Chris Smith over at the Portland Transport blog has started a conversation about what the “Portland Bicycle” should look like. It’s ironic that he brings this up because I had this same conversation with a Portland-based bike industry insider just last month.
So here’s my .02 on what it should look like:
- It must be look good. A major weakness of the Breezer line (besides being too expensive) is that they are too dorky looking for most riders under 40. Take a page from Apple’s book…good design sells.
- It must be produced with environmental sustainability in mind. Perhaps Matt O’Rourke at King Cycle Group should be hired as a consultant on the project. He leads a company that is 100% responsible in how they treat the planet and they produce their products domestically (mostly right here in Portland).
- It should have an internally geared hub. Single-speeds are impractical and derailleurs are a pain to maintain in the rain.
By the way, we’ve got quite a bit of bicycle manufacturing facilities and know-how right here in our own back yard. Mountain Cycle/Kinesis is in North Portland and Sapa , based in Sweden and one of the largest bike manufacturers in North America is based right over the bridge in Vancouver. And of course we’ve got our share of frame-building talent like Sacha White at Vanilla Bicycles and Joseph Ahearne of Ahearne Cycles. I think it would make a lot of sense for the State of Oregon, the PDC and other organizations to get behind an effort to create a Portland commuter bike brand. Why?
- We, as a city, already have the name recognition and “brand” for cycling that companies spend millions to create.
- A successful bike brand could generate tax revenue for the state and city.
- It would be a PR dream for everyone involved by being promoted as an agressive and innovative way to help curb obesity and dependence on fossil fuels.
- Can you say, Platinum-level bicycle friendly city?
Is this a crazy idea? Am I lost in a bike love bubble? I’d love to know what you think.