the post

book reviews

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what's in a name? islaybikes or islabikes?

isla rowntree

this is one of those long winded stories for which i am unjustly renowned, so you might want to get a tea, coffee and a bun before settling down to read the pixels.

a goodly number of years ago now, an acquaintance of mine started a business on islay hiring out canoes, bikes and running guided tours in a mini bus. perhaps not unreasonably enough, he called this business 'islay leisure'. however, perhaps unreasonably, he knew little or nothing about cycle maintenance, something seriously remiss if you planning on hiring the things out.

i had not long moved to the island, had no motor car (those were the days) and relied entirely on my two wheeled transport to get about. naturally enough, the need to be self sufficient in this department in a location that sported no bike shop or bike mechanic had led me to learn as much as possible in this area. this brought me to the attention of said acquaintance when the hire bikes started to display various mechanical deficiencies, and i was happy to oblige. as is often the case in a small place like islay, it didn't take long before others started asking if i could fix their bikes and i started working in tandem (pun intended) with my newfound acquaintance trading free space for maintaining the hire fleet (i use the last word very loosely). since this was effectively a subset of islay leisure, we called it islay bikes.

as time went on things progressed from fixing bikes to supplying parts and trick bits and eventually selling bikes. in order to facilitate all of this, accounts with various suppliers had to be set up, one of which was a now defunct company called nti. and who should be one of the guys working at this company but chipps chippendale who is now the editor of singletrack magazine who pointed out to me on the phone one fine day (is there any other kind of day on islay?) that they also had an account with a business called 'islabikes' and that there was a possibility of some confusion.

islabikes

so i contacted the 'other' islabikes' to let them know that we existed and discovered that their name came from the fact that the owner was (and is) called isla rowntree (see photo at top). islabikes manufactured trailerbikes - those kiddy doohickies that allow the child to pedal on half a bike while the front section is clamped to the rear of the adult's bike. a very clever way of involving kids in longer distance cycling without the same degree of hardship a solo bike would entail.

having spent a successful number of years as a racing cyclist predominantly in the mountain biking and cyclocross fields (is it just me or are there an over abundance of puns in this article?) isla has now invested her time and effort through islabikes to produce superior children's bicycles from a secret location near wolverhampton known as upper aston farm.

islabikes

now, while i am often referred to as a big kid (which i don't deny), i haven't actually tested any of the current range of islabikes - partly because i'm pretty sure none of them would fit me and also because, geographically challenged as i am, even i have realised that wolverhampton is more than a short distance from islay (though not from isla). however, as someone who frequently has to repair kids' bikes, i can but praise isla's modus operandi. to quote from isla's website "As a cyclist, you know how important it is to get your bike to fit properly, and how much easier a light bike is to ride than a heavy one. After watching young cyclists struggle with bikes that weigh nearly as much as they do, fitted with adult sized components and stiff brakes that can't be reached, Isla has put her years of cycle design experience and practical cycling knowledge together to produce a range of exclusive bikes for children." and about ruddy time!

islabikes

if i had ten pence for every time i have almost put my back out lifting a kid's full-suspension mountain bike (why, o why does a child need full suspension on their bike?) only to discover that the tube shape prevents any neaningful part of the bike being accepted by the clamp, i would have a full range of colnagos sitting in the bike shed. islabikes currently consists of nine age specific models including the aforementioned trailerbike. and they all have islay names - well some of them do, such as 'cnoc' (you'll never guess how that's pronounced), 'beinn' and 'luath'.

so while the post normally concerns itself with cycling trivia, cycling book reviews, equipment reviews (and do we have a doozy coming up in that ilk very soon - you won't want to miss this one) robert millar, graeme obree, more stuff about colnagos than any reasonable human being can comfortably absorb and cycling on islay, it has given me great pleasure to combine islabikes, islay bikes and superior kids bikes. if you are in the market for a new bicycle for your child, then i can't see that you have a choice. prices range from 65 up to 350 dependant on age and islabikes will even buy the bike back when you're ready to move up to the next size (provided, of course, you're buying another islabike, and at a price that reflects the condition of the bike).

now wasn't that a lovely edition of thewashingmachinepost, and aren't you glad i told you?

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this website is named after graeme obree's championship winning 'old faithful' built using bits from a defunct washing machine

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as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

this column appears, as regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.

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