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Nike announces first Biketown branding campaign: Sneaker bikes

Posted by on July 13th, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Tucked into Nike’s exclusive $10 million bike share contract with the City of Portland is a clause that allows the company to put its considerable marketing prowess on display.

Nike has the right to place occasional “wraps” on 100 of the 1,000 Biketown bikes. This means they can change the color scheme of the usually bright orange machines in order to promote whatever they please. Today they announced their first wrap scheme.

Say hello to “sneaker bikes.”

When Biketown launches next week some of the bikes will echo the stylings of three historically significant Nike sneakers.

Here’s the announcement from Nike:

When the first verifiable bicycle made its debut in 1819, it was deemed a “running machine.” When the City of Portland Bike Share Program, BIKETOWN, launches July 19, this old moniker takes on new relevance, as 10% of the program’s bikes will feature a limited-edition bike-wrap design inspired by one of three beloved Nike sneakers: the Nike Air Max 95, Nike Air Trainer 1 and Nike Air Safari. And while only one of the silhouettes was explicitly designed for running, all were made to move.

The Air Trainer 1 and Air Safari, creations of the renowned Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, both released in 1987. The Air Trainer 1, famously worn by John McEnroe, redefined cross-training shoes, while the Air Safari has become a cult classic thanks to unmistakable print detailing on its toe and heel. Meanwhile, Sergio Lozano’s Air Max 95 broke new ground in 1995 with Nike’s first black midsole, forefoot air and its immediately recognizable gradient upper.

They also released the three different colorways along with the video. Behold, sneakerheads!




It will be interesting to see how Nike’s march into Portland neighborhoods is accepted by locals. After all this is a town famous for its disdain of global corporate juggernauts. There’s already this one person on SE Taylor and Cesar Chavez Blvd. who’s making his/her feelings widely known with signs that say, “Don’t Brand my Block!” and “Urban Blight” with an upside-down Nike swoosh. Check out these photos sent in by a reader:



CORRECTION: This post originally used the old name of Cesar Chavez Blvd. We regret the error.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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  • Chris I July 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    In the video they show some folks using the bikes at night. I see the rear light, but I don’t see a light in the front. Is this something they will have once the system launches?

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      The front light is built into the front basket. Look closely – it’s at the bottom.

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      • Chris I July 13, 2016 at 12:43 pm

        But apparently are not turned on, or not working for the promo video? I hope they turn on automatically with a sensor, because a lot of people won’t figure out or will forget to turn them on.

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    • mh July 13, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      They’re supposed to be integral, built into the frame of the bike, and on all the time. I think it’s just the lighting of the video that made them unnoticeable.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. July 13, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    three beloved Nike sneakers: the Nike Air Max 95, Nike Air Trainer 1 and Nike Air Safari

    I’ve never heard of any of those things, but thanks for the moneys. 😉

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    • mw July 13, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      you have now

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. July 13, 2016 at 1:48 pm

        I guess that’s the point of advertising, huh?

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  • daisy July 13, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Will they cost three times as much to ride? 😉

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    • Chris I July 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      And fit terribly.

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  • lahar July 13, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    It is really hard to be enthusiastic by any branding they might do on our streets. Meh, thanks for the bike money but I still won’t buy your product.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 13, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      I agree. I’m sick of all the Ford, Toyota, and Subaru branding on my street.

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      • ethan July 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm

        I was going to say the same thing.

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        • jered bogli July 17, 2016 at 9:57 pm

          Perfect I can count on all of you to vote for tax increases to fund all these things our government should be doing. Otherwise suck it up and enjoy the sponsorship.

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    • eawrist July 13, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      I suppose you have to pick your best enemies. Sweatshops aside, they’re selling shoes (and ostensibly bikes). At lease they’re not Monsanto selling… Agent Orange… wait….

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. July 13, 2016 at 3:18 pm

        Monsanto no longer manufactures Agent Orange and haven’t for quite some time. Also, Nike no longer uses child labor.

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        • Jolly Dodger July 13, 2016 at 3:21 pm

          They claim.

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          • eawrist July 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm

            Conspiracy theorists unite!

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        • BB July 13, 2016 at 3:37 pm

          Yet they are where they are today for doing such things.

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  • rick July 13, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    As if Portland wants a giant Subaru warehouse in NW Portland like what Gresham is getting?

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  • Jim Lee July 13, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Holy Bill Bowerman’s waffle iron!

    I want one that celebrates by waffle trainers!

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    • eawrist July 14, 2016 at 6:25 am

      Archeologists have unearthed the device and endeavored to recreate his secret recipe-even going so far as to affix waffles to their feet in a desperate effort to find his secret.

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    • John July 14, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Not a huge fan of the Nike branding but I do find Bowerman’s (and Knight’s) story very endearing.

      The story of Nike’s founding is more powerful to me than any branding they can come up with…

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  • JeffS July 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    The Taylor/39th person is just upset about losing “their” parking space.

    Many neighbors knew nothing about biketown until this one person got notice of the rack being installed in front of their rental duplex (without onsite parking) and started complaining. The pro-parking crowd suddenly became interested, with plenty of Fritz-like suggestions.


    That pictured Burnside/7th rack does look problematic.

    Plenty of questionable decisions being made in an effort to preserve on-street parking at/near influential businesses.

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  • devograd July 13, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Those are some good-looking bikes!

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  • rachel b July 13, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Clever Nike. Ugh.

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    • Eric Leifsdad July 13, 2016 at 10:22 pm

      I’m not a fan of marketing, but I love the idea of some random bikeshare bikes looking different. Don’t let drivers just get complacent when they don’t see orange. Everybody will get a slightly wider berth because of this.

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      • Jessica Roberts
        Jessica Roberts July 14, 2016 at 8:25 am

        “Unicorn” bike share bikes have been really popular in other cities. People seem to enjoy discovering them, posting them to social media, etc. Perhaps like a scavenger hunt?

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  • Beth H July 13, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Because Capitalism, people.
    If you wanna piss and moan about the pursuit of filthy lucre on Nike’s part, then you have to piss and moan about the part every consumer plays in the equation. Unless you live on another planet or belong to a remote, as-yet-undiscovered tribe somewhere in the South pacific, you consume stuff. As in, you buy stuff. We all do. Because that’s the world.
    If you don’t like Bikeshare, or Nike, that’s fine. Get your own bike, paint it any way you please, and wear bread bags on your feet and a tinfoil helmet.
    But don’t get all huffy about Nike’s role in this, and by all means don’t park in their bikeshare spaces. It’s not like they’ll be absolutely everywhere.
    And oh, hey — the point of this is that more people will ride bikes. Isn’t that a good thing?
    Cheers and happy riding.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 13, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Remember when we were all thanking Nike for building a bike path to the MAX station?

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    • rachel b July 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      “Pissing and moaning?” “Huffy?” ??? I just don’t dig the proliferation of corporate branding everywhere–a reasonable enough thing, think I.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. July 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm

        I’m guessing I won’t see you at the next Timbers match then. 🙂

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        • Matt S. July 13, 2016 at 11:57 pm

          Oh it’s fine if it’s soccer 😉

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        • rachel b July 14, 2016 at 2:37 pm

          Actually, no, you won’t! Nothing against the Timbers. 😉

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    • resopmok July 13, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Accept the status quo. Take your bread and circuses and stop complaining. Don’t try to make the world a better place. Love it or leave it. Rinse, wash, and repeat ad naseum until your brain is mush. Buy, buy, buy.

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    • wsbob July 14, 2016 at 11:59 am

      “…the point of this is that more people will ride bikes. …” beth h

      Let’s hope so. Taylor and 39th/Chavez, is a long way from Downtown. Round about November, December, January, February, or any day when the temp is about 40 degrees, rain is coming down, and it’s the light level is low all day long, I’m interested in watching reports of people will be loyally riding these bikeshare biikes.

      Use of public amenities for branding, and advertising private products and services is nearly standard practice anymore, and happens because the public doesn’t apparently care to pony up the bucks that would obviate the need for the revenue subsidy that comes from this use of public amenities.

      The street clutter that bikeshare and its facilities present, is one of the system’s least appealing characteristics. The street clutter presented by parked motor vehicles is reasonable in comparison, because that mode of transportation is far more versatile to the wide range of people’s travel needs, than are bikes.

      We’ll see though, how biketown sponsored bikeshare pans out. Nike is a good, high profile sponsor for Portland’s system. Some people will want to ride these bikes, or simply be astride one to try look ‘cool’, just because they’re Nike sponsored and gussied up according to Nike style formulas…even if they don’t actually like to ride bikes. That compulsion alone, should bring in some dollars. Any significant numbers of people willing to put up with the vagaries of weather here in Portland, to leave the comfy confines of their motor vehicle, to regularly ride a bikeshare bike instead, will be gravy.

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      • Matt S. July 14, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        To follow up with what wsbob has mentioned about weather and bikeshare.

        I’m also curious how these bikes will hold up in the weather when just sitting out in the rain? Are there supposed to be covers over the park stations?

        I was recently in Fargo, ND where they too have bikeshare and heavy winters, granted, a little different than ours, but the bikes were pretty thrashed. I don’t know what kind of maintenance program they’re under.

        I imagine the crankshaft drive train is a design with heavy winter in mind.

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    • Peter R July 15, 2016 at 5:35 am

      Thank you! How many people are typing it on their Apple, Intel, AMD powered computer while they wear their prana, athleta, birkenstock, (you get the picture). Unless you all make your clothing from homespun oraganic cotton, from the sheep you raise in your backyard your “outrage” is a bit empty.

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      • Matt S. July 15, 2016 at 6:38 am

        It’s the whole anti-thing…

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. July 15, 2016 at 9:25 am

        Even that cotton is bought as seeds from an agricultural company…

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  • Josh G July 13, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    I forgot that these bikes were shaft drive. Anyone know how common non-chain drive bikes are in bikeshare programs around the world?

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  • Alex Reedin July 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    An incongruous phrase: “historically significant… sneakers” 🙂

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  • John Lascurettes July 13, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    “Urban blight”? This person does recognize that they live in an, um, let’s see, URBAN area?

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  • Matt S. July 13, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Nike made wearing shoes cool, now they’re making riding a bike cool.

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  • rachel b July 14, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    There was a halcyon time when it was just Civic Stadium. And they named arenas in honor of (for example) veterans, i.e. Memorial Coliseum. And corporate sponsors had the grace to NOT plaster their names/logos all over everything. What a thought!

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    • rachel b July 14, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Doh! This was supposed to go way up there under Matt’s and Adam’s comments. Doh!

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 14, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      I’m honestly not a huge fan of corporate sponsorship either, but I’ve learned to ignore it. It’s just one (of many) unfortunate consequences of our capitalistic society. In the mean time, we’ve somehow tricked a multi-national corporation to pay for our bike share program, so I’m happy about that.

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      • rachel b July 14, 2016 at 11:29 pm

        I see your point, Adam. I do my best to ignore it but I fail. 🙁

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        • rachel b July 18, 2016 at 11:22 pm

          Agh! I meant “I do my best to ignore it (the advertising) but I fail. !

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  • Carter Kennedy July 16, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    The colors of rental bikes is so insignificant it should be beneath our notice. Shame on me for not only reading this post but commenting on it too.

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