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.”

https://singletrackworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/issue-145-bike-test-mountain-bikes-for-kids/

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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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Home Forums Islabikes to Cease Production

Viewing 40 posts - 41 through 80 (of 91 total)
  • Islabikes to Cease Production
  • didnthurt
    Full Member

    My 10 year old is competing in cx on an islabike, it’s a great bike. I’ve upgraded the wheels and forks but the rest is stock.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    IMG_20230917_092735875

    toby1
    Full Member

    Never had kids but recommended islabiked to others who did, anyone who didn’t listen inevitably has a child that doesn’t really ride.

    It’s a massive shame as they were a company with a purpose.

    As for not selling the brand, would you sell your integrity to Mike Ashley, he’d only sack a the staff anyway! So they probably made the right decision.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    Why would you need to sell to Ashley? There are other companies out there who might have been interested.

    Watty
    Full Member

    As for not selling the brand, would you sell your integrity to Mike Ashley, he’d only sack a the staff anyway! So they probably made the right decision.

    So the right decision is to sack ALL the staff?

    Superficial
    Free Member

    I’m genuinely sad to hear that. My son learnt to ride on a Cnoc (via a Rothan balance bike).

    1
    jameso
    Full Member

    :/

    In a perfect world the ideas from people like Isla Rowntree would lead the way. In some ways they did here. So much respect for her ideas on products and businesses.

    If you haven’t heard Jack Thurson’s Bicycle Show podcast with her it’s worth looking up. The image project and how a bike could carry a logbook of ownership experiences from child to child is just a beautiful thought process.

    TheDTs
    Free Member

    There are lots of businesses out there in worse shape. I can understand that maybe business has a pretty tricky and demanding for a few years, haven’t we all. Maybe the fatigue has set in, I get that. Seems a shame to wind it up not sell it. You do need a buyer to be able to sell it though. It must be like selling a child, selling to the wrong entity/person could be devastating when you nurtured and built it from nothing. Most business purchases use the business income to pay the seller. Maybe the owners didn’t want that and saw it as a risk. (Unscrupulous new owner uses new business to top up pensions, huge salary, bonuses, dividends, build debt. And crash the business. Having not paid the previous owner)

    beamers
    Full Member

    Really sad to hear this.

    Both of our kids went through the whole range, starting with the Rothan and being 3 years apart eldest handed down to junior before selling them on.

    Youngest now on the Creig 26.

    Islabikes have brought us so many happy family memories along the way.

    Best of luck to Isla and the team for the future, whatever it might bring.

    beamers
    Full Member

    Really sad to hear this.

    Both of our kids went through the whole range, starting with the Rothan and being 3 years apart eldest handed down to junior before selling them on.

    Youngest now on the Creig 26.

    Islabikes have brought us so many happy family memories along the way.

    Best of luck to Isla and the team for the future, whatever it might bring.

    philenoki
    Full Member

    It’s sad to see them go as they were the other end of the spectrum to Wiggle.  I always struggled to find a decent equivalent to Islabikes therefore have bought many different sizes for my kids.  It’s nice to be able to pass them on to other nephews and nieces knowing that they’re great quality.

    I suppose in hindsight, were they trying to solve a problem that didn’t exist?  Keen cyclists bought them for their kids because they knew what they were buying.  But in tough times, the majority went for high street brands which served the purpose and had the magazine/current image.  Most of us probably grew up on heavy rubbish bikes but still fell in love with the sport.

    From me, thanks to Isla for provide such excellent bikes for so many kids.  Best of luck in the future.

    1
    zomg
    Full Member

    This makes me sad. My kids also learned to ride on Islabikes and still ride a couple. I think they blazed a trail in the UK and redefined what kids’ bikes should be.

    It must be hard competing in a market saturated by the loss-making private equity juggernauts.

    zerocool
    Free Member

    The Twins have had a Rothan and CnOC 14s in the past and they were great. I think there are probably better bikes out there now from an MTB viewpoint, but I don’t think they’d be there if it hadn’t been for Islabikes blazing the trail in the first place. 

    I guess it’s better to go out on your own terms than wait for the administrators to come in. 

    Good luck to them in the future. My daughter got her first air on her Rothan at our local pumptrack in Bristol, and somehow rode it out!  

    molgrips
    Free Member

     I always struggled to find a decent equivalent to Islabikes 

    There were plenty out there as of about a decade ago.  We actually went to their shop and tried bikes but the cost was way too high for what they were.  We ended up with Pinnacle which were cheaper and just as well designed.  Somewhat lower spec but that was entirely appropriate for kids bikes; however better tyres.

    The thing is with small companies is that they don’t necessarily need to keep going forever. They server as income for the people who run them, who can get other jobs or simply sell assets and retire.

    2
    igm
    Full Member

    If you read the Isla quote, there’s an element of “my job here is done”.

    She set out to make high quality children’s bikes when there weren’t any.  She changed the industry – ok not all children’s bikes are good now (nor are all adults) but many are. She took parents away from the “spec” – suspension, 3xsomething gears – and boiled it down to what works for a small child.

    Others copied her, the sincerest form of flattery, and it was time to bow out before the debts hit.  Good call.

    And thank you for the Rothan, Cnocs, Luaths and Beinns that have graced this house. Less so the fact that as they get older, they both want and  can  ride at a level that justifies lots of nice bikes.

    Isla, I salute you, and congratulate you on a job well done. My wallet may never recover. (But I’m still grinning)

    1
    dirtyrider
    Free Member

    just going to throw this out there, and I’ve had Isla bikes, and frogs, and early riders of various sizes for my lot, (mainly because the resell was so high, I could pass them down through 2/3 kids then sell at pennies on the pound loss) they also ride their cousins scaffold pipe bikes when with them, I have NEVER EVER heard a kid of any age, certainly not an under 10 moan about the weight of a bike, these wheels are shit, this bikes better because it’s got belt drive, these brakes are piss poor, it simply doesn’t happen

    it’s been 18 years, and much like Rapha, they got somewhat lucky with the timing, few build years, then massive growth through the boom years  from 2010 onwards, and what they did well is then tap into the psyche of forums like this, with mums & dads riding around on their 6/7/8k bikes, assuming that Tabatha and Montague will only be happy riding around on a bike that is a couple of kilos lighter, no kid was asking for ti-axled flat pedals (which they did at one point) and fair play, they built a brand on that, and are leaving the market having everyone catch up, with what looks like a very healthy balance sheet, hopefully there is no intertwined reason for winding up and it’s a it’s covid boom period, and now exiting because the industry is saturated with similar cheaper bikes, and sales are dead on their arse

    Chapeau Isla,

    scruffythefirst
    Free Member

    Genuinely sad to hear this. All 4 of my girls could pedal before they were 3 and that was only possible because of the cnoc 14 small.  Took me ages to find a used one, and I had to drive 2 hours to get it for her Christmas present.  My youngest twin is tiny and only just fitted on tip toes but she was determined to ride like her sisters.  Once she could pedal it opened up so many bike adventures for us. Still running a couple in the fleet, but we’re moving onto other bikes (cub-scout), and I don’t think bikes like that would have existed without islabikes.

    ampthill
    Full Member

    My son still resent me not getting him an Isla Bike. He thinks they define parental love

    I saw this earlier today from rigs of the HT 550

    Orange single speed bike packing bike

    ISLA ROWNTREE
    AGE 54 / LUDLOW, SHROPSHIRE (UNITED KINGDOM)

    BIKE: Reynolds 853 skinny tube custom frame, built by me for the event, fitted with Islabikes carbon fork. 140mm Islabikes cranks, very narrow Q factor reduced further with short axles fitted to Crank Bros Candy pedals, Hope BB, 28 x 22T gear ratio, Hope Race Evo brakes with KCNC rotors, SON dynamo hub powering Wahoo Roam and Exposure light, Chris King rear hub and headset, Stans Crest carbon rims, Kenda Saber Pro tyres, PNW dropper ‘post, Ergon grips and BBB bar ends.
    BAGS: Bedrock panniers and Alpkit Gravel front bag supported by stainless steel front and rear racks, made by me. Terra Nova Laser Pulse tent (flysheet only) strapped to the top of the rear rack. Under down tube Zefal tube for tools and spares.
    GEAR HIGHLIGHTS: Modified Mudhugger mudguards front and rear, mounted to the racks–I won’t leave home without them!

    benpinnick
    Full Member

    Thinking out loud… They had some 4milion of assets end of last FY. Say 500k is their factory, that’s alot of bikes in stock. They’re selling those all at 1/2 price. They may have a years+ worth of stock in today’s sluggish market if they’re like other companies. If that’s the case, who else might they take with them if they crash the market for high end kids bikes?

    1
    tonyd
    Full Member

    Thank you Isla and team for changing the market for kids bikes. As most on this thread both of my boys grew up on Islabikes, there was nothing better at the time. We also had a trailerbike which was awesome.

    Really sorry to see the brand go but they’ve done what they set out to do and I can’t imagine they could compete with the big brands on price even if they wanted to. Graceful exit shows character and intent, so well done there also.

    hooli
    Free Member

    Thinking out loud… They had some 4milion of assets end of last FY. Say 500k is their factory, that’s alot of bikes in stock. They’re selling those all at 1/2 price. They may have a years+ worth of stock in today’s sluggish market if they’re like other companies. If that’s the case, who else might they take with them if they crash the market for high end kids bikes?

    That’s a very good point, didn’t Frog and a few other brands pop up to fill the “decent kids bike but not as expensive as an Isla” market? if Isla are 50% off, that makes those brands 30 to 40% too expensive.

    ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    no kid was asking for ti-axled flat pedals

    The Pro series were things of beauty but there was no way I was going to be allowed to spend £1k on a kids’ bike even if I’d wanted to.


    @hooli
    Also there’s the issue that the competition is a s/h Isla – kids bikes don’t get as worn out as adults’ bikes (though they do get bashed/scraped) and there are 18 years worth in circulation.

    DT78
    Free Member

    It is a good point – we went the frog route as it was a good deal cheaper than isla, and for the last kids bike I picked up a heavily discounted vitus 24 about a year ago.  Vitus is brilliant for £300 and he loves it, I can’t see me needing the warranty but that is a possible concern now (no crystal ball for me last year)

    Looks like the kids market is going to get a bit more rocky

    I’m looking at some of the larger islas like the crieg 26 and wondering if I should take a punt and put it in the loft for when my eldest is big enough (he’s 8.5).  Though even discounted they are still £600

    Mugboo
    Full Member

    It would be interesting to see how many of us bought them brand new, we certainly didn’t. 

    Bought second hand and got our money back later.

    2
    desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    anyone who didn’t listen inevitably has a child that doesn’t really ride.

    Erm, just to say, that is nonsense.

    dmorts
    Full Member

    This is sad news. Both kids have/have had Islabikes.

    I’m going to say it……while Frog bikes are great and quality bikes, I don’t think they are in the same league as Islabikes.

    E.g. 16 inchers
    Islabike Cnoc 16 5.3Kg £399 RRP (now selling for £349)
    Frog 44 6.4Kg £390 RRP.

    1.1 Kg difference is huge on a small bike for a small person.

    branes
    Full Member

    They’re selling those all at 1/2 price. They may have a years+ worth of stock in today’s sluggish market if they’re like other companies.

    True – but it seems to be the ‘non-core’ stuff that’s 1/2 price, the balance/cnoc/beinn prices still look solid, 10-20% discounted, but nothing wild.

    They always seem to have kept the faith on their core range – it’s the attempts to diversify that don’t seem to have been so successful – adult, electric, ultra-high end kids.

    I wonder how much of the core market is saturated with their core bikes? As others have said, they don’t really wear out, and people tend to value them second hand so they don’t get skipped.

    bearGrease
    Full Member

    This is a great listen that gives some background to Islabikes’ ethos – https://pca.st/Q2Ra

    …and, again, it’s really sad news. We loved loading the car up with the kid’s Islabikes in the boot and heading North for an adventure.

    jeffl
    Full Member

    Just another vote for Islabikes getting kids into cycling. We got my youngest whatever the 14″ wheeled Isla bike was many moons ago. Had the back peddle brake.

    He’s now nearly 20 and rides an Airdrop doing stupid stuff in Wharns that I’d hurt myself on. Definitely got him into riding.

    Sold it after going through another two kids and I think I broke even on it, if you ignore inflation.

    convert
    Full Member

    What a time for the like button to stop working – so many ‘likeable’ comments here.

    In the same time frame that the news of CRC/Wiggle coming tumbling down, with all the the talk of private equity and asset stripping, Isla Rowntree stood (stands) for some much that is good in the cycle industry. Such a modest, grounded lady. And as stated above – the concept of quality bikes, that retain their value to be sold on and loved again many times over is exactly how it should be. The adult bikes aimed at an adventurous but not wannabe gnar market looked a positive contribution too.

    DT78
    Free Member

    re. frogs, only a few years back the comparable bikes were significantly cheaper than isla.  I think our 48 cost us less than £200 new with a bit of discount from merlin.  Frog have massively whacked their prices up since covid like most bike companies, maybe as they became so popular they have taken advantage.

    My boys absolutely rip on them so I don’t think 1kg really makes much difference.  Eldest has done swinley red on his old 52 at 7.  youngest was riding a frog 40 at 3 1/2.  The first few we bought and sold cost us very little.  I’m not expecting to get much for the current vitus 24 after its tenure, its a great bike too though.

    That said if the mtbs had been 50% off when I was in the market I would have bought an islabike

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    molgrips

    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.

    Frog bikes were pretty much an out and out copy, but undercutting the price. And yeah , other brands caught on pretty quick.

    1
    andyspaceman
    Full Member

    That’s a sad but understandable piece of news. The team have changed the cycling world for the better, and can step away with their heads held high.

    It’s going to be hard for everyone that has to find a new job, from experience I know that’s a daunting position to be in. But better to have that news with some notice and in the context of a solvent company closure than as part of an administration or winding-up order as is becoming all too common.

    PJay
    Free Member

    There’s a piece on the BBC Business News website – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-67237686

    dmorts
    Full Member

    re. frogs, only a few years back the comparable bikes were significantly cheaper than isla.

    Yeah, the prices of Frogs have crept up to be on par with Islabike (possibly unjustifiably) hence I think people assume they are the same. But there are differences in the detail, e.g. the weight. Comparing RRP, Islabikes are a better buy…. but you can find Frogs discounted at retailers, where as Islabikes were always direct buy, and never on sale (until recently). So a discounted Frog might have been a better buy than an Islabike. That all changes now with £349 for a new Cnoc 16 currently.

    1kg makes a difference to my 3 year old daughter, my son much less so at that age. He used both a Frog and Islabike balance bike. The Frog was noticeably heavier.

    Speeder
    Full Member

    ratherbeintobago


    @hooli
     Also there’s the issue that the competition is a s/h Isla – kids bikes don’t get as worn out as adults’ bikes (though they do get bashed/scraped) and there are 18 years worth in circulation.

    I was going to make this point – there’s a lot of bikes out there and in many ways a diminishing quantity of riders for them.  they don’t really get worn out, a bit scratched maybe so it’s only the top of the market that they’re selling to.

    I’ve never bought a new kids bike they’ve had various brands and many have been Islas and the old adage that you can buy Islas for X, pass them through several children and then sell them on for X, rings true. Other brands not so much.

    Thanks for everything Isla Rowntree, you’ve done a good thing and this is a very honourable exit.

    2
    rootes1
    Full Member

    Based on kids coaching experience, Frogs never comparable due to poor geo – often too long from saddle to bars and high bottom bracket (hard to get good pedalling vs foot on ground) – their 24″ wheel bikes being the worst.

    2
    brant
    Free Member
    molgrips
    Free Member

    But there are differences in the detail, e.g. the weight

    IB seemed to keep the weight down by fitting really skinny tyres, when I was looking.  When your kid complains about bumps, and weighs as much as a small adult, then thin semi slicks aren’t great for MTBing.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    anyone who didn’t listen inevitably has a child that doesn’t really ride.

    Erm, just to say, that is nonsense.

    Yup, my daughter has had a Rohan, a Dawes Academy and an Orbea MX20, all of which are as light, if not lighter and easier to use (trigger shift and hydraulics) than an Isla. She still isn’t that interested but appreciates having a decent light bike.

    There are plenty of good alternatives without the Isla tax, as far as things go go though I’d say the company was a massive success if you measure by where they dragged the industry.

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