Boys should ride blue bikes and girls should ride pink bikes, right? Whether it’s front baskets and tassels for girls, or superhero stickers and motorbike-inspired cladding for boys, children’s bikes have often been studies in gender clichés. Here we look into why pink isn’t the problem…
Isla began riding at 4. She joined Stourbridge Cycling Club aged 12 and started working at the local bike shop when she was still at school, so she knows the junior riding scene inside out.
As a small petite rider, her progress to multiple national and world championship medals went hand in hand with developing and building her own custom fit frames and adapting componentry for maximum comfort and efficiency. She also started handbuilding innovative children’s trailer bikes that synced perfectly with the handling of the parent’s bike and these original trailerbikes are still highly prized collectors’ items to this day.
As her road, mountain bike, track and cyclo cross trophies started to pile up, Isla turned pro racing for Raleigh. She tried her hand as a sales rep and then became head of sourcing and design at one of the biggest bike companies in Britain, learning invaluable skills and industry experience along the way. Her frustration with the cheap, heavy, poorly designed, uncomfortable children’s bikes that her sister’s children were struggling to enjoy gave her the Eureka moment she needed and Islabikes rolled into action in 2006.
Big ideas for small bikes
Literally ‘born in a barn’, Isla crammed her massive enthusiasm and big ideas for small bikes into a tiny office in converted farm buildings in Claverley, Staffs. With a homemade desk, a £5 special offer phone/pen pot/stapler/ruler set and a single workstand for bike assembly, she set about changing the future of children’s bikes and the expectations and enjoyment of junior riders everywhere.
Developments in Oregon
Today the very same pen pot sits on Isla’s desk as a reminder of how it all started, meanwhile her first employee Tim Goodall who worked alongside Isla for the first 7 years now heads up Islabikes US in Portland, Oregon. This was actually Tim’s idea – enabling him to fulfil his dream of running a business.
Striving for perfection
The Islabikes recipe for success comes from continually striving towards perfection. Isla’s meticulous attention to design detail from frame material and geometry to some very serious investment in our own custom componentry has achieved an optimal range of fit as our budding cyclist grows. But we don’t rest on our laurels and exciting design work is continually in progess.
The quality of our products has been rewarded with countless awards in magazine and website tests and we now have a loyal following across the country. We’ve grown as a company too. A massive refresh in 2012 saw lighter bikes across the range plus extensions to our road and serious off-road offerings and additional upgrade options.
Our prototype bikes and display of ultralight custom projects in Reynolds 953 stainless steel stole the show at the 2014 Bespoked handmade bike show at the Olympic Velodrome. Isla’s pioneering work and inexhaustible passion also saw her selected for the Brit List by BikeBiz – their pick of the top 50 most influential people in the bicycle industry.
We even have a full size Beinn 29, a multi-purpose bike for all the parents who couldn’t in their own words “Find a bike that was as good as their child’s.”
We’re now a thriving 36 strong company in a picturesque setting just outside Ludlow, south Shropshire. A fitting studio, test track and alluring local food centre and café just across the picnic lawn makes it a great place to visit but do book an appointment.
However much has changed, we still love to see the excited faces of children as they ride our bikes some of them going from balance bike to pedaling for the first time. From junior competition to traffic beating school runs or countryside exploration, our mission is to give children a better experience of cycling, which all started when Isla welded her first trailerbike together all those years ago.
We hope our bikes excite you and your family just as much as us.