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Children's bike manufacturer Islabikes to cease production after 18 years

"It has been a turbulent and difficult time for the cycle industry as a whole and neither Tim nor Isla wish to continue"...

Much-loved children's bike manufacturer Islabikes has announced it will cease sale and production after 18 years in business.

The announcement came on Islabikes' website today, founder Isla Rowntree, who stepped back from the day to day running of the company in 2021, thanking "our many loyal customers" and saying it "is a wonderful thing" that so many cycling brands now produce good quality bikes for children.

> Best kids' bikes 2023 — everything from balance bikes to junior superbikes

Pointing out that the company remains solvent and has no outstanding creditors, remaining stock of current models can still be bought and there will be an ongoing supply of spare parts, with existing guarantees also to be honoured, the statement says.

Acknowledging the "turbulent and difficult time" for the cycling industry, both Rowntree and majority owner and manging director Tim Goodall say that they do not wish to continue.

The company was founded in 2005, Islabikes saying it is proud to have "improved the cycling lives of hundreds of thousands of children" and "revolutionised" the market with "innovative designs for smaller hands and bodies".

Rowntree said: "Today, it's easy to forget just how bad most children's bikes were when I started Islabikes 18 years ago. They were monstrously heavy, fitted with outsized components and had dreadful brakes that were out of reach.

Islabikes

"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' 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."

As mentioned earlier, it has been a challenging time for the bike industry in recent months, various manufacturers, retailers, distributors and other cycling-related businesses no longer trading.

> What the hell is going on in the bike industry? Wiggle Chain Reaction turmoil discussed on the road.cc Podcast

Just yesterday we reported the news that components giant Shimano, something of a bellwether for the cycling industry as a whole, has reported a fall in sales and said the global cycling market remains "weak".

UK bike sales have also fallen further in 2023, that despite them dropping to their lowest level in 20 years last year. And various big names from the cycling industry have gone out of business this year too, distributors Moore Large and 2pure just two of the casualties.

In the past week it was revealed that Wiggle Chain Reaction is reportedly heading towards administration due to issues with parent company funding. Signa Sports United, which owns Wiggle Chain Reaction and several other cycling retailers, learnt last week that it would no longer be receiving €150 million in funding over the next two years, putting its businesses in danger.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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16 comments

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JMcL_Ireland | 3 months ago
0 likes

Very sad news, but in line with what others have said, they're probably a victim of the quality of their product.

We had one 14" Islabike, bought 2nd hand, which out youngest lad got about probably close on a years use out of. It was absolutely top quality, brilliantly realised, and I sold it on for I think €30 less than I bought it. Other brands have caught up (e.g. Frog) and deliver maybe 90% of the quality at 75% of the price. We've had 2 Frogs which have gone through 3 kids and remain in great nick (though slightly regretting the Team Sky paintjob from about 2016), so there are a lot of potential high quality bikes circulating on the used market

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the little onion | 3 months ago
5 likes

Worth noting they also produce bikes for people with conditions like dwarfism. So not just a children's bike manufacturer

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a1white | 3 months ago
2 likes

My 2 godchildren both had Isla bikes (one was handed down to the other when it was outgrown). Really well built and designed to scale up well as they grow. Agree that they are actually proper bikes,  just cleverly scaled down. People saying they are overpriced, but good components, materials. and labour costs money it doesn't make much diffence that the bikes are smaller. Having a good experience, riding a good quality bike is what will help keep kids cycling into adult life, rather than a bike which is more like a cheap toy that they discard.

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arckuk | 3 months ago
1 like

My son has had two Islabikes from new, which cost us nothing by the time we sold them second hand (I even made a profit on the second one). Great bikes for kids, it's a shame to see them go.

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mark1a replied to arckuk | 3 months ago
1 like
arckuk wrote:

My son has had two Islabikes from new, which cost us nothing by the time we sold them second hand (I even made a profit on the second one). Great bikes for kids, it's a shame to see them go.

I wonder if the strong secondary market for these bikes has contributed to the decline of new bike sales? Typically they may only stay with their successive owners for a few years before they're grown out of, and then moved on as a quality used bike in still good condition. Eventually there will be less new bikes purchased.

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Global Nomad | 3 months ago
0 likes

just wondering why they are not selling the business rather than closing it....maybe they tried....

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Dogless | 3 months ago
0 likes

Good bikes but overpriced compared to competitors for what is often exactly the same bike. Proper kids bikes are also so solidly built and do so few miles that I've never seen a reason to buy a new one. I've owned 4 different models, all of them second hand and all sold on for what I paid.

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the little onion replied to Dogless | 3 months ago
1 like

Slightly disagree - they are very good bikes. They are not just for kids - they also produce bikes for people with unusual proportions, such as those with dwarfism. But it is true that other manufacturers (e.g. Frog bikes, which I rate highly) have emerged which are a bit cheaper, and nearly as good. 

When they first came out, there was nothing like them. Their legacy is setting the pace of the market, and setting off thousands of kids on a journey of cycling.

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Rich_cb | 3 months ago
7 likes

I've literally just unpacked a Beinn 20 ready for junior CB's birthday.

The bikes are so well designed but they have been caught up by other brands in the last few years.

It's still a real shame to see them go but their legacy will be the thriving market for properly designed kids bikes. That probably wouldn't exist without Islabikes.

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Simon E replied to Rich_cb | 3 months ago
3 likes
Rich_cb wrote:

their legacy will be the thriving market for properly designed kids bikes. That probably wouldn't exist without Islabikes.

It absolutely would NOT exist without Isla Rowntree. She singlehandedly changed the market and people's perception of kids' bikes. They were so much better than everything else it was a no-brainer. My two started riding in 2006 and benefited greatly. I hope your young 'un has lots of fun on theirs.

But, as many have said, competition has increased as other brands have entered the market, some of which are really good (e.g. Frog) and others which are, well, probably 'good enough' but a lot cheaper.

Both Covid and Brexit significantly impacted the company but the general downturn in bike sales post-Covid, coupled with rising prices, has been accompanied by far fewer kids racing so it's no surprise that fewer parents are buying premium bikes. And I have to wonder how many of the Joni and Jimi adult models they've actually sold.

There are stories of massive overstocking across the industry, notably among the big brands with huge inventory they can't shift. This is far from the end of a bumpy road for everyone in the supply chain. I'm sure that if we had more enlightened, forward-thinking and greener government then things may have been rather better than they currently are.

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ubercurmudgeon | 3 months ago
4 likes

It has had the air of an operation winding down for the last couple of years. Their line of ebikes for the elderly looks, it retrospect, like a last roll of the dice, and that was a few years ago now. Still, at least they are not trying to squeeze every last penny out of it, then leaving their customers in the lurch, like many would do. Hopefully, they are being equally supportive of the staff.

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open_roads | 3 months ago
2 likes

Both my kids learnt to balance on two wheels on a fabulous Rothan bike and haven't looked back since.

We've had 4 islabikes in total but the last two have been other brands - the most suitable islabikes in the range were over £500 which was too much of a stretch.

 

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kil0ran | 3 months ago
4 likes

Sad news. Proper bikes, my son loved his.

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brooksby | 3 months ago
4 likes

Sad news (not that my kids ever had Islabikes...).  Sad news anyway.

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Miller | 3 months ago
11 likes

This is a shame. Islabikes have been the gold standard of what a child's bike should be. I've often felt sorry about the awful BSOs so many children are given to ride.

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ktache replied to Miller | 3 months ago
4 likes

Especially the full suspension ones...

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