Islabikes develops ‘ride-to-school’ rental bikes

’Ownership as we know it will become a thing of the past’

Leading kids’ brand Islabikes is developing a new range of cycles that can be hired for children to ride to school. In the process, it hopes to pioneer new ways of producing bikes that reduce waste and landfill.

If you’re a parent, that means you’ll no longer need to buy a new bike every time your child outgrows his or her current ride. Which seems to happen very quickly. Rather, bicycles will be rented to the user, then when they are outgrown they will be returned to the factory, refurbished, and rented to another rider.

“It is our aspiration to become the cycling industry experts in the sustainable supply of bicycles,” says Isla Rowntree, company founder. “I feel really excited about it, and a little bit scared as well.”

The plan is to create a circular supply chain, whereby when the bicycles reach the end of their lives, all raw materials can be separated and reused. “Nothing will go to landfill”, is the Islabikes pledge. Does that mean the old brake cables too, we wonder?

The rental bikes

Putting the finishing touches to an Imagine Project bike's head tube
Putting the finishing touches to an Imagine Project bike's head tube

Details on these new bikes are sketchy at the moment, but to begin with at least it will involve a small range of utility “riding to school” bikes manufactured in the UK. So they’ll probably be a step down from the current range of models, which start at £280 / US$370 for the smallest pedal bike in the range, the Cnoc 14, aimed at riders 3+.

All bikes in the Islabikes range feature a quality alloy frame, components made specifically for small riders like micro-reach brake levers, small diameter alloy handlebars, sealed bearing headset and bottom bracket, and lightweight wheels

Most recently, the brand launched its new Pro series, which upgraded selected models with carbon forks, premium brakes and better finishing kit. The Cnoc 16 Pro Series costs £799 / $1,199 and is aimed at well-heeled riders aged 4+.

As for the new rental bikes, there's no word yet on how much it will cost to hire a utility bike for riding to school, though for the scheme to work it must be no more expensive than buying a bike and then replacing it for an 18-month period, we reckon.

Imagine Project

The frames will be TIG welded, from the looks of things
The frames will be TIG welded, from the looks of things

Islabikes is thinking big for this project, it seems, predicting that “ownership as we know it will become a thing of the past”, due to scarcity of raw materials. We didn’t realise we were that close to running out of the materials needed to make bikes — bit scary — but the premise is a good one. Especially as many people are predicting that businesses and governments will begin mining our landfill sites later this century to recover what was thrown away in the last.

The Imagine Project will start on a small scale to begin with, so the availability of the new bikes will be very limited in the early stages. However, Islabikes is looking for a small number of early adopters to help it develop the product, manufacturing methods and service. The company also says it intends this project to be open source, and will share its discoveries about circular supply chains as it progresses.

For more information about the Imagine Project and how to get involved, visit: www.Islabikes.co.uk/imagineproject.

How to teach a child to cycle in 30 minutes
Jamie Beach

Deputy Editor, UK
Jamie's been addicted to bikes from the moment his stabilisers came off. Earliest cycling memory is the chipboard-ramp-on-bricks, but happiest one is bombing down a Mallorcan mountain pass that seemed it might never end. Always on the hunt for the perfect rain jacket, a keen collector of hats.
  • Discipline: Road, gravel
  • Preferred Terrain: Big mountains with long climbs, equally long and fast descents, the chance to get above the treeline.
  • Current Bikes: Genesis Croix de Fer, Kona Cindercone
  • Dream Bike: BMC TeamMachine SLR01
  • Beer of Choice: Augustiner
  • Location: Bath, Somerset, UK

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