The Classic - Cycle Oregon

National attention for cargo bikes, Portland in Bicycling Magazine

Posted by on September 15th, 2011 at 9:36 am

Cargo bike story in Bicycling Mag-1

Nice to see in a magazine where
cool is usually defined by racing bikes.

The October issue of Bicycling Magazine includes a big feature article on the cargo bike revolution that’s sweeping the country.

Portland, with our flourishing cargo bike scene, figures prominently into the article. There’s copy and photos devoted to a local bike move and mentions of local cargo bike shop Splendid Cycles, B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery, custom cargo bike builders Metrofiets and fave bike-inspired hangout Hopworks Urban Brewery.

The story is titled, “Is this the Coolest Bike Ever Made?” and the cover teaser is “This Bike Will Save the World: Why Don’t You Have One?”

It’s great to see such a mainstream and wide-reaching magazine as Bicycling (with high-end, deep-dish carbon racing wheels just a few pages away) feature such a quality story about the potential of cargo bikes to transform America.

Since Clever Cycles introduced help popularize cargo bikes in Portland, they’ve had a huge impact on our city in many different ways. Lets hope this solid exposure leads to more cities going cargo crazy.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Deeeebo September 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Perhaps you could change “hitting on all cylinders” to “spinning on all gears”. I feel it is a poor choice of car-centric words as it reminds me that there are vehicles other than bikes in this world and that makes my heart cry.

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    • Mike September 15, 2011 at 10:03 am

      I feel that it is ship-centric and that makes my heart laugh.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 15, 2011 at 10:14 am


      thanks for the suggestion… it’s just a common phrase and i tend to not like cute bike-centric phrases like that. That said, I definitely hear your point!

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    • Jeff September 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Your heart is too sensitive.

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    • Scott September 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

      Have you ever read “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”? You are the sad child who has to sit in the basement and soak up the negativity so that the rest of us can live well. Yes, some will walk away when they have to see the sad and decrepit state of misery that you live in, exemplified here by trying to un-organically change language in a most non-creative and boring way so that it can fit into your minority view for no reason other than it is a minority view (do you write woman as womynn?). Oh, also Daiya cheese does not taste anything like real cheese.

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  • mabsf September 15, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Well, let’s see what we hear and see from Interbike… “If cargo can make there, it can make it everywhere…”

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  • Ted Buehler September 15, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Congrats to Portlanders for some well-deserved coverage.

    Especially Adam and Halley, who are Bike Move workhorses.

    Check out Adam and Lance pulling a double trailer of my stuff at my bike move last April.

    Ted Buehler

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  • k. September 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

    And I object to calling them ‘cargo’ bikes. Cargo being an obvious conjunction of the words ‘car’ and ‘go’. Hardly appropriate for something so cycling centric.

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    • 9watts September 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

      um, hardly.

      Look up cargo at
      “cargo – 1650s, from Sp. cargo “burden,” from cargar “to load, impose taxes,” from L.L. carricare “to load on a cart” (see charge). South Pacific cargo cult is from 1949.”

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      • Mike September 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm

        Obvously a conspiracy! Look at how many times car is used in your own reference!
        My heart has no more tears, but instead is listening to emo and contemplating ending it all.
        Don’t do it heart! We can begin a cyclego movement.

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    • Chris September 15, 2011 at 11:59 am

      Gosh I hope you are being facetious.

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    • Alan 1.0 September 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Cargo being an obvious conjunction of the words ‘car’ and ‘go’.

      Think of it as a contraction of “cars must go away.”

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  • XB September 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    this reminds me of my idea for the “cargo bike industry” (is there such a cohesive group, yet?) to unite and develop a set of standards for making cargo bike *accessories*. like, you know, so you can have 3rd parties creating and selling accessories like platforms, buckets, dumptrucks, who knows! various standards: baksfeits standard set of sizes, front-end racks, etc.

    kinda like back racks on bikes have a pretty standard fittings. sure sure there would be a lot to work out, but how fun?? a whole industry of people making attachable utility storage/carrying units, liquid tanks, food carts, people carriers, parade floats, who knows!?

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    • dan September 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      That would be cool – basically the Windows ecosystem for cargo bikes, where there are standards that everyone can build to. On the other hand, I suspect that most builders would prefer to be Apple, selling proprietary products with a strong emphasis on style as a selling point and no real competition.

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    • mabsf September 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      I think we will get there once we have critical mass. One of my hopes is that we can integrate user research into it like big companies do for their race and touring bikes. Because cargo bike riders are all kinds of people – from novices to old road warriors! A group would be also nice to tackle the nasty monster of liability insurance…

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    • Antload September 15, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      Xtracycle has provided “open source” designs, which have successfully encouraged a few manufacturers to make compatible, modular products. They think like you do. I like these thoughts.

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  • Steve-O September 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I wish Bicycling Magazine placed this story on their website so that I could read it.

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    • captainkarma September 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      Read it at the library. They almost all have it. I never buy it. They should pay the readers.

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    • Machu Picchu September 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      I think feature content shows up online after a while, sometimes. If they posted it online right away, nobody would buy the hard copy, eh?

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  • pdx2wheeler September 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    These would seem to represent the bike version of a semi-truck on a roadway. They move lots of stuff, but they can be slower, ride with more momentum (p=m*v), and could be more difficult to pass when you’ve only got one lane (i.e., bike lane) to work with. They burn much less diesel though, so I’m okay with that! Maybe we’ll need two lane bike lanes then?

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    • Ted Buehler September 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm

      Yes to two bike lanes!

      I moved by bike on N Williams Ave. With a huge load, people give you space when passing, but it would work a lot better if it had two lanes for bikes. Then the slow traffic could keep right, the fast traffic zip by on the left, and the medium speed switch back and forth as needed.

      “Bike Passing Lane” concept part of the “Best Practices” section of the Portland 2030 Bike Plan. If you know of a place that has a lot of mixed cargo and commuter traffic and would benefit from two bike lanes, you can contact PBOT and request it. email

      See the official writeup at on “page 2 of 41”

      Ted Buehler

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    • dr2chase September 17, 2011 at 6:04 am

      Faster/slower has everything to do with load and grade, especially with the longtails. If you pack carefully, they are nearly as nimble as a “normal” bike.

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  • PDXbiker September 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I wonder if anyone has ever made a guesstimate on the dollar amount the local cycling industry/shops/builders put into the local economy

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  • Clodhoppper September 15, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Weird… Reading about cargo bikes in Bicycling magazine is like seeing a pin-up of a Russian Olympic swimmer in Playboy.

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    • Mabsf September 16, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Perhaps ideas of beauty have changed:the models in the 40’s and 50’s were much chunkier…

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  • joel September 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    hmm. i seem to remember cargo bikes in portland prior to november 2006. working downtown 5 days a week, even. 🙂

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    • Bob K. September 15, 2011 at 8:46 pm

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure that I worked at a shop that shipped a number of cargo bikes to the portland area prior to 2006. Not to mention the folks down in Eugene who have been making them for years…

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  • Todd Boulanger September 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Yep. There were cargo bikes in Portland before I imported my Bakfiets here via the first bulk shipment to the US (to Florida) in early 2005(?) from Workcycles.

    The cargo bikes you saw on Portland’s streets back then were mainly made by Jan at CAT in Eugene. He has basically doing in since the late 1980s back in NYC before he relocated in the 1990s to Oregon. Plus old schholl Workcycle trike or two and pedicabs.

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    • Todd Boulanger September 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm

      Sorry about the typos…typing and eating dinner is not ideal.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Obviously there were cargo bikes here before Clever Cycles… But their shop (and their expertise) made them available to a whole new audience and made them common in Portland. So, in many ways they formally introduced cargo bikes to the city to a degree that had never been done before.

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    • Dabby September 16, 2011 at 9:33 am

      They did over charge for them first…..

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  • Champs September 15, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Save the world, buy more stuff?!

    Cargo bikes are anathema to living with a smaller footprint. Even if you’ve got a car to take off the street, you can’t park your bike on the curb.

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    • 9watts September 15, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      I’m not following.
      No one here is discouraging you from having a team of oxen tied to the ring in the curb.

      In the meantime, though, I think 100 million cargo bikes (or perhaps a similar number of bike trailers to pull behind the bikes we already have) would go a long way toward ‘saving the world’ if we did trade in our cars.

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      • Champs September 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm

        If you “save the world” with a cargo bike instead of a car, you need a place to put it. If you’ve got indoor space to give over to a cargo bike (it sure won’t work in apartments), then you’ve got space to give up.

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        • 9watts September 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

          Your determination to castigate cargo bikes is just a little weird. But now that you’ve chosen a team of oxen to haul your cargo, how about a piece of corrugated metal to put over your (neighbor’s) cargo bike. I’ll even give you/him four 2x4s to hold it up. Geez.

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      • Champs September 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

        Taking a car off the road forever is a wonderful thing. You can do one better by replacing it with nothing.

        I’m anything but virtuous, but still believe that paying an indulgence to the Church of Green is not the same as resisting the temptation of consumption in the first place. There’s nothing green about building a bike, shipping it overseas, and giving it indoor space to keep it safe and in good condition.

        For what it’s worth, my cargo needs are met by an upcycled Burley trailer.

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        • 9watts September 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm

          “For what it’s worth, my cargo needs are met by an upcycled Burley trailer.”
          same here.

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  • RRRoubaix September 16, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Save the world, buy more stuff?!
    Cargo bikes are anathema to living with a smaller footprint. Even if you’ve got a car to take off the street, you can’t park your bike on the curb.

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    You’ve got to be kidding- cargo bikes “anathema” to smaller footprint? Really?
    I believe you have that completely reversed.
    You don’t EVER need to move something that’s non-bike friendly?
    Lamps, cabinets, bookcases, plants, potting soil, computers, chairs, etc… That’s all stuff that can be easily transported w/ a cargo bike
    Most people have more “stuff” than 4 walls and a cot.

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    • Champs September 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      You can’t leave the thing out on the street. How’s that giant bike going to get into an apartment, much less the space it will take?

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      • 9watts September 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm

        you’d be surprised. Folks with two wheels are a creative lot. I don’t even think Giant makes a cargo bike.

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      • dr2chase September 17, 2011 at 6:22 am

        Plenty of apartments have ground level garages (e.g., marina district, SF). Roll right in. Mine, I store hung vertically, on hooks that grab the stoker bars. Or perhaps bicycle trees ( ). Or use a hoist: ( ).
        Or replace a single car parking space with a sheltered, locked cage for multiple bikes; I can’t find the link, but I’ve seen at least one of these that was made in the shape of a car.

        I am not getting your apparent obsession with this one tiny increment of consumption, or with your assumption that we would change so many things, yet not find a way to park a bike that was a mere 15 inches longer than the ones we ride already.

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  • Dabby September 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Clever Cycles did not introduce these to Portland, as stated above.

    They just imported European options, instead of selling the fabulous Oregon Made options..

    These were on Portland streets when Clever was still Daddie’s little squirt…

    Just sayin’.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 16, 2011 at 9:32 am

      As I said above Dabby. I realize that. But Clever took them out of just being the domain of messengers and plugged-in carfree folks and brought them into the mainstream. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word “introduced” in the story.

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  • Ted Buehler September 16, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Just for the record, I bought a bamboo cargo trailer from Adam George last year, it’s been a life-changer.

    I had always been adept at bungeeing milk crates to bike racks, hanging baskets on bike racks, and schleeping long, wide and/or heavy loads. I’d been doing it for years.

    But now I have a flatbed trailer. 3′ wide, 6′ long. Weighs under 30 lbs, can carry 600 lbs. I’ve carried stoves, washing machines, sacks of concrete mix, fruit trees, sofas, piles of bikes, 20′ planks (with a smaller trailer behind), 3 adults at once, most of my friends at one time or another. It can carry anything I own (except my car). Moreover, it can carry huge piles of stuff — stacked wide, tall and long.

    I moved my entire house of stuff by bike, about 1/3 of it on my own, and it wasn’t tedious at all.

    I park the trailer in my basement. But even if I was in an apartment it could go in a closet — it’s very light, and low-profile. You could haul it up a flight of stairs every night without much trouble.

    Realistically, my bamboo trailer can carry many things that my station wagon can’t carry, and it can carry them better. For furniture and sacks of concrete, it’s easier to load. It’s closer to the ground, you can stand on 3 sides of it, and there’s no sides or roof to deal with.

    Portland is a great city to lead the way in cargo bike use — it’s fairly flat, the cost of living is low so folks aren’t in a huge hurry all the time, there’s a great system of bike boulevards, and there’s always an appreciative audience for riders.

    Cheers to carrying cargo by bike, I hope to see many more heavy-haul rigs on the roads, for carrying cargo and kids and anything in between.

    Ted Buehler

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    • 9watts September 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      I couldn’t agree more, Ted. One thing you forgot to mention, though, is that for the REALLY heavy things, the things you can’t pick up, can’t even pick up with your friends’ help, a bike trailer can often be backed underneath or alongside such that you can tip or scoot the heavy thing onto the flatbed without ever lifting it. Way easier than trying to maneuver something like that into the back of a pickup – forget it.

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  • todd September 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Dabby, for the record we solicited CAT in the early days, inviting them to display their bikes in our shop on consignment terms, as there is/was no reseller margin available. We received no direct reply, but did hear some specious carbon footprint analysis and uncharitable characterizations of our motives through public channels. Their model was (is?) to have customers pay and then wait for however many months it takes (sometimes over a year) for the bike to be built. You can imagine why they were/are such a rare sight.

    I’m pretty sure that our making available bikes that families could test and buy the same day, fully equipped for year-round plain-clothes riding, with full local support, numerous accessories, etc. resulted in more car trips being replaced by bike trips in a matter of months than locally-made bikes did over many years. We’re proud of that and the apparent influence our activity has had on locally made bikes (e.g, Metrofiets, CETMAcargo, Shuttlebug, Tom’s, and the glorious freakbike scene) and other shops, too, with family utility/cargo bikes no longer being such a foreign concept.

    As for “over charge for them first,” you may not know that retail margins are far lower in the bike trade than most any other, and ours have been particularly low on some of our most popular products, which is maybe part of why not a lot of other places are selling them, not even in other cities with no meaningful competition. In fact, prices have gone up on the iconic Bakfiets Cargobike because … you think we’re getting rich?… because there are better parts on them than ever, at our specific request. We are proud to sell the Eugene-made CETMAcargo bikes, by the way, which at $1850 frame/fork are i think the least expensive locally made long-johns, and they ride great.

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