. They didn’t have the bike we had gone to see built, even though it had been on the shop floor when I’d called the store to check!

Halford Carerra TDF
The Carrera TDF 2014 was the one we went to try but couldn’t. £499 reduced to £199 seemed too good not to go and take a look.

Even their top-end junior road bikes appear to literally be their adult bikes shrunken down slightly, rather than designed geometrically for a child’s body. Plus the staff member who helped us was not in any way knowledgeable. Whilst she told us the bike was too big – and it obviously was, Miss OCG couldn’t pull the brakes and didn’t have the strength on her fingers to change the gears – she said she was sure she would grow into it by Christmas. Pah! I’m not prepared to take that risk.

The Dawes Sprint currently priced at £250 but heavier than we’re looking for.

Our local Evans has very little choice – only one bike that has the capacity to take cyclocross tyres – and it’s a little heavier and more expensive than we’re ideally looking for. All credit to Evans though, the manager of the store we visited was excellent with the advice he gave and I didn’t feel any pressure to purchase something that wasn’t quite right for my daughter.

The Frog Team Sky bike Little Miss OCG has her eye on
The Frog Team Sky bike – Miss OCG has her eyes on the white version

Then there’s Frog bikes – so new they’ve not yet hit the second hand market – or at least certainly not where we live. But they look like an excellent alternative to Islabikes and I like the fact they use local independent bike shops. Having said that, I haven’t found a store locally that has any we can go and try for size. Miss OCG has her eye on their white Team Sky bike but their other options are bright and colourful and I kind of like the fact they’re not Islabikes! So many kids have Islabikes and sometimes it’s good to be different! Islabikes seem to have cornered the junior road bike market, so it’s good to see others coming to through. Plus, I’ve seen a firm, Bike Swanky who lease bikes, which sounds like an absolutely brilliant idea. I don’t know anyone who has tried the company and I’ve no personal experience but Miss OCG, although only seven, is growing at a rate of knots, so having the ability to upgrade as part of a pay monthly lease agreement seems like a great way to get a good quality bike.

So, what’s the problem?

Well…it’s never easy is it?! At seven, Little Miss OCG stands at 135cm tall. At some of the coaching sessions she’s been to, the coaches have thought she was ten because she is so tall for her age.

At the Dare2B Yorkshire cycling festival for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in summer she tried riding an Islabike Luath 24 and it fit her well. They look to be great bikes, but there a little out of our price range at the moment, to buy new anyway, and to pay nearly the new price for a second hand one goes against the grain a little. But, like I say, it seems like a good fit and I know it has decent components and is nice and light.

choosing a junior road bike
The Moda Minor

The Moda Minor, whilst it has a very good reputation, again retails above what we’re hoping to spend on a first road/cyclocross bike for a seven year old. And second hand you can’t always get the version that takes cyclocross tyres. Moda also hold their value well so picking up a second hand bargain isn’t too easy.

Sizing seems to change between brands, which is the problem really.

Frog bikes say that you should not be tempted to go for a bigger size than necessary – fair enough! I like that they’re considering safety! Their Frog Road 58 20″ bike is aimed 6-7 year olds with a minimum inside leg measurement of 58cm. Their Frog Road 67 24″ bike is aimed at 8-12 year olds with a minimum inside leg of 62cm. Frog also say that the bike is designed to grow with your child so that you should get at least 18 months use from it. Now, Little Miss OCG, typically, is quite close to the end of the measurements required for one bike but not yet big enough for the next!! She is the youngest in her class having turned seven only a couple of months ago but is head and shoulders above those who have just turned 8.

What to do? Can Frog’s 24″ junior road bike really be that different in size to Islabikes’ 24″ Luath that Little Miss OCG has tried and tested?

So that’s the dilemma we have at the moment. Choosing a junior road bike for Little Miss OCG. The right bike at the right price, with decent components, a nice light weight…oh, and the right size!!

Who’d have thought choosing a first junior road bike would be so difficult! Can sizes be so different?

Oh, and now I’ve just discovered Forme bikes have a junior road bike too….Formeula youth bikes. And they look pretty good! Another one to add to deliberate over! The sizing looks quite good for Miss OCG too.

Is leasing a bike a good idea? Advice, help and recommendations gratefully received!!…Does your mini cyclist ride any of these?

13 Comments on Choosing Miss OCG’s first junior road bike….where to start?! Help!

  1. I have not had to buy a junior bike but I know that feedback on Islabikes has been very good. Also Boardman launched a range of junior bikes earlier on this year. I don’t know what the price ranges are but you could try them if you haven’t already.

    • Thanks Maria, we haven’t taken a close look at the Boardman bikes to be honest, basically because I was put off by the service we had at Halfords and because I think the Boardman bikes are even more expensive, but I will look into it. Thanks for the feedback on Islabikes – I too have heard very positive comments about them. *off to research Boardman bikes*

  2. Junior road bikes are very hard to find and to find decent ones two. I know Dawes do them and I’m sure Claud Butler do them to.

    Have you looked at Raleigh? They’ve come on ten fold in the past couple of years and are producing some very high end bikes. Not sure if they do junior bikes tho.

    Halfords in my opinion are useless. Brake/levers can usually be adjusted via a screw to reduce/increase the reach to allow perfect fitting for all hand sizes.

    Good luck with the hunt, hope you get something.

    • Hi Stu, I agree with you re. Halfords…but that could be a whole other post in itself! We’ve looked at Dawes but it’s heavier than Islabikes and Frog. I’ll check out Claud Butler and Raleigh – hadn’t really considered them to be honest. Thanks for the tip. 🙂

  3. I hear ya about the budget, but… wouldn’t the Islabikes’ high re-sale value be a point in its favour? In 12-18 months, you’ll be looking to sell it and you’ll be wanting as much as you can get back from your original investment, to finance the next one. Just a thought.

  4. Hi, all my 3 Knight Riders started on Isla bikes, all second hand, handed down 3 times & then sold for no loss, we’ve had a lot of bikes from Isla and have been very happy, search ebay, new tape etc good as new 🙂

    • Thanks, Justine. I’ve heard such good things about Islabikes and it’s great to hear your experiences have been very positive. They really do last don’t they. Handed down three times and still sold without loss is quite some recommendation! 🙂

      I don’t know if you saw that we’ve also been recommended Formeula bikes, which are the junior cross bikes from Forme. I’ve heard very good things about them too – and they’re local(ish) (Derby). ANd the sizing is very similar to Islabikes unlike Frog, so more food for thought! Decisions, decisions!

  5. Hi, I bought my lad the Moda Minor last year, he’s the shortest 11 yr old in his school (about 134cm). He’s done all kinds of mileage on it and loves it to bits – it lives in his bedroom! I’m hoping that when we change it next year he can skip the 24 version and go straight to the 26inch version. You are more than welcome to come and try it should you be anywhere near Aylesbury Bucks. Regards, Pete & Patrick the proud owner

    • Hi Pate and Patrick, thanks for leaving a comment on the Moda Minor. I’ve heard great things about it from some of the reviews I’ve read. It’s great to hear that Patrick has had lots of happy miles on it and loves it so much it gets to live in his bedroom. That’s quite some commendation!! We have just collected a new bike for Miss OCG (just this weekend). There’ll be a post to follow on what we chose but if you follow me on Twitter/Instagram there’s a sneaky peak there. 🙂

  6. So what did you go for?
    We have a fast growing 7 almost 8 year old at 138cm.
    He’s been on an Islabike mountain bike, the Bein26 small since he’s 6th birthday and it was considerably bigger than islabike te recommended at the time. Fortunately it was light enough for the size discrepancy not to be an issue.
    Sometimes I think the size recommendations offered are the dealers way of protecting themselves. They want children to be safely seated feet on the ground and this is fine if the bike will be used for short runs in the local park or to school.
    If your child has any intention of actually riding the bike they will need something bigger.

    • We went for the Forme Formeula Road 24 in the end. Brilliant bike, we have no regrets and Miss OCG is getting on great with it! Have a look at this post for some more details. Good luck in choosing your son’s bike. Let me know what you go for:)

  7. We’ve just ordered 2 frog bikes from The Bike Club, they have a great online scheme which allows us to afford high quality bikes by paying monthly and exchanging for bigger size when the need arises. Local company to us (husband and wife team in Balham) but they deliver throughout the country – really lovely people to deal with.

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