BikePortland

The Pigeons have landed: Legendary Chinese bicycles now available in Portland


The Flying Pigeon (starts at $350) was an institution during China’s biking heyday. Now they’re available in Portland.
(Photos: Joe Doebele)

Portland-based bike importer and re-seller Joe Doebele has received his first shipment of the classic Flying Pigeon city bikes from China along with a new cargo bike he’s calling the “Carrier Pigeon”.

Doebele (I wrote about his bike industry incubator a few weeks ago) says he’s in the process of modifying the bikes and he’s working to prepare a new retail showroom he’ll open up on SE Hawthorne (at 40th) at the end of November.

Both the standard city bike and the cargo bike models aren’t ready for Portland streets right out of the box, so Doebele is making modifications before he sells them. The plan is to swap out the cheap parts and replace them with higher-quality ones in order to, “get rid of all the weaknesses”.

Fresh off the boat from China, these new, bakfiets-inspired cargo bikes will be heavily modified and a base model will sell for around $1,500.

With the Carrier Pigeon (above), Doebele says he’s completely “re-purposing” the bike. He’ll install a new chainring, bottom bracket, handlebars, saddle, and will even make modifications to the wooden box. Doebele says he wants this bike to be used for cargo hauling, and not as a child-carrier. He told me today that,

“Van Andel (a famous Dutch bakfiets pioneer) was the first designer to make the bakfiets something for families, women and children. I want to make my version unique and take the bakfiets back to where it started…when it was more of a work bike.”

With a base model starting at $1,500 (less than half the cost of the Portland or Dutch-made versions), more businesses than ever will be able to afford one.

Nifty features of the Carrier Pigeon are an 8-speed internal Sturmey Archer hub, a dynamo front hub that powers a light that turns off during the day and comes on automatically at night, a rear light that’s actuated by the rear brake lever, a full chain guard, a rear-view mirror that extends from the handlebars, and more.

The women’s version in pink.

The standard Flying Pigeon city bikes were the de facto standard mode of transportation in China’s biking heyday. Like the Carrier Pigeons, Doebele says he’ll swap out the lower-quality parts they come with and replace them with Portland-worthy components (including better brakes, cranks, pedals, etc…).

The Flying Pigeons (which look a lot like the Batavus Old Dutch I tested back in January) come with 28-inch all-steel wheels, a generator front headlight, full chain-guard and a frame pump. Doebele says they have a “beautiful” ride and they come in a men’s (with twin top-tube) and women’s (step-through) version.

The bikes come in black, dark green, or “bold pink” and are available in a single or three-speed version for a retail price between $350-500.

Both of the bikes are available for test rides and purchase by appointment only. Doebele hopes to be fully moved into his showroom (where he’ll also have Yuba Mundos for sale) at 3953 SE Hawthorne before Thanksgiving.

More info at FlyingPigeonPDX.com and PortlandRides.com.

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