The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Signs of life from Clever Cycles

Posted by on May 3rd, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Can you spot the bakfiets?
Photo: Clever Cycles on Flickr

Clever Cycles, Portland’s soon-to-be-opening retail shop that will carry bakfiets cargo bikes and “a complete line of resoundingly practical biking gear” is showing signs of life at their location on SE 9th Ave., just south of Hawthorne Blvd.

Part of a Dutch bike invasion sweeping North America, this shop will complete a triangle of two-wheeled revelry; it’s just a block away from the Lucky Lab and their Bike Route Rye, and The Recyclery bike shop.

Bike Master Plan Ride #4

Bakfiets sighting at the Master Plan Ride.
File photo: 5/1/07

And with those bike loving Free Geeks close by, I think Clever Cycles will have one heck of a grand opening!

I haven’t heard the latest on the official opening day (the website says “June”), but I do know that Dean, Rachel, Todd, and Martina were working hard to remodel the space and get things ready. The sign looks great and I’m looking forward to taking a look inside…

Like Dutch bikes and bakfiets? Check out all my Dutch bike coverage.

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  • peder horner May 3, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    I just don’t understand it. These bikes just look so, how should I say it, HEAVY and SLOW. Sure, they’re practical, but look at the sheer mass and wind resistance! 😉

    Err, perhaps, these are the bikes with which those hardy Dutch Tour de France stage winners were training (Joop Zoetemelk anyone?).

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  • Scott Mizée May 4, 2007 at 5:49 am

    speed… looks… beauty… ah yes, Peder… all terms with relative values depending on your perspective.

    Your comment was echoed several times by those riding along side me on the North Portland Master Plan ride Tuesday night. “That thing looks really heavy!”
    “Look at how fast you are going with all of that weight!”
    “How much does that weigh?”

    Your right, they are not built for speed. If you want speed, this is not the bike for you. However, they are definitely not the slowest pedal powered cargo hauler. Really… going up hills is the only time when pushing that extra mass is extremely noticeable. Most of the time, I can keep up with the pack on the street.

    Regarding wind resistance: Yes, with the full children’s rain cover pictured here is definitely more air drag. However, I don’t ride with that on my regular rides. Yesterday, for example I just rode with the black tonneau cover over the bak. It still provides plenty of waterproof cargo space and adds no additional wind drag.

    I could go on and on, but I realize not everyone is as interested in these bikes as I am. For those that are, see below.

    Some links:
    Bakfiets on Flickr:
    Cleverchimp Blog:
    Portland Bakfiets Blog:

    …And the original Portland Transport post that got me started on all of this:

    See you on the streets!
    Scott Mizée

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  • Scott Mizée May 4, 2007 at 5:49 am

    Cool sign Dean and Todd!

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  • peejay May 4, 2007 at 6:18 am

    That’s it: I’m selling my unused motorcycle and getting one of these! I want to haul a tree back from Portland Nursery, or load up on landscaping pavers at Mt Scott Fuel, or take my two indoor cats for a ride. I want to know if I taxi put my 82-year-old mother in this thing, or if there’s a way to transport a 4×8 sheet of plywood. Or, just for fun, see how many fully-laden messenger bags will fit in the cargo hold.

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  • Michael May 4, 2007 at 7:32 am

    They sell “Stokemonkey electric assist” !!?? Yeow-zah!

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  • Daniel Porter May 4, 2007 at 9:10 am

    There is a great article in todays Wallstreet Journal titled “Building a Better Bike Lane… Bike-friendly cities in Europe are launching a new attack on car culture. Can the U.S. catch up?”

    The article isn’t actually about dutch bikes, however it does talk about them. It also mentions Portland and has a quote from Sam Adams.

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  • Matt M May 4, 2007 at 9:53 am

    I can’t wait…They are also only 3 blocks from Mountain Soles!

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  • todd May 4, 2007 at 9:54 am

    We toyed around with the name “Slow Cycles.” Bakfietsen are actually really fast downhill. They’re faster than you’d think on the level. Thing is, once you accept that you’re not going to cruise at the same speed that you do on sport bikes, it’s just delightful. Feels like you’re piloting your own royal street barge. I find that I take the bakfiets even for trips when I don’t need the cargo capacity just because it’s such a stately, comfortable ride, and there’s never any groping for pants clips or locks or lights and so on, because all of that’s taken care of. Anyway, if you want/need to think of your biking as sport, you can think of a bakfiets as weight training.

    We can also equip you with a racing bike, but you’ll have to supply jacket and tie:

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  • JimK May 4, 2007 at 10:08 am

    I have an Azor Super Transport – 60 pounds of steel! I took it grocery shopping this week. I had my front basket loaded up going home, about 30 pounds of food. At several points along my ride there are some nasty bumps, places where the roadway doesn’t quite mesh properly. It’s a great to be able to be confident that the bike can take that kind of stress on a daily basis. Not just the super-strong frame, but also the beefy tires.

    For neighborhood utility riding, these bikes are great! Not what you’d want for a 50 mile spin in the countryside, certainly. But for running local errands… 5 miles to the farmers market, load up the basket, five miles back… it’s the perfect machine!

    The balancing kickstand, a foot on each side, means that I can load up the bike without it tipping over. It’s so basic! This is real transportation!

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  • Prettybike Lover May 4, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Ooooh, those bikes… they are so pretty!

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  • pdx2wheel May 4, 2007 at 10:28 am

    I’m sorry, but these bikes look dangerous for hauling children around. Particularly when kids ride in the front “bucket”, and especially without a helmet. I regularly see one lady riding with her son in one around NE Portland in such a manner (just saw her again today). If the bike goes over, the child is going to suffer from a serious head injury at the least, and more likely, death.

    I’m sure they are great for hauling groceries or other (non-living) cargo.

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  • todd May 4, 2007 at 11:21 am

    pdx2wheel, these bikes are designed for carrying children. They have an excellent safety record with well over 10,000 in use in greater Amsterdam (where as in other functional cycling societies, helmets are virtually unknown, and biking casualties even lower than they are here). Why do you say these bikes “look” dangerous? What more have you got to back up your morbid talk?

    I happen to have crashed a bakfiets at speed with my child aboard. He was wearing a helmet as the law requires, but that played no role in his lack of injury.

    Let me share with you how the bakfiets protected my child from my own stupidity. A friend had fitted his bakfiets with a different kind of brakes than the stock ones, and we were both interested to know how they performed. So we pedaled our kids up to the top of Mt. Tabor, in the rain, and began rolling down. We were running nose-to-nose at about 20mph when, on count of 3, we were to stop as quickly as possible. I let my competitive streak get the better of me, because I grabbed those brakes so hard that the next thing I knew, we were sledding on our side on the steep wet asphalt. We came to rest after about 30 feet. My son was scared but completely unharmed; no part of his body touched the pavement. I suffered strawberries and bruises. About 1/8″ of the marine plywood bak was abraded off where it had acted as a skid, keeping us sliding straight instead of tumbling. I felt stupid, sure, but grateful that the bak protected my son so well.

    Moral: brake modulation is important when stopping downhill on wet pavement.

    If your jaw is dropping or your hair standing on end, please don’t tell me you’ve ever accelerated your child up to 50 or 60 mph on a rainy highway.

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  • Anon. May 4, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    That’s great and all but it’d be cooler if someone started making cargo bikes inspired by Dutch designs here in Portland.

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  • thedude May 4, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I noticed the fold up in that picture. Anyone locally selling quality folders? They seem a natural fit for Portland.

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  • todd May 4, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    We’ll sell Bromptons and the tikit (Oregon-made!). Coventry sells Dahons. Brompton’s my personal favorite folder.

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  • thedude May 4, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks Todd. I have a Brompton (love it)and a tandom Bike Friday both needing a quality tuneup. Is that something your shop will do?

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  • todd May 4, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    thedude, eventually we will. we will open without a dedicated mechanic, however, so for a while may refer some service work elsewhere to prioritize servicing what we sell.

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  • Jacque May 4, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    I have a feeling some of you missed this…

    [ We can also equip you with a racing bike, but you’ll have to supply jacket and tie: ]

    You gotta watch the video to get what Todd’s saying (post 8)

    And do watch the video. I could only think PEDALPALOOZA RIDE! I mean race.
    Todd- Will Nessy have her brompton by then?

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  • Jeremy May 4, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    FYI, Dean hooked me up with a great test ride on one of these bad boys and I have to say they ride like a dream. They have custom-geared (for Portland) 8-speed Shimano Nexus hubs for maintenance-free riding and sure stops (and the ability to shift from 8 to 1 at a stop. They weigh something like 80 pounds (correct me if I’m wrong) but certainly don’t feel like it. So you go slower…. so what? They carry 200 pounds of cargo. A BOB trailer can barely handle 75 pounds. Welcome to the true SUV replacement!

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  • Bill Stites May 4, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    When we ran pedicabs in NYC, they weighed close to 250 lbs. – with their body panels, lighting systems, and sheer size. I remember doing a wedding job taking the newlyweds from the church in Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, to their reception in lower Manhattan. That’s myself and two adult passengers – close to 700 lbs.!
    Sure, I was red in the face, but I met my goal of not stopping [while climbing the bridge].
    I also did deliveries of newspaper bundles [typically around 300 lbs.] on old Worksman trikes all around lower Manhattan. In comparison, these Bakfiets cruise like Cadillacs.

    Don’t sell human power short – it’s a momentum thing. Though hills are admittedly tough … so bring on the Stokemonkey.


    [disclaimer – I make parts for the Stokemonkey electric assist system].

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  • PDX Bakfiets Owner #2 May 5, 2007 at 8:22 am

    To post #19…yes the bafiets is the in town SUV killer. Just imagine school zones filled with them!

    I call mine a BUV (bicycle utility vehicle).

    And as for PedalPalooza events, lets us bring all of the area’s Bakfiets and Bromptons together to the kick off parade for PedalPalooza.

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  • Richard Wilson May 7, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    I would second everything Todd says about Bakfiets being faster than you’d think around town and especially about the Bakfiets safety record with respect to carrying children.

    Thanks for doing the braking research for the rest of us, Todd – I’ve always wondered what would happen when I laid the Bakfiets down on the pavement at speed 😉 When do you think will ABS be available for bikes? It must be technically within easy reach by now and the Bakfiets would be an obvious candidate…

    Sounds like any potential Clever Cycles mechanic hire might need a little finish carpentry experience, too.

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  • IanO May 11, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I will be interested in their range of standard Dutch bikes. I’ve ridden them in Holland and the Electra Amsterdam doesn’t quite make the grade. It is a cruiser with European styling rather than a real utility bike. After using an Amsterdam for a few months, I’m ready to upgrade to the real thing.

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  • beth h May 12, 2007 at 10:56 am

    The only real bummer about these things is that you need a garage to store them in. (sigh)

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  • todd May 12, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    if you mean the bakfiets, beth, that just isn’t so. they’re parked on the street year-round in amsterdam, where garages are for only the wealthiest (and un-hippest) few.

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