Former national champion cyclo crosser Isla Rowntree has left Halfords - she was head of the bike division - and is restarting Islabikes. This business was mothballed in 1998. It made bespoke, women-specific frames and the fabled trailerbike, an Islabike tradename. Rowntree won't be drawn on what Islabikes will be importing or making this time around.

Islabikes reborn

Rowntree had worked for Halfords for three and a half years.

Halfords was proud of her bikie credentials. She is pictured on page four of the 2005 company report and is also used as a photographic cut-out in many Halfords stores around the UK. The Halfords website is still singing her praises, even though she has worked out her notice period:

"Apollo and Carrera bikes are the best selling bikes in the market today. They have benefited from extra design touches that can only come from having someone who understands bike design working on the Halfords team. Isla Rowntree, former British bike champion is the head of our bike design and sourcing team and has worked to ensure that each bike is designed perfectly to suit its use."

Islabikes will start trading by Spring 2006, Rowntree said, but she’s keeping her plans close to her chest:

"Everything’s under wraps for now. You’ll like what I’ll be doing though," she told

Her departure was – sort of – announced in the column in this month’s ‘Cycling Plus’ but gremlins stole the last line, leading to comments on the Cycling Plus forum:

Talking of the production glitches in the mag, Bratters said:

"My favourite gaff this month is at the foot of Carlton Reid’s column "The Hub". This finishes with the enigmatic line

‘Cyclo cross and track champion Isla…’ A prize for anyone who can provide the correct finish."

C+ production editor Neil Pedoe said he was on holiday when the mag was proofed but could supply the last line: "Cyclo cross and track champion Isla Rowntree was Halfords’ buyer but she has left to start an import business." was unable to carry this story on the site because Rowntree was still working out her notice.

She is replaced by Andrew Smallwood, assisted by Rebecca Johnson. Rowntree said she is also continuing to work with Halfords on a consultancy basis.

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