Islabikes to Cease Production

by 91

Islabikes, the children’s bike brand that changed the face of bikes for kids, has taken delivery of its last batch of bikes and will cease selling at the end of the year.

Tim Goodall took over as Managing Director nearly three years ago as part of a management buyout that saw Isla Rowntree – the founder – stepping back from the company. Now, amid tough trading conditions in the bike industry, neither Tim nor Isla wants to continue with the business. While Islabikes remains solvent and there are no creditors, the decision has been reached to close the business, rather than seek new ownership or management.

Islabikes has always operated a direct to consumer business model, and will continue to sell existing stock until the end of the year. After that, spare parts will continue to be available, and guarantees will be honoured. If an Islabike is on your shopping list, it’s now or never (well, there’s always the flourishing second hand market!). Head to the website to check out the stock.

Islabikes was the first major company to look seriously at the proportions of children and design bikes around them. Until Islabikes changed the idea of what was possible, children’s bikes were invariably heavy, with brake levers out of reach of small hands, and gears designed for adult thumbs. Along the way, Islabikes sought to be an ethical and environmentally friendly company, with a diverse workforce, and recruitment practices held up as standards to aspire to.

This ethos also led to the Imagine project – one which, although ultimately unsuccessful, sought to create a ‘circular economy’ bike with a lifetime hire arrangement so that a fleet of long lasting bikes would be circulated through subscribers as they grew. Nothing thrown away, long life spans, and recyclable products at the end of life.

Islabikes also introduced the Icons range of bikes, aimed at older riders with restricted mobility, and expanded its main range to meet the needs of adults between 4’11 and 5’9. It also produced prototype bikes for people with restricted growth.

Safe to say, it wasn’t your typical big bike company – and the decision to close is a sad one but a typically unconventional one. We’ve always enjoyed our interactions with the Islabikes team (and no, we haven’t been swayed by Tim’s ‘Basse Kage Cake’ – recipe here!), and know that the inevitable redundancies that will come with the closure will weigh heavily on everyone. We wish all the staff at Islabikes, plus Tim and Isla, well in whatever comes next for all them. Their legacy is surely one that all our kids are glad of.

Here’s the official press release from Islabikes:

Islabikes is to cease production of bikes

Islabikes has revealed that it will cease sale and production of bikes, once remaining stocks are sold.

  • 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 still lots of models available to buy while remaining stocks last.

Founder 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.

Since starting her eponymous company in 2005, Isla Rowntree has improved the cycling lives of hundreds of thousands of children. Her innovative designs for smaller hands and bodies have revolutionised children’s bikes.

“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.

“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.”

“Tim and I would like to thank our many loyal customers, colleagues and suppliers who have contributed to the Islabikes story over the last 18 years.”

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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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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 91 total)
  • Islabikes to Cease Production
  • footflaps
    Full Member

    Such a shame, but I guess trading just looks too difficult.

    oceanskipper
    Full Member

    That is such a sad reality. Both my children learned to ride on Islabikes. In one case after struggling for weeks on an awful Giant child’s bike my eldest was riding unaided within minutes on our first Islabike. Second child had a balance bike initially and again within minutes was riding unaided on a his first pedal bike at a much earlier age than the first.

    the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    A real shame – they paved the way and proved parents didn’t just want Toys R Us bike shaped objects for their kids and had the market to themselves for a good while. Then bigger boys came along and stole the market…

    🙁

    jp-t853
    Full Member

    Thanks to Isla for changing kids first real bike experiences for the better

    ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    Sad news (we’ve had several Islas) but not unexpected as I think there had been signs in the wind.

    andyr
    Free Member

    Thank you Isla and co for making learning to ride so much easier for my kids than it was for me.

    hatter
    Full Member

    We went down the Early Rider route with our own kids but I have consistently recommended Islabikes to people over the years, they really changed the game and kid bikes all round are better for them having existed.

    I wish Isla all the best with her next endeavor.

    2tyred
    Full Member

    That’s such sad news, but – given recent news elsewhere in the industry – I guess it’s maybe better to realise the future’s less than bright than oversee the gradual decline of a really excellent company.

     

    My eldest was also born in 2005 and my kids have grown up riding Islabikes, so this is poignant for me. I think we’ve had pretty much every model in the range from the Rothan balance bike (bought for Tyred Jr the elder by his over-excited dad before he was able to walk) up to the 700c Luath(?) road/CX bike and all wheel sizes in between.

     

    Once my two had grown out of each one, I’ve given them out to friends for their kids, had them back, then given them out again. Got a few in the garage at the moment (anyone in Glasgow need one?) but most are out with various people, getting used. I think there’s too much nostalgia wrapped up with them for me to get round to selling any!

     

    As a company, Islabikes were always brilliant to deal with, and I must confess to being ever so slightly star-struck whenever I’ve seen Isla at CX races and been slightly too shy to tell her just how much my kids have got out of the company she built and the bikes it made. Both of them are fully independent bike riders, always out riding, always pushing themselves on. I couldn’t have asked for more.

     

    If I had to pick a favourite, it’d be the 16″ wheel one (Cnoc?) – that’s the bike little people are on when they go from just being able to ride to being able to ride really well. So much fun.

    Gunz
    Free Member

    I’ll never forget the look on other kids’ faces when we let them have a spin on our kids Islabikes. The look of amazement when they realised what a bike designed for them could be like. A real shame they’re going but they leave the legacy of a lot more kids on bikes than there would have been without them.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    Not just kids bike either. They’ve done lots to make the right bikes for people that the rest of the bike industry was ignoring.

    Harry_the_Spider
    Full Member

    Thank you Isla.

    Both my kids started on a Rothan.

    em

    Good luck to all of you with whatever the future holds.

    benpinnick
    Full Member

    Wow. Best of luck to all there.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Both my nieces had Islabikes at various times, the youngest one loves them because she is also called Isla!
    Sad to hear the news. 🙁

    danbird
    Free Member

    That’s a real shame.  Both my boys had islabikes until they were big enough to ride Birds, and my 4 year old daughter is currently on her second Islabike, she loves it!

    Islabikes truly made a huge and positive difference to kids cycling, thank you and good luck.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    Our latest (a Creig 20 in orange) arrived on Thursday.
    My 6.5y old daughter will receive it on Sunday.

    This will be our 7th Islabike for my two kids, 12 and 6.5.

    Both learned on a Rothan and moved up to a Cnoc 14/16.

    bainbrge
    Full Member

    Sounds like an odd decision to be honest – or maybe just an oddly worded press release.  You’d think the brand at least has value and someone might buy it.

    If the MD and former owner ‘no longer wish to continue’ then I hope they’ve exhausted all other avenues to keep their employees in a job!

    vinnyeh
    Full Member

    Firstly, kudos to them for winding up the business without leaving a trail of debtors behind.

    Just looked back through my emails- Christmas 2008 our kids got a Rothan (unbraked at the time) and a Cnoc 12 (one brake only, can’t remember which). There was a furore at the time- the younger, just shy of 2, took exception to not having pedals and wanted the Cnoc, which we’d bought with training wheels.

    A few weeks later he was tearing around like a nutter, feet only going down to speed up or to be used as brakes, while our daughter was struggling to make the transition from removing the training wheels. It wasn’t until I took the cranks and bb off that she got her balance right. 

    Still remember the huge number of questions and looks the Rothan got at the time, presume there’d been balance bikes previously, but the novelty and sheer mobility of the kid on it astounded parents, as did the price (think it was about 60 quid back then, which was a fair whack).

    Watty
    Full Member

    While Islabikes remains solvent and there are no creditors, the decision has been reached to close the business, rather than seek new ownership or management.

    Any idea why? And what are the ‘tough trading conditions in the bike industry’ – is this another brexit bonus?

    solarider
    Free Member

    A real shame, but an entirely honourable exit.
    Solarider jnr learned to ride on a number of Islabikes. As he has grown we have found that Vitus offered many of the same benefits and small person specification but at a significantly lower price.
    Ironically, at just the moment that the future of Vitus looks shaky, Islabikes throw in the towel.
    They were always expensive but held their value, but ultimately somebody else replicated their mode at a cheaper price.
    Sad days for the economy behind our beloved sport. There will be winners out of all of this but right now it just feels like who will lose the least.

    twistedpencil
    Full Member

    All three of my kids have grown up with Islabikes… this is so sad, what a fabulous business it has been, but good for them to go out on their own terms,  hope the staff are all okay..

    kelvin
    Full Member

    You’d think the brand at least has value and someone might buy it.

    Some people do what they do for reasons beyond maximising their wealth?

    Hats off to Isla and the team, you’ve made a real difference while having an income (and hopefully enjoying the journey).

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    Totally changed the kids bike market for the better. Shame to see them go.

    DT78
    Free Member

    changed the kids bike market but failed to adapt to competition, haven’t been unique for sometime to be able to sustain the RRP

    explains the recent heavy discounts on kids bikes.  anything mentioned about warranties on bikes?

    hope the staff involved manage to get themselves other jobs quickly.

    franksinatra
    Full Member

    Not just kids bike either. They’ve done lots to make the right bikes for people that the rest of the bike industry was ignoring.

    Is there any other manufacturer making bikes for people with dwarfism? This will be a real loss.

    Moe
    Full Member

    “anything mentioned about warranties on bikes?”

    …….. yes.

    a11y
    Full Member

    That’s a shame – Islabikes properly changed the world of kids bikes. Mine both had nothing but Islabikes from 16″ to 24″ wheels. Thanks for the memories and all the best to those involved.

    The speculation in the thread a few weeks ago turned out to be correct: https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/psa-islabikes-37-52-reductions/

    ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    @watty Brexit will inevitably be part of it, but it’s also that anyone who wanted a bike bought one in lockdown, and also the back orders put in round then have started to come through meaning there’s a bit of a glut. CRC/Wiggle falling down the tubes and two of four bike shops near me closing down also signs.

    bearGrease
    Full Member

    Wow, I’ve got so many happy memories of great rides with the kids a on variety of Islabikes. Great times and a real gateway to future adventures. Thanks to all at Islabikes.

    Rich_s
    Full Member

    Three mini-s’s here all started on their bikes and went Rothan > Cnoc14 > Cnoc16 > Beinn 20 in quick succession.

    Seemed like a wonderful company with great ideas. Sad to hear the news.

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    Sad to see, brilliant products, seeing my lad ragging a 14″ isla around Coed-y-Brenin is a fantastic memory.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    I loved the idea of the Isla bike but could never stomach the price or the need for gripshift. They then brought out an even more expensive range (which looked lovely but was seriously expensive) and intended to stop looking.
    Clearly just me and my thinking as plenty kids in the bike club ride them.
    I went down the Frog route as it didn’t have gripshift and the price wasn’t so high (although having a look now, the price is up there) – so clearly just me with absolutely no concept of the price of things these days.
    Despite that moaning, it is sad news.

    leffeboy
    Full Member

    full marks for seeing which way things were going and stopping at the right time rather than digging a huge hole they could never get out of.  I loved that they persuaded people to spend the right amount on a bike that worked and their children would love rather than a cheap thing that might get upgraded later but would be horrible.  Scott also made bikes that worked well for small people but Islabikes had the name that made parents open their wallets

    hot_fiat
    Full Member

    That’s so sad. All my kids have learned and progressed on various Islabikes. They are properly thought out little bikes.  The decision to close up must have been heartbreaking.  They truly transformed kid’s bikes and not just in the uk.  

    wbo
    Free Member

    I’d guess that if you can take down the business in an orderly way and keep the brand you can reenter the bike market in another niche and have some (well earned ) goodwill – so good luck to whatever they plan to do!

    FunkyDunc
    Free Member

    Are they a victim of their own pricing ?

    It didn’t take too long for the industry to start churning out similar bikes to Isla at a fraction of the cost, yes I know not the same quality but that doesn’t matter to most general public

    snownrock
    Full Member

    Are they a victim of their own pricing ?

    This for us anyway, the last 2 kids bikes we have bought new have been Vitus. Having previously had/still using/waiting to use again Frog and Islabike bikes. They are great but couldn’t justify 2.5x times the price of the Vitus (but then obviously that tells it own take about chiggle).

    To echo sentiments above, their impact on the industry will live on.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    yes I know not the same quality

    I dispute that.  Islabikes weren’t special quality, they were just the first people to make properly thought out kids bikes to ride.  As soon as everyone else caught on, their USP was gone and they were always going to struggle.

    clubby
    Full Member

    Looked at one recently but couldn’t justify new price for the time we’d have it. Even second hand prices were high. Went for a second/third hand Frog in the end. I also wonder if the direct model contributed. All very well for those in the know, but LBS support and being able to try size before you buy is valuable to a lot of non cycling parents. 

    augustuswindsock
    Full Member

    What a shame, bought a cnoc 16 for my (then) little lad, it got handed down to his sister, then loaned it out to a couple of friends kids, got it back and sold it for more than I paid for it – how many bikes can you do that with?!

    northernsoul
    Full Member

    This is sad, but in tough financial times not surprising. We had an Islabike (Beinn 20) that was second hand (from ebay). It was old when we bought it, but it served (and was abused by) both our kids for several years and is still going strong now it’s been sold on.

    the need for gripshift.

    My kids struggled with this so we switched to a regular shifter (and even then they always seemed to either use one gear all the time). But it’s great that you could switch components (grips/chains/shifters/cassettes) without any fuss because they were standard.

    Screenshot 2023-10-26 at 19.39.00

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