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Tony Pereira takes top prize at Oregon Manifest competition – UPDATED

Posted by on September 24th, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Oregon Manifest Field Test-57
The Cielo by Chris King entry and
the Tsunehiro/Silas Beebe entry (R)
roll on Skyline Blvd during the
50-mile Field Test. The bikes took 3rd and
2nd places respectively.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Tony Pereira of Portland-based Pereira Cycles took home top honors for the 2011 Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge. The event, which was a competition to design and build the “Ultimate modern utility bike,” concluded today with a grueling “Field Test” competition.

I’ll share more thoughts and photos from the Field Test and the awards later (see my Field Test Photo Gallery). For now, here are the winners…

Student Design Competition: University of Oregon


Honorable Mention: John Cutter/Cutter Design (San Luis Obispo, CA)


Honorable Mention: Joshua Muir/Frances Cycles (Santa Cruz, CA)


Third Place: Cielo by Chris King (Portland, OR)


Second Place: Tsunehiro Cycles and Silas Beebe/ID + (Portland, OR)

L to R: Rob Tsunehiro (builder), Paul Johnson (Blaq Designs, bag maker), Silas Beebe (bike designer)
The bike is painted with an awesome reflective paint.

Best in Show: Tony Pereira/Pereira Cycles (Portland, OR)

UPDATE: Here’s what three of the four judges had to say about why Pereira’s bike rose to the top:

Joe Breeze (one of the inventors of the mountain bike and founder of Breezer Bicycles):

“It was the black box on the front. Not just that it could do number 11 [I think this is a Spinal Tap reference to how loud and how good it sounded], but it could also hold quite a bit; it was lockable, it had USB connections; it could hold stuff not only in it but on it [funny he mentioned that because Pereira added a top rack to the box on Friday night!].”

Note: Breeze acknowledged to me that Pereira’s bike wasn’t his top choice (his favorite was the Cutter Design entry), but he said it was a “collective decision” of the entire four-person panel. “But I could be comfortable with this.”

Bill Strickland (Editor in Chief, Bicycling Magazine):

“There were two main thing. One was that he was dealing with some sort of electric technology, which we [the panel] think is the way forward. And the lockable storage — he didn’t execute it in maybe the most elegant way, but the idea of lockable storage is very good.

One of the first few sentences he said to us [during the three-minute presentation each entrant gave to the judging panel] was that this is a replacement for a car. So, it had the e-assist, which let him get up over the hills (ahead of Ira Ryan, who’s very fit) and it has lockable storage which is like a trunk; so it just clicked in our minds that it really is like a car. And then, and it’s kind of silly, but the other thing was he had the music…

A car has a radio and it has a trunk and it has some sort of drive system and we just thought he was really thinking forward. And he’s a great craftsman.”

Rob Forbes (founder of Design Within Reach and PUBLIC Bikes):

“It was a really tough decision. I think what attracted most of us was that it was both a replacement for a car and it’s really the type of vehicle that makes a kind of glimpse into the future of what transportation utitlity can be.

We thought, let’s pick something that is really a signal of how things are changing and what potential there is for the future. It ranked very high on the level of innovation — both in terms of the power-assist and also combining music, combining storage and making things both fun and accessible.

And out there on the road test today it wasn’t a fluke that he was out in front. It wasn’t a race, but just on that level of this stuff works and it’s really fascinating and it’s really enjoyable and it’s kind of a magnet for bringing attention to some important issues.”

It’s also worth noting that before announcing the winners, each judge gave a shout out to a bike they really loved. The bikes that got a mention were:

Quixote Cycles

Art & Industry

Donkelope

The dog is a 12-year-old border collie named Rastus.

Retrotec

True Fabrications

Some commentators and utility bike fans are disappointed with the judge’s selections. Many feel that the Cielo and Pereira’s bike aren’t that huge of a departure from existing commuter bikes and that they don’t go far enough in the utility factor to merit honors. I’ll share more thoughts on that in a separate post.

What do you think? Did you favorites get recognized?

UPDATE, Monday 11:15 am: Read more from the judges in the official blog post just published by Oregon Manifest.

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Comments
  • AGRIBOB September 25, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Hey Jonathon,

    Your coverage and pictures were so good there was little reason to go up to Chris King this Sat. afternoon.

    But we did go and had a good time. It was fun to see the later riders come in and see the judges checking out their bikes integrity and examine their baggage.
    Saw a carton of eggs arrive on one bike, unbroken of course.

    Bob

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  • Ash L September 25, 2011 at 6:58 am

    I find it surprising that most of the winners have very high top tubes. If your rear rack is heavily loaded it’s difficult to mount and dismount the bike. My idea of a well appointed utility bike features a step through or at least mixte frame design.
    Obviously the cyclocross style field test eliminated any step through contenders. The test seems to belittle real world applications for cargo bikes. Most of us aren’t barreling down muddy inclines with out kids and backpacks on the rear.

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  • 9watts September 25, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Lots of great bikes to admire. Is there anywhere to see the full lineup with a photo for each? I thought some not profiled here were outstanding: Folk Engineered, Plywood Fiets (I don’t know the name), Donkelope, Fuse Project, and let’s not forget the (mostly local) great bikes out in the parking lot at Chris King last night.
    My favorite of those was the tilting, pedal- *and* hand- powered front wheel drive cargo trike made in 1979. That’s a bike I’d like to see a feature story on!
    here’s one photo I snapped of it:
    http://s286.photobucket.com/albums/ll113/o9watts/?action=view&current=P9240008.jpg

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    • roger noehren September 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      Jonathan embedded a link to his fairly comprehensive coverage in the article about the show: http://bikeportland.org/photos/album/72157627611351761/oregon-manifest-2011.html?page=3
      I like all the bikes featured in this article, especially John Cutter’s (with the amazing three-point “kickstand”). I alsoloved Ira Ryan’s 4-speed classic and of course Joseph Ahearn’s entry (as well a number of his other creations parked in the lot) should not be overlooked. I can’t imagine being a judge; there were so many beautiful bikes and concepts on display.
      I had a white lockbox on the back of my 10-speed in the 80′s and Bud Clark once remarked that this was very common in Japan and suggested that I import them…great concept Tony – you’re clearly tuned into the zeitgeist re the (future?) role of bicycles in our culture.
      It should be mentioned as well that the battery failed on the Quixote (how apropos) at the start of the big climb – the valiant rider(and her daughter) persevered, pushing her already heavy bike (that motor & battery must weigh a bit) up the long hill and rode to a respectable finish. That deserves a prize!

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  • gianni faresin September 25, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Ash L: Have you ever raced cyclocross? A few sections of gravel road don’t equal a “cyclocross style field test.” Armchair critics will do their thing, but the test, while not perfect, is a good way to pack some challenge into a single day. And I’m not sure why you think step-through bikes were in any way eliminated as contenders by the nature of the challenge.

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  • dwainedibbly September 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Congratulations to the winners and to all of the participants for a LOT of great ideas. Hopefully some of these will end up in the market.

    A big black eye to the organizers. Much of the test ride had very little to do with how most of these bikes might be used in real life. Please try to do better designing the route next time!

    And kudos to Jonathan for great coverage. Mrs Dibbly & I went to the Friday evening event, but I didn’t take any photos.

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    • lil'stink September 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      What was wrong with the route? A mostly urban route might have been more ‘ideal’, but with so many riders it might have been more dangerous, and more difficult to plan for

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  • ryan downey September 25, 2011 at 9:08 am

    The reflective bike is coated in Halo Coatings, a patented retro-reflective powder coating.

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  • robert September 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I truly enjoyed all the bikes at the show this year, a way better mix of clever ideas than in the past due to the new standards that the bikes had to meet. It was great to see “real” family style cargo bikes and not just a bunch of rando’s with a few extra cargo options although those are beautiful for their own reasons. If I designed the field test criteria for the show based on the needs of my family then a bike would have to carry our every day needs which are:

    1. 15 month old baby
    2. 10 pound dog
    3. 2 bags of groceries
    4. Diaper bag
    5. rain cover or rain clothes for rider/baby
    6. tools, spares, pump
    7. water, travel mug
    8. lights, lock

    Fortunately there were a few bikes there that met that test. As more of the Constructors find themselves parents I am sure that these capabilities will enter into their bike designs. It would be fun to see a year in which the bikes would have to carry all of the above. Obviously you would have to substitute weighted dummies for the baby/dog due to obvious reasons on the Saturday test day.

    Kudos to all, it was the best Manifest to date and we had a lot of fun attending on both days.

    robert

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    • Jim September 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

      I have that bike!

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    • Dave September 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      I also have that bike! My lovely wife rode it to the party carrying:

      21-month-old child
      2-month-old child
      Diaper bag
      Snacks
      Water
      2 kid-wearing devices
      Rain gear for the whole family
      Locks

      and there was still room for a bag of groceries and another toddler if we were really pushed on it. One party-goer told me that there was a secondary show going on in the parking lot of designs that didn’t get to formally compete. An “outlaw” show, if you will. Turns out he was just looking at the parking area. There was my bike, a couple bakfietsen, a couple Metrofiets, a couple Xtracycles, and various others whose owners don’t work for months to dream up a concept bike that could possibly serve as a car replacement.

      They already ride bikes that replace cars.

      If all it takes for the judges to be convinced that a bike is a viable car replacement is a stereo, a motor, and locking storage, then why do any of them drive cars? That describes a moped. If that’s all you use your car for you are vastly over-equipped, and if any of them read this and sputter “but sometimes I use my car to haul groceries and small pieces of furniture, and sometimes other people too” I respond by asking “what happens when the owner of Tony’s bike needs to do the same?”

      He has to use a car or a cargo bike.

      A bike supposedly serving as a car replacement should not only replace it when the car was only serving as a single-occupancy vehicle. That is a very low bar to set utility-wise, and there are lots of ways to do it at a fraction of the cost of Tony’s bike.

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      • Paul Smith September 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm

        You nailed it re the winning bike. It’s got a fairly narrow bandwidth of who and what it’s useful for. A single person cruising around town for fun? Sure. Much more? Not really.

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  • sabes September 25, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I’d be hesitant to put all my cargo weight up front with nothing in the back. Doesn’t that greatly affect the handling of the bike.

    On another note, the winning bike is pretty ugly. And the paint color is horrendous.

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    • eric September 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      A bike can be designed to handle better with weight in the front. Indeed, bikes which are designed to be front loaded handle worse with the weight in the back. You can google “low-trail bicycle” to find out more.

      This year bikes are less fop-chariots and more useful; The sheer number of different designs was inspiring, even if the execution of some was more focused on the craft of bicycle building rather than the art of designing a useful vehicle replacement.

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  • Gabba-gabba September 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Notice the pedal/shoe choices. A modern and versatile utility bike that replaces car trips IMHO doesn’t require specialty footwear. (See UO, True, Quixote, A&I)

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  • dr2chase September 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    My favorite 3 (from eyeballing all the pictures, and reading what I could) did get shout outs — Quixote/Clever, Retrotec, and Art and Industry. Of the bunch, I thought Quixote was the most practical (I ride a Big Dummy), and the other two looked practical enough, but also looked fantastic.

    Didn’t think much of the sidecar designs. Cute, but in practice you care about width a whole lot, and they blow that metric.

    I was also disappointed by the Frances Cycles entry, not because it was necessarily bad, but because the Frances Small Haul is such an awesome-looking cargo bike, and their entry was not its equal.

    Lockable storage is nice, but that is a portable idea; any box that fits the front rack, with a sturdy bottom and interior-nutted u-bolt attachment will do. Littleford Cycles had that great little space in their rear rack; I’m trying to figure out how to retrofit that onto a long-tail snapdeck (not so much room with great fat tires).
    (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bikeportland/6175174015/in/set-72157627611351761)

    I agree that the test route was not representative of anything that I understand to be utility cycling. The design-testing points on my usual rides include things like:
    - short scramble up an unpaved slope
    - sharing space with strollers and dog-walkers on a MUP
    - “sharing” space with cars and trucks in tight traffic
    - not sharing space with cars and trucks at a spot where the bike gutter shrinks to non-existence, and I still want to pass on the right, in a residential area where I am allowed to abscond to the hilariously bumpy sidewalk to get past
    - a few curb hops
    - a few small hills (optional huge hill that I usually avoid)

    And usual load is just work pack, tools, and grocery bags, but sometimes the load is as high as 4 bags of groceries and a 100-lb kid. Sometimes the load is a towed bicycle, or a folding ladder, or a shrubbery.

    The bike I look at most often nowadays and go hmmm at is the CETMALarge/Margo. I’d love to know how it scores on nimble (longtails are pretty good at that), because it sure looks like it has a handle on convenient and fun.

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  • mmann September 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    My personal favorite was the Strawberry – acknowledging that I’m drawn to classic designs that just get the job done. And while it wasn’t flashy, the execution in unpainted Reynolds 631 air-hardened steel, and the wishbone bi-plane seat stay were very nice touches that may have gotten lost among all the nifty goo-gaws and bright paint jobs on other bikes. I also really really liked Ira Ryan’s bike. You mentioned how Tony pulled away from Ira (though they crossed the line together 2nd/3rd overall) Afterward I checked out Ira’s bike. He had a fairly small range FOUR speed cluster on the rear and a single chainring up front, so I’d say he held his own just fine against an electric motorbike.

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  • mmann September 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    ps – the first bike across the line – with a good 15-20 minute lead on Tony and Ira – was a true cargo bike with belt drive and internal gearing. I think it was the entry from Vemana? If someone knows otherwise, please correct me.

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  • Garlynn September 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I wish there was a bicycle shop somewhere where I (and anybody) could wander in and check out & test ride ALL of the entries in the Manifesto, and buy their favorite one! There is a HUGE gap between any of these entries, and what passes for a city/commuter/utility bike in your average American bike shop…

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    • beth h September 26, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Garlynn — a bike shop that existed primarily on the kinds of designs seen at the Manifest is a shop that would probably go out of business in a town the size of Portland. There are quite a few folks with money here — but probably not enough to support the existence of such a shop. (If I’m wrong about this then I obviously don’t run in the same circles as most of my bike-savvy pals, and I can live with that.)

      I believe that to get more people onto bicycles it’s still important to make the majority of bicycles accessible on many levels — aesthetically, economically and in quantities of scale. There is a long path from one-off design show-bike to mass-produced utility bike.
      While these designs are exciting and some of them may perhaps give a glimpse of “the future” (certain aspects of which I’m not yet sure I really need, like a stereo system), they are still one-off designs.

      When we begin to see enough trickle-down to make the best of these designs affordable by the majority of utility bike-riders, then something real will have been accomplished here. I look forward to that day.

      Until then, most of us area already making do quite well with regular uprights bikes equipped with baskets; and the more intrepid among us are usuing longbikes and trailers to prove that bigger human-powered loads have been possible for years.

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      • velvetackbar September 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm

        I have to agree 100% with Beth on this: the cost of these bikes will almost certainly make them unpalatable to the average consumer.

        We really need some *affordable* designs that can be put into production quickly and rolled out to the masses as a “Look here: Practical, affordable alternative to the gas machine”

        That said, most consumers are still viewing bikes priced over $200 as an unnecessary extravagance.

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        • 9watts September 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

          two thoughts on affordability:
          (1) buy used
          (2) make the utility modifications yourself

          I’m not in the market for anything that costs more than $75 myself, but I’ve learned not to assume that my own habits, preferences, or priorities are average.

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          • beth h September 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm

            Responding to your longer reply (which doesn’t seem to have a “Reply” button for some reason):
            a. lots of folks just aren’t handy, and for them a used bike from craigslist isn’t a bargain if they have to pay someone to fix it up.
            b. It is the rare used bike anymore that can be found in decent shape on CL for less than $200. People know what they have and are pricing it accordingly.
            I speak of new bikes because if the best of these design elements DO find their way into mass production (and that’s still my hope) they will almost certainly be seen on new bikes first. Most people still think that a new bike, coming with some sort of warranty, is still the way to go.

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          • 9watts September 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

            beth h
            “It is the rare used bike anymore that can be found in decent shape on CL for less than $200. People know what they have and are pricing it accordingly.”

            My experience (and we are probably looking at different types of bikes on CL) is exactly the opposite. We should compare notes sometime. The bikes I am interested in show up every day for well less than $100, and I’m pretty picky. I guess perhaps you have to know what to look for.

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          • Psyfalcon September 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm

            There is a forum, lets see what we can come up with. My informal viewing shows one decade old Huffy for $75. $40 for a bike with no handlebars or brakes.

            I really don’t see much if anything usable under $100.

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          • 9watts September 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm

            “I really don’t see much if anything usable under $100.”
            and neither do some other folks it seems. More, I guess, for those who can see past the Huffys.

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        • beth h September 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm

          There’s a fair degree of reverse snobbery in the bicycle industry, especially in a bike-mad town like Portland.

          Fact: $200 will get you a bicycle, with two wheels, handlebars and a saddle, and a drive-train. It will usually bear a name like Murray, Magna or Huffy and can be found at most department stores. It will have room for fenders and a rack, and often will incldue eyelets with which you can install these on the bike. It will function. With tires kept at proper pressure, and the chain wiped down and re-lubed from time to time, it will function for quite awhile. In fact, many, many people have spent just this much, and no more, and have gotten years of daily, utilitarian use out of said $200 bike — without an accident or a major breakdown.

          Will the average independent bike shop overhaul a bike named Murray, Magna or Huffy? Not usually. The cost of the job at such a shop would exceed the value of the bike, rendering the entire affair a can of worms best avoided.

          That said, I am amazed — and truthfully, happy — to see so many of these $200 bikes out of the road every single day. Because it means people are riding them. And isn’t that at least part of the point in all this?

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          • 9watts September 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm

            beth,
            you don’t really think that bikes can only be bought new do you? We’ve had this conversation here before. The last time I bought a bike new was in 1987. I don’t have a car–my bikes are my (and my family’s) primary transportation. I happen to have bought four excellent used (vintage mountain) bikes on Craigslist this summer for between $30 and $50. They were all high quality bikes when new–some were even made here–and with some tuneup and parts are now once again good as new. Some even come with lights, fenders, even racks and a lock. And no, they were not stolen, just neglected and not well adjusted or outgrown.* Buying used isn’t just good for cheapskates, it puts all the money you spend into the local economy rather than to China or to some far-off capitalist. Why folks aren’t snapping these up is beyond me.

            One reason I keep harping on this is that it is misleading to suggest that acquiring a quality bike is an expensive proposition, that your only choices are
            dept. store crap for $200,
            nice bike (but also made in Asia) for $700, or
            homegrown made here custom bike for $3,000

            *we still live in a society where some people stop riding a bike when they grow up. Beats me.

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  • mmann September 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Garlynn,

    I agree – generally. But I also think the bike entered by Chris King (Cielo) – which took 3rd place – has the most chance of everything I saw of actually being realized as a real production bike and appealing to a lot of people.

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  • Drew September 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    For me, the Francis was the shining star of an impressive lineup of bikes. Like a mini-bakfiets. I like the idea of dropping stuff into a huge open bag or box situated low and in front of me where I can see it as I ride. It is different from his smallhaul of course, but perhaps better suited to the utility bike theme the organizers were looking for.

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  • ian September 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I’m responsible for the Field Test course. I don’t speak for Oregon Manifest, but I’m happy to relay my personal thoughts about the course if anyone wants to hear them.

    As for the tone of the criticism about particular bikes, I just don’t understand. Different people like/want/need different kinds of bikes to suit their particular needs or tastes. How someone can think any of these bikes are anything less than special is beyond me. I have my favorites just like anyone, but all the bikes and the people who created them are all swell in my book. I was blown away by each and every one and actually get choked up just thinking about all the awesome I saw over the last few days. Well done to all of you. Without Oregon Manifest we wouldn’t have the opportunity to compare different styles, nor see the results of all this great work in one place. I’m glad it happened.

    - Ian Leitheiser
    imleitheiser@gmail.com

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    • Jim September 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      From a fabrication standpoint within the constraints of the show’s requirements, many of these bikes are very good.
      The issue I, and some others, have is the requirements are lame, not that bikes are bad, though some clearly didn’t get through the course, did they?

      Here’s a vid Todd tweeted featuring real, useable, non-conceptual bikes: http://www.lizcanning.com/Liz_Canning_Creative/CB_trailer.html

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  • nom de plume September 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    All the bikes at the show are fantastic works or art. Really just amazing. I do wonder how much “utility” is involved in a side car or a 60lb bike. As much as I like the capacity of long-tails and full-on cycletrucks, a standard safety bike design like the Pereira and Cielo is much more useful IMHO. And as noted above, a step-through design is the most utilitarian there is!

    The route of the course is a great recreational ride, but doesn’t seem designed to to shake-down a utility bike. And transporting the bikes to the start? Isn’t that sending completely the wrong message about how useful these bikes are?

    BTW, why wasn’t Jan Heine invited to be a judge. Maybe he was but declined or couldn’t make it? Whether you agree with his insights or not, he seems to be the one person in the cycling word that consistently casts an objective eye on bikes. Maybe that’s why he wasn’t there!

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    • dr2chase September 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Have you ever tried a 60-pound bike? I put about 2500 miles per year on a 65-lb Big Dummy (has IGH, chaincase, dynamo hub, replacement snapdeck, toolkit, etc). Works great. Rolling down the road, bike and I have a GVW of 285lbs; shaving 35 pounds off the total is not that big an improvement, nothing like an improvement to the aerodynamics.

      At least once per week I carry a load that would not fit on most of the “utility” bikes in that competition. Today I hauled my daughter to and from her music lesson. Yesterday I bought 2 Ikea bags and one standard grocery bag full of groceries. A few times per year I haul a bike behind my bike.

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    • ian September 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Jan Heine was there on Saturday, riding the course on his Rene Herse along with the entrants. He’ll surely have lots to say, if he hasn’t already.

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      • dwainedibbly September 26, 2011 at 4:21 am

        Jan was there on Friday night, too. I, too, would like to see him as a judge next time (2013?).

        About the course: my initial comment may have been a little harsh, but I’d really like these bikes to be mostly ridden in urban or suburban conditions. Let’s see how they do with lots of starts & stops (a disadvantage for any ebike without regenerative braking), how they handle in traffic, how they do with streetcar tracks. And while you’re at it, can you arrange for a little rain, too? :) (Seriously, some of the fenders were pretty minimal. Next time I’d like to see the standard include something like a “degrees of arc” requirement for fenders.)

        I loved the variety. I loved that there were a few 3/4-baked ideas. Mrs Dibbly never follows directions when she cooks and sometimes something promising results, so why not have a little of that in bike design, too?

        And as long as I’m thinking out loud, why wasn’t ArtCrank on the same weekend?

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    • Psyfalcon September 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      How much utility is a 60lb bike?

      Well, someone loaded it up, and rode it over the West Hills. That has to be some type of utility, no?

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    • Lynne September 26, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Jan Heine was very much present.

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  • lil'stink September 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Special props to the lady on the Quixote bike, who managed to haul her 100lb bike, with her daughter, on the course after having issues with her electric assist!

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  • Alistair Williamson September 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I really enjoyed the bikes (and following the design process in Core77 http://core77.com/oregonmanifest/). I also agree that the evolution from one person recreation bikes is slow.

    So, I suggest that next time the Manifest Criteria is for a “family bike” rather than utility biker. It must carry adult and child. That would up the stakes a bit.

    Now we need a sponsor who would care about that. Any ideas?

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    • jered September 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

      Next time how ’bout “world bike” – must haul, family of four, a sofa, and a weeks worth of food in a smog filled urban setting!! I’ve got some great pictures of folks rocking highly “modded” flying pigeons all over Asia to haul EVERYTHING! Folks be in shape!

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  • Al from PA September 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I was very surprised to see that an e-bike was allowed to compete with the other bikes, let alone that it “won.”

    E-assist might be ok, but it would seem to warrant its own vehicular category.

    If the future of cycling is e-assist, ok, but then that should be clearly stated up front and debated. E-assist means dependence, primarily, on the existing power grid and all the environmental compromises necessary to provide electricity. That too might be ok, but such dependence should be clearly stated as being acceptable on environmental and existential grounds. The larger carbon footprint of such a bike/vehicle would need to be clearly affirmed.

    It also means a difference in overall speed, with obvious implications for rider behavior in bike lanes, etc. Thus the implications of e-assist for rider safety in the overall modal mix should be considered, and if necessary affirmed (with full awareness of negative consequences–eg the presence of motor scooters in bike lanes in Amsterdam, etc).

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    • Jim September 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

      Ok, I’ll bite.
      Whatever. You’re typing on a machine that needs all kinds of e-assist.

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      • Al from PA September 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm

        I’m not saying e-assist is “bad”–it’s just different from a purely human powered bike. The differences need to be stated and considered up front. If e-assist is ok, then why not small bolt-on piston engines (internal combustion)? What’s the big difference? Both Ducati and Honda got their starts making such motors–for conversion of bicycles to motorbikes. At what point does a bicycle become a motorbike?

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        • dr2chase September 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm

          IC engines are smelly and noisy, and the e-bike assists are speed-limited in many states. I think the difference has to do with where we are willing to let them be used; anything motorized and faster than the 85th percentile bicycle perhaps should be confined to the street with the cars.

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          • jered September 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

            Smelly and noisy… funny, the new BMW M5 has “fake engine noise” piped into the cabin to give the feel of more performance due to the actual engine being so quiet – WEIRD!

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        • Jim September 25, 2011 at 7:52 pm

          It is an important distinction if one wants to be as green as possible. Does an e-motor have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than a super-efficient, well-engineered, very low polluting, quiet internal combustion engine? I don’t know if the study has been done, but it is a very relevant question.
          Now let’s just throw up a bunch of wind farms and solar arrays so the answer is more clear.

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          • dr2chase September 25, 2011 at 8:07 pm

            The answer is, “yes”. IC engines face fundamental thermodynamic limits, and putting one on a bicycle loses what few economies of scale you might hope to get.

            Lithium batteries and modern controllers and motors are all extremely efficient; if you can get green energy to charge the battery, then the system is green. Hydro, solar, and wind are all pretty good choices. Coal is a bad choice, natural gas, what you gain at the efficient power plant (same thermodynamic limits as IC, but tremendous economies of scale, tuning, and constant speed), you probably lose in the transmission.

            Nuclear is “green”, too, if you don’t mind glow-in-the-dark green.

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          • Hugh Johnson September 26, 2011 at 5:43 am

            That’s the problem with this whole green crusade…if you can’t hear it or smell it then there must no consequence to using it…right?

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          • dr2chase September 26, 2011 at 6:51 am

            @Hugh Johnson — don’t be a jerk. Plenty of greenies pay plenty of attention to what’s behind the energy. That’s why quite a few are, if not vegetarian, low-meat or careful-meat. A bleeding-edge-tech small IC motor is unlikely to beat an off-the-shelf e-assist run on today’s US grid power, and if the grid gets greener, then the e-assist gets greener with it. Furthermore, battery-charging is an excellent candidate to be a “smart load” that draws less power when it is scarce or in high demand.

            But either choice, applied to a bicycle, kicks the crap out of anything running something as large as an automobile.

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          • Jim September 26, 2011 at 9:11 am

            dr, your answer is “yes” because of the theory. To my knowledge no one has either a) built such an ic engine or b) done the carbon footprint analysis.
            Until then, the real answer is ?

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          • dr2chase September 26, 2011 at 9:57 am

            @jim – thermodynamics can tell you the maximum efficiency you will attain by looking at combustion temperature. Wikipedia “heat engine” and “internal combustion engine” are good guides. So, based on the melting point of steel, I can tell you that (quoting wikipedia) your efficiency will not exceed 37% if you build a steel engine. And as I understand it, usual case (varying loads and RPMs) is far from optimum and you should expect more like 20-25%.

            Power plant operators have the option of chaining together heat engines, continuous operation at a fixed RPM (60Hz), temperatures that are unpleasant for humans to be around without thick, heavy, insulation, and even the possibility of converting their waste heat into useful “district heat”. Best case combined-cycle gas turbines now apparently deliver 60% efficiency, even ignoring the benefits of district heat. Power plant operators are also able to use economies of scale to help clean up their emissions (scrubbing sulfur, soot, fly ash, etc) in ways that would be unlikely on a bicycle. They do lose some in transmission, however, so the system efficiency to your wall socket is not 60% (transmission efficiency is hard to find on-line).

            The wikipedia articles do hint at some exotic phase-change materials that might allow higher efficiency, but anything that can be deployed on a bicycle, can surely be deployed at a power plant, where they have all the scale and stability advantages. And your fueled engine will never, ever do better than a wind-mill-powered battery charger.

            Yes, I know I am raining on your innovation party. Thermodynamics is like that, but it can help us avoid wasting time pursuing solutions that cannot possibly exist.

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    • Jim September 26, 2011 at 10:08 am

      dr., so basically you’re saying all the higher-efficiency engines car manufacturers are producing today are irrelevant to engineering, materials and design improvements. And that you know everything there is to know about the subject.
      You are speaking from what you know and not what is the cutting edge.

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      • dr2chase September 26, 2011 at 10:28 am

        I don’t know a lot, but I know that the cutting edge for an internal combustion engine will never exceed the limits imposed by thermodynamics. Auto engines used to be a lot worse; “cutting edge” is merely coming closer to that limit. Use of ceramics allows you to burn fuel at higher temperatures (higher melting point) but then you have to deal with weird results of high temperature combustion in your emissions (which can be done, but remember, you want to fit all this on a bicycle, sensors, combustion computer, catalytic converter, and all).

        Any trick that can be played in an auto engine, can be played at a power plant on a massive scale under much more controlled conditions, so no matter how much progress you make on your auto, they benefit from it, too.

        This, by-the-way, is what is so depressing to me about a lot of our alleged attempts to get off oil. There are fundamental limits that we won’t exceed. Too many people are too damn gullible, and sign on to snake-oil solutions. For example, if we converted our entire corn crop to ethanol, we’d only cover 21% of our current gasoline consumption. Seems pretty pointless to build a vehicle that can run on 85% ethanol (like all those E85 trucks), unless we aim to (a) quadruple our corn acreage or (b) consume 80% less “gasoline”. Sugarcane, switchgrass, magic unicorns converting cellulose to ethanol, do the math first on how much acreage we’d need before you get all excited.

        And that is one of the reasons that I ride a bicycle.

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    • beth h September 26, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Most of my issues with E-assist are highly personal. They include things like requiring bike mechanics to also become electricians; the aforementioned carbon footprint involved (and what happens when all those batteries start to wear out?); and the fact that to admit you need E-assist is to admit that you’re neither as strong nor as young as you used to be.

      As the happy owner of a Surly Big Dummy, I’m willing to concede that the time will come when I will need to install some kind of assisting system on my cargo bike. That day hasn’t arrived yet, but it probably will; and at that point I can only hope that the prices have come down enough that I can afford to have one installed.
      (I also hope that when that time comes I’m still able to bal;ance a two-wheeled cargo bike, as the three-wheeled versions are still quite a lot more expensive and harder to store, but I digress.)

      There has been a surprising amount of push-back in the bike industry regarding E-assist; you can tell by all the articles in the industry rags trying so hard to promote it. But the truth is that the demographic most likely to need it and afford it is the one greying before everyone’s eyes. Tony had the foresight to recognize that he was designing a bike for the future, and whether any of us like it or not that future will have to include bikes with some kind of assisting system for slower, older riders and/or heavier loads.

      All that remains is for the E-assist systems themselves to become more green than they currently are.

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      • Jim September 26, 2011 at 11:42 am

        I would expect industry push-back, as e-assists obviate much of the industry’s marketing: light weight, efficiency, sex, speed.

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  • 9watts September 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I thought the judges explanations of why Pereira’s bike won were very telling. Thanks for asking those questions, Jonathan.

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  • Jolly Dodger September 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Multi category urban “utility” bike competetion? E.bike/all other HPV’s…long tails/slim jims…most importantly to the modern cargo cycle movement, commercial usage vs. “everyday use”. Worksman Cycles has had this stuff down for decades…clunky and heavy duty, workhorse bikes meant for industrial use…and more importantly to the current state of the economy…MADE IN THE USA.

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  • Mac September 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Other criteria that are important to many people include the ability to bring the bike on a MAX train or easily get it up over a curb, or into an elevator or up stairs into an apartment. Everyone has different needs, and the value of this “competition” and of the course isn’t really to determine a winner but to show the variety of solutions out there and the pros and cons of each. That helps every rider find the best fit for their needs. It helps the stores know what ranges of bikes/racks/bags/trailers to stock. It helps the custom builders use each others ideas to help their customers. The variety of bikes shown was the result of a well-designed event.

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  • Jeff A September 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Even though I don’t agree with the final judging, I am glad this Constructor’s Design Challenge exists and hope it continues. To me, it has room for improvement. I agree that the test course does not reinforce the goal of the “ultimate modern utility bike”. To me, being able to carry a child should be mandatory. Being compatible with MAX or TriMet should be given consideration, but not mandatory.

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  • Dan Kaufman September 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Below is a quick video I threw together Friday if you are interested in a closer look and commentary from Tony on his bicycle:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUsOats7D7k

    The type of course, it’s challenges, and the criteria was not a surprise to the builders.

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  • METROFIETS September 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    We wanted to win (of course) but we built a bike that we are super proud of and has a ton of features we wanted to test; features you will see in future Metrofiets starting in 2012.

    Highlights for us – we made new friends, had a great time, saw some RAD bikes and went on a great ride. Oh, and we sold the 2011 Manifest bike for more than it coast us to build it! How sweet is that?

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  • Zoomzit September 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    By everyone’s comments, I think it’s fairly obvious that everyone has different needs in a cargo bike. Some love e-assist, some hate it. Some need to haul kids and lots of stuff, some just a little. Some like to go fast, some like upright. Some require the ability to connect with Public transport, others don’t care.

    Oregon Manifest tends to show the variety of utility bikes and that’s a very good thing. As one who owns a daily commuter with a small rear rack and a CETMA, I can see that different bikes meet different needs. I think the problem is that too many people are caught up in the competition aspect of this event and are missing the overwhelming creativity that is displayed by almost all entrant. This is a phenomenal event that I wish took place every year. I also wish they wouldn’t hand out a “Best in show,” but rather comment on specific innovations that spoke to the judges.

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    • Jim September 26, 2011 at 9:05 am

      The creativity was outstanding and interesting from a functional art perspective and it’s important to have these brainstorming sessions.
      That said perhaps the organizers will respond to the criticism here and other blogs like they did last year and tighten up the focus of the show.
      As was mentioned above, stuff has to work every day in the real world for it to be truly useful. A bike not ridden is a terrible waste.

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  • Alex Reed September 26, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Re: the route – It seems like a fine route to me, GIVEN the assumption that the “route” has to be a race from A to B with no stops. I would like to see the organizers think outside of the A to B box next competition and have a “route” of errands ending up with the competitors carrying more stuff than they did this time.

    That said, the lockable box and integrated music did make the Pereira bike stand out – these are creature comforts that the bike industry has really not addressed at all. Even Clever Cycles only has a few lockable boxes, and if I’m not mistaken, you have to special order them!

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  • David Feldman September 26, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Sheesh, what a lot of whining! If any of you can conceive, design, and build a better versatile bike than Tony Pereira you are welcome to try. I look at this from the perspective of a long-time bike industry worker and hobbyist frame builder–big companies trying to be all things to all riders fuck up more often than not, and the bigger the company generally the worse the botch. For many amateurs or small builders, just getting a basic, functional bike on the road is a big job. Most of the Manifest contestants are small manufacturers with limited resources although great visions and skills. The bikes show some pretty big improvements on what the mainstream of the bike industry is selling at present.
    Encourage these builders–buy your bikes from them if you can either afford it and make the mental leap from the usual American perspective of being spoiled by the prices set by mass-produced imports. Just naming a bike the “Portland” doesn’t a practical, all-conditions bike make!

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    • Jim September 26, 2011 at 11:37 am

      Thanks, I did build one.

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    • METROFIETS September 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks David.

      For the record: no one (except, perhaps the builders and the folks we work with) will ever understand how much time and energy goes into designing and building a custom bicycle. Mad props to OM, the builders and the design teams. Keep the innovation rolling! With five spots and 30+ builders there was no way the public was gonna feel a little let down when their favorite wasn’t on the podium.

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  • Jim Jakob September 26, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I was at the Manifest on Saturday and was wondering about the rider who rolled across the finish line first, number 27. The officials put the bike and rider off to the side and not a word was said about them. It was a very interesting looking cargo bike and I heard several people in the crowd asking what was going on. I heard someone say they had been disqualified from the competition because the builder had not been finished it in time. It just seemed kind of odd like the officials didn’t know what to do with a bike and rider that had clearly made the 50 mile test and rolled in far ahead of the rest of the field. The bike was obviously a well built and capable cargo hauler. And apparently fast. The crowd seemed surprised that a cargo bike finished first. Any one have a clue what that was about?

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    • ian September 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Correct. The entry was not done in time to be part of the official competition, but the rider was invited to ride the Field Test route if he wished. Unfortunately, he blew by the second checkpoint where all of the other riders were stopped for evaluation and lunch. Once he was caught and notified, he opted to continue on rather than turn around and pedal back up a climb to the checkpoint, and thus finished ahead of the others.

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  • Ryno Dan September 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I thought it was a nuculer microwave.

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  • Chris Enos - Vimana Cycle September 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Yes, that is correct. That was my rider, and the bike wasn’t finished in time to be a part of the official competition. It was very considerate of the OM to allow our entry to ride regardless of eligibility. They did not have to let us ride, but they knew how very important it was for us to see if our build would hold up to the rigors of their test. I can not begin to say enough regarding the integrity displayed by the OM organizers. I believe this competition has considerable merit in the cycling world, and I for one am very appreciative for all their efforts. They have a very tough job.

    I was very aware our bike was “not” to be field test evaluated, and understandably so. My rider made the call to not return to the check point as it didn’t make since for him to waste the judges time. I think he didn’t realize it was also his lunch stop, and I am just sorry our rider had to huff it in on an empty stomach. We were simply thankful for the opportunity to see how the bike would hold up on the course and happy to do our own evaluating.

    I wish to extend my apologies to all for having missing that deadline, but I had the choice to hack the bike and take it to the presentation or to finish the frame correctly. I chose to finish the frame, and as embarrassing as it was to show up with no paint, I wasn’t about stop trying. I don’t give up.

    The bike was built specifically to the specifications of our rider. He will get the bike once his dazzling green paint is applied to the frame. The bike will go to Eugene and spend its life as a part of the Green Cycle Service work fleet.

    Thanks to the OM for all their consideration.

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  • Nola Wilken September 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Congratulations to Tony!!! I don’t think this event is meant to create bikes that you and I would slap down money for, but to push the whole industry into new directions – specifically the direction of bikes as transportation. We can all use them in different ways and need different models to accomplish this. Some families need a station wagon and some need a sports car. As to buying a functioning bike on CL for $50 – that is complete B.S. Just putting tires, tubes and brake pads on will cost over $100. The weird bent to paying nothing for your ride comes to you direct from China: your expectations of cost have been unnaturally lowered by low end throwaway bikes built by teenagers in unregulated factories spewing out carbon. If that’s green then you are an idiot.

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    • 9watts September 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm

      Nola,
      do we need to take this outside?
      “As to buying a functioning bike on CL for $50 – that is complete B.S. Just putting tires, tubes and brake pads on will cost over $100. …If that’s green then you are an idiot.”

      You obviously shop at a different bike store than I do. Besides, tubes and tires aren’t what most bikes I buy need to have replaced. Try cables, cable housing, a chain, bearings. Brake pads sometimes. Many of the used bikes I find on CL were hardly ever ridden. Go figure. The last bike I bought for $50 just needed air in the tires. The most abused bike of the lot cost me $30 and I put a whopping $82 in parts into it, which included all of the above plus a new freewheel cassette and a set of pedals.

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  • paul September 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Man, lots of people missing the point here but that’s to be expected. We’re honored to have contributed to the first and second place bikes regardless. Manifest pushed everyone to make things they’ve never made before, some things that haven’t been made before. I don’t necessarily agree with the judges either, but the bottom line is more than 30 teams brought their best and I’m still floored. Again, overwhelmed to have even been asked to participate.

    All you haters hating, here’s some required reading to soothe your overly opinionated souls:
    http://surlybikes.com/blog/post/some_answers_to_just_about_any_bike_forum_post_ive_ever_read

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    • Jim September 26, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      Yeah, as predicted the guys who participated think it was a great event. Who would have thought?
      Ok, let me ask you this: what design out of Manifests past and present has been incorporated in a model offered by builders?
      We are entitled to our opinions – the Manifest people responded last year to criticism to change their emphasis; maybe they will again this year.
      And maybe you will be building something truly useful next year.
      If you can’t critique design, design doesn’t move forward.

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      • paul September 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm

        Well Jim, this is the first manifest i’ve participated in and as a bag maker all I did was help Ruckus line Tony’s finished box and make a pair of panniers for Rob’s finished bike. For your information those panniers each fit an overflowing brown grocery bag and I integrated tail lights. We’ll be using that experience to offer integrated lights on any of our bags soon enough. I can’t speak to anyone else using or not using their innovations, I know the cielo bike will be made but i think my road bike with a rack is more functional…

        As far as the event, I think the bikes and builders deserve one or better two full days of display in a much larger venue, such that anyone can actually look at them for 5 seconds… The design criteria was extremely broad and thus the entries, the judges didn’t seem to pay much attention to them in their judging anyway. What they should do is break it into categories with a best in each, ordered as it was made no sense. I’m really annoyed that the true cargo entries were basically ignored, and for the sake of it i’m annoyed that all of the winning teams are portland based, i’m sure others are too whether that has anything to do with it or not.

        Personally Jim, i have no idea who you are and I don’t appreciate your broad assertion that my work isn’t useful and that i’m anything but a huge fan of open critique. As for next manifest, we’ll be partnered directly with a builder and creatively involved from the onset instead of after the fact. Congrats on reminding me why I absolutely never post on articles or forums, nothing you replied to me was constructive in any way.

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        • Jim September 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

          Your remarks about the Cielo are spot on, as are the focus on PDX “artisanal” builders.
          Everyone’s work is useful, but unless it sees production and people actually buy it all the conceptual conceits in the world don’t help anyone.
          There are many comments above which you took as missing the point, some of which I made. Open your mind at your own peril I wonder what the point of a design competition is when many of the designs don’t resemble anything, as a commenter said above, in the parking lot: Metrofiets, Xtracycles, etc. You know, the proven designs that people use daily.
          No doubt all the craftsmanship is good, but seriously think about it: you made a bag for a CARBON FIBER box with and integrated sound system! Who is going to buy that?
          Are you serious about holding a bag of groceries? What doesn’t? I can jam 6 and a dog into my Xtra.
          Stick your head in the sand that is the PDX NAHBS Manifest; the rest of us have found more useful, affordable solutions.
          BTW, how much did that box cost to fabricate?

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          • paul September 26, 2011 at 10:10 pm

            We work our hands raw designing and making an entire line of extremely useful and mostly very affordable gear. blaqdesign.com

            I assisted some good friends with making a Liner for their cargo box at the last minute, I think tony’s bike is cool as hell even if you don’t. I also made the pannier’s for Rob’s bike to Silas’s spec as far as size, shape and materials. I love Rob’s bike and I think you should look at it twice and realize it’s a solid long tail with a front rack, absolutely useful, and Rob’s regular work in traditional bikes of all types is phenomenal.

            My contribution was integrating tail-lights into the panniers with batteries and controls on one side and magnetic connectors to effortlessly transfer power to the other side when both are in use. These will be commercially available and absolutely affordable as soon as they are perfected. Feel free to tell me what you don’t like about specifically my work but i’m not going to take attacks on or defend work that isn’t mine to defend.

            You’ve got the audacity to tell me my head is in the sand and that i need to open my naive mind when I have no idea who you are and you obviously don’t know me at all. You’re welcome past our shop anytime but i won’t waste another second here.

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          • Jim September 26, 2011 at 10:22 pm

            So I re-read your comments and basically we agree about which bikes we don’t like, but you came off saying we’re a bunch of no-nothings.
            Read my response to Zoomzit; my issue isn’t with your work, after all how bad can a bag be unless it’s curved like on the Cielo.
            My criticisms are valid: Tony’s bike is ok but must approach 6k all told. He may find a buyer for it, maybe a few but my points are still notable: it’s an awful lot of dough for an e-porter.
            I see why you don’t post – zoomzit did a better job explaining what you do better than you did until now.
            See you down the road.

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          • paul September 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm

            Fair enough, and honestly I’m not sure that 6k would even cover tony’s bike. Shawn and I had a sincere conversation about creating a mold for such a box in order to feasibly produce such a thing. They would still be very expensive. As it was he put something like 16 days into doing it by hand…

            I guess I only ever saw manifest as a high concept show, not so much real products for real riders, just ideas executed. Allot of people went out on some long limbs and largely just to do it and show it. I sincerely hope some of the truly awesome innovations make it to real bikes that real people can buy and soon.

            The most obvious improvement to manifest is to maybe judge in categories, say best in show, most innovative, best traditional, best real cargo bike, best e-bike etc. Otherwise I think that future events are just going to go to whoever integrates the most electronics seamlessly.

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      • METROFIETS September 28, 2011 at 12:45 am

        Hey Jim,

        Thanks for the question.

        Our 2008 Oregon manifest bike informed our 2009 Manifest bike updates which (thanks in great part to the field test and feedback from customers and a RAD engineering team) informed our 2012 entry; which we used to test a ton of new ideas that we are now rolling into next years model; ideas that we welcome you to test out in the spring when we start shipping them to our dealers.

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        • Jim September 28, 2011 at 7:56 am

          I’m glad to know at least one builder is using the show as a test-bed and is actively incorporating design elements into something truly usable.

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  • Zoomzit September 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Jim, I have two counterpoints to your assertion that OM (to paraphrase) just a bunch of naval gazing and creates objects that only the rich can afford and isn’t useful to the masses.

    1. This is how most any industry works. Unique and useful innovation is introduced at the high end, mass manufactured and then made available for most all users. Disc brakes and suspension are prime examples of this in the bicycling world.

    2, Company’s like Paul’s can use Oregon Manifest to get a little publicity, so that they can keep doing things that help all cyclists. In this instance, I *think* I am using Paul’s company to design a rain canopy for my cargo bike to haul my kids around. Paul’s company is better off because there is Oregon Manifest, and because Paul’s company is better off, he can make stuff that allows me to ride my kids on my bike through the Portland rain.

    I didn’t really like the winning design. When I think of “utility,” I have a different idea in my mind of what that should be. That being said, we, as bicyclists, as a city of bike builders and a community of bike enthusiasts are way better off because Oregon Manifest exists. You can disagree with the final decision, but don’t lose sight of what a wonderful event this is for all involved.

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    • Jim September 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      Zoomzit,
      Oh, I well aware this is how the industry works. My criticisms are levelled at some, not all, of the bikes, but mostly the Manifest organizer’s design backgrounds. Naturally, they chose judges whose aesthetic mirrors theirs.
      That a bag maker can make a living in Portland is a good thing and no doubt the show vibes with positive energy that reflects Portland’s. I’m well past the point of fetishizing handmade frames; I look for good design. The Xtravois was outstanding…until the battery arrived DOA.
      If I were in the industry I’d certainly have had a great time and been glad to have met so many great builders on the one hand. On the other, I respect Todd and Ira for saying the rules are stupid, let me interpret them into something I would use. Those happen to be proven designs; in Todd’s case he designed an nth iteration of the longtail concept that has resulted in a lot of “I wants”.
      This has been said a billion times but the best design comes from constraints, something this show didn’t really have.

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  • Evan September 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Those are some pretty darn sweet bikes. But, like a few others have noted, I think there is room for some constructive criticism.
    1) A utility bike must be useful for a wide range of people. Some of those bikes have some pretty major standover issues, which would be a big concern for me.
    2) While some of the designs for these bikes are waaay outside the box (and that’s good!), if the goal here is to convince someone that a bike can be a substitute for a car, the bikes should not be so complicated that the target market will feel intimidated.
    3) Don’t build lights into a bike. Yeah, they’re cool, but the way lighting technology is progressing better to to let people upgrade as better lights become available.
    4) KEEP IT SIMPLE. Some of the bikes here (while gorgeous) are anything but simple.
    5) I like cool bikes as much as the next guy, but I can’t see myself shelling out $3K-plus for a bike to ride around town unless I have guaranteed indoor parking wherever I go. Not likely.
    If I had the budget, I would like to see what I could have done with an off-the-shelf Salsa Fargo converted for use with a belt drive. Alfine hubs (generator front), disc brakes of course, front and rear racks, Planet Bike fenders (cheap to replace!), Velocity/Halo reflective rims (maybe Halo painted too), and some nice rechargeable lights to complement the generator lights, and I’d be good to go. Heck, I bet that Salsa could get such a thing (sans lights) ready for market in a few months. Probably for under $2K. But that’s just me.

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  • Paul S September 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I think OM is a great idea and I hope it keeps growing. Much credit goes to all who participated in this worthy contest.

    A few random thoughts:

    Battery-powered bikes use a highly toxic technology, so there is an environmental compromise with each one compared to non-battery bikes. If a battery bike is used as an alternative to a car, environmental impact is reduced. But if used as an alternative to a fully-human powered bicycle, there is a greater environmental impact.

    Ash L. makes a sound point about step-throughs and a large load positioned behind the saddle. I recall this from my cycle touring days. Step-through/mixte would seem a fundamental feature in a cargo design.

    I am not in favor of music on bikes. Cycling in the city can be hazardous, and although very, music can be a dangerous distraction – and you never know when it’s going to get dangerous on a bicycle.

    All the winners are Portland-based. This is a potential PR issue for the OM, whether or not it is a real issue. Given the intense concentration on urban cycling in Portland, it is just possible that the most intelligent design is coming from there. But I doubt it.

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    • dr2chase September 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      How do you feel about music in cars? (Think it through, which vehicle is more dangerous?)

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      • Paul S September 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm

        I don’t much like it in cars, either, but there’s a lot less personal risk. Think it through: Cyclists shouldn’t rely on the vigilance of car drivers for their safety. Car occupants are far better shielded from impact than cyclists.

        As clarification to my previous post, I’m willing to believe some of the best designers come from Oregon, but not all of the best designers.

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        • Jim September 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm

          If your last name is Sadoff then your bike totally rocked.
          If not I agree that those with a ton of bench time in other states were not represented well.

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          • Paul S September 28, 2011 at 12:32 am

            There were some very good out-of-state bike builders there, but I’m willing to accept your assessment since I wasn’t there. And of course I respect the opinions of the judges. Not to mention, from what I know, judging these contests is very difficult. What I’m saying is it just doesn’t look good to those in other states when the home-town boys scoop the prize pool.

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        • dr2chase September 27, 2011 at 6:25 pm

          I think you missed my point. What is it the cyclists need to listen for? Wolves? Bears? Or something dangerous that might be under human control, say, cars? It seems grossly unfair to expect that the people who might be harmed should exercise greater vigilance than the people who might do the harm, don’t you think?

          That said, the cyclist is safer for not wearing headphones, but as a threat to his or her life, that is a far smaller threat than not cycling at all. A consistent and rational nanny-state position requires us to give a proportional amount of “helpful advice” to people who don’t ride bikes at all — that risk is about 10x higher than the risk from all bike crashes, headphones or not.

          Or is this not really about risk? Or are you giving advice without being aware of all the statistics? They’re out there, not-biking is very bad for you — shortens your life by 2-5 years on average.

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          • Paul S September 28, 2011 at 12:56 am

            Dr Chase, to your point: The world is not a nice place, and it’s not fair either. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. It would be sweet lovely if the world were nice and fair, and if we all rode bikes. But that ain’t the way it is, bro. Some motorists don’t give a damn. You don’t want to be listening to the Doors when drivers like those are coming, it could be the last thing you hear.

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          • dr2chase September 28, 2011 at 4:32 am

            @Paul S – you sound rather satisfied with the not-niceness of the current world (well, with our particular corner of it). I’d like to make it better. That includes pointing out that cyclists and pedestrians wearing headphones are not the irresponsible parties (the careless drivers are), and that we have a double standard anyhow if we aren’t clucking our tongues at drivers with their windows up and sound on in their cars.

            See video, brought to my attention by Hart Noecker commenting on another article: http://www.vimeo.com/29401217

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  • Jim September 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Bill Strickland’s notes on the show: http://bicycling.com/blogs/theselection/2011/09/27/alternate-destiny/

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  • Dan Kaufman September 28, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Here is a video I put together from the Design Challenge field test. I had a lot of fun rolling along with riders. http://www.crankmychain.com/ride-along-oregon-manifest/ride-along-the-oregon-manifest-design-challenge-video_8ccf07bea.html
    I was able to get some more shots of the winning bike which might be relevant here.

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  • Rol September 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I thought, as soon as I heard about it months ago, that the “utility” theme was a bit boring and maybe even unbefitting a custom builder’s talents. Guess ya can’t please everyone, eh Manifest committee? Still, here’s hoping the criteria for the next Manifest are more toward the truly outlandish, interesting and artistic.

    “Utility” is a term used in economics too, meaning the degree to which a buyer’s needs/wants are satisfied by a given good or service. So in that light, here are some things that are true of a bicycle in my opinion: A high purchase price decreases net utility. Lifelong worry about the bike’s imminent theft (or its paint job) decreases utility. Custom, hard-to-replace parts decrease utility. And of course waiting months or years for a bike from one of the top echelon of “rock-star” builders, also decreases utility. No offense to their excellent work. In fact that might be my whole point: a custom bike has very little to do with utility in any of these stodgy conventional senses of the word. Custom bikes by their very nature defy these particular criteria, and assign higher values to things like aesthetics, fit, customization, craftsmanship, etc. That’s why I’d like to see a purely aesthetic Manifest one of these days, for example. Meanwhile the ultimate utility bike to me is a yard-sale mass-produced low-end mountain bike from the 90s, with fenders/lights/rack/panniers thrown on. That’s what I ride for daily errands, and I’m a framebuilder for chrissakes.

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  • Jim September 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm
  • Paul S September 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    dr2chase
    That includes pointing out that cyclists and pedestrians wearing headphones are not the irresponsible parties (the careless drivers are),

    It is patently ridiculous to suggest that cyclists and pedestrians wearing headphones are not irresponsible. Any road user engaging in activities that reduce sensory awareness of their immediate environment is contributing to the likelihood of a collision.
    Cyclists and pedestrians aren’t so special, and those that believe they are all that have lost the plot.
    As for what satisfies me, you’re not even close. Would I like a better world? Yes, but we aren’t there yet, and behaving as if we are there is a grave tactical mistake that in this case could result in the loss of life. You Americans! It’s time to get over this instant gratification thing!

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