Bike test: Islabikes Icons Jimi mountain bike

Dan Joyce's picture

Bike test: Islabikes Icons Jimi mountain bike

Cycle magazine editor Dan Joyce tests a lightweight mountain bike with a step-through frame bike that’s specifically designed for older riders

The Islabikes Icons range is aimed at over-65s who want to keep cycling, or take it up again, on a conventional bike rather than an e-bike. For those who do want electric assistance, Islabikes is launching an ‘eIcons’ collection later this year.

I tested the Janis road bike when it was launched. There’s also a hybrid, the Joni, and this mountain bike, the Jimi (named after Hendrix).

Like its stablemates, the Jimi is a lightweight step-through bike with low-ratio gears, easy-fit tyres, and twistgrip shifting. Many older cyclists won’t require these things, while some younger cyclists with mobility issues will.

So it’s less an old-person’s bike than it is a bike for anyone who has trouble with hills, throwing their leg over a top tube, or changing gears or tyres with limited hand strength.

While step-through hybrids are common, and road bikes with mixte frames are at least available, the number of lightweight, quality mountain bikes with step-through frames is basically nil.

And make no mistake: the Jimi is a mountain bike. Yes, the riding position is a little more upright to take the weight off your hands and the strain off your lower back.

Yes, there are limits to the speed you can carry over roots or rocks with a rigid carbon-fibre fork.

The Jimi has a 11-40t Sunrace 10-speed cassette, the same as its road equivalent, the Islabikes Icons road bike - Janis

Yet it’s not just a bike for trundling along towpaths. It’ll go wherever you’d expect to take a rigid 29er. That might be on non-technical tracks like the Scarborough-Whitby Cinder Track where I photographed it.

It might also be ‘proper’ off-road singletrack with steep slopes and off-camber rooty sections, where I also rode it. The Jimi is so light – just 10 kilos – that it’s enjoyably easy to manoeuvre, whether riding or on foot.

It will comfortably tackle blue-graded trail centre routes, and the gears go low enough to make seated hill climbing easy.

I picked easier off-road line choices when I could, mostly due to the lack of a dropper seatpost. A Brand-X dropper post is an option, however, and one I’d recommend, not only for more technical riding but for ease of mounting, dismounting, and just getting a foot when stopped; the bottom bracket is moderately high.

The steering feels quite light as the more sat-up riding position means there’s less weight on the handlebar. This improves hand comfort but, given the rigid fork, not as much as I’d like.

I think a back-swept handlebar with alternate hand positions, like the On-One Geoff I tested recently, would work well on this bike. Failing that, I’d fit flared Ergon grips.

A softer, wider front tyre would provide better bump absorption and a little more steering inertia. The fork would accommodate a 29x2.6in tyre although that would be too wide for the 19mm rim.

There are frame fittings for a rear rack and mudguards, and room to fit them even over these 2.25in tyres. The only bottle mounts are on the fork; there are none on the frame as they’d eat into the step-over height. I’d prefer a mount on the steerer, using something like the Additive Spacer One, as the bottle would be more accessible.

The Easy Tyre Change rims work as advertised; I found it trivially easy to replace a tyre. The Gripshift gearing is light action and intuitive to use, and despite their small rotors the hydraulic brakes have plenty of stopping power with just one finger on each lever.


A bridleways-and-blue-routes mountain bike that’s not just for baby boomers but for anyone who lacks the mobility to swing a leg over a top tube and the strength for hills or stubbornly stiff controls. It’s pretty much unique.

Tech spec for Islabikes Jimi

Price: £1,199

Sizes: S, M, L

Weight: 10.09kg/22.2lb (M, no pedals) 

Frame & fork: 7005 aluminium frame with 12mm thru-axle dropouts and fittings for an external dropper seatpost, rear rack, and mudguard. Islabikes all-carbon fork with tapered steerer, 12mm thru-axle dropouts, and fittings for a mudguard and two bottle or accessory cages.

Wheels: 57-622 Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evo tyres, Islabikes ‘Easy Tyre Change’ 622x19 aluminium rims, stainless steel spokes (32x2 front, 32x3 rear), Islabikes sealed bearing disc hubs (100x12mm front, 142x12mm rear).

Transmission: no pedals, 170mm Islabikes low Q-factor direct mount chainset, 26-tooth narrow-wide chainring, KMC X10 chain, Sunrace 10-speed 11-40t cassette. SRAM 10-speed Gripshift shifter, SRAM GX Type 2.1 derailleur. 10 ratios,     19-68in.

Braking: SRAM DB Level TL hydraulic disc with close-reach levers and 160mm/140mm front/rear rotors.

Steering & seating: Lock-on grips, 700x31.8mm aluminium riser bar, 80mmx17º aluminium stem, integrated sealed bearing headset. Islabikes saddle, 27.2x400mm inline seatpost.

Equipment: Optional extras include Brand-X Ascend II dropper seatpost (£139.99), DMR V6 pedals (£19), Mudhugger front guard (£24.99), Zéfal Cyclop mirror (£12.99).


Other Options

Cannondale Treadwell 2 Remixte £700

Although it’s an urban bike, the Treadwell 2 has wide enough tyres (650x47B) for gentle off-road use too.

Its 1x9 drivetrain uses an 11-42t cassette, and at 11.7kg it’s relatively lightweight.

Beaumont Bicycle bespoke frame £1399+

Cycle magazine contributor Liz Colebrook of Beaumont Bicycle specialises in step-through bike.

If you want a step-through mountain bike (or any other) frame made from Reynolds steel tubing, she’ll build it for you.

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