Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Islabikes Beinn 29er – worth looking twice?

Posted by Matt | November 24, 2011 | 11 comments so far

Islabikes Beinn sliding dropouts

When new ideas come along you can do one of two things – embrace them wholeheartedly and get ahead of the curve or, wait until they’re not new anymore. Hopefully by that point you’ll know if the idea was any good or not.

So it has been with 29er mountain bikes (or MTBs with 29 inch wheels if you’ve been living in a protest camp these past years). They’re not new, but after two or three years of people taking positions regarding them they seem now to be a sensible consideration when buying yourself a mountain bike.

I’ve been in the latter group of consumers who wanted to see a more compelling case for them than the initial hype. I’ve ridden one or two occasionally, been spat off one quite hard and generally couldn’t see a big enough reason to change from my – frankly beloved – Inbred hardtail and Orange Five. I still don’t have a good reason but pinging away on the ‘nice-to-have radar’ has been the idea that at some point it would be nice-to-have a 29er in the stable. Alongside my other two mountain bikes.

The main issue has been cost. Upgrading to a 29er is expensive as you need to buy new wheels alongside a new frame at a minimum, and quite possibly a new fork too. I just haven’t been that bothered. What would be nice would be if I could buy a decent entry-level 29er and upgrade it over time.

This is where the Islabikes Beinn comes in. I read this review on Bikeradar today and can’t help thinking this would be a perfect place to start my 29er experience. First off, it is billed as a hybrid which is why when I casually checked the Islabikes website a while back I hadn’t really thought too much about it. It’s clearly oriented toward the path-riding side of things rather than ‘proper’ off-roading, at least at first sight.

Islabikes Beinn 29er

As pointed out by Bikeradar though, there are some very significant positives on it’s side. First, it can be specced with 2.0 Mountain King tyres which means even though they are not my taste of rubber, the frame can clearly handle reasonable tyre sizes. Second, and very importantly for me, is the fact the frame has adjustable dropouts, which means it can be singlespeeded. Now we’re talking!

You see, if I get a 29er I’d like it to be a real contrast to what I have. I’ve been wondering for some time how the Inbred would feel geared as 2×10 but have been loathe to stop singlespeeding, even though the lack of sliding dropouts on the Inbred has been a source of frustration to me. Having a 29er singlespeed might be a decent cross-country alternative which can always grow gears at a later date if I prefer. You’ll notice the bike is pearly white and my pink anodising off the Inbred would transfer across nicely too.

The best part though is the price. £399 (and yes you read that correctly). It would of course need a few component tweaks to get it right for me – stem, handlebars and saddle for example – but this is a really cheap way to get into 29ers. The only real issue is the lack of disc compatible hubs, which would require a new wheelset at some point, or at least you’d need to get handy and re-build the existing wheelset with disc hubs. An 80mm Rock Shox Reba 29er fork would probably be on the keener riders shopping list too.

But all in all, I’m very tempted. You either wait until the flood of new 29ers in the shops this year starts to get heavily discounted to make way for the 2012 bikes, or go for something like this which is basic but serviceable and work from there. The discounted bikes might come with a far better spec but they won’t necessarily be available with the slidey dropouts and will still be a big financial hit in one go, unless you can balance it with good timing and the Cycle2work scheme.

So am I going to buy one? Well, I’d love to try one and am sorely tempted by the idea of some cheap and cheerful riding.

Did you know for an extra £10 Islabikes will also provide you with matching custom stickers with your name on it??

Filed under Mutterings, Trends in November 2011


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 11 comments on ‘Islabikes Beinn 29er – worth looking twice?’

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  1. Colin says:

    I agree Matt. We’re gonna get one for the better half. As a chuffed owner of 18, 20 and 26 inch varieties for the kids, I’m a massive fan of Islabikes and it does seem great value

  2. Clink says:

    You read my mind. Perhaps with a carbon fork…nice light ss 🙂

  3. john says:

    so did you buy this bike and if so what do you think ?

  4. Sam says:

    I’m curious too – how did it turn out with this bike? Or was this just an ad?

    • Tony says:

      Hi. We don’t do “ads”. We aren’t paid by any companies.

      This is a blog – comment only on 29ers in general.

      Matt didn’t buy a IslaBike 29er but got a second hand On-one 29er hardtail and seems somewhat mixed in his feelings about 29ers, unlike some of our very pro-29er riders.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for this Tony, you’re spot on. We’re not paid by anyone to write reviews or make posts on their behalf although occasionally we’re lucky enough to get the odd bit of kit in for us to give our thoughts on.

      MuckyNutz mudguards, Crud mudguards and the Four4th lights sets spring to mind but as we say to each of them, while we appreciate the kit our reviews remain independent, no-one writes them for us. If we find any problems during our testing we discuss them with the manufacturer first so we can give a balanced view.

      It must be said we do charge a fee for the ‘sponsors’ ads on the side panel and we’re very grateful for their support. We prefer local businesses as the support can work both ways, and only have limited space for their ads but it seems to work well for them. Despite that, if we happen cover their products our thoughts remain objective.

      In the case of this Isla bikes story, there was no input from them at all (although I’d be interested if they want me to try one!).

      I just happened to see a review of it on Bikeradar and thought it’s a very cheap way of getting into the 29er thing.

      In the end I bought Dave’s rigid 29er slot dropout Inbred but I still think this looks worth checking out if you want a basic 29er on a budget.

  5. Si says:

    looks like the current Beinn29 has had a few upgrades
    1×10 gears and disc ready hubs- I was looking at one as the basis of a cheap tourer

  6. Colin says:

    Hi. Yes, we did buy the Beinn 29 and it is a fantastic bike – my wife loves it as do the people who try it, me included. Very nicely balanced and perfectly set up.

    Disc ready hubs and 10sp SRAM x5 is a great move and even tho its now £50 more, I think for the quality of the design, its still top value.

    Its not just a ‘bike for the missus’ as someone referred to it. Its a sorted bike in its own right and one i’m more than happy to jump on when allowed.

  7. john says:

    hello everyone, i bought my beinn last year on the strength of the wmb test when 29er wheelsets seemed to start at this price! i quickly converted her to a ss with a 16t cog as fitted to my old inbred. the bigger wheels meant i could”nt power it round a muddy sherwood pines so a 17t went on which is spot on for me. i too was not a fan of of the conti 26ers but they seem to work about 100% better in this size.. an onone stem and mary bars completed the mods and what a fast, fun bike this is now – it just fits so well and feels so right. i even get some air with her which i would worry about much more with a carbon, rather than steel, fork.. i was budgeting for a disc upgrade before i ordered her but soon thought sod it, the v”s are simple, light and work fine. i own 2 more mtbs, a 29er hardtail and a 26er full susser and love all 3 but isla seems to be the bike of choice lately, great bang for your buck, i love the damn thing, even the saddle is comfy!

  8. Alex says:

    Islabikes are awesome. I have the 26in one, I never knew they did an adults one! I use it every day to go to school and sometimes use it in the new forest. Its really fast which is great because I’m always late for school. Also it is super lightweight. Someone once shouted at me ‘nice bike’ from the pavement. It’s really cool.

  9. stephen james says:

    I am a freelance cycle mechanic for a major Cardiff cycle organisation and have worked in the majority of local schools where I had my first experience with Islabikes and found that they never require any repair’s let alone adjustments. We purchased half a dozen of these bikes (20” wheel & 24 ”) for use on portable North Shore decking for use at schools and events where I have witnessed crashes and stunts gone wrong, and not even had a buckled wheel never mind a frame misalignment. I have just been appointed an adviser for a local authority where they require 8 pool bikes for trail and occasional road use and didn’t hesitate in ordering eight Beinn 29 bikes. The reviews also speak for themselves. As an engineer I appreciate the quality and style so seldom seen today.

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