The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Locked Up: Colorful, quirky touring bike at NoPo Library

Posted by on December 12th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Locked Up - at North Portland library-1-1

Worth a closer look.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I don’t know about you, but every so often I come across a parked bike that makes me stop in my tracks for a closer look. Whether it’s a vintage steed worthy of a museum collection, or a quirky customized freak bike that’s truly one-of-a-kind, these bikes deserve to be shared.

That’s the inspiration behind Locked Up, a new column that will showcase interesting bikes we see parked throughout Portland.

The inaugural bike was something I came across over the weekend parked outside the North Portland Library on Killingsworth. It was the vibrant paint job that first caught my eye. Clearly a DIY job, the blocks of color remind of the Fauvist painters of the early twentieth century…

But once I looked more closely, it was the other personalizations and details that made me pull out my camera (which in this case was just my cell phone). The bikes had a huge “E” medallion zip-tied to the headtube…

The chainstay had a series of decals relating to film production and media…

And both the cranks and the front fork were painted with detailed patterns…

There’s one detail I failed to catch with my camera; a small badge on the beefy front rack appears to have something engraved on it (I guess it just adds to the mystery and fun of this bike)…

The bike is also clearly very utilitarian and suited for big adventure. Notice not just the beefy racks, but the nifty rear rack with an extension that allows it to carry another bike via a front axle quick-release…

Cool bike huh? A fun and interesting mix of creative expression and utility.

Stay tuned for more installments of Locked Up — you never know what we’ll come across next.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • 9watts December 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I’d like to know more about the ‘fifth-wheel’ at the very back. That is some nice shop-made accessorizing.

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    • Paul Johnson December 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      Indeed, that’s quite the fascinating add-on! I wonder what it’s load limit is. Though, wouldn’t that be a ‘third-wheel?’

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      • 9watts December 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm

        “wouldn’t that be a ‘third-wheel?'”
        It would, yes, though the category has hardly had a chance to become established in the vernacular.

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      • q`Tzal December 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

        And despite that I’d market it as a “fifth wheel”
        “Third wheel” just has too much negative social context.

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        • pabstslut December 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm

          Joseph Ahearne has built a few custom rear racks with this feature, though this doesn’t appear to be one of them.

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      • jim December 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm

        I would think it is designed more for pulling than for any weight to be put on it. Any weight would raise the front end of the bike, pulling something that supports its own weight would be preferential

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  • Robert P December 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I am inspired by the front wheel quick release mounted on the back, I have been thinking about that approach for my Yuba Mundo cargo bike for the kids bikes, when they can’t handle a long ride.

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    • Smitty December 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm

      I had a set-up on my big dummy (made out of yakima car-top rack parts) for towing the kid’s bike on long rides. It proved problematic to tow a small bike because it tended to jack-knife on bumps and sharp corners. I had adult size bikes jack-knife too but with less frequency. Removing the pedals and putting the kid bike in the cargo bag is a less-problematic solution.

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  • Robert P December 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Or when I need to move another of my bikes and a bunch of gear!

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  • naomi December 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    i love it when you can tell someone put a LOT of love into their bike. not just slapping down lots of money at a bike shop but taking the time to truly customize and love every little nook and cranny. do more posts like these! i always wish someone would do a sort of The Sartorialist style blog only for bikes (and their owners). portland is the perfect city for such a project

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  • Rachel December 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Looks like something Hundertwasser dreamed up!

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  • borgbike December 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Great idea for a column. I love looking at other people’s bikes. There’s a lot of room for improvement over the usual store-bought urban bike. Much of my interest in biking these days is in building practical quality urban bikes. Creative expression is always a plus too. This is definitely a strength of the Portland bike scene. Bring us more!

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  • April December 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I love personalized bicycles!

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  • nuovorecord December 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Looks like the owner was going for a “La Vie Claire team bike” look.

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  • Perry Hunter December 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    LHT! The B-17 of bicycles…

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    • sorebore December 14, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Nice way to lose the “Model T” aspect of the Surly aesthetic.

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  • Rol December 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Most of you are too young to remember that the paint job is slightly reminiscent of this:

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    • Paul Johnson December 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      I feel like I’m being attacked by a crossword puzzle every time I see that bus.

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  • CaptainKarma December 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    You should offer the owner an honorary title or a prize or sumthin’ if he/she checks in and tells the story this bike has to say.

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  • mudlips December 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I like this new column! Can’t wait to see the next post.

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  • Caroline December 12, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    This new column reminds me of some fun I’ve had with a Flickr group over the past year relating to “not-so-locked-up” bikes. Check them out, they’re good for at least a few giggles:

    If you love it, (and especially if it’s so personal) lock it. I mean, REALLY lock it. 😉

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  • michael b December 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Sometimes a great paint job is the best camo.

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  • jim December 12, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I would bet this bike has a great name? Any guesses? Perhaps “Furthur”, or ??

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  • jim December 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I want to know what the “E” stands for?

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  • fringe December 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    i like the “bikes that catch you eye” thing… i look forward to reading how BP commenters dig into them like the ‘people riding bikes’ posts…

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  • Al from PA December 13, 2011 at 4:38 am

    That paintjob is somewhere between the (almost) Mondrian school and the “paint it to make it ugly” (or weird) school. I like it–not a criticism.

    I went for sheer ugliness years ago, brush painting my old Schwinn “Racer” a hideous flat mustard yellow. Very unappealing to thieves, but also an instant recognition factor if the bike were stolen (it wasn’t–it was rolled over by a Brinks truck after a right-hook I barely survived–ah, college days).

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  • Dan December 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Is that a Brooks saddle?

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  • Joe December 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Need to park my bike in a spot for viewing 🙂
    love looking at other ppls rigs.

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  • bob December 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    i think locked up will be super popular bcuz unique bikes are part of enjoying and riding a bike!please post unique bikes daily!.you might even offer a contest where people vote on a monthly(?) basis a “people”s choice” unique bike and the winner gets a tire or better yet a safety item such as a blinky light?

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    • jim December 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm

      compose the winners of each month and you have a calendar

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  • scaryseth December 13, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Like the idea of the new column, look forward to future interesting sightings. And interested to learn more about this bike, very interesting.

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  • Loren December 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Dario inspired paintjob for sure. She’s a real beaut, Clark.

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  • mark ginsberg December 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Jonathan, you are wrong all wrong on this one. I respect your work and integrity, but Fauvists? Clearly De Stijl. C’mon, get your facts right! The Vie Clare reference above was correct, think Piet Mondrian:

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  • Caleb December 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Hello! Jeremy at Bike Farm told me today that my bike was on this site. I’m happy to see all the positive comments from everyone. Here’s my lecture.

    Before I got the LHT frameset, I had a minivan I spray painted every few months to provide the community with changes to look at. The last paint job was a bunch of overlapping squares outlined in black, inspired by imagining my van as a computer monitor full of varying windows consisting of whatever colors I had amassed over the months of painting. When the van’s motor failed at somewhere near 212,000 miles, my father and I replaced it with a spare only to have that fail a few hundred miles in. The van was scrapped, and I was without something to color on.

    But then I bought the LHT frame second hand from a friend in early ’08, and I didn’t like the grayish-blue stock color, so I painted it black, taped off some squares, and made a messy color job as an homage to the van, an effort to personalize the bike, and an effort to make it less appealing to people who steal bikes knowing little about them. So the paint job wasn’t inspired at all by anything anybody’s mentioned. I’ve not before heard of Fauvists or De Stijl or Vie Claire or any of that stuff. And while people have told me many times that the van and the bike reminded them of The Partridge Family, I never knew why that was until seeing that picture of the bus in this thread. Still, I think it’s neat that all those names come up.

    I built the “Nth” wheel at the back for pulling my bmx bike with me on tours. I so far have only used it to go from eastern South Dakota to Colorado, but it worked very well. A drunk man in Wagner, SD wanted to ride on the bmx, but like jim mentioned above, I told the man I didn’t trust my rack to hold the weight of a man. It isn’t a quick release, though. I wanted to put a quick release on (especially after reading this:, but the only hub shell I had to weld onto the rack was incompatible with the only quick release axle’s cone nuts I had, so I have to break out my 15mm wrench whenever attaching and removing the bmx. That doesn’t bother me, though, because I like a generally slow paced life.

    The “E” is from a storm door that was on my family’s old house. “E” is the first letter in our last name. I put it on the bike primarily as a reminder of my family, but also as a reminder of a friend who once in the middle of a ride to town ripped an “I” from a storm door on an abandoned school house in SD and then fastened it to his bike with some wire he found at the same site.

    The small badge mentioned in the write up is actually a tree that I removed from an old telephone pole my father used to build a pole shed on his farm last winter while I was back there. I removed multiple, as my dad had purchased many poles, and have slowly been distributing them to close friends I grew up riding bmx bikes with. I carried my tree with me for months before finally deciding to mount it on my rack like a car’s hood ornament. There’s a number on the top of each tree, and the words beneath the hole are as follows:
    Tree Service
    Penta Sprayed

    The chainstay stickers in the picture came from a set of VHS decals for labeling tapes. I don’t even know where I got them, but I liked their simple aesthetics, and I enjoy working with video, so I put them on to fill the black space that resulted from not wanting to tape and paint the small tubes.

    Yes, Dan, it is a Brooks saddle.

    I have not named the bike, but that’s only because I don’t name anything. However, naomi is spot on about me loving my bike. I’m thankful to have it.

    Jonathan, I love the idea of “Locked Up”. I’m honored my bike has been part of it. I hope you keep the series going for a long time.

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