• Emily

    Go read about the awesome Finch family at

    Photo by Jonathan Maus,

  • The Path Less Pedaled

    Somewhere along the way, sometimes, in our insistent harping on the theme that bicycles here at Clever are normal, practical, daily transportation instead of instruments of frivolous leisure, we may distort the truth that they are both. Sure, they save money and haul stuff and have AC and magnet-powered lights and keep you healthy and connected and all, but they are also the most romantic, aspirational, daydreamy escape vehicles ever, spiritual quest chariots, rolling poetry.

    While we’re all living la vida practica, trapped in a bike shop as the sun begins to show itself more, Russ and Laura are holding up the crazy side of our world, vicariously. You’ve surely heard of them if you “like” our Facebook page or follow our Twitter stream, or are otherwise connected to this here internet: they’re well wired. They are leaving soon on lap 2 of their indefinitely long USA bike touring career, this time on Brompton folding bikes and Amtrak, in a bid to “re-imagine the All-American Road Trip.” We’re proud to help sponsor them.

    Join us Friday, 29 April, 6-8 pm here for a presentation by Russ and Laura about their unfolding adventure.

  • Fiets of Parenthood: how we roll

    After a long, cool, wet Spring, finally the sun came out in all her fierce blazing glory to bless the first inaugural Fiets of Parenthood Pedalpalooza event Saturday, along with everybody else on a bike this weekend in Portland.


    sarah gilbert and boyAll during Pedalpalooza, there are multiple bike events going on at almost all hours, light and dark. Conflicts are inevitable. The problems we have, right? The fact that FoP conflicted with the the established family ride portion of Cirque du Cycling disappointed a few. This was an accidental oversight. But if it wasn’t, FoP would differ from other events in its tight focus on Portland’s growing everyday normality of raising children on bicycles, for all the ordinary, non-freakish tasks of getting from A to B as a family, hauling stuff, without a car. As a shop, as parents and citizens, this cuts close to who we are. That’s why we were especially proud to host this event. Lots of people contributed to the realization of Totcycle’s vision, but everybody knows that our customer Sarah Gilbert did more than anybody else — maybe everybody else combined — to make it happen. Thanks Sarah!

    There are several great Flickr sets up documenting the event. I made a gallery of my favorite shots from three of them:

    This, too, from Team CarFreeDays, in which no children or animals were harmed (do note evidence of training at 1:24):

  • Flow

    I’ve only ever been to Amsterdam in the cold, gray months. Seeing this clip a few days ago of the utter normalcy of biking there made me remember, and smile. The man behind the camera is William Hsu, from My Dutch Bike in San Francisco, there to immerse himself in the supply side. Via Amsterdamize.

  • Who rides a WorkCycles city bike?

    WorkCycles is an Amsterdam company founded by Brooklyn-born Henry Cutler. To date, Henry has exported nearly all of the Dutch bicycles we’ve introduced to Portland, including the conspicuous Bakfiets Cargobike, but also a “Classic” series of city bikes. These are the finest examples of their type, a rarity in North America but the very soul of everyday Dutch biking sensibility. Timelessly beautiful and frankly heavy, what these hard-working tools may lack in miles per hour, they make up in miles per year (MPY) by being so capable, versatile, comfortable, and low maintenance. Miles per lifetime? According to Eric Kamphof, “The average Amsterdammer leaves their bike outside year round, rarely tunes it, and rides it nearly 3000 miles a year. The average age of a bike in Amsterdam is nearly 35 years old.” Meanwhile, WorkCycles city bikes are built and equipped quite a bit better than the average Amsterdammer’s best bike: they are “forever” bikes.

    This is Zuzana on her Oma, our most popular bike in this range. Its exceptionally tall head tube and stem permits mounting of a very large basket on the “Pickup” rack fixed to the frame up front, without the bars colliding with the basket. Zuz reports that she rides her Oma faster, further, and more often than the less substantial Electra Amsterdam “Classic” that first whet her appetite for Dutch-style riding.

    Zuz’s husband Bryan rides an Opa fit with the same front rack and a shorter box of his own construction. Bryan also races cyclocross. Some people suppose that utility bikes have no sporting appeal. We suppose they offer sporting bikers a more regular workout, weaving “training” into daily errands by replacing car trips instead of subtracting from leisure time. Same goes for non-sporting bikers!

    For their two children, Bryan and Zuz rock a Bakfiets.

    This is Cedric Justice: Energy Efficiency & Greenhouse Gas Management Consultant. Cedric rides a 65cm Kruis. At 6’5″ and 300lbs, Cedric has a history of destroying bikes. We’d be lying if we denied he’d deformed even the steel cranks of this bike once! This early 20th-century frame design, exuding steampunk flair, is the strongest and stiffest in this line, ample not only to withstand him but also Victorian picnic lunches and environmental monitoring and analysis equipment on both front and rear racks.

    Cedric rides with an English equestrian helmet over his cerulean locks because, he explains, nothing else goes so well with an Ascot. He enjoys catching up with cars and faster bikes at every single stop on his commute.

    This is Lisa, who with her husband Nathan were among our first Oma & Opa couple customers. Each time they ride off together we remark how badly we wish we had a camera ready: it’s love and elegance on wheels.

    Lisa says all that needs saying:

    My Oma has changed my bike riding for the better. I ride much more often, and in all seasons. I feel safer, even though I no longer wear a helmet. Sitting upright I am more visible to cars. I can carry much more cargo on my Oma than my previous bike, without feeling like I am compromising stability.

    It’s not unusual for motorists or pedestrians to smile at me. I’m never sure if it is wistful envy or curious bemusement. Which reminds me of an incident last summer…

    As I rode up Clinton St. one day a young woman sang out the theme for Miss Crump in The Wizard of Oz, as she speeds towards Dorothy’s house to take Toto. Without too much hesitation I assured her “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too.” And we laaaaaaaughed!

    This is Sandra and her daughter Nadia Del Pasqua. Sandra is a doula, postpartum caregiver and personal trainer. So many bikers — new mothers especially — don’t survive the transition from a “commuter” model of biking to the “minivan” model imposed by parenthood. We’re grateful to Sandra for her example.

    She writes:

    Instead of buying a second car, we decided to buy me a bike. I honestly feel like a queen riding the Oma around. Seriously, there are times when I just want to wave to strangers….and I think they feel the same way. People seem to love to see Nadia riding up front.

    I also feel like I’m riding a work of art. The bike is so beautifully made and glides – except when I hit the hills and well then I look really good walking beside it. :)

    We use this bike all the time to do our grocery shopping, get to our doctor appointments and to the gym. I’m excited to see how she does in the winter!

    [Hint: she'll do fine!]

    This is Beth, an actual Grandma (Oma) riding a bike of the same name.

    Beth is 65. She’s been riding her whole life, in recent decades the US norm of mountain bikes and hybrids mongrelized to pass tenuously as city bikes. She stopped by our shop to ask only about a basket, but with a little encouragement she gave an Oma a turn around the block. “Where have you been all my life?!” her face said upon her return. A few days later she hauled it off on the back of her vintage Volvo.

    We’ve seen Beth tooling around the neighborhoods and at the market since, with the same joyous gleam on her face of making up for lost time.

    This just in via Henry’s blog: who else? Paul Steely White, New York City bicycle advocate, rides a Workcycles Opa:

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