Relaxing with her daughter in the Dutchtub on a chilly February afternoon, Juliette had her 50mm f1.8 lens handy near sunset.
Up to 50% off, 4 days only: Friday 21 February through Monday
Usually relatively balmy, February has kind of sucked so far business-wise, with a weekend closed due to snow and ice, and the polar vortex chilling the adjacent weeks. Meanwhile our stocks of lovely winter clothing, both wool street wear and more technical rain gear, remain strong as new Spring stock begins to arrive. But who likes a sob story? Nobody, is who.
We have taken note of the amazing compulsive power of cats on the internet these few dreary weeks, and decided not only to adorn our windows with adorable silhouettes of cats (and dachshunds!) raining from the sky, but to deploy the power of Grumpy Cat and MS Comic Sans together in this unlicensed photo, in a craven bid to get you to buy some stuff.
C'mon! If that's not enough, here's what we're offering:
25-50% off Ibex wool! 30% off Raingear, hats and gloves! 25% off Helmets! 10% off Everything* else! *0% off Brompton bicycles (a steal at full price), Kinn bicycles, Stokemonkey unless purchased together with a compatible longtail
It seems like every few hours for the last couple months, people ask us if we've heard about the Copenhagen Wheel. It's an electric motor for bicycles, and your smartphone talks to it, and it's red! According to dozens of non-bicycle-oriented media organs and their repeaters, who have never ridden one, it re-invents the wheel. Hasn't shipped yet, but they're already calling it "the leading pedal assist electric system in the world." Actually we've been hearing about it for several years since it was first presented as a concept involving cloud-based crowd-swarming electric bicycle traffic jam avoidance technology. We've still heard very little useful about it from anybody not part of the marketing effort, which is heavy on beautiful people astride one pristinely white bike with the saddle too low, stripped-down no doubt to emphasize the uncluttered design. Tech specs are thin. You can pre-order one. All snark aside, it might be awesome. We hope so. We'll see! What's beyond question is that these people have awesome buzz-building skills. Which is really the only reason we're even mentioning it.
Our own red-motor electric assist system called Stokemonkey is back. We developed Stokemonkey for Xtracycle's longtail cargo bikes, starting in 2003, when we lived in famously hilly San Francisco. While the practicality and fun of hauling passengers and similar heavy loads on a bike in flattish terrain is a true story in need of more telling, almost everybody knows that steep hills and heavy cargo make bicycles neither practical nor fun. We invented Stokemonkey to make cargo bikes work anywhere. Patented in 2007, it still does.
Frankly, it's been a long, bumpy road bringing and keeping Stokemonkey on the market, with lots of part supply problems, especially in the battery department. Never mind the major recession, and the different kinds of strengths required on the one hand to open and run a bicycle shop and on the other to manufacture a complex kit of parts in low volumes, it turns out that the most compelling use cases for Stokemonkey are set in much hillier places than Portland, while we as a Portland shop can't always offer an ideal level of pre- and post-sale support of installations on bicycles we don't sell or even see, let alone lay our hands on. Together, these facts and a few more made Stokemonkey challenging business for us.
Stokemonkey is back because it would be necessary to invent again if it didn't exist. It has developed something of a cult following, because for all the many sorts of electric assist systems out there, Stokemonkey remains unrivaled in joining the following attributes:
- Huge torque. Using the bottom end of common MTB-type gearing, Stokemonkey can produce up to about 4 times the torque as popular hub motors like BionX, or twice as much as an early VW Bug (~110lb-ft/150Nm), allowing full power at sub-walking speeds. Torque is what you need to budge a heavy bike up a steep hill from a dead stop. Stokemonkey got ~480lbs up this very hill that brings hub motors to their knees:
- Much more efficient. On a loaded bike in hilly terrain, especially with a lot of stop and go, Stokemonkey can go more than twice as far on a given battery than popular hub motors: "With the eZee system, Heidi could only manage about 30km, where under similar conditions and using the same battery, she was cranking out 85km with the Stokemonkey." That's because the motor is never forced to work at slower speeds than optimal. This advantage disappears if all you want is help cruising along at higher speeds in flattish country. Since batteries are the most costly and frankly limiting component of most any assist system, doing more with less is a huge advantage.
- Quiet and robust. Stokemonkey has no internal moving parts, and no high-speed moving parts at all. Noise-wise, it's the difference between a ceiling fan and a cordless drill. There are other assist systems on the market that can move loads nearly as well as Stokemonkey, themselves a little lighter, but always at the expense of their internal hamster wheels moving at buzzy, fast wearing speeds.
- Non-proprietary consumables. Moving parts wear out. Batteries die. When the time comes, Stokemonkey's moving parts are standard bike parts available from several manufacturers. Same story for suitable batteries: while good ones aren't as readily available or inexpensive as we'd like, what's certain is you'll never be locked in to any one company's proprietary offerings.
- Inexpensive. This is relative, of course. It's the cheapest system that will do what it does. If you don't need your bike to be a tractor, you have less expensive choices. If you do, Stokemonkey is The One.
We have partnered with the electric assist specialist Grin Technologies in Vancouver, BC to update the supply chain and the product generally. We are again selling Stokemonkey installed on complete bikes that we sell locally or ship. These include Xtracycle's Edgerunner and now Yuba's Mundo, together with Surly's Big Dummy. For mail-order retrofit projects, and a la carte parts support, especially if to be installed on bikes we do not stock, contact Grin.
Justin Lemire-Elmore of Grin was responsible for programming Stokemonkey's main software elements in 2007-8, and in addition to helping bring back Stokemonkey in its "classic" form with chain-driven left crank, is innovating with both hard- and software to introduce a very elegant pedal-sensing variant: no additional chains or chainrings, no driven pedals, no throttle needed. You can read all about it here, in great geeky detail. It's kind of genius! We will sell this right-side variant after a few final refinements are field proven; meanwhile apply to Grin now if you are a "keen technically minded" person eager to get an early crack at the new flavor.
Here's Stokemonkey's product page.
We're working on a new series of videos with our friends at The Path Less Pedaled to show everything you need to know about owning a Brompton. And we need your help! We're looking for someone who’s friendly and energetic to star in the instructional videos, so we're launching a #ShowUsYourFold talent search!
The idea is simple. We want you to make a 10-second video of yourself, explaining how to fold something. Anything. Seriously. It could be a paper airplane, a piece of sushi, or even a Brompton (prior experience with folding a Brompton is a plus, but not necessary). Use your imagination. The video doesn't have to be polished or overly produced, since we’re looking at your personality more than your camera skills. So shoot it on your phone, your iPad, your computer, your friend’s phone… you get the picture. It’s only 10 seconds!
To sweeten the deal, the person we select will receive $100 in cash plus a $100 gift card to Clever Cycles. So grab a camera and #ShowUsYourFold!
And, remember, if we pick you, you’ll be asked to star in a half-day video shoot about Brompton bicycles, so channel your inner spokesperson. Sorry, non-Portlanders, but we can’t fly you out for the video shoot, so we’ll choose our talent from among the locals.
All submissions must be received by Midnight on Friday, February 7th!
How to Submit:
-Upload your video to your video-hosting website of choice (Youtube, Vimeo, etc.), and post the link on the Clever Cycles Facebook page with the hashtag #ShowUsYourFold
-OR link to the video via Twitter and tag @CleverCycles with the hashtag #showusyourfold
1. You must EXPLAIN what you are doing, while you are doing it. Don’t just show. Tell. We are looking for a spokesperson not a mime :)
2. Your video should be no longer than 10 seconds.
3. Your video can be shot on any video recording device, as long as the audio is clear and intelligible.
4. Be creative!
Get two Brompton bicycles for the price of one!* Tag yourself and a friend in this photo on Facebook of a recent 54-bike Brompton shipment, together with a comment naming which Amtrak route you'd most like to carry your Bromptons aboard, to enter our drawing. On New Years Day, we’ll select one winner to receive two Bromptons for the price of one.
Use our Brompton configuration tool to learn about what options work best for the type of riding you do. While Brompton touring is just one reason a Brompton might be the only bike you'll ever need, this recent announcement by Amtrak may smooth train travel with a folding bike.
* Free second Brompton must be of equal or lesser value to first (purchased) one. Limited to in-stock Brompton bikes. We will contact winner directly via Facebook, so please make sure to like us.
It's been cold out there, huh? Are your hands cold? We always love your visits, but love them just a little bit more when you don't let the weather keep you off your bike!
Holiday shopping offers
Visit us between now and 24 December, and you'll save between 10 and 40% on your entire purchase. When you arrive, mention this offer to grab a discount card from our goodie basket. Check-in to Facebook while in the store, and we'll let you take a second card. You get the higher of the two discounts. Each card expires at the end of the day. Limit one card per customer, redeemable for in-stock items and in-store purchases only. Not applicable to gift cards or Brompton products, nor to be combined with other offers and non-transferable.
Can't decide what to give? How about a Clever Cycles gift card? We'll throw in a free $5 card with each $50 gift card purchase until 24 December, available in store or online. All cards expire one year after purchase. Not to be combined with any other offer or discount.
Custom Brompton tool updates
We've added a bunch of new options to our Brompton builder tool, including new bright-as-cars lighting options, custom fenders, grips and saddles. In 2014 we plan to float a pretty huge stock of Bromptons, so we can deliver a wide range of specifications much faster than placing custom orders with the factory in London. We continue to be deeply grateful for the steadily advancing excellence of Brompton folding bikes, and their well-deserved rocketing popularity. Incidentally, Brompton celebrated 25 years of full-time production recently: huzzah!
Right this minute we have 9 of the hotly-awaited Surly Stragglers in stock, plenty of sizes, both colors. This is the new disc-braked version of Surly's iconic Cross-Check. It's hard to imagine any bike so light, fun and sporty that also plays so hard and well as a year-round Portland commuter. If you're hooked on modern road bike ergonomics and zip, but need something you can beat on in most any weather and surface conditions daily for years and years, this is your bike.
Linus Dutchi 8's
The single most popular Linus variant at Clever, the Dutchi 8, has been out of stock everywhere for months. We just came into a small stock of them in Sage Green. Many are spoken for. But not all. Last chance before Spring.
For the first time in over a year, Xtracycle EdgeRunner bikes are just barely balancing in supply and demand, meaning that we have some on the floor right now that nobody's already bought. Three! There's no more fun, easy, soul-satisfying way to haul your family and your stuff around town.
Babboe City cargo bikes
We're coming up on 7 years of selling the Bakfiets.nl Cargobike, in premium specifications as supplied by WorkCycles in Amsterdam. There's nothing like it in sheer bombproof capability and feature completeness. They're also kind of expensive, and frankly not always easy for us to keep in stock, since they come only by the container to us. So we've always kept an eye out for a somewhat more affordable, easier-to-get alternative that doesn't suck. We think we've found it in the Babboe City, at more than $1000 less than its closest competitor. The Babboe is quite a bit lighter than a Bakfiets.nl Cargobike, possibly even more relaxed and comfortable, and it has arguably a better weather cover. Load up your kids and give it a spin!
Yuba's light, affordable Boda Boda midtail cargo bike had been in short supply following a factory fire! But we've now got three varieties in stock, including one with BionX electric assist. That goes for the flagship heavy-duty Mundo model, too!
LED lights above and below
LED lighting for bikes is better than ever, and we have stock of the latest-greatest 2014 models including the new Eyc, Cyo Premium, and Edelux II, shown here on distributor Peter White's site in great geeky ardor. But we've made a change in the store, too, having retired all our pretty but wasteful overhead halogen lighting for LEDs. It used to be that LED lighting was either pretty ugly in quality, not very bright, or else too expensive. We tried 4 different vendors before settling on the fantastic Vivid series of MR16s by Soraa. We've cut our lighting bills way more than half while increasing the brightness at least a third. Dark will no longer be part of the Clever look in the cold months, we hope!
It has become a tradition that we sell our rental bike fleet each November, the only time we sell used bikes. We select our rental bikes for toughness, so after only a year of use, they're merely broken in instead of worn out. It's a rare opportunity to acquire Brompton, WorkCycles, Breezer and other distinctive bikes, all completely equipped with generator lighting, fenders, racks, stands etc., at well under retail.
The fleet goes on sale Friday, Black, at 11am. First come, first serve. We will provide a sign-up sheet the morning of so you don't have to actually stand in line. Local sales only; you must ride to decide. If that doesn't whip you all into a frenzy of craven holiday commerce, we will have several new Surly and Breezer bikes marked down for the occasion.
Happy Thanksgiving, Portland. We're thankful to you for our best business year since 2007, and to powers unknown for this gentle descent into Winter.
The initial cost of fine wool clothing is often higher than other fibers, but its anti-stink qualities mean you wash it less, and the good stuff remains colorfast with good drape and no pilling for years and years: it’s good value -- even more so during this event. Combining the warmth of Ibex wool with the dryness and breathability of Showers Pass rain gear is the most comfortable way to ride year-round in Portland.
Why come to this event?
- People from Ibex and Showers Pass will help you choose the right products for you.
- One night only! This is your chance to save 20% off Ibex & Showers Pass (both in-stock & special orders)
- Free gifts with purchase (hint: rhymes with cat)
- All sales from this event will be entered to win a free Dutchtub rental ($400 value; restrictions apply)
- Free beer and other refreshments to help make your purchasing decisions easier.
- Get a few holiday gifts out of the way?
- It'll be even darker than it is now that evening. Our shop will be warm & bright, plus you'll probably run into someone you know.
So Step Right Up and put November 14 at 5pm on your calendar.
Discounts may not be combined; for example, no coupons on top of the one-night pricing.
One of our favorite pleasures of the season is breaking out the warmer layers of wool from years past. Another is buying more. Clever Cycles now stocks more Ibex wool clothing than any other store in Portland. So much so that we're now considered an Ibex "Store in Store"! We like Ibex better than some other brands because the quality is unmatched, and the cuts tend to work better both on and off a bike, regardless of body type, than some of the sportier marks. Ibex also sews most of their clothing in California, from ethically-sourced New Zealand wool, and is even introducing Rambouillet wool from Montana into their lines.Visit us or shop online to see our Ibex line-up for Fall. We don't stock Ibex's cycling specific items, such as bibs and legwarmers, but we'd be happy to order them for you if you want to save on shipping.
Merino wool clothing, next to skin and on top, is the just the best for biking year round. Off the bike too. Unlike synthetics, it doesn't stink when you sweat in it. It keeps you warm even when it's wet, and it dries fast. Finer weaves keep you cool. Layer it, and you're ready for anything. It's comfortable, beautiful, and stays looking good for years with reasonable care.
Order & receive your custom Brompton before the new year and save!
Order before 5pm October 28th and pick up your custom Brompton before the new year*. All Brompton orders placed after October 28th will arrive after the new year and reflect the 2014 price increases. There are no changes to the Brompton for 2014 other than higher pricing!
Brompton folding bicycles are hand-built to order in London, in nearly a million possible specifications. Our Brompton configuration tool allows you to easily go through all the options, see color combinations, get a price, and save the configuration as a url to retrieve at a later date. Don't waste too much time though!
Brompton recently added new fender, grips and saddle colors to the mix. We'll add these to our configuration tool soon so you can further customize your Brompton.
* While we expect to have all orders ready for pick-up on December 20th, delays due to inclement weather, production issues, damage or shipping errors can happen. We can not guarantee that your order will arrive before a specific date.
Back at Clever Cycles after a 5-year hiatus, Yuba bikes have come a long way! Long a bang-for-buck winner with heavier loads, the flagship Mundo series of longtail cargo bikes have lost weight and gained refinement, offering great value in a burly yet friendly package now encompassing electric assist, dynamo lighting, and internal hub gearing options. The new Boda Boda midtail is a much lighter, more versatile, even more accessible cargo bike with inimitable style.
- Mundo's super stiff frame handles the heaviest loads with confidence.
- Mundo's center stand is best-in-class, included in the base price.
- One size fits most.
- Boda Boda fits bus racks!
- Loads of accessories to adapt for special purposes.
Sometimes customers are our best source of new product lines. This time, it's Sketchbook Bags. We knew we needed to carry these the first time we saw them. There just isn't much out there to compare these bags to. If your looking for a stylish waterproof bag that will last a lifetime, then you need to own a Sketchbook Bag. Made in Eugene, Oregon (soon to be an East Coast operation), the attention to detail on these bags is second to none. We stock the Camper Satchel, Indigo Rucksack backpack, Panniers, and the Musette in a couple of colors.
Portland's one and only Hot Tub by Bike delivery service
It's that time of year. Our calendar is filling up fast with bookings for the Dutchtub. If you've been planning to have one of our Clever tubbists deliver a tub to your place this Fall, get your calendar out now and give us a call!
The rate is $400 for 3 nights, plus a $50 deposit refundable upon clean return. This fee includes the following:
- The tub, complete with cover, fire coil shield, ash tray, wok, fill and drain hose with fittings and bung, leveling shims, stir paddle, custom bicycle trailer doubling as a hand cart
- Delivery and pickup by Clever-certified bicycle tubbist within our delivery area
- Setup at your site, with instruction, tips for a successful first heating
~60lbs dry wood for 1 heating; additional 60lbs @ $15
- Approved cleaning products
While we can arrange shorter rental periods, the minimum rental cost is always $400. Please see our rental page for more information.
Capes are probably the most primal garments, unless maybe loincloths: a hide or blanket sewn into a cone with hole for head. In water-repellent materials, they provide pretty complete rain protection in a single piece, with complete freedom of movement whether you are fat or skinny, tall or short, and whether you wear a suit, a dress, Carhartts and a backpack, or a loincloth. Being completely open at the bottom, they don't trap your body heat and sweat the way waterproof-breathable fabrics sewn into jackets and pants all inevitably do. A couple layers of wool beneath a rain cape on a bike, with waterproof boots or gaiters optional, is likely the best all-around Portland weather solution on a bike between October and May. It should go without saying that you must use fenders, as there's no protection against muck flying up from below. (I think we've sold maybe 0.02% of bikes without full fenders since 2007, if that.)
Capes specific to bicycling have a few key features not common in PVC ponchos from Freddie's or Andy & Bax. A cape is a fitted garment, roughly conical, while a poncho is a rectangle with a head-hole in it. Bicycle capes are long enough in front to drape over the handlebars: this is crucial to protecting your legs. Swept bars call for the longest fronts to reach over the bars. And short enough in back to stay out of your wheel. All have some way to keep the front from flying up or back, dumping rain into your lap: usually loops sewn into the inside fronts to place either your palms or thumbs through, or to loop over some part of the bars. Some have ties to keep the backs from flying up as well. Most have reflectivity or high-vis colors or both, since wet and darkness tend to coincide: a cape puffed up and billowy commands a lot of visual field, especially when reflective.
There are some issues, which may or may not apply in your case. One is that capes on a bike increase wind resistance, so if you regularly face stiff headwinds or like to ride faster than about 15mph, capes provide more exercise. The flip side is that tailwinds make you faster than a flying squirrel in a vacuum. One of my funnest moments on a bike ever was over a decade ago, riding at night in an electrical storm with a stiff 6-o'clock tailwind, wearing a Carradice cape. As my speed approached the wind speed of about 35mph, effortlessly, the rain stopped pelting my face, and all noise of air rushing ceased as the lightning and thunder continued. (I survived, regretting nothing.)
Another issue can be lighting. The most common kinds of bike lights in the US attach to handlebars, which a rain cape covers. To use a cape at night or in Portland's nine darkish wetter months you need lights that mount on your fork crown or lower, like most dynamo setups, or else on your head. We have hardware that lets you mount handlebar-style lights on a fork blade, and usually head/helmet mount types too.
We're stocking three makes of cape this year just in time for the relentless soul-soddening rain separating us from July 2014. Here's a mini-review of them:
This is old school, beautiful in waxed cotton with brass zipper, leather tab, plaid liner at collar and hood. Sewn in Nelson, Lancashire, northwest England, each piece signed. (Thanks Janet for mine!) Aesthetically striking, if Lord of the Rings is a look you can swing. Water rolls off like a duck's back (get it?). Waxed cotton is the original waterproof breathable performance fabric. Where the fabric begins to get wet, the fibers swell to close the gaps in the weave, while dryer parts remain highly vapor permeable. This wettening also makes the fabric somewhat stiff and heavier, helping it lay in place on the bars and around your body in spite of gusts. While the open design of a cape makes the breathable part superfluous, the self-sealing nature of waxed cotton seams makes it perform better than most laminates, notorious for leaky seams. Waxed cotton unlike plastics is also noiseless, and can be re-proofed indefinitely to restore original resilience; our first is 16 years old and still in service with only 1 small rip. Available in 2 sizes, the larger of which is suitable for very tall people on very upright bikes, uniquely so.
No relation to Clever Cycles except in sensibility, these timelessly fashionable lightweight rain capes come in lots of fabrics, 3 of which we stock. One's called Electric Houndstooth, as it's got a grid of blazing reflectivity hidden in the plaid, until illumined directly, and POW! Another is Mr Fox Point corduroy, which you might not associate with waterproofness, but this is. Surface moisture evaporates rapidly from corduroy's fuzzy face: all those little fibers sticking up increase the surface area massively. Definitely the most cuddly raingear going. Last is TF Green, which is a quietly dignified Glen plaid with sharp reflective piping. We don't know what TF stands for but it's attractive. All Cleverhood capes feature nifty magnet-closed slits in front, a chest pocket with waterproof zipper, a brimmed hood that doesn't block your peripheral vision, and more. Designed and sewn in Providence, Rhode Island of imported synthetic (PVC-free, very nice) fabrics.
We carry both the premium Oxford and the basic Cambridge variants, with the main difference being materials used, resulting in both the most and least expensive of capes we stock. The Oxford is in cotton with a (polyurethane?) coating inside for waterproofness, which looks like a classic waxed garment but without the weight, faint smell and oily feel of proofing wax. This is accented with a 360-degree broad beautiful worsted wool strip, and patch on the back, into which reflective fibers are woven. Then there are the leather straps for rolling it up when not in use: this is a very elegant package. Sewn in England. The basic Cambridge is in honest coated nylon with reflective piping and leather roll-up straps, sewn in Italy.
Both Brooks models feature, instead of internal loops to attach to thumbs or hands, gathered cuffs leading to the outside, for your hands. Instead of relying on the internal attachment of your hands to keep the cape from flying up, there are clever magnetic straps that secure the front to the bars. These will break free with any meaningful effort. The benefit is that your hands remain visible outside the cape, say for ease of signaling, and so you can see the controls of your bike. The downside is that your hands need separate waterproof protection when it's cold, while wool liners alone beneath other capes are usually sufficient.