Special gravel coverage

Islabikes to close US headquarters office and warehouse in Portland

Posted by on October 2nd, 2018 at 6:28 pm

The busy warehouse as seen in June 2017.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Portland will no longer be the U.S. headquarters of Islabikes. In an announcement made this afternoon, the children’s bike company said they will close their southeast Portland office, showroom and warehouse.

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s the official statement:

Islabikes has decided to close the US office in Portland, Oregon to focus energy on the UK and EU markets. During this voluntary liquidation we will sell all remaining stock of bikes, accessories and parts in the US. It’s bittersweet, but there are great discounts to be had before closing this fall. At this time we have not set a closing date.

If you are considering ordering for the Holidays, order now, as once they’re gone, they’re gone!

We really appreciate the support from our customers over the past 5 years. Thank you for all the photos and videos of your kids enjoying their Islabikes and the emails and phone calls describing family vacations and adventures; we have so enjoyed getting to be included in those experiences.

Thanks for reading BikePortland.

Please consider a $10/month subscription or a one-time payment
to help maintain and expand this vital community resource.

To the kiddos: thank you for being brave, confident, sometimes scared, hilarious, charismatic, and eager to ride your bike! Thank you for asking so many questions about your bikes. Thank you for coming out to race at Kids Cross and to try out bikes in our showroom. Your excitement for riding bikes is contagious.

If you have questions, please contact us at info@islabikes.com or on 503 954 2410 between 9am – 5pm PT, Monday through Friday.

Happy riding,

Arielle, Ben, Carrie, Dan, Mollie and Tim.

This is a big surprise to us. Islabikes opened here in 2013 and appeared to be doing well. They have been huge supporters of the local racing scene by sponsoring kiddie cross and a number of other events. The company helped establish the market for high-quality children’s bikes.

Their absence will definitely be felt. Stay tuned for further developments. We’ll update this post if/when we hear more about what led to this news.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Al October 2, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    This is sad but I can’t say that I’m surprised by this. It’s a tough market out there for such a product and I don’t see it getting better in the near future.

    Also, bike tax?

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    • SERider October 3, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Weren’t most of their bikes exempt because the wheel size was too small?

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      • Al October 3, 2018 at 11:10 am

        Yes, only about a third of their product line had 26″ or larger wheels.

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    • Chris I October 3, 2018 at 9:12 pm

      I just bought a Beinn 20 for my daughter and had to pay it. In June, they removed the sub-26″ exemption. I’m pretty irritated about paying this stupid tax on a bike for a 4 year old…

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      • stephan October 4, 2018 at 3:11 pm

        Update: All bikes with wheels 20” and more are *sold out*. Wow, that was fast — I certainly came too late.

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  • dwk October 2, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    Well since sites like this scare the bejesus out of most adults, how do you think most parents feel about their kids riding bikes?
    I live in a totally rideable NE neighborhood with 3 schools within a half mile and I rarely see children on bicycles.
    Their is nothing unsafe about the neighborhood streets around the schools.
    Total failure of adults and scaremongers that riding a bicycle on city streets is dangerous unless we have concrete barriers around us.

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    • maxD October 3, 2018 at 9:59 am

      That is pretty patronizing! I live in North Portland and I primarily commute by bike. My kid was able to walk to school from preschool to 5th grade. Sometime she rode her bike. Now her school is downtown, and I can’t convince her to ride on a tandem- the streets are just too unsafe feeling for her. And I don’t blame her. Our routes are either down Interstate with a bike lane that narrows to under 2 feet wide, or Vancouver with sketchy routing south of Broadway. Or Rodney that ends at Broadway. Or Greeley with average recorded speeds of over 55 mph. Our neighborhood high school is Roosevelt- try plotting any sort of reasonable bike route there! Portland has plenty of nice, safe bike segments here and there, but that are not connected or they have scary gaps. Portland has done a truly horrible job of doing any of the hard work of creating a bike network, relying instead on being opportunistic. It sems so pointless to me to continue to build these isolated segments of bike infrastructure and ignore the critical gaps necessary to create a useful network.

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    • GlowBoy October 5, 2018 at 9:55 am

      It’s not like people stopped letting their kids ride bikes on city streets because BikePortland came along.

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  • Jay Dedd October 2, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Eh, bike tax is just for Oregon — whereas this outpost of Islabikes sells to all the U.S. But yeah, small market for spending that kind of money on something so quickly outgrown.

    Also, a rather high-control workplace — maybe not surprising given the meticulous nature of the product, but an odd fit for Portland or anywhere on the West Coast.

    Overall, maybe a little bit of hubris involved in not quite adequately sizing up American culture before crossing the pond. (East Coast would have been a closer match.) Too bad, because the product is good and gap-filling.

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  • Beth H October 2, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    Not sure whose gap these bikes filled, but it surely wasn’t for anyone I knew personally. My friends with children couldn’t afford to buy anything new and I was constantly asked to fix up something old and junky and make it safe.
    I am not at all surprised that this is happening.
    For the majority of hourly wage workers in the United States, $700 is a lot of scratch for ANY bike.

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    • Sukho Goff October 3, 2018 at 1:32 pm


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    • Chris I October 3, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      There are plenty of people buying $500k+ houses in Portland, but most of them would scoff at paying $400 for a kids bike. I told a few coworkers about the deal, and they scoffed at it as well. These are people that drive $30,000 minivans and SUVs.

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    • GlowBoy October 5, 2018 at 10:04 am

      My kids like biking, but so far are they are not the frequent riders that I am. So I can’t justify $500+ for a bike that will get at most a couple hundred miles of riding before my child outgrows it in a couple years. We’ve still given our children quality bikes, but have done just fine with Treks and used bikes, and have yet to spend $200 on a bike for our children. When my kids are done growing and if they start racking up real miles, I’ll be more than happy to spend more on bikes for them.

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      • GlowBoy October 5, 2018 at 10:09 am

        Also, just to clarify: if you can afford it, it definitely IS worth spending some extra money to buy a reasonably lightweight bike for your (also lightweight) child. When we started buying bikes for our first child, we were shocked at the boat-anchor weight of $100 department store bikes, when another hundred or so dollars often knocked close to 10 pounds off the weight.

        That was added hundred that we thought was well worth spending, even if we didn’t find the additional hundreds for an Isla-quality bike to be worth it.

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  • Jay Dedd October 2, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I hear you, but presumably filled a gap for the kind of folks who spent several $K on their own bikes but lack the skills and patience to frankenstein something high-performance for the kid. Nationally that’s _maybe_ a big enough customer base.

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  • Dan A October 2, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    We’ve been happy owners of 3 Islabikes Beinns, 20″, 24″ and 26″. They pretty much CREATED the ‘nice, lightweight kids bike’ category in the US, which has been filled with all kinds of competitors (Woom, Frog, Cleary, to name a few), and has improved the quality and range of bikes that are now available from the major bike companies. Look at Trek’s kids bike lineup, for example:


    It used to be nearly impossible to find a kids’ mountain bike-style bike with a rigid front fork, and now they are everywhere.

    They sponsored kiddie cross and gave away bikes in the process, they hired people here in town, and they had a great fitting/buying process that was really helpful. Just because some people don’t want to pay as much for a kids’ bike as they would for their own bike doesn’t mean the bikes are overpriced, but they are now facing some stiff pricing competition that didn’t exist when they started things in the US.

    I have to say, I’m surprised to see that people have anything to say about a company that wanted to do nothing but make comfortable, efficient bikes for kids, instead of making a bunch of disposable 35lb garbage.

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    • Paul Cone October 2, 2018 at 10:27 pm

      I’d happily pay as much for my kid’s bike as mine, but I can’t to do that every two years until they’re full grown. So it’s simple economics. And any local bike shop (even ones that sell IslaBikes) will tell you the used market is awash in kids bikes.

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      • Dan A October 2, 2018 at 10:54 pm

        We bought our Beinn 20 for $550 new 3 years ago, and recently sold it for $425. So that’s……$40 a year? IF you can find one used (it took me a year to find a Beinn 26), you might make out even better.

        BTW, the prices on the website right now are crazy.

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      • Mike Quigley October 3, 2018 at 5:46 am

        The only active market for kids’ bikes I’ve seen is thrift stores.

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        • Paul Cone October 3, 2018 at 7:10 am
          • Dan A October 3, 2018 at 9:10 am

            Thank you for proving my point. There are only 3 used Islabikes in the entire metro area, two 16″ bikes and a balance bike. The 16″ bikes are selling for $300 (new retail is $420, sale price is $250).

            The next closest one is a Luath 26 in Corvallis.

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            • Dolan Halbrook October 3, 2018 at 10:33 am

              Also a Beinn 20 L. Red, with fenders. Just haven’t listed it yet 🙂

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            • Paul Cone October 3, 2018 at 11:41 am

              You said no market, but there are some for sale, and always will be.

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              • Dan A October 3, 2018 at 1:29 pm

                You said, in reference to the high cost of Islabikes, “it’s simple economics. And any local bike shop (even ones that sell IslaBikes) will tell you the used market is awash in kids bikes.”

                The market is not awash in Islabikes, nor is it even awash with comparable kids bikes (sub 20lbs). I know because, as I mentioned, I searched craigslist daily for a used Beinn 26 and it took me a year to find one, and then I had to hurry over and buy it because the seller had numerous other buyers after me.

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              • Paul Cone October 3, 2018 at 4:14 pm

                I meant kids bikes, not Islabikes. It’s hard to break into the new kids bike market because there are so many used ones.

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              • Dan A October 3, 2018 at 4:37 pm

                Mkay. I guess the same ought to be true for adult bikes, though perhaps even more difficult because used adult bikes tend to be in much better condition.

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              • Paul Cone October 4, 2018 at 9:33 am

                Yes, there are a lot more used adult bikes out there to choose from so the prices of even higher quality ones are lower.

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              • Dan A October 4, 2018 at 11:57 am

                And yet there are ~70 bike shops in the metro area. I don’t understand what point you’re making.

                Islabikes seemed to be doing just fine, as they were in business here for 5 1/2 years, and they seem to have sold many bikes locally. I’m guessing it has more to do with the recent influx of competitors in their niche, which did not exist when they first came to Portland.

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              • Paul Cone October 4, 2018 at 12:03 pm

                Yes, that’s obvious. It’s a hard space to compete in? Both the adult bike market and the kids bike market have cheap bikes and better bikes, but there are fewer manufacturers of better kids bikes, so there’s not as many to choose from, but there ARE some on the market. Anyway, kind done with this banter.

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      • SERider October 3, 2018 at 9:22 am

        In my recent experience getting a good (LIGHT) first pedal bike is critical. We were gifted an Islabikes push bike, and my daughter has loved it for two years. It’s crazy light and has been really easy for her to learn. Then this year she has outgrown it, so we had to decide on a first pedal bike. I was torn between getting a more “boutique” brand like Isla, versus just going the cheap route. I ended up going the cheap route and it has not work very well. We ended up with a Diamondback with backpedal breaks. It is easily heavier than any of my adult bikes. I’ve gotten her out on it a number of times, but it’s so heavy and hard to maneuver (in addition to the back pedal brakes), that I think we have missed our window to get her to learn to ride a pedal bike (We moved from PDX and we have a real winter here).

        I’m actually thinking of getting one of these discounted Islabikes to replace it. It also helps that I have a second, younger kid, so I’ll likely get 4-5 years our use out of one of these bikes (the push bike is still basically like new after 2 years of riding). For $245, that doesn’t seem that bad.

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        • Chris I October 3, 2018 at 11:54 am

          The CNOC is a great bike, but note that it also has a coaster brake. It’s some dumb consumer safety rule in the US… I considered the CNOC, but ended up buying a used Spawn Fury for my 3 year-old daughter. It has 14″ wheels, a small frame, and a freewheel in the back. There are a few others out there that you can find, but they all either have to be sold with a 2nd taller seatpost (to get above the minimum seat height that triggers the rule) or have been retrofitted into a freewheel.

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          • JD October 3, 2018 at 3:00 pm

            I’ve tried to find any Spawn Cycles for sale in the NW and have missed out the 2-3 times I received the IFTT alert. If my kiddos do decide to continue riding and get serious about it, I may just have to make a trip up north and find an LBS who stocks their line.

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    • Sukho Goff October 3, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      You were able to afford to spend around $1650+ on three kids bikes. Most people, including myself, can’t afford to do that, so yes, we have to resort to buying our kids 35 lb garbage bikes, as you say.

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      • Dan A October 3, 2018 at 2:47 pm

        I don’t doubt that many people cannot afford a $500 kids bike. But I also have friends who drive $40,000 – $60,000 cars who say the same thing. They splurge for the $1500 leather seats, get their kids Magnas, drive their kids a half a mile to school, and wonder why their kids spend all their time playing Xbox.

        Have I stumbled into the wrong place? I thought this was a bicycling blog.

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      • BradWagon October 3, 2018 at 3:08 pm

        And how much did your kids ride those bikes? Familys that buy high end bikes like Isla’s are riding nearly daily, year round, not just around the cul de sac and campgrounds during the summer. If my son used something every day I would put the resources towards making it quality. How many families have junk bikes at home but multiple video game systems? Spend money for other traditional sports equipment? Large SUVs with entertainment systems in the rear seats for said kids? Go on annual vacations to hell holes like Disneyland? All about priorities…

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  • Jeremy October 2, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    Resale is where islabikes usually shines. While regular kid bikes are nearly given away, isla retains value (and I’ve even seen them sell for more than new cost.) They are especially great for teens that really want to ride a bike more than ‘around the block.’ It is, however, a difficult niche.

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  • B. Carfree October 2, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    Isn’t cycling among children kind of collapsing in the US? I ride through a high school and an elementary school on my trip to pick up one of my granddaughters (almost) every day. The high school has three dozen bikes parked at it and the elementary schools have zero (not even any racks), though I did finally see two children leave school in a cargo bike last week. 1500 students, three dozen bikes, none of them operated by pre-teens. That’s pretty grim and might be a big part of why we’re losing a premier children’s bike company.

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    • Lester Burnham October 3, 2018 at 7:29 am

      A veritable traffic jam of parents in cars in front of Harriet Tubman which I believe is the same school people were so concerned about vehicle emissions from the freeway?

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      • joan October 3, 2018 at 11:42 am

        Though, there are lots of bikes parked outside school every day, too.

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    • soren October 3, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      It was has been in steady decline for decades but now seems to have bottomed out at around 2%. This is a very sad number.


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  • Brian October 3, 2018 at 12:11 am

    Does this also mean the end of the associated mobile repair service?

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  • Dolan Halbrook October 3, 2018 at 6:50 am

    We bought a 20″ Islabike for my son, and it transformed his ability to ride. He could suddenly ride much farther and faster than before, as he was no longer fighting the weight and efficiency issues prevalent in most kids bikes. Yes, they are expensive, but they also hold their value very well. Ours has served two kids already, and I hope will serve many more. Sad news.

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    • John Lascurettes October 3, 2018 at 8:52 am

      That might be part fo the problem: it’s built too well? One bike, which is already not going to very many families to begin with, transfers from family to family for years.

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      • Dolan Halbrook October 3, 2018 at 10:34 am

        Yes, our Beinn 20 has seen two kids and is still in great shape. Daughter has graduated to a Beinn 24, which was my son’t before that, and which we got secondhand.

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      • BradWagon October 3, 2018 at 3:12 pm

        That’s like saying cars that last decades are built too well… the bikes are properly built. Not enough people valuing well built bikes is the issue.

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  • Johnny Bye Carter October 3, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Sad to see them go. But maybe I can find the money to get in on the sale to get a larger bike for a future upgrade.

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  • mh October 3, 2018 at 10:34 am

    This explains “planned obsolescence.” Grow your market like crazy, or decide to move into repairs if you’ve saturated it. Fortunately for us as adult riders, and unfortunately for those with kids, decent bikes can last essentially forever (the newest in my stable is early ’90’s, the oldest from 1982, and I have no trouble finding parts). Sad, but I hope they shamed/inspired some of the big guys to build quality children’s bikes.

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  • Zaphod October 3, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Isla makes a great product. All well made things cost real money. Given they hold their value extraordinarily well, that speaks to this fact. While it is a barrier to spend such money, people seem to have little problem justifying a 5k used car or a 16k new car. If a bike enables a child and family to roll instead, then it’s good, right?

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  • Chris I October 3, 2018 at 10:53 am

    This really sucks. My daughter started with a Rothan and was able to switch to a pedal bike before she turned 3. Would it be crazy of me to pick up a Beinn 20 size small and hold onto it for another 1-2 years? At these prices, it seems like you could resell it for basically the same price once they outgrow it…

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  • TonyT
    TonyT October 3, 2018 at 11:43 am

    We really lucked out with our kid having Islabikes for most of his bikes. He’s on his 3rd at least. Fortunately for his next bike he’ll be big enough for a small adult bike so the end of Islabikes here won’t be a huge deal.

    Yes they were expensive, but they held their value VERY well so the true cost was more than reasonable considering how much use he’s gotten out of them.

    Sad to see them go! Silver lining is that the resale value of his current bike will probably be even higher now.

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  • Rivelo
    Rivelo October 3, 2018 at 4:57 pm
  • Todd Boulanger October 4, 2018 at 1:36 am

    Portland – perhaps this is the bike canary in the coal mine momment…

    The market for child communting bikes got saturated quickly – perhaps not because of their quailty bikes lasting but because more kids are not biking to school and etc…especially as affordable housing supply moves outward to larger schools on superblocks surrounded by multilane high speed arterials…and conversely their parents are not adopting bike commuting like those that did 10 and 15 years ago…

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    • Jay Dedd October 4, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      Maybe, but Portland likely accounts for just a sliver of sales from the location that’s closing, which serves all the U.S.

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