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.

More posts from Hannah

Viewing 11 posts - 81 through 91 (of 91 total)
  • Islabikes to Cease Production
  • igm
    Full Member

    I added 2” BMX tyres to one of the Beinns we had. It really didn’t change the weight much and a semi-slick BMX tyre was fine for trail centres where a child doesn’t need super-tacky grip.

    Free Member

    I did the same as igm, but 1.95s on the Beinn. Worked fine.

    There was an Isla tax but others closed the gap when I’ve looked.

    I was one of the apparent few (a mug?) who bought a rothan, Beinn, and awaiting a creig (for £600, half price). My 2 kids got 4 and 5 years out of them per bike combined so once the sell on is calculated it’s a hell of a lot better all in value than the £300 I spent on a power meter crankset… (Replace ‘power meter crankset with any other bike component you want)

    Full Member

    thanks @brant

    Fascinating angle here –
    Posted 1 hour ago

    for posting this!

    Full Member

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

    What a weird thing to say. My lad had a piece of shit, then a Carrera blast 16, then an Orbea MX 20, then a Carrera blast 24″ custom build by me, a Giant Trance x, a sonder evol, and now rides a Canyon Strive and is bloody good.

    My Daughter on the other hand learnt on a islabike something or other, but doesn’t give a shit about riding!

    Full Member

    The market for a business making new kids bikes is smaller today, so many are available now second hand and there are more competitors.

    There’s a couple alternative business models; Hope Academy effectively control the second hand market by renting their bikes so don’t just have to keep selling new ones. Brompton export, though that can be hard to do cost effectively.

    Free Member

    Re the Article about being a Quaker. Very interesting background. In essence Rule 1.

    Free Member

    Yeah that’s pretty much how quakers work as I understand it.

    Does add a new angle to the decision, maybe there were compromises needing to be made that just weren’t in keeping with her standards.

    Might explain why it’s not been sold on either.

    Full Member

    As for not selling the brand, would you sell your integrity to Mike Ashley

    TBH I would, but then I don’t have the same moral/religious compass as a Quaker.

    The thing is by bowing out of the market Isla do still leave behind a bit of a blueprint behind in terms of products and maybe some cautionary lessons on marketing(?)

    I don’t want to get drawn into the standard ‘debate’ on the topic but I do reckon the ‘B-word’ shares a chunk of the blame here.

    Between a German parent (deliberately?) crashing the UK’s biggest online bike retailer earlier this week, and now another homegrown, successful bike brand that genuinely sought to do something different to the rest choosing to shut up shop, it feels like the UK bike industry is about to get knocked back to the early 90s “cottage industry” sort of status it used to have.

    Free Member

    What is incredibly reassuring here is that a business that treats people right and stands by its principles can be a huge success. I guess Brant and others are doing the same thing.

    Free Member

    I don’t want to get drawn into the standard ‘debate’ on the topic but I do reckon the ‘B-word’ shares a chunk of the blame here.

    Well there’s certainly something in the air, third business in my sphere this year I’ve heard of winding down whilst it can still hold on to it’s dignity.

    Full Member

    I’ve been on a gravel ride on Cannock today. First time I’ve ridden a hot spot in ages. Loads of kids on really nice bikes. A kid in the event had a mini Ribble Gravel bike. Loads of kids on lovely little FS bikes, not in the event. I think part of the problem is branding. If your buying a really nice 24 inch wheel FS bike do you want a kids brand? I think the brand that junior and parent want is grown up brand. So that squeezed Isla out of the growth area, leaving then competing with Frog etc. on less capable bikes

Viewing 11 posts - 81 through 91 (of 91 total)

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