Reviewed by: Amelia
Price (MSRP): $199 – $219
Best Use: Day Hiking
Where to Buy: Islabikes Website
Testing Location: Montana and Wyoming
Testing Environment: All conditions
Balance bikes are THE best investment you can make for an active toddler. The Rothan from Islabikes is a top pick from us for various reasons:
-Very lightweight (7.7 pounds)
-Pneumatic tires which means great traction on changing road conditions
-Small grip handle bars AND hand brake allow even petite hands to confidently brake.
-Comfortable scooped saddle
When the Rothan first arrived, L (age almost 2.5) was a tiny bit small for it. She also is very small for her age, so I wasn’t too surprised. She was able to straddle it fine (12″ inseam recommend for this bike), but felt like she was really having to reach forward towards the handlebars. The geometry, while great for kids that fit it, was throwing her off.
To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed initially, and I thought she would go back to the bike she was comfortable on and not give this one an adequate chance. After riding another balance bike very well for months, she seemed to be starting over with the Rothan. We loaned it out to a couple other families to try and report back to us, and that gave her a few more weeks to grow.
When we got the bike back, we noticed a pretty significant change in comfort. She fit the bike better (proper fit is so, so important) and really took off.
She is also our first kid (third time’s the charm!) to be truly interested in using the hand brake on a balance bike. She can and does, and we think it’s great practice for pedals (when she gets a tiny bit bigger!)
The integral steering limiter is also a big plus of the Rothan. It basically doesn’t allow the handlebars to spin entirely around, which can be dangerous for little riders. I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I watched other newbies on balance bikes without a limiter. They tend to have less control and more falling accidents. I would not recommend a balance bike without a limiter. The photo below shows the max turn of the handlebars.
Islabikes does a great job of helping riders be sure the fit is going to be right. Check their size guide here. They know (as we do also) that a great fit can be a difference between a confident rider and a reluctant rider. It’s only fair to toddlers to give them as much of an advantage when they first start as you can.
The Islabikes Rothan works for kids up to about a 3t pant size. Much more than that and they completely overpower the bike. However, when kids start young on a balance bike, they are more than ready for pedals (often) by that size.
There are just two areas I would really like to see different with the Rothan/Islabikes:
1.I am a big fan of quick release seats, especially for quickly-growing toddlers. I never notice that a kiddo has grown (overnight) until we are out on a bike ride and I don’t have a tool.
2. According to their site, there is a $40 shipping charge for the Rothan. That’s sort of huge. But, they’re based in Portland, so if you’re nearby be sure to check out their Fitting Studio (by appointment only).
The Bottom Line:
Bottom Line: The Islabikes Rothan is a fabulous bike and worth the money to help little riders be confident and successful. A great bike really DOES make a difference and the Rothan does not disappoint.
I recommend this bike for kids sized 2t-3t (which really could easily be a span of 2 years).
Islabikes generously provided us this gear in order to facilitate this review. However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own.
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