Happy birthday to us: the Clever Index

We opened in June 2007, five years ago. We were the first, and we remain the largest shop in town dedicated more or less entirely to bikes as practical urban transportation for families like ours. And yours. We've learned a lot, since none of us except our mechanics had any bike shop experience, and we've expanded three times to 7,000'sq through a recession in a town with nearly 70 other bike shops.

Various reports and some spreadsheet dinking on five years of business data, several thousand bikes, produce some interesting "Harper's Index"-type statistics about who we are and who we aren't. We're weird, for sure. We think being non-redundant accounts partly for the success we've enjoyed.


Percentage of bikes sold with kickstands* : >99.9
Percentage of bikes sold with factory-installed fenders : >97
Percentage of bikes sold with full or partial chain covering : >95
Percentage of bikes sold with belt drives : 0
Percentage of bikes sold with factory-installed racks : >85
Percentage of bikes sold with internal hub gearing : >70
Percentage of bikes sold with generator lighting : >38

Percentage of bikes sold with drum brakes : >20
Percentage of bikes sold with disk brakes : <3
Percentage of bikes sold with coaster brakes : <1
Number of "cruisers" sold : <5
Width of skinniest tire on bikes sold : 1.25"
Width of fattest : 4.5"
Average tire width : 1.75"
Ratio of beer growlers to water bottles sold : 8:1
Ratio of wool to non-wool garments sold, excluding rain gear : 18:1
Ratio of steel to aluminum bikes sold : 7:1
Number of bikes with carbon fiber components sold : 11
Number of bikes with suspension forks sold : 4
Most common number of speeds on bikes sold : 8
Percentage of bikes with front derailleurs sold : <2
Number of single-speed bikes sold : 17**
Number of 300-lb fixed gear cargo trikes sold, mahogany : 5
Number of child seats sold : almost 1000
Number of child trailers sold : <20
Number of Brooks saddles sold, either loose or factory-standard on bikes : >900
Number of non-Brooks saddles sold, loose : 4
Number of car racks sold : 0
Average weight of bikes sold : can we help you lift it onto your rack?
Lightest bike sold : <20lbs
Speed of a 20-lb bicycle at 160 watts effort : 14.8 MPH
Speed of a 60-lb bicycle at the same effort, level ground : 14.6 MPH
Speed of a 20-lb bicycle at the same effort, 5% uphill : 7.2 MPH
Speed of a 60-lb bicycle at the same effort, 5% uphill : 6.1 MPH
Speed of a 20-lb bicycle at the same effort, 5% downhill : 23.9 MPH
Speed of a 60-lb bicycle at the same effort, 5% downhill : 25.5 MPH***
It never gets easier; you just go faster : what Greg LeMond said
You don't have to go faster; it just gets easier : what we say

Lemma : carrying weight doesn't make it harder; you just go slower. Until you get stronger.
Number of helmets sold, with fitting advice : 2414
Number of helmets sold to people who did not ask for them : 0
Percentage of bikers who are women in Portland : 31
Percentage of women customers at Clever Cycles : 64****
Women to men on staff : 4:5
Average customer age : 36*****
Average staff age : 34
Cumulative years of staff experience riding bikes for transportation, as adults : 113

* Bromptons don't need kickstands to sit up
** Mostly kid bikes, excluding balance bikes
*** http://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm
**** We don't have a pink division
***** We guessed

6 thoughts on “Happy birthday to us: the Clever Index”

  • Josh Berezin

    Fun list!

    I didn't know you had a thing against belt drive. What are your thoughts? Personally, I've never had a bike with one. I'd probably rate myself "belt-curious".

  • The Mgmt

    Josh, we don't have a thing against them, but at the same time aren't impressed that they offer much that an enclosed chain doesn't, especially in relation to their higher initial and probable long-term support/compatibility costs. Sometimes I suspect it's mainly a way to sex up internally geared hubs with the word "carbon." Me, I'm Carbon Shaft Drive curious! Bike Snob nails both: http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2012/06/unfit-for-life-all-aboard-pain-train.html:

    <blockquote>Like the belt drive, the shaft drive concept fails to take into account that you can accomplish all of this with a simple chain guard or chain case. If it helps to think of it in motor vehicle terms, consider that no motorist cares about all the oily and grimy components in their motor, and that's because they have this thing called a "hood." This allows them to not see stuff and not touch stuff and to simply bring it to a garage when something goes wrong--which is exactly what the sort of person who's afraid of a little chain grease is going to do with a bicycle with a fully-enclosed chain anyway.</blockquote>

    And a little more technical curmudgeonry: http://twentynineinches.com/2011/04/26/gates-carbon-drive-extended-verdict/ .

  • Alex Wetmore

    Congrats guys. I remember visiting on one of my regular trips to Portland when you first opened, and I've stopped in at least once a year since then. It's been impressive to see the store grow and change over time. I hope that the next 5 years are just as fruitful.

    ps. I agree on the belt thing. I'm one step closer though, my MTB frame (which is designed for IGH) has a split for a belt drive should I someday jump on the bandwagon.

  • Erik Sandblom

    I want a Brompton with belt drive! Put a chaincase on THAT!

  • KYouell

    Happy Birthday and Congratulations. I love that I can come in and feel comfortable even though I know very little technically-speaking about my bakfiets. Thanks for all you do.

  • Lane Kagay

    Congratulations, Clever Cycles!