Islabikes founder Isla Rowntree steps back after 15 years

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After starting Islabikes 15 years ago and redefining the standard for children’s bikes, Isla Rowntree is stepping back from the running of the company.

The direction of Islabikes has always been very influenced by Isla’s own personal circumstances and experiences. First in making children’s bikes having seen her friends’ and family’s children need better bikes. Then the Icons range came about as she saw her parents needing bikes to suit them as they grew older. Plus the Imagine project came out of her sense of wanting to build a sustainable company that made active travel for all a possibility. It will be interesting to see where the new managing director will lead the company – though as you’ll see from the press release, Tim Goodall is the longest standing employee so we won’t expect a huge revolutionary change to proceedings.

Press release:

Isla Rowntree has stepped back from her role at the head of Islabikes, the Ludlow based company she launched in 2006 with the aim of providing a better cycling experience for children.

Having revolutionised children’s bicycle design and set the standard for others to follow, there are now infinitely more children riding quality bikes than Islabikes could ever have catered for. Yet fifteen years ago, Isla was considered crazy because few believed anyone would pay £100 for a 4-year-olds bike.

Much has changed since then, although there are still swathes of the population who face barriers to getting on a bike. Islabikes prides itself on transforming cycling for those not catered for by others; for those considered outliers yet combined make up the majority.

During a time when outlandish company valuations have become the norm and fast growth is relentlessly pursued, Isla has remained focused on building a company to last a century.

To that end, Isla’s first employee Tim Goodall has taken over as managing director and will shortly become the majority owner of Islabikes, with Isla retaining the remaining shares.

Isla and Tim first met when as an awkward teen he showed up at the local cycling club to race. Many dark and muddy training sessions later, he joined Islabikes as a bike builder and quickly became a student of bikes and business. Tim has since been instrumental in setting the vision, strategy, and values of the business.

Isla Rowntree says: ”It has long been my ambition to build a lasting company, so passing on the baton to someone who shares my values has been of the utmost importance. I firmly believe in businesses being a force for good; a vehicle for individuals to have a greater positive impact on society than we usually can alone”.

Tim Goodall says: “The humble bicycle is a phenomenally efficient vehicle that can benefit our towns and cities. We are at the consumer end of this, and with thoughtful design we can play a small part in encouraging people to cycle more – that is why Islabikes was founded, and it is why we will remain relentlessly focused on designing bikes that remove barriers to cycling”.

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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