Multiple National Champion Isla Rowntree originally founded Islabikes to build custom frames, alongside Trailerbikes which made, well, trailerbikes for kids. Both companies went away for a bit while Isla did other stuff, but now Islabikes is back and focussing on children's bikes.
There're a lot of really nasty kids' bikes out there - heavy, rubbish components, overgeared, a distinct lack of actual proper bearings and so on. That's not to say that there aren't some great ones around, but you definitely have to be paying attention. The Islabikes range is designed to address all these shortcomings without ending up costing silly money. All the bikes have lightweight aluminium frames, alloy rims, proper bearings, small-diameter handlebars, short-reach brake levers and so on. A particularly neat touch is the use of single chainrings and wide-ratio cassettes on several bikes - Rowntree says, "Children struggle to understand multiple chainrings effectively, and usually end up using only one ring." One ring and a wide cassette gives comparable gear ratios, less maintenance and lower weight.
There's an extensive range (which includes a trailerbike), starting at about 2 years old with the splendid Rothan push-along. The Cnoc is available in 14 and 16in wheel flavours, and the Beinn in 24 or 26in. There's also a pair of pocket road/cross/touring bikes. Prices run from £64.99 for the Rothan up to £349.99 for the Luath 700c road bike. Have a look at the full range at www.islabikes.co.uk or call 01746 710835.