British bicycle manufacturer Islabikes have created a brand-new cycle designed specifically for people living with dwarfism

By Katie Campbell

Summer and cycling go together hand in hand. On a beautiful, bright, clear day, there’s nothing more fun and freeing than hopping on your bicycle and taking to the cycle path for a day of exploring. Plus, it has the added advantage of being a terrific form of exercise!

Islabikes have just this year revealed their brand-new Joni bikes, designed specifically for cyclists living with achondroplasia. The Joni bike was developed with extensive input from members of the Dwarf Sports Association (DSA), who assisted with both the design and testing stages, and saw company founder Isla Rowntree spend a weekend cycling with DSA member Steve Scott, who showed her which aspects of the bespoke-built custom cycle he was using at the time did or did not work. The lived experiences of people living with dwarfism helped to shape and inform the Joni bike, which sports a proportional frame, curved handlebars, and specially designed brakes, among other things.

The company, who have made their name by offering thoughtfully designed children’s bikes for over 15 years, was inspired to create the Joni model after years of being asked by people living with dwarfism if they could try the company’s children’s bikes in the hope it would allow them to get back to cycling. Speaking to the Guardian, Islabikes’ managing director, Tim Goodall, said that while many people felt like this was their best option even though the bike didn’t entirely accommodate their needs, Islabikes felt that it was an issue that would be better rectified by creating a specific, well-designed bike to suit the needs of people living with achondroplasia. 

Islabikes

This has culminated in Islabikes becoming the first company in the world to mass-produce bikes designed for people living with achondroplasia, as other companies offering the service do so on a bespoke basis. To reflect that, while Islabikes usually only ship their cycles to Europe, the Joni can be bought by anyone, anywhere in the world, after being manufactured in small quantities at their headquarters in Ludlow, Shropshire, 

Tim Goodall said: “To mass produce, you need a mass market, and mass markets are usually average; average height, average weight, average arms, average legs – you name it, it’s average. That’s great if you’re average, but dreadful if you’re not. We are determined to overcome the barriers that prevent cycling. For the Joni 20 and 24 that means manufacturing them locally in small batches, something we are incredibly excited about.”

Islabikes’ Joni cycle comes in two wheel sizes: the Joni 20 is designed for riders over 115cm, while the Joni 24 is designed for people over 125cm. Alongside this, Islabikes also offer starter bikes for children living with dwarfism: their Cnoc bike comes in two wheel sizes, 14 and 16, for children 90cm and over and 102cm and above respectively. The Joni cycle is priced at £899, with a wide assortment of accessories available to complement it, including a rack and propstand. For more information on the bikes, visit Islabikes’ website: islabikes.co.uk.

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