Islabikes, the bike brand of choice for in-the-know parents, has a cult-like customer base. And for good reason. The company’s top-notch customer service, thoughtful design, and high-quality build make these kids bikes winners.
The Cnoc 14, the smallest pedal bike in the Islabikes line-up (and the one that we tested), actually comes in two sizes—the Cnoc 14 small, and the Cnoc 14 large. This makes the Cnoc 14 suitable for many sizes of kids in the 3-4 year old age range. My small, nearly 4 year-old was just barely large enough to pick the 14 large rather than the small. Other 4-year-olds might be ready for the Cnoc 16, which is why Islabike helps you pick the correct bike based on your child’s actual measurements instead of their age (more on this later).
If you can afford a $300+ bike for your child (or if you are lucky enough to find one of these on Craigslist), the Islabikes Cnoc 14 should be on your shortlist. While I’ve made note of a few (minor) cons, the list of pros on this bike make it a very solid choice.
Review in a Nutshell
- Stellar customer service
- High-quality construction and components
- Dummy-proof assembly
- Lightweight build
- Child-appropriate geometry
- High resale value
- No freehub option
- High price
Specs (for the Islabikes Cnoc 14 Large):
- Weight: 13 lbs 14 oz
- Minimum Inseam: 15”
Islabikes Cnoc 14 Detailed Review
To switch things up a bit, I asked my husband Blair to do the video review. Wait until the end for a special guest cameo by our son (it’s pretty cute).
Keep scrolling for my full written review below.
Even the most mechanically-challenged parents will be able to assemble the Cnoc 14 in no time. Thanks to dummy-proof stickers on the bike providing direction, and the inclusion of long-armed allen wrenches, this was the easiest bike I’ve ever assembled.
Dual hand-brake and coaster brake
In the U.S., the Islabikes Cnoc 14 is sold with both dual hand-brakes (front and rear) AND a coaster brake. To some parents, this may truly be the best of both worlds. Dual hand-brakes allow children to become comfortable braking, and a coaster provides increased peace of mind.
For me personally, I prefer kids bikes with NO coaster brake. A coaster is generally frustrating for kids as they learn to ride a pedal bike and it adds weight. For more on this topic, read this article I wrote on the pros and cons of coaster brakes.
Several other kids bike companies in the U.S. (Woom Bikes USA and Cleary Bikes are two) now offer a freehub wheel (sans coaster brake) as either an add-on or an optional feature. This is something that I would love to see Islabikes offer in the future.
All that said, P (who is already comfortable riding a bike without a coaster) has had no problem adjusting to the Cnoc, and actually LOVES it because he can use it to skid.
I usually loathe bikes with a chainguard, but surprisingly, I love the design of the cover on the Cnoc. It is a flexible rubbery plastic cover that is lightweight and looks sleek. If you still don’t like it, it is easily removable.
Islabikes offers a personalized decal for your child’s bike. Ours says “Little P,” and P of course loves that. This is just another reflection of the level of attention and detail put into making great kids bikes. It also means that an Islabike makes for a great gift from a doting grandparent or other family member.
Stellar customer service
Before you can order an Islabike from the Portland, OR home of IslabikesUSA, you have to first talk to someone there. This isn’t to make your life more difficult, but rather to ensure that you are buying the RIGHT bike for your child. They will ask for both your child’s inseam and height to help fit them to the correct model.
Even for someone like me, who is accustomed to measuring and sizing my child for bikes, I thought this was super helpful. No second guessing yourself (“Should I just order up a size?”). Given the importance of getting the right sized bike for your child, it is fantastic to get guidance from a knowledgeable person who actually knows what they are talking about.
The tires on the Islabike are some of the skinniest I’ve seen on high-quality kids bikes. For kids that are going to be primarily riding bike paths and road, this is ideal. They are fast-rolling–but still stable.
For the much smaller percentage of parents who are looking to buy a bike for riding off-road as well as pavement, the Islabikes Cnoc 14 is a legit option, but needs a fatter tire for any serious riding on dirt. Luckily this is an easy upgrade, and is one that we’ll probably be making in the near future so P can test the Cnoc out on singletrack as well.
For kids at this age, I so much prefer a bike that provides an upright and less-aggressive riding position. The Islabikes Cnoc 14 fits this bill. The wide and upright handlebars allow kids to easily maneuver the bike as well as keep their eyes straight ahead.
When comparing the geometry of kids bikes, the one thing you always want to look for is a long wheelbase (i.e. the distance from the front wheel to the back). The Cnoc 14 has one of the longest wheelbases I’ve seen, which makes the bike stable and easy to learn on.
While kids this age may also be able to fit on a 12” bike, I personally much prefer the 14” wheels. They make it significantly easier to ride up and over obstacles, and once at speed, provide a faster ride as well. There are some kids who are ready to pedal at a very young age (2), and in those cases go with the 12” bike. But for a 3 or 4 year old, choose the 14” wheels instead.
There is nothing worse for a child than a heavy bike. Consider that many kids bikes may weigh half as much as the child’s body weight (or more)! This is quick way for kids to get tired, hurt, and discouraged about biking.
Islabikes knows this, and their bikes are light enough for even the youngest riders to confidently maneuver. That said, the coaster brake does add some additional weight when compared to the freehub Woom 2, for example. At 13 lbs 14 oz, it is 2+ pounds heavier than the Woom, which would give me pause when choosing the Cnoc for a particularly small child.
Quality frame and components
What isn’t there to love about the construction of the Cnoc 14? Just about everything on the bike is aluminum (the frame, brake levers, wheels, handlebars, etc) which means it is both lightweight and durable. Both the headset and bottom bracket have sealed bearings to keep water and grime out and provide long-lasting performance. The brake levers are small and easy for little hands to operate.
I could go on, but the message is simple. Islabikes has created a high-quality bike that will run smoothly and be enjoyable to ride for a long time.
Cost and resale value
While it can be difficult to convince a parent that they should spend $300+ on a bike that their child will outgrow quickly, if there is any way you can swing it, I guarantee you it is worth the money. There is just no comparison between a bike that you get at a big box store and a well-designed child-specific bike like the Cnoc 14.
The Cnoc has child-specific geometry that makes it easy to learn to ride, and is light enough for kids to pedal long distances without getting frustrated or tired.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Cnoc is a bike that will last a long time and will last through multiple children. If you have several kids you can pass it down to, it is totally worth the investment. If not, consider the resale value. Islabikes go fast on sites like Craigslist and Ebay.
All the rabid mom fans can’t be wrong. The Islabikes Cnoc 14 is a high-quality, fast-rolling bike that holds it value well. I do wish that Islabikes would offer an optional freewheel (which would also help bring down the weight slightly), but that’s a personal preference. At the end of the day, the Cnoc 14 is a Top 5 pick in this size group and price range.
How to order
Call IslabikesUSA at 503-954-2410, or make an appointment to visit their showroom in Portland, OR.