In the November issue of Singletrack magazine, writer Benji Haworth profiles Isla Rowntree and says she's "possibly the most important bike designer in the whole of the UK, if not the world."
Isla Rowntree specialises in producing lightweight, scaled-to-fit bicycles for children. In Go Ride cycling clubs around the UK, more kids are on Islabikes than any other single brand. To enthusiast parents it's a cult brand, and from MTBs to touring bikes to CX bikes to balance bikes, Islabikes has cornered the market for high-end kids' bikes.
And they're all mail-order. Islabikes are available online and via the Islabike showroom in the Midlands but bike shops don't - yet - get a look-in.
While bike shops may not sell them, they certainly benefit from them. A kid with an Islabike is more likely to keep riding into adulthood because the bike is lightweight, with quality parts and with no unnecessary weight such as suspension forks (who needs heavy, not-much-bounce forks on a ride-to-school bike?)
"There's plenty of energy wasted debating about who makes the best bikes. There's not enough talk devoted to who makes the most important bikes. In our opinion, Isla Rowntree is possibly the most important bike designer in the whole of the UK, if not the world. She designs bikes for kids. Good bikes for kids. Bikes that get kids riding.
"Most importantly she designs bikes that keep kids cycling as they grow up into teenagers.
"All things considered, the best bike in the world is very probably one of hers."