Northeast Portland native Jamie Nichols “totally flipped” when he saw his first Dutch bakfiets cargo bike. He sees them as the perfect way to replace the family car for short neighborhood trips and even sees them as an answer for what he calls “a looming fuel crisis”.
That’s why for the past two years, he’s been conceptualizing and designing his own version of the popular Dutch bakfiets design.
Nichols has worked with a private metal fabrication contractor since he was 17. Now 26, he has just received materials to build his first two bakfiets prototypes.
“We’re looking for these to be a gateway project to other, locally made utility and cargo bikes…I think we’ve got plenty of people building great commuter bikes, but what happens when you need to carry your groceries? I think families that say they can’t go to the store by bike because they have kids will think twice with a bike like this.”
Nichols and his partner Phillip Ross also want to make this a truly Portland bakfiets. Ross says that so far, he’s secured about 80% of the materials for the bike from local sources, including the 4130 steel to be used for the bike’s frame.
Nichols says that once complete, his bakfiets will be hard to differentiate from the Dutch versions that are becoming more and more popular in North America. He claims that one benefit of his bike will be that all the components will be universally available in the United States (and therefore easier to purchase and repair), which is not the case with the European models.
He has also come to appreciate the near perfection of the 100 year-old Dutch design,
“I had no idea it would be this complicated to replicate the bakfiets design. It’s a very refined product, especially when I’m trying do it better.”
Local bakfiets importer Clever Cycles have yet to open their doors, but they’ve already
sold over half completely sold out (!) of their first shipment. With that kind of interest, it seems like there’s plenty of room for more than one local bakfiets source.
Nichols wouldn’t say when we can expect the first prototype, but he and Ross said they’ll keep in touch with any developments.