As a bike racer Isla Rowntree took on almost every discipline in cycling, rode professionally for the Raleigh MTB team and won the British national championships in cyclocross on multiple occasions. But it is as a bike designer and entrepreneur that she’s made the biggest impact, transforming the market for children’s bikes. The high quality kids bikes she designs have given a generation of children the best possible start to a life of cycling. Jack visits Islabikes HQ just outside Ludlow, Shropshire to find out about how Isla got into cycling, how she got where she is now, and where she’s going in the future.
1. Isla on her experiences as a woman in the male-dominated bike industry:
2. Isla on the Islabikes Icons range of bikes for elderly people:
Is bikepacking the most exciting new thing in cycling since the invention of the mountain bike or a much needed rebranding of the venerable pastime of cycle touring? Or is just another cynical ruse to get us to buy more stuff, an attempt to commercialise that wonderful thing called adventure. Jack heads to mid-Wales for the Bear Bones Winter Event to find out, and meets up with Beth Barrington of WildCat Gear to hear about the homespun beginnings of a small company that makes some of the best bikepacking gear available.
In the first ever rolling bike test on The Bike Show, Jack Thurston takes the Pinnacle Arkose 2 for a spin around the hills above Abergavenny and Blaenavon. The Pinnacle Arkose 2 is an ‘adventure road’ bike featuring a 1×10 drivechain, hyraulic disc brakes and 40mm tyres. The list price is £850 though it’s currently on sale at £765. For more photos of the bike, see Jack’s review for BikesETC magazine.
Mary Erskine of the band Me for Queen talks about their forthcoming album ‘Iron Horse’, inspired by cycling. And Grant Young, MD of London’s Condor Cycles explains why steel bikes are selling like hotcakes, and how the London firm is helping breathe new life into the Italian bicycle manufacturing scene. To help with the crowd-funding of Iron Horse, visit the band’s Pledge Music page.
Hub gear manufacturer Sturmey Archer sits in the pantheon of iconic bicycle brands, most famous for its hugely popular three speed hub gears. Tony Hadland tells the intriguing story of the invention of the hub gear, a story of gifted young engineers, canny entrepreneurs in the high tech bicycle boom of the 1890s. Tony Hadland is the author of “Raleigh: Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand” and “The Sturmey Archer Story”.
The spoked wheel is the unsung hero of the bicycle. Jack Thurston embarks on a journey of discovery, to understand how a bicycle wheel works with the help of engineer and materials scientist Professor Mark Miodownik, and then trying to learn how to build one, taking a class at London’s Cycle Systems Academy.
Contemporary bike culture is blossoming into a mesmerising kaleidoscope of bicycle-related art, craft and graphic design. Small artisans are leading the way while big brands try to cash in on the action. Alice Marsh of Bike V Design leads a discussion recorded in front of a live audience at the Victoria and Albert Museum, bringing together a panel that includes Tom Donhou, a former product designer turned bicycle frame-builder, the founders of The Ride Journal and Boneshaker magazine and James Greig, a graphic designer and author of the Cycle Love blog.