Below you’ll find a brief selection of a few of the best examples of triathlon kit designed purely for children…
Commitment Leggings, £19.99
Victory Long Sleeve, £16.99
Multiple tri and du world champ Catriona Morrison launched a new sportswear company for young people towards the end of 2016, with the first range aimed at girls aged 7-14yrs. Everactiv has been established with a commitment to support grassroots clubs through the donation of a percentage of its profits.
We got a sneak preview of the brand and sent it to the newest recruit to the 220 team, nine-year-old Ella Howes from Portishead.
“I love the leggings, they’re very cool!” was Ella’s verdict. “The leggings are a fantastic fit and they keep me warm in the cold weather. After a drizzle of rain and they dried very quickly.”
“The inside of the leggings felt soft against her skin,” adds Ella’s mum Beth. “When competing in sprint and long jump, Ella said the leggings were springy (I think she meant they stretched with her). She loved the design and loved the fact that they didn’t dig in around her waist, like all her others do.”
As for the run top, Ella said, “I absolutely love the thumb holes – it helped to keep my hands out of the cold wind. I really liked the zip pocket as it’s very grown up but I’m not sure what I’d use it for.”
“The main issue with the top was the neckline,” adds mum Beth. “It was much higher around her neck than she’s used to and irritated her initially. She loved the design and colour but overall it wasn’t warm enough for winter training and the long sleeves would put her off wearing on warmer days.”
“As a parent, the first thing I noticed was the that there was little in the way of reflective strips but I love the design and I’d definitely buy the leggings for her. The top was okay but I think it’d be more useful as an end-of-training top, to pop on after running.
“Ella has worn both underneath football kit, they both wash very well and don’t lose shape.”
The Islabike range starts with balance bikes and culminates in the Luath 700 (large for ages 13-plus), which 12-year-old Harold Witts (he’s tall) rode for several months.
Thanks to the proportional geometry, proportional dropped handlebars and the perfectly sized 165mm cranks, the Luath fitted Harold like a glove.
“Braking is simple,” he said, surprised at how easy it was to reach the levers. The brakes on his earlier bike were clearly designed by someone whose hands were the size of dustbin lids as a youth, hence it wound up gathering dust in the shed. The Luath 700’s shorter-reach brake levers, however, made stopping a much easier proposition and were further enhanced by the cyclocross-style auxiliary levers mounted on the bar tops.
Shimano provides the Luath 700’s 16 gears and STI levers let you shift between them without having to take your hands off the bars.
“It’s heavier than I thought,” was Harold’s next comment on the bike, which hit the scales at 10.42kg (including pedals). His previous bike, a Frog 62, was just over 9kg but sized for 8-10-year-olds, not a lanky 12-year-old.
While the Luath 700 isn’t the lightest bike to carry around, it’s certainly durable. The butted-alu frame instils strength, as does the fact the double-triangle design on smaller frames is practically bombproof. Islabikes’ own alu wheelset also adds a few pounds to the scales but its 32-spoke design again provides the durability you want for a junior bike. Another positive is that they’re quick-release rather than bolted-on like many junior bikes.
The Luath 700 is impressive and versatile. There are eyelets for mudguards and bottle cages, and a swift change to knobbly tyres will transform it into a solid cyclo-crosser. You might think £549.99 for a kids’ bike, which they’re likely to outgrow quickly, is pricey but Islabike machines hold their value well so if you look after it, you could make back a reasonable percentage back on resale. Or you could spruce it up and give it to your son/daughter’s younger sibling.
Established in 2010, Dolphin Kick have since established themselves as one of the few go-to UK brands for tri-specific children’s kit. The range has since expanded from pure race wear, so tall six (and a half) year old Enid Hutter tested a selection…
KIDS CYCLE SHORTS, from £28
Tested on a Santa Ride in December, 5 miles on a Frog bike.
Enid says: “The best bit is they feel nice against my legs because the fabric is so soft and comfy. I like the pad in the bottom because it’s nice and squidgy, better than my running tights for cycling”
Daddy Christian says: “These were Enid’s first pair of padded shorts. When worn over her running tights the pad was in a good position on her and she didn’t complain about being in the saddle for the whole duration of the ride. They looked great, and the padding was the best bit and made her feel like she was really well kitted out and got her feeling super pro!”
WINTER CYCLE JERSEY, £40
Testing on a M4 severn bridge ride in December, 3 miles
Enid says: “It was a very cold day. I liked the top because it was so warm and fleecy on the inside. I liked the jersey pockets on the back because I put biscuits and a banana in the back and they stayed in! I wish it had thumbholes in the cuffs like my other top, though, they help me grip the handlebars.”
Daddy Christian says: “She was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a thumbhole in the cuffs (like on her Polaris top), she likes this feature as it’s easy for her to pull the top under her gloves – but the length of the sleeves easily covered the interface of the gloves and kept her hands toasty across the windy bridge. She loves jersey back pockets, and these were quickly full of snacks and kept all the goodies in place – perhaps one of these pockets could be zipped to avoid tears when things fall out. I do like the longer back and the overlocking is super soft and not scratchy, which is great for her irritable eczema. It’d be great if there was a longer zip pull on the tops, easier to grip when moving or wearing gloves.”
PERFORMANCE TRI-SUIT, FROM £50.00
Enid says: “It was comfortable when I was swimming because the feel of material was nice, and it felt like I was wearing something different to normal and I felt free. It was really easy to put on quickly.”
Daddy says: “This looked great and she swam well and never remarked that the clothing held her back. The fleece pad took some ringing out afterwards as it captured a lot of water and was heavy when wet. Maybe the better foam padding of the cycling shorts could work well here and make the cycling more comfortable? Very good quality and again these were great against her skin and didn’t make her itchy. The orange and black styling is very androgynous again, which we all liked as a family.”
Overall, we all loved the Dolphin Kick clothing and can’t wait for summer and for her to use them in the sunshine. It’s very cool to have seriously well-made kit for kids – impressive.