Portland made ‘Metrofiets’ makes its debut

Posted by on October 12th, 2008 at 1:45 am

Oregon Manifest Bike Show Day 1-7

The new Metrofiets cargo bike.
(Photos J. Maus)

I first shared news that a pair of Portlanders were working on a locally made version of the legendary Dutch “bakfiets” cargo bike back in February. Since then, I haven’t heard much from Metrofiets, so I was excited to see their progress at the Oregon Manifest show on Friday.

Oregon Manifest Bike Show Day 1-5

This bike was two years in
the making; and it shows.

Phillip Ross and Jamie Nichols (the two men behind Metrofiets) showed up with a stellar looking cargo bike that is unmistakably inspired by the Dutch original. But the Metrofiets is far from a carbon copy. The big difference is that — excluding its Japanese components — the bike is made nearly 100% in the U.S.A.

Oregon Manifest Bike Show Day 1-3

Phillip Ross manages
production at Metrofiets.
(Photos J. Maus)

Ross, who oversees production at Metrofiets (Nichols does the welding) says in addition to making the bike in Portland, they’ve managed to source nearly all (“99.99%”) of the parts (excluding components) from Portland and the Northwest.

“It has been a real team effort, my brother-in-law built the (wooden) box.”

Ross describes the bike as “a cargo bike inspired by the Dutch cargo bikes of yore,” and adds,

“We tried to modernize it as much as we could, while still adhering to the old U.S. look and the style of French frames from the 1920s and ’30s because we really like those.”

A notable difference between the Metrofiets and a bakfiets is the larger front wheel (24-inch vs. 20-inch). Also, the cargo box on the Metrofiets is detachable, which opens up some interesting possibilities.

Oregon Manifest Bike Show Day 1-8

Oregon Manifest Bike Show Day 1-12

Builder and designer Jamie Nichols.

Metrofiets is open for business and Ross says they’re taking orders. A custom frame, fork, and box is $2,700 and a fully built rig with all the trimmings will run about $3,200 (which puts it in the ballpark of a Dutch bakfiets).

I didn’t spend too much time with the Metrofiets (and didn’t take it for a test ride), but it seems like a very capable, top-quality machine. Nichols is clearly a talented builder and I think we can expect more great things from the Metrofiets shop in the future.

More images of the Metrofiets in the photo gallery. Also check out Metrofiets.com

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17 Comments
  • Avatar
    Shane October 12, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Sweet, this looks like a really nice cargo bike! Can’t wait to see how their production goes.

    I’ll just throw this out again because it rarely gets mentioned and that is that Jan VanderTuin has been building the Long Haul (and other great “Human Powered Machines”) down here in Eugene for over 10 years.

    His Long Haul is priced around $2,600 for the one with the wooden box. Wait time is long, the work is great, and the Center for Appropriate Transport (where it is based) is very cool.
    Check it out: http://catoregon.qwestoffice.net/hpm/longhaul.htm
    Hopefully we can fill the streets with many different cargo bike designs and makers!!

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    Jessica Roberts October 12, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Did they get the legal issues worked out?

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    Gabriel McGovernq October 12, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Wow – that is one sexy bike!

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    G.A.R. October 13, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Click on a picture in this item and with another click or two you can get to Jonathan’s Flickr collection from this show. The fusion of this level of creativity, craft, and–not least–photography is a pure delight!

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    fredlf October 13, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I wonder why they used wood for the cargo box? It is beautiful to look at, but wouldn’t plastic, aluminum and even textiles (cordura and webbing) be lighter, cheaper (maybe) and easier to handle and maintain? My front door needs re-varnishing every two years, and I don’t ride it on the streets! (It’s way too slow).

    Nonetheless, this is a lovely looking rig.

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    Matthew Denton October 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    fredlf: your front door probably isn’t made out of marine plywood.

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    SkidMark October 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Aluminum would have to be thick to not dent either from outside impacts of from the load shifting, so there goes any weight saving. If it were nylon it would need some sort of subframe so there would go the weight savings again. Plastic might work but kind of goes against the classic look and construction of these cargo bikes, which is probably another reason why they are steel and wood and not aluminum and plastic.

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    joel October 13, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    fredlf:

    diamondplate aluminum works fine as a flat platform (ask joel from courier coffee – his cat long haul is set up like that), but there isnt a real weight advantage once you built a box out of it, especially since you have to, as skidmark mentions, make it thick enough to resist impacts, and also so that you dont have to worry about lacerating yourself!

    wood is great for this kind of thing. its reasonably light, amazingly durable (would revarnishing your cargo box every two years really be all that bad an idea?), and just looks classy.

    plastic probably wouldnt hold up in the weight department once you made it bulky enough to support the load that wood will. and, of course, its plastic. lord knows we dont need more things made out of that 🙂

    textiles (like frances cycles uses for his small haul) are great for a lightweight load, but not so much for big ones, or anything that really needs a stable loading surface. pretty good for dogs, or any sort of gear you just sort of toss in, but again, theres a durability issue with larger stuff.

    wood is fantastic stuff. if it wasnt, trees would have stopped using it by now 🙂

    as for the cat long haul, well… its great in many respects – but that whole delivery time issue is kind of a shooting yourself in the foot issue. their bikes work great, and jans work is admirable on so many levels, but anyone whos gotten their bike on schedule, or had an easy time finding out what was going on once the deposit for the full pop had been made, has been an exception rather than the rule. if he can rectify the communication and timeline issues, its a great thing.

    its insanely awesome to see this diversification of cargo bike ideas going on these days. more designs, more available than ever before. its only gonna get better.

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  • […] Bike Portland and Treehugger reveals that Metrofiets have debuted their long-awaited 4130 Portland made bike. There’s some discussion of it on the Flickr bakfiets group. I like the hot-rod aesthetic. Lack of chainguard seems silly, as does the lack of rack and box seat. They have a website. It’s probably worth reading the fuss that Metrofiets provoked if you are interested in the bike. […]

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    custom October 14, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Seems to me that a custom bike is just that. If you want a chain guard or a rack or no box at all you can have one. Not so with most other offerings where you get what they give you.

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    John Reinhold October 14, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Too bad their website is 100% Flash required.

    Let’s hope their bikes are better than their website.

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    red hippie October 15, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Way to go Johnathan! Plagerism is the sincerest form of flattery.

    http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/10/groceries-babie.html

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    biketruck October 19, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Wow! I sure hope that people put in some orders. would be a shame if they went under. I’m glad I didn’t buy the Bak last week. I’m putting in my order now before they have a huge backlog.

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  • […] Bike Portland article (This is the 3rd time Jamie’s been featured here) […]

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    Moo October 21, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Seems a bit spendy considering that 99% of the product was sourced locally…and with no shipping and handling costs added!

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    Bingo October 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    @moo Made in the USA by a local company with local supplies? Come on! This actually seem like a good deal to me. Ask Clever Cycles when they will build a version of the Bakfiet. Never is the answer. To expensive.

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    Bingo October 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    I would like to add that I think Clever Cycles is doing a great job and is being run by an amazing staff. If you have not stopped by they are located on SE 6th and Hawthorne.

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