Islabikes Beinn 29 Cycle Magazine Review
For anyone who just wants ‘a bike’, a non-specialised, all-purpose hybrid is a good choice. This new offering from Islabikes is a true jack-of-all-trades option. It’s like a Beinn kids’ bike writ large. Scaling up for adults means 700C wheels, called 29 not for marketing reasons but because the bike can be ordered with 29x2in mountain bike tyres. If you’ll mostly stay on tarmac, you can specify touring tyres. If you’re not sure, the default, lightly-treaded 38mm Kwik Trax tyres will do fine.
The frame shows how multipurpose the Beinn 29 is. Clearances are good and there are fittings for racks and mudguards front and rear (shared). There are disc mounts and a front gear cable guide for upgrades. It even has sliding dropouts for a hub gear or single speed conversion. The frame is aluminium, with a reinforcing gusset where the head tube meets the down tube to strengthen it here. The fork is rigid chrome-moly – a better and lighter option for any usage than a substandard suspension fork. A larger than normal offset (50mm) keeps the steering sharp and the front wheel further from your feet.
Gearing follows the keep-it-simple approach of the junior Islabikes: a single 32-tooth chainring drives an 8-speed cassette, gears shifted with an intuitive twist grip. The range is fine, wanting only an 11-34 cassette instead of an 11-32 to make hills easier. I never lost the chain on the Beinn 29 but would add an N-Gear Jump stop if I planned to ride it hard off-road.
The 32-spoke wheels are decent quality, although the test bike’s front was out of true when it arrived. That may have happened in transit; Beinn 29s are sold boxed, front wheel off. Ten minutes with a spoke key fixed it. The optional accessories (e.g. rack, guards, panniers) are all good, especially the Ortlieb front Roller City panniers. I'd remove the rack’s parcel spring to make these easier to attach.
The Beinn 29 is well-proportioned with bar width and crank length matched to the small, medium and large sizes and there’s a good range of bar height adjustment. Its relatively low weight (for a budget hybrid) makes it rewarding to ride. If you – or a relative – wants one bike for commuting, touring, leisure riding, and even mountain biking, the Beinn 29 is an excellent starting point.