Depending on which way you look at it, 2017 is either shaping up to be the year of the e-MTB, the year of the plus-minus tyre size, or the year of the high-end kids mountain bike. On that latter trend, we’ve witnessed a flurry of high-tech kids mountain bikes hitting the market in recent months, including the Rocky Mountain Reaper 20 & 24, the Commencal Supreme Junior, as well as child-specific mountain bikes and components from Propain.
Whenever we’ve posted up a story involving a high performance mountain bike targeted towards little rippers, there are plenty of comments from enthusiastic parents who are positively stoked on the idea. And really, what parent wouldn’t want a bike that is lightweight, comfortable and built for proper mountain biking that’ll encourage their kids to get outside and away from their smartphones and game consoles? It’s a great idea for sure, but those same stories are often mixed in with feedback from people who just couldn’t justify paying higher prices for premium products based on the plain and simple fact that kids have a habit of growing, and growing fast.
In response to this conundrum, Isla Bikes recently announced the Imagine Project. The idea is simple; offer parents high quality bikes for their children, but instead of having to buy those bikes, they can be leased. As your child outgrows their current bike, swap it out for a bigger size, and continue renting it like you would a car or a TV. Currently the Imagine Project is still in its infancy, but it looks like Isla Bikes is going to be joined by another UK company in the quest to deliver a high-end kids bike rental scheme.
Launching in December 2016, the Hope Academy is a program designed and managed by Hope Technology out of Barnoldswick. To put it simply, the Hope Academy will be a high end bike rental scheme that will allow parents to get their kids onto quality bikes, without having to buy them up front. Instead, they’ll simply lease the bikes off of Hope, and once their munchkin outgrows that particular bike, they can upsize to a different bike. And all without having to worry about things like purchase prices and resale value.
According to Hope, the idea was born from a question as to why most kids bikes on the market were so heavy. The company identified that one of the largest barriers to children taking up cycling (and more importantly enjoying it) was the quality of the bikes they were riding, and how well those bikes fitted. Of course it’s a hard problem to solve when you factor in that little people tend to grow very quickly.
The solution for Hope was to produce its own line of kids bikes, which are currently built around Early Rider and Pyga frames. Hope then lathers each bike with its own components, including disc brakes, hubs, stems and headsets. Hope is even making custom crank arms in shorter lengths, and smaller pedals for little feet. Because they produce everything in-house in the UK, they can basically make anything they need.
As for prices, the monthly rental amount will start at about £5 per month for a kick-bike, and go up to about £29 per month for a small 26in wheeled bike. As your child grows, Hope will have the next size available for them once they’re ready for it.
Alongside a range of bikes, Hope will also be organising online tutorials and several courses around the UK to improve children’s riding and maintenance skills. Hope is keen to foster a sense of ownership, so that little Suzie and little Johnny can take care of their own bikes, and grow to love cycling as much as Hope does.
To eek out some further information about the Hope Academy scheme, we contacted Hope’s Sales & Marketing Manager, Alan Weatherill, to ask some questions;
ST: Where did the original concept come from?
AW: We already have a small fleet of kids bikes fitted with full Hope build kits that our staff’s children use. As each child grows out of a bike, it gets passed onto another family in the company. This got Ian, one of our founders thinking; Why couldn’t all families benefit from this type of system? So with that idea in mind, we ordered a few hundred of each size of bike, from 12″ push along, right up to small 26″ bikes.
ST: Who’s suppling the frames?
AW: We’re using Early Rider and Pyga frames initially but the main criteria is a lightweight durable frame, so we’re always on the lookout for new alternatives. Our own custom made frame isn’t out of the question.
ST: And otherwise the bikes will be decked out with Hope components?
AW: Yes we’re fitting everything Hope where possible. We’re even making our own short cranks and smaller pedals.
ST: Will kids and their parents come to your factory to pickup and swap bikes around? Or is that something that will be done via post?
AW: We will have both options available.
Hope will be launching the Hope Academy program in December of this year, so we won’t have long to wait for the full details. From the early sounds of things though, there are going to be some pretty blinged-out kids bikes coming your way!
Now, does anyone want Hope to do this for adult bikes too?
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