Our Visit To Islabikes - Pedal Progression


2 May 2018

Our Visit To Islabikes

Sourcing children’s bikes that compliment our high quality adult hire fleet has always been tricky. We believe kids should be given bikes which inspire them to love the sport we do, as much as we do and until now, we’ve struggled to find a brand that matches our ethos.

From the age of 4, Isla Rowntree has been a rider, a little later she became a racer and today she is still churning out top results, despite running her rapidly growing business, Islabikes. Birthed in 2006, Isla Bikes became a bike brand committed to innovating and creating the very best children’s bicycles.

It was with great excitement then that Ollie and I found ourselves at the place where it all happens. Islabikes HQ in Ludlow, Shropshire. We made the trip to meet the team, learn what makes Islabikes special and how to keep them that way, and to sign a contract that would make us the first (and only) hire bike centre in the UK to offer our younger customers Islabikes!

Walking in to their showroom we were struck how vast their range is. Islabikes don’t just make a 20″ wheel bike for example, they make 3 in different frame sizes! Isla wants the perfect fit and the best experience for any child riding her bikes.

A good portion of our visit was spent in the workshop where we went through a full build with Islabikes workshop technical coach R.J (Rob Jones). Both Ollie and I have worked in bike shops throughout our working lives but this team take attention to detail to the next level.

R.J talked us through the process, which starts by checking the bike over for any defects. The smallest of paint chips or impurities will result in the bike being ‘shop soiled’. He talked through all the Isla specific parts on the bikes and how they are scaled down to suit the rider in a way no other bike brand has managed to do. Each bike is set up using some clever techniques we’ve not come across before, which tune the bike perfectly for the child who will be riding it.

Steve Chapman (Isla Bikes PR & Events Manager) showed us around and talked us through the range and some of the main features that are unique to Islabikes that create such a great ride and awesome experience for kids. It was really interesting to chat with Steve about how Isla Bikes have approached challenges of designing small bikes, to optimise the ride experience for children and share thoughts on how this impacts positively on what we do when we are out coaching our sessions with kids. For example, making sure chain stay length and Q-factor are proportionate to give the rider the best chance of holding good balance whilst riding through technical terrain.

We discussed 24hr racing with Steve which as it turns out, he and many of the team take part in, including Isla. Islabikes once entered a team in Mountain Mayhem on a Cnoc 16 (16″ wheel bike) and bizarrely finished in the top 10! Conditions were so bad in 2012 that the team were able to pick up the tiny bike and run with it where others were stuck in the sludge! Steve was able to offer Ollie some useful advice ahead of his solo 24 hr challenge in July. Click here for more on that.

One thing we were super impressed with was the care and thought taken at every stage of the process. Whether it was processing orders, building bikes, sourcing the best parts and working with companies that will make parts to their own specification, this company is all about making the the experience of cycling for children the best it can be! Workshop practices are clearly immaculate, and quality control from factory to the buyers front door is given the greatest consideration. They also keep a full range of spares which they can ship next day, so no more waiting to get back on your bike when things go wrong.

Isla created the ‘Pro Series’ aimed at the ultimate in performance children’s bikes and even though I don’t yet have children of my own, I really want one of these bikes! They are awesome!

This model has a 9 speed Sram 11-36 transmission set up, carbon forks, Sram brakes and a Stans Crest wheel set! It’s so light too – a proper weapon!

How rad are those pedals!? …and the XTR styling on the cranks! These bike are top dollar and unfortunately won’t appear in our hire fleet. It does however go to show Islabikes commitment to making the best bikes for every level of young rider.

We were also taken by Islabikes commitment to sustainability as they look to ensure the gift of cycling will be available to children for years to come. Check out the video below to find out about the ‘Imagine Project’ which has been set up for this purpose.

Do you want your children to experience the ultimate ride? The bikes will be available to hire from Saturday May 12th. Keep an on our hire bikes page here to see which bikes will be available.




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