After a turbulent time over the last few years, the UK-based children’s bike specialists at Islabikes have announced that the company will cease sale and production of bikes once remaining stocks are sold. Find more details here…

The bike industry is having a rough time right now, to put it mildly. It’s particularly saddening to hear that Islabikes have announced that it will cease sale and production of bikes once remaining stocks are sold. The business was founded in 2005 by Isla Rowntree, British National Cyclocross champ in 1999, 2002 and 2003, and a look at their website was always a great reminder of how inclusive cycling can be.

Islabikes worked hard to completely redefine the way children’s bikes are designed and built – substantially lightening framesets, decreasing Q-factors, and scaling down all-important components such as cranks, grips, and brake levers, boosting rider confidence considerably. Fit and geometry were also studied in exhaustive detail, creating truly groundbreaking kids’ bikes, at a time when nothing like them existed. And while all this attention to detail meant they were more expensive than other children’s bikes, their resale value was excellent. Later, Islabikes added a range of bikes designed specifically for older folks too, with step-through designs, easier shifting, and appropriately low gearing.

bikepacking family spain basque country isla beinn 20

Their Imagine Project was especially inspiring: “Ownership as we know it will become a thing of the past. Bicycles will be rented to the user, then when they are finished with they will be returned to the factory, refurbished and rented to another rider. This will prevent precious raw materials going into landfill. We will have to make bikes that last for much longer than they do now so that we can rent them for as long as possible. The bicycles will be designed so that when they finally reach the end of their lives all raw materials can be separated and reused. This is known as a “closed loop” or “circular” supply chain. Nothing will go into landfill, indeed, it’s anticipated that raw materials will become so precious that businesses and governments will begin mining our landfill sites later this century to recover what was thrown away in the last.”

My son Sage learned to ride on an Islabike and I found Isla’s instructional videos invaluable – I remember the moment he first took off, pedalling all by himself, as if it was yesterday! Over the years, we took our Islabikes on countless adventures in New Mexico and Europe.

bikepacking family spain basque country
  • bikepacking family spain basque country
  • Bikepacking Isle de Re France

I was also fortunate to ride with Isla at the Wayfarer Centenary Weekend in 2019. I wrote at the time, “Isla had taken this reenactment to the next level and was riding a singlespeed Raleigh from the 1930s, tearing up the Welsh countryside with a 48T chainring. The Raleigh was shod with Dunlop 26×1 ⅜” tyres and her garb included a ‘baker boy’ style cap, silk bow tie, breeches (WW2 women’s land army), 1940s tweed jacket, waistcoat, and brogues. Further meticulous attention to detail was provided by a cotton handkerchief, a tin of spare valve cores, and my favourite accessory, a most beautiful Philips pocket cycling map 1:200,000, printed on silk to be waterproof, with suggested cycling routes and junction distances.”

Rough Stuff Fellowship Wayfarer Centenary Ride
  • Rough Stuff Fellowship Wayfarer Centenary Ride
  • Rough Stuff Fellowship Wayfarer Centenary Ride

Isla Rowntree stepped back from the day-to-day running of Islabikes via an MBO in January 2021, handing majority ownership to current MD, Tim Goodall. Since then, it has been a turbulent and difficult time for the cycle industry as a whole and neither Tim nor Isla wish to continue.

Family bikepacking new forest

From the Islabikes press release: “Today, it’s easy to forget just how bad most children’s bikes were when I started Islabikes 18 years ago,” said Isla. “They were monstrously heavy, fitted with outsized components and had dreadful brakes that were out of reach. They were so poor I believed they had the potential to put many children off cycling for life and I founded Islabikes to change that – to give children a better experience of cycling with the many benefits that brings.”

  • Family bikepacking new forest
  • Family bikepacking new forest

It’s perhaps typical of Isla that she frames it so positively: “Islabikes’s early success gradually gained attention from other and bigger cycling brands and, as a result of them following our lead, today good quality, well thought out children’s bikes are available from multiple places, and for me, that is a wonderful thing.”

Islabikes to cease production

– There will be ongoing supply of spare parts, and existing guarantees will be honoured.
– The company remains solvent and has no outstanding creditors.
– There are many models available to buy while remaining stocks last.

Islabikes to cease production

Having just had a look at the their website, there are all kinds of great deals to be had if you’re in the UK – including the Creig series of mountain bikes. Now could be a good chance to pick up a dream bike for your child. Our Islabikes proved to be a joy for Sage to ride, they were both light and durable, and as mentioned above, held their value in the second hand market too.

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