Islabikes is a British company that specialises in children’s bikes. Their USP is that they go the extra mile in designing bikes for the particular needs of smaller riders. Their bikes are notably lighter than their competitors, and every part has been appropriately scaled down – no regular sized brake levers or chains used to save money. That makes them more expensive, but if you’ve come across the brand before, the chances are that it was from an enthusiastic parent and customer. My sister is one such enthusiast, and she passed on the news of their latest venture.
Having reset the standard for children’s bikes, the company is now tackling sustainability. Through their Imagine Project, they are shifting towards a distinctively circular economy business model. One aspect of this is to start leasing bikes, with Islabikes maintaining ownership of the bikes and the raw materials used to make them. When a child outgrows it, the company will take it back for a full refurbishment, ready to go out again.
In order to make that work, the bikes will have to be as durable as possible, and easy to repair. The company is designing a bike for the leasing scheme, with that line of work running alongside their existing sales. “Its our aspiration to become the cycle industry experts in the sustainable supply of bicycles” says founder Isla Rowntree. And that expertise will be shared: the whole project will be open-sourced so that others can learn from the experiment and build better bikes in future. Here’s an introductory video, and you can find out more on the website.