2023 Highs and Lows
As 2023 comes to a close it’s an apt time to stop and take stock of what’s happened in the past twelve months in the world of kids bikes, family cycling and Cycle Sprog.
Our editor, Karen Gee, takes a look at a year of real lows and great highs.
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2023 – a tough year for the cycling industry
Let’s deal with the nasty bits first.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the past 12 months have been extremely difficult for the UK cycling industry.
Sadly, many brands and retailers haven’t survived 2023.
In April Moore Large went into administration. Their inhouse brand Forme Bikes were high quality kids bikes at a competitive price.
Bike Club bought up most of the remaining Forme kids bikes (and some adult bikes) so these should continue to be available to lease for a long time.
Moore Large’s role as distributor of Tern cargo bikes meant Tern have had to restructure their distribution network to ensure bikes and accessories can continue to reach the UK market.
In August FLI distribution, who were the UK importers of PUKY bikes, went out of business, meaning these popular continental style balance and kids bikes are now no longer available to buy new here.
September saw Radpower bikes pull out of the European and UK market, meaning we’ve lost the Radwagon as a family cargo bike option.
Many parents and cyclists were really shocked in October when the much loved bike brand Islabikes announced they were no longer going to be manufacturing and selling bikes.
The world will certainly be a lesser place without them, but thankfully Islabikes are so well made that they’re going to be available second-hand for decades to come.
In the same October week Wiggle / Chain Reaction announced that they were going into administration.
They own the Vitus and Nukeproof bike brands – the former of which had only a few weeks earlier announced a new range of kids mountain and gravel bikes. We hope someone can take them on!
The year has ended with news that Cycle Chic, who have been keeping women cyclists looking stylish for over a decade, are closing (check out their final sale for some great bargains!)
These are just a few of the casualties of 2023 – the ones that have particularly impacted the family and kids part of the cycling world.
Some people we’ve known for decades and others a shorter time, and it’s been really hard watching hopes, dreams and years of hard work come to an end.
2023 – loads of exciting new developments in the world of kids bikes
Thankfully it’s not been all doom and gloom this year, with loads to celebrate too!
YOMO bikes launched last month, bringing a brand new quality kids bike range to the market. It’s going to be interesting to see if they can fill the void left by those we’ve lost.
Kids Ride Shotgun expanded their range from front seats to include a balance bike designed for mountain biking little ones – our reviewer loved it!
Hornit released a 14” wheel balance bike, the woom 3 Automagic finally became available here in the UK (one of the best 16” wheel bikes we’ve ever tested) and Frog Bikes continued to upgrade their range with new models with lower standover heights.
Bike Club expanded into Germany and Spain, plus extended their subscription model to include a range of Forme adult bikes and kids Cube mountain bikes.
Tern released a new compact cargo bike, plus we saw LOADS of exciting new cargo bikes on display at the Bike Show in April, which will hopefully find distributors in the UK and appear on our streets soon.
There were lots of new kids books published about bikes and cycling too!
2023 – a good or bad year for active travel?
With everything else terrible that’s been going on in the world this year, it might seem trivial to be talking about cycle paths. But I’m going to, as it’s just one example of the worrying turn modern politics, media and public discourse is taking.
If it’s not too traumatic I’m going to ask you to cast your mind back to the early days of Boris Johnson’s premiership, when he declared that we were going to become a cycling nation, with a plan and some funding to start to process.
For all the things that Boris did wrong (and the list seems to be growing by the day) we mustn’t forget that Boris rides a bike.
Indeed he launched the “Boris Bike” scheme during his time as Mayor of London.
His vision was finally a big leap in the right direction towards making it safe for our children (and us) to ride bikes, rather than have to drive everywhere.
Which is why it’s such a disappointment that Rishi Sunak has back pedalled completely on this.
His government has recently published a long-term plan to “back drivers, make road journeys smoother and ‘tackle anti-car measures’”. Those so-called “anti-car” measures are the very things that make our roads safer for people who walk and cycle.
This comes as a response to the growth in anti-cycling rhetoric both in the traditional print media and online. They’re peddling the lie that anyone who wants to make it safer to walk and cycle is “woke” and hell bent on ruining the lives of everyone else.
Which is of course rubbish! When you combine really well-designed cycling infrastructure with a cheap and efficient public transport system everyone benefits from having multiple options on how to travel around. This is happening in towns and cities around the world, and it’s an embarrassment that our leadership is moving in the opposite direction.
However, the media and our politicians aren’t always in touch with what’s happening on the ground, and we’re seeing some really positive changes.
An increasing number of parents are realising that doing the school run by bike is quicker, cheaper and more fun than going by car.
The Kidical Mass and Bike Bus movements continue to grow in popularity, and there’s a number of English local authorities taking active travel and road safety really seriously.
Organisations such as Active Travel England, Sustrans and Cycling UK are leading the way in improving standards of infrastructure design.
Scotland and Wales are both forging forward much more quickly than England to reduce car domination and make walking and wheeling a viable option.
Is the tide turning? Will the faux outrage at wanting safe, cheap and environmentally friendly alternatives to having to take the car one day soon seem out of touch?
I hope so!
The same outrage happened when motorway speed limits, seat belts and drink driving limits were introduced. Hopefully future generations will look back and laugh at those who were so resistant to positive change.
We just need to keep on pedalling forward through this difficult transition period. Which leads me very nicely onto what we’ve been up to here at Cycle Sprog HQ.
2023 – a year of growth for Cycle Sprog
There’s so much we need to do that we’ve taken the big step of recruiting two new team members and thereby doubling our size.
Mildred Locke has joined as our new Digital Editor.
Mildred is going to be revamping all our Buyers Guides to make them easier to use and find.
Emily Wormald joined as our Rides and Reviews Editor.
Emily is going to be managing our review panel, meaning we can review far more products next year, as well as working on some exciting new projects we've got planned to help get more families cycling.
Mildred and Emily have been busy getting up to speed since starting a couple of months ago, and as we go into 2024 you’ll start to see the benefits of us having a much larger team.
They join Saskia, who has completed her first full year with us.
One of her tasks for 2023 was to improve our cargo bike content and I’m very pleased to say that we’re now the place to go to get really detailed, helpful and independent advice on choosing, buying and riding a family cargo bike.
One of our highlights of 2023 was Saskia and I meeting lots of Cycle Sprog followers at the London Cargo Bike Festival.
On the technical side of things we’ve revamped our kids bike search, making it much easier to find the perfect bike for your child and have seen this become one of the most popular features on our website.
We’ve got some really exciting plans for next year to get more families onto bikes, and those already riding to have even more fun.
I’ve already written too much today, so if you want to know more be sure to sign up to our newsletter.
And if you want to say thank you for all the work we’ve done during this challenging year, and see us thrive in 2024, then you can support us through our Kofi account.
If you can’t do that, then telling your friends and family about Cycle Sprog, and sharing our content, is just as important.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!