Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 21st, 2010 at 10:11 am
Portland-based cargo bike maker Metrofiets (of Hopworks Beer Bike fame) unveiled their latest creation at the Seattle-to-Portland bike ride last weekend: A super lightweight front-loader that builder Jamie Nichols hopes will change people’s idea of what a cargo bike can be.
Dubbed the Suppenküche (German for soup kitchen) after the cafe in San Francisco it was bought for, the bike includes a full Shimano XTR component group (with blinging Yumeya upgrade kit), hydraulic disc brakes, a Shimano Alfine internal drivetrain, and lots of other custom tidbits.
The Suppenküche was the brainchild of cafe owner Aaron Hulme, who piloted the bike on its 200+ mile maiden voyage (carrying a full stock of beer, bread and sausages of course). Hulme is a former professional mechanic who worked for top domestic road racers. According to the bike’s builder, Jamie Nichols, Hulme was a discerning customer.
Nichols says the Suppenküche project was about more than just building another bike. “This bike will broaden people’s consciousness of what a cargo bike can and can’t do,” he said during a brief chat yesterday. Pushed by Hulme to build the lightest bike possible without sacrificing cargo capacity, durability or ride quality, Nichols used thinner steel tubing than he usually does (0.95mm wall thickness) and this is the first Metrofiets that includes a part (the headset clamp above the front wheel) machined by the CNC process. With CNC (which Metrofiets farms out to a local machinist) Nichols says he can now make better parts, faster — which is a big deal for a shop that’s seen demand for their custom rigs skyrocket.
Launched in October 2008, Metrofiets has created a solid niche for themselves in creating purpose-built cargo bikes for a variety of business-owning customers (wait till you see the two-wheeled coffee cart/cafe they’ve built for Portland-based Trailhead Coffee). Their shop is in Northeast Portland and all their fabrication is done by Nichols and other local artisans and machinists. See more of their bikes at Metrofiets.com.
View a photoset of the Suppenküche’s STP journey from Travis Wittwer on Flickr and see more images in the slideshow below: