Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 20th, 2009 at 1:24 pm
(Photos © J. Maus)
Last month, as part of the six-week Oregon Manifest event, Portland families got a chance to get up-close and personal with the latest bikes, accessories, and services to outfit the human-powered lifestyle.
Event organizers took over a parking lot in Northwest Portland, filled it with vendors, and closed an adjacent street so people could use it as a carfree test-riding zone. The turnout was dampened by rain, but the people that did show up stayed very busy pedaling a wide variety of bikes and hearing about various ways to their carry kids, groceries, and other precious cargo on them.
And the kids. Wow. You’d think we were in Disneyland or something. They couldn’t get enough of all the bikes and were running from one to the other, pleading with me to take them on this one or that one “Just one more time!”
The family biking stalwarts at Clever Cycles had a busy tent. They shared their latest Xtracycle and Dutch bike set-ups. Their Surly Big Dummy with the Stokemonkey electric assist (created by one of Clever Cycles’ owners) is a tried and true winner. Its small footprint (compared to some other cargo bikes), versatility, and dependable power make it a tough option to beat. Clever Cycles also had Workcycles city bike with a very stout child seat arrangement. No plastic here, just steel bars, sturdy pegs, a solid seat for the little one — all positioned right in front of the rider.
Joe Bike, who’s created a niche in the local cargo market by modifying existing designs, shared some of his shop’s latest creations. Using the chassis of front-loading, bakfiets-style cargo bikes he imports from China, Joe Bike partners with local builders and his own imagination to come up with some great options. The front ends have locally-made cargo bins configured in a number of useful ways. I especially like Joe Bike’s highly modified front loader with an additional top tube for reinforcement and an ingenious front rack. The kids couldn’t get enough of this one.
Bike Gallery brought along the Madsen rear bucket bike and the “Bullitt” a Dutch import from the curiously named company Larry vs. Harry. The Bullit is built for speed and cargo, not necessarily kids, but it still handles beautifully even with three of them loaded on it. I could swing into turns with full confidence, and the kids — white knuckles and all — loved it.
Co-motion Cycles came up from Eugene to show off their Periscope Tandem. I’ve always loved the concept of the Periscope, but this was the first time I could see it in action. It’s essentially a regular tandem, but the rear (stoker) has a tiny seat tube and telescoping seat post so it fits a very wide range of heights. This is the ultimate solution for taking your kids on long event rides and tours.
In addition to test rides was the booth of safety promotion group Think First Oregon. They had literature about safe transportation behavior and helmets and an eye-catching prop to drive home the point — a human brain. Yes, my girls got to hold a (plastic of course) human brain and think about how precious those heads inside their helmets are.
Later in the afternoon, Oregon Manifest hosted a Family Biking Solutions Workshop. Clever Cycles co-owner Martina Fahrner helped to organize a panel discussion and breakout sessions where attendees focused on three ingredients to a thriving family biking culture; community, infrastructure and products. The information gleaned from the workshop will be put into a white paper that will be used as a resource for families curious about doing more by bike.
This event validated what many already know — family biking is surging in Portland. With family biking, perhaps more than any other market segment, the right products are essential, so it’s great to see Portland businesses filling that niche.
Watch the slideshow below for more of the action: