I guess my real bugbear with Islabikes is that they claim to have designed around childrens needs, things like low weight and smaller levers to suit small hands, but where they epically fail is that they fit SRAM gripshift gears to their small bikes and these are not suitable for children as the action is not light at all, this is a blatant case of the bean counters getting involved in design, the design for a childs bike should be for the lightest action possible and this is via a trigger shifter.
There's no ideal solution to this. There's a minimum hand size for triggers - if the nipper doesn't have a long enough thumb they're stuck. Short of designing a child-specific shifter (as Islabikes did for brake levers) it's a compromise one way or the other. Although it seems an odd bugbear given that the same shifters appear on the Hotrock...
As for bean counters, how big an outfit do you think Islabikes is?
I guess the hotrocks were 2010's, but my LBS offered me a current model for £190 when i was looking.
Fair enough. At that sort of price differential the Hotrock is definitely quite compelling. And it does look cool, in a "shrunk modern MTB" kind of way.
As for the fork well yes it does add weight but it is far from useless for a child who hasn't learned the art of popping up the front wheel when going up kerbs or over roots it is very useful, saving him and his bike from a tumble.
You're right, how did anyone ever learn to ride a bike before suspension forks came along?
Again, it's a compromise. Having seen how hard my eldest has to work on moderate (by adult standards) inclines, the last thing she needs is another couple of kg on the bike. Choice is good, though