The 2009 Oregon Manifest (10/2 – 11/8) can hardly be called a bike show. After the success of their first show last year, organizers have signed a presenting sponsorship deal with Chris King Precision Components and transformed the event into five “concentrated weeks” of art, workshops, and unique events designed to showcase the nation’s best handmade bicycles.
The highlight of this year’s Manifest is the Constructor’s Design Challenge and the Constructor’s Race. Builders from around the country will design and build a transportation-oriented bicycle that will then be raced on a 77-mile epic ride and judged by a panel of experts.
Event organizers describe it as a “technical trial of engineering dexterity and fabrication mettle.”
The bikes will be raced by either their builders or a designated rider and will have to survive a series of trials along the course. Judges will base their decisions on criteria ranging from performance to functionality and aesthetics.
Just what is a “technical trial” you ask? Here’s a list of them from the contest registration packet:
– A market checkpoint: pick up 1 glass-bottled sixpack of beverage to portage thru the race
– Securing the bike from theft while in the market
– Section where the rider might portage the entire bike
– Stopping for and carrying food to bring to the finishline party
– Looking good when rolling up to the finishline street party: several blocks before the finish, riders must stop and change into their party attire in an OM tent (carrying this attire throughout the race is part of the Design Challenge) before crossing the line, yeah!
Frame builders from around the country will design and build a transportation rig hardy enough to tackle the worst on-and-off-road conditions in the Oregon Territory, yet nimble and swift enough to be competitive in the Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Race.
— From event registration materials
I also noticed that points will be deducted if elements of the bike are “loose, rattling, or otherwise inoperable at the race finish.”
The three big days of the Manifest kicks off on the Friday night before the Constructor’s Race. There will be a pre-race party where you can rub shoulders with builders and their bikes. On Saturday, they’ll hit the race course (created by Rapha, the event’s presenting sponsor) and finish in downtown Portland. On Sunday, builders will join the mayhem of the Cross Crusade opener at Alpenrose.
The top 12 winning Design Challenge bikes and the top 3 Constructor’s Race bikes will then be displayed for five weeks at a Portland storefront (location TBA). The storefront will also host a series of diverse events, workshops, and entertainment where, “the craft and culture of cycling will be uniquely broadcast and celebrated.”
Also new this year will be a coffee table book, The Craft of Handbuilt Bicycles, which will be based on the event and created by the Manifest’s team of video and photo pros.
Wow. This is going to be one heck of an event/show/manifest/festival, whatever you want to call it (and no, I’m not just saying that because BikePortland.org is an official partner).
Stay tuned for more coverage. There are some exciting event announcements yet to come!
— For more, check out OregonManifest.com and browse our coverage of the 2008 event.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at email@example.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
This is going to be a great design challenge, I am excited to start my design and more excited to do the race!!!
Maybe the race will be like the Danish Cargo Bike Championships held earlier this month. http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/04/svajerlb-2009-danish-cargo-bike.html
great idea! i like that it’s a transportation style bike race. this gives ideas for the freakbike building community…
I like that this emphasizes real day to day functionality as opposed to crazy out of reach designs for edge case riding scenarios.
“Looking good when rolling up to the finishline street party”
And how is this related to hand built bikes? Will tight jeans and mustaches be required?
Sounds like a reincarnation of the French technical trials of the early 1900’s – where the best constructeurs of the day brought their latest ideas for a real-world race designed to test the bike as much as the rider. These competitions did much to advance bicycle and component design. And bragging rights were highly coveted.
I love this idea – It seems like so much of modern bicycle “innovation” is driven by race performance that is far removed from what “real” cyclist need out of their machines. I look forward to seeing what the builders bring to the constructors’ race.
tight jeans and mustaches aren’t required, but they might help sway the judges ;-).
(p.s. don’t forget that one of main reasons for the show is… fun!)
you’re spot on about the French inspiration. The idea for this contest came from Tony Pereira in a planning meeting many months for the first Manifest show.
your comment captures his exact feelings of why he thought it would be perfect to revive that tradition.
Love the french influenced/inspired contest. This is going to be an even better manifestation of the manifest! Carry on!
Thanks for the props Jonathan. I’m fully taking credit for this idea! I’m a bit of a cycling history buff and, as Jonathan points our, the idea was floated when we were coming up with ways to make the Manifest more than just a “show.” In keeping with the Technical Trials historically tied to innovation we decided to focus on an area of cycling that stand to gain the most–transport. Hopefully we’ll entice some non-cyclists out of their cars.
Carlos, The idea is that you might ride a bike like this instead of driving. Carrying (or wearing–my preference) the clothes for your destination are an important part of making cycling an attractive alternative to driving. Hopefully points will be deducted for skinny jeans. 😉
I’m really looking forward to the event. I expect some truly interesting innovation to come out of this.
Good job Tony!
Beers on you.
Can’t wait for this.
A reason to look forward to fall!
Why’d you have to rip on tight jeans? I was just about to put my Jordaches in the wash on extra hot.
Before everyone gets too carried away with the skinny jeans smack talk, please note that while arriving at the Constructor’s Race finish line in style is required, there will be no Design Challenge points given for sartorial choices.
Judging is on bike design and performance alone (’cause this is a serious Design Challenge) — the audience at the finish line will judge the apparel choice of the riders (and I’m certain they’ll be more critical than the bike judges — so these riders should be lookin’ GOOD!).
To enter the beer obstacle course race, does the frame have to be handbuilt? Or can I use a pre-made frame and build up a bike from that?
I appreciate how this manifestation of the Oregon Manifest show could be appealing for many of the Oregon Builders we all know and love. But I wonder if it accomplishes what the Oregon Contructor’s Guild really set out to achieve?
In what way does this constructor’s challenge reach out to people who are as yet unaware that there are superb bicycles made by excellent craftspeople right here in Oregon? This event strikes me more as a party by and for the small crowd of hipsters who already know about Oregon-built bikes. Don’t get me wrong- this a fun crowd, but don’t we want to reach a little further than that?
Bike shows that are successful succeed because they make people feel welcome- that they don’t have to be in the “in” crowd to enjoy the show. They do this by casting a net for a wide demographic base. For road and offroad bike-race groupies, bike tourists, BMX enthusiasts, wannabe framebuilders, beginning cyclists, once-a-year event riders, bargain-hunters, exercise junkies, etc., a schedule of presentations, speeches, ride sign-ups, slideshows, workshops, swap-meets and more are included in the price of an entry. Not convinced? Take a look at Cascade Bike Club’s long-running Seattle Bicycle Expo, which has manged to draw a very healthy crowd for over 20 years running.
Are we trying to convince people that some of the best bikes in the world are made here in the Northwest? If so, we need to make certain that we are reaching outside of our comfort zone, and allowing new people to feel comfortable with us.
nice to hear from you. Hope all is well in Eugene.
I think it’s important to note that, while this event is partnering with the OBCA, it is not an OBCA event.
from what I can tell, the Manifest is all about not being a normal “bike show” like the Seattle Expo or others.
they are trying to present the idea of handmade bicycles in a distinctly urban, creative, and Portland way that has never been done before… and I love that the folks behind this event are talented and visionary enough to risk doing that, and to pull it off.
All is very well, thank you! You wrote:
“from what I can tell, the Manifest is all about not being a normal “bike show” like the Seattle Expo or others.”
That’s quite clear, and kudos to the show’s organizers for originality. If the organizers are truly visionary, they’ll prove me wrong and bring in the masses.
For us, it would be dishonest to participate in this version of the Manifest. While we probably build more custom bicycles than any other Oregon company, we’re not an a la carte builder. We have a catalog of bicycles all with a clear purpose, sold via bike dealers.
I’m OK with the Manifest show taking a direction that differs from what works for my company. I said the very same to Natalie and Austin (of SweetPea)when they clued me in on the concept a couple of weeks ago. There are a lot of smaller Oregon builders who need the Manifest show and the OBCA much more than we do.
The Manifest show last year succeeded on many levels, but was weak in attendance and failed to reach outside of the small circle that it appears to me this new concept is solely focused upon. I’d like to see it do better, whether it’s a match for my company or not.
I for one am still really excited to bring a design to the Oregon Manifest.
My opinion is that design challenges bring a lot to the community in forms of new technology, inspiration, and excitement; look at the Ansari X-Prize, Burt Rutan is a visionary with Space Ship One/White Knight.
Hopefully the manifest proves to not be an off-the-shelf design challenge, I am hoping everyone is going to bring their ‘A’ games. Ruckus Components is going to put a decent amount of engineering resources and time towards to creating a design that is truly unique.
If I were you, I’d do the same thing. You might take my comments simply as recognition that this event isn’t geared toward a company such as ours. I’m a little disappointed in that fact, but wise enough to know that the Manifest show isn’t about my company.
This is Daisuke from Rapha Japan.
Cycling here is on a shorp rise, and that is great, but at the same time on a major identity crisis. Dwan’s point is understandable from business stand point, to draw wide range of audience to the show. But when that becomes one of the main focus of the event, it becomes to be just another show.
I think oregon manifest is trying to be very “Oregon”, and that is the most critical part of show, because it’s become a “brand”. I believe the show’s success, from business stand point, is to keep a tight control of the presentation (the current form), and simply put more effort in spreading the word out to the world. With this type of menu, many Japanese will be shocked to see such an original presentation. There are already strong attendance from Japan to the nahbs, Oregon is much closer, and slowly people are starting to be aware of the movement in the NW.
Oregon is very fortunate to have so much talent gathering in the area working together and must take advantage of that to the max, and that is to have a show like the Oregon Manifest.
With tight concept, it’s not for everybody, and that should be okay. There are plenty of people worldwide who will appreciate. Just let them know about it early enough (like now).
The competition was conceived to spur innovation in the “bicycles as transportation” realm. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Co-Motion to develop some new ideas/products in this market? Build a prototype and show us how the big boys do it! I’m hoping to stretch my mind out a bit to come up with some creative solutions myself.
Also, I’d like to point out that this is not a competition solely for Oregon builders. All builders from around the world are encouraged to attend.
I can’t speak for how this will be promoted or publicized as I was only in on the conceptual phase of planning. Perhaps Shannon will let us know what kind of PR they have lined up.
There will also be an OBCA show at the end of October which is likely to be a more “traditional” type of show.
Daisuke and Rapha brethren,
How about doing a line of really tight jeans for riding in?
Might help with the whole identity crisis thing. For better or worse.
Thanks for your comments. We will consider participating. If we do not, it shouldn’t be taken as a boycott, but an honest assessment of who we are and what we do. Your bikes are beautiful, and this exhibition is perfect for the kind of work you do.
We’ve morphed over the years into less a custom builder than a bike company which does custom work within the framework of our established line of bikes. A fine line perhaps, but a distinction nevertheless.
I know that every framebuilder doesn’t want to build a bike company. I’m sure some builders would rather die than have a production model! But one of the things you discover if or when you take a step toward naming bike models, establishing consistent sizing, building a dealer network, creating logical dealer pricing, etc. -is how important it becomes to stick to your story.
When you become a bike company, you need people to walk into a bike shop and say, “I’m looking for X, I saw X in the catalog, the website, my friend has one, I read a review, and I’d like to buy one from you”. Getting to that point takes a lot of work, and you soon learn to appreciate how vital your niche is, and how easy it is to muddle if you allow yourself or your customers to take you off the track you’ve so carefully defined. That’s what I’m risking being thought of as an old stick-in-the-mud to convey here.
Thanks for the comment Daisuke, which is a very nice summation of where Manifest sits today.
Last year the 3 people of OM and their partners and volunteers created an incredibly unique bike show in a raw space that was lacking even basic power; to beautiful effect.
Satellite events around OM were fun, boisterous and created an overall whole that exemplified the merits of a true grassroots effort. We’re proud that so many people gave their time and energy back to their community of cyclists.
This was an ambitious plan, and due to lack of manpower, some key elements were admittedly not attended to as well as we’d have liked (a large PR push was one of those elements).
This year we have an even more ambitious plan that includes events spanning 5 weeks. Starting with the National Constructor’s Design Challenge and Race and ending with Single Speed Cross World Championships, we’ll be hosting weekly events in our pop-up Bike Union. These events will be aimed at reaching out to wide range of audiences outside and within the cycling community.
This year we have dedicated PR – naturally, BikePortland is an important partner again.
We’re very excited about our proposed lineup this year and appreciate that different audiences within and beyond our cycling community understand that while not every event will be to their interest, there will be plenty of fun to go around.
(We’re searching for a pair of extremely tight jeans for Brad, as i write)
I’m looking forward to this, and admire many of the people behind it, but I might pop if I don’t vent a little about the inanity of judging the “next wave transportation bike” based on its performance in a 77-mile race including a portage section. Transportational cyclocross? 77-mile plain-clothes commute? Carrying a measly 6-pack and a change of clothes?
Nearly half of all trips in the United States are three miles or less; more than a quarter are less than a mile. That’s the chunk of “transportation” that bikes have the best shot of overtaking. Does anybody think people drive these measly distances because they lack a “portagable” bike ideal for hauling a 6-pack 77 miles in under 4 hours? Such bikes already exist in vastly greater numbers than their would-be riders. What’s lacking are bikes capable of doing with style and aplomb what cars are doing on all these short trips: carrying a young passenger or 3, hauling 4-6 bags of groceries, easy stop and go, no dress code (=low exertion, slowish), safe, comfortable, and low maintenance in all weather.
Integrate and prettify utility features on sporting bikes all you want: look at the Civia Hyland and Breezer Finesse, both “fast commuter” bikes full of sexy features like dynamo lighting, match-finish full fenders and racks, high-end hub gearing, chain guards, internal wire and cable routing, etc., but the same-old sweaty sporting obsessions of steep seat angles, light weight, bent-over full-body-workout fit, skinny 100psi+ tires, aerodynamic, low spoke-count wheels, compact wheelbases, and gratuitous carbon fiber. Can you say uncomfortable and impractical for actual transportation use? Inadvisable to fit even one child seat? No heel clearance for a sack of groceries on a rear rack? Panic leaving it locked up outside a movie theater? Can you say deep price cuts everywhere? They’re a bust.