Entrepreneurship

  • What's new at Clever Cycles?

    Lots!

    IMG_0255Urban Arrow is here! At this moment we've assembled only two, the Family model, and we're putting them through paces to learn what only riding teaches. First impressions: MEGA FUN, SUPER SEXY, SLICK AND SOLID! The company calls these the first true urban car replacement, and while we think any bike or pair of shoes or maybe even a bus pass can be that for many, if you need to go anyplace in town at a good clip with a passenger or two and stuff, in comfort, safety, and style, this is it: the smart Bosch mid-drive means you can work as little or as much as you want. Look for a more detailed review with video soon, or better yet, come on down with the kids and try it yourself. Guaranteed big smile.

    Loads of Xtracycle Edgerunners in stock. These have been hard for us to keep in stock: a huge hit as a family bike. In addition to the accessibly-priced 24D specification, we have the first 2014 EdgeRunners factory-built with the popular NuVinci N360 continuously variable transmission. Either are well matched to our Stokemonkey electric assist.

    Babboe Curve trike (and City bike): with the beloved Christiania trikes sold out and future supply uncertain, we ordered a trike from Babboe called the Curve. It seats 4! First impressions: heavier, but more stable at speed than Christiania, very solid, handsome, and a good value with smart specification.
    Ladcykel Curve LS 9 B

    Simcoe Bikes. simcoe-web-greystsideWe brought these in to complement our popular Linus bikes. Both Simcoe and Linus are clean, stylish revivals of mid-century town bikes at attractive prices. At the moment we have only 2 3-speed step-throughs to check out, but we'll build up the even nicer 7-speeds we received today real soon now. First impressions: a solid step nicer than already-nice Linuses in most ways, but also a bit more expensive. Essentially, both are marvels of cost engineering, and you get what you pay for. If you've evaluated Linus or Public bikes before and thought "almost but not quite!", check out Simcoe.

    Thanks Martina!

    March was Clever Cycles co-founder Martina's last month working in the shop. We wish her success and happiness in her new endeavors, among them Forge Portland and the COG Space.

  • Brooks Saddles: 20% off with 1-year happiness guarantee

    Brooks saddles are 20% off through Sunday, 20 April. Limited to (ample) items in stock. This applies also to the new vegan-flavored Cambium models, made from rubber and cotton instead of leather. If you don't like your purchase for any reason, return it and we'll offer a refund for 30 days, and store credit for a full year!

    Brooks saddles are the only kind we've ever stocked, minus a few trifling exceptions. Their lack of any padding, their vulnerability to rain (except new Cambium sort), and their costs beginning over $100 make our exclusive attachment to them seem odd to some, contrary even. Yet we persist because they really are more comfortable than padded saddles. Counterintuitively or not, when your sit bones press down into padding, the padding presses up into adjacent soft tissue, trapping heat and wreaking all kinds of numbing, chafing havoc. Brooks saddles are comfortable through suspension rather than padding, offering a firm supportive surface that remains cool and lets your clothing slide easily rather than rubbing your skin. They get even more beautiful and comfortable with use, and they're not much harder to care for (or break in) than a pair of leather boots. Since saddle pain is probably the single most common comfort issue in bicycles, we think a Brooks saddle is an eminently worthwhile investment for any daily rider, whether in fact or aspiration.

    Brooks B17 Select after about 6 months' use. Was pink raw leather, now honey, will slowly turn ebony.

    Still, sometimes we doubt ourselves, as when we ran a promotion last year on Brooks saddles, we offered a 1-year return policy on saddles sold during the promotion. We were a little worried that if the sale prices led people to buy with less care and deliberation than appropriate, that we would see a large number of returns months down the road. We sold a lot of saddles that week. We never saw a single return!

    So, effective immediately and indefinitely, we will now offer a 1-year satisfaction policy on all Brooks saddles, offering store credit after our 30-day refund policy runs out. If you're not local to Portland, just use the code "happy" to receive the discount in our Brooks department.

  • Enter Urban Arrow

    Three years ago, at the European bicycle industry trade show Eurobike, a stunning new family cargo bike appeared: Urban Arrow. Six are on their way to us right now. We are taking pre-orders.

    Urban Arrow Photoshoot (en) from epe on Vimeo.

    While we and many others love the supremely relaxed ergonomics and practical feature completeness typical of the Dutch family bikes we introduced to Portland, the fact that Portland isn't even nearly flat like Amsterdam means that their local appeal is skewed toward the very strong. Simply put, upright comfort and hill-climbing cargo capabilities are hard qualities to combine especially when the bikes themselves tend to be very heavy.

    Urban Arrow changes all this. It joins a lightweight frame, a giant passenger compartment, typically Dutch friendly ergonomics, a superior Bosch electric mid-drive with disc brakes, dynamo lighting, and NuVinci N360 continuously variable gearing in an iconic design by Wytze van Mansum.

    We've been trying to get these bikes since 2010. The company has understandably been keen to keep the product close to home in Europe to identify and resolve the first-generation problems typical of any ambitious new product before going big internationally, so we've left many business conversations empty handed. But now, finally, after some substantial specification changes and major awards later, Urban Arrow is coming to Portland!

    Normally we would hesitate to accept pre-orders on not-inexpensive items before we'd received any, but we're making an exception for these elusive, hotly desired bikes. Perhaps you too have been on the hunt for years. It's unclear how quickly we'll be able to receive more after these six are sold.

  • Winter clearance sale: You Buy MEOW!

    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
  • That red thing: Stokemonkey is back!

    It seems like every few hours for the last couple months, people ask us if we've heard about the Copenhagen Wheel. 18mnsbqrqf40ejpg 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. stokemonkeyWe 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.

    Installed ChainlineJustin 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.

  • Win a free Brompton folding bike

    Brompton Bicycle Shipment

    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.

  • What's new at Clever?

    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!

    How do you like our new Brompton display?

    Surly Stragglers

    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.
    BZoog6DCAAAqXuC.jpg-large

    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.

    Xtracycle EdgeRunners

    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

    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!
    IMG_0004_2

  • 2013 rental fleet on sale Black Friday

    PB180100

    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.

  • Ibex store-in-store grand opening celebration! 14 November, 5-8pm

    ibex store-in-store

    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.

    DSCF0118v

    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.

  • Game changer: Magnic Light

    Springtime a year ago we were pleased to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign for a new kind of bike light called Magnic Light. There was a lot of speculation voiced in various forums whether it was a hoax, because the physics involved defied most peoples' understanding. If this very simple invention was for real, why hadn't it already been invented? "Everybody said 'that's impossible.' Then somebody came who didn't know that, and did it."

    We're happy to have received our first shipment straight from inventor Dirk Strothmann in Germany, for sale right now. Wait, it's August, not even dark until late? More about that in a bit. I've got them on the only bike I own without built-in lights, a Brompton. Everybody who likes playing with magnets, magic tricks, or seeing and being seen on a bike smiles, and some even laugh in amazement to see Magnic Lights work. Come by for a demo.

    Now is ze time that we look (advisory: techno soundtrack):

    Magnic Lights are very bright, lightweight, incredibly efficient bike lights that use no batteries, are self-contained, and don't require building a wheel around a dynamo hub. This makes them a game-changer, I dare say historic because I think someday most bike lights are bound to work similarly. All you do is position the small light units in proximity to any normal metal bike rim, and they work. Unlike superficially similar "be seen" products like Reelights, these don't require mounting magnets in your wheel, and are plenty bright enough to be your only lights. This is the jaw-dropping part: just the motion of the metal rim itself, not magnetic or even necessarily ferrous, is enough to power the lights. No contact or noise, no external parts or wiring, lighter weight and an order of magnitude less drag than the very most expensive dynamo hubs. There's no such thing as free energy, but any resistance created by Magnic Lights is utterly negligible, even with a wheel turning free in a stand, for minutes. They boast the brightest dynamo taillight on the market (aim carefully please!), and while the headlights don't measure up in brightness or beam shaping to the best available, they aren't too shabby either.

    complete_2

    They run about $250 for a set of 3: 2 headlights and a taillight. That's more than most battery systems, but less than most dynamo systems not built in at the factory. And if you are really focused on high efficiency and light weight, whether for practical, aesthetic or obsessive reasons, Magnic Light is simply the best bicycle lighting system there is.

    This concept could not previously have been realized practically because only recently have rare earth magnets become powerful enough, and LEDs efficient enough, for supply and demand to meet, so to speak. It turns out that any conductive material such as an aluminum rim - not just magnetic or ferrous - will produce so-called eddy currents when moving through a magnetic field. This invention harnesses these currents to turn a tiny generator without contact.

    There are some issues. The biggest for people like us who use bikes to carry stuff is that since the lights and the generator units are integrated, they can be mounted only in locations that provide the correct small rim clearance and good light placement simultaneously. The provided mounting hardware doesn't have an answer for rear racks, whose mounted luggage will block the light. If you don't have either a skinny-tire fenderless road bike (Portland?!), or a bike with cantilever brake studs, there are only somewhat compromised mounting options. What's more there's no standlight, so you go dark when not moving. We'll make sure you understand all these issues before selling you a set: please bring your bike if at all possible.

    We're pretty sure it's just a matter of time before the technology makes its way into more form factors, with broader feature sets. How about a stand-alone generator you connect to fork blade or seatstay that has power out for standard lights and other electronics? For now, for many, being an early adopter of the first, purest expression of the idea is part of the appeal.

    What's wrong with cheap simple battery lights, anyway? No matter how much better they are than, say, 10 years ago, the inescapable reality is that the more you use them, and the brighter they are, the faster they burn out. The bigger the battery, the heavier and more fragile the light when dropped. Nobody would accept this dynamic in any other form of transportation. Battery lights are essentially disposables, at odds with the sustainable elegance of bicycles that can serve for decades.

    What dynamo lights bring to the table, that battery lights never will, is liberty to run them IN THE DAYTIME. All the time, without a care in the world. With no bulbs to burn out and no resistance perceptible, why not? Tipped up just a bit, today's brighter LED lights are conspicuous a mile away in broad daylight! No battery light is bright enough to be useful in daytime without committing the user to a really onerous recharging scheme all the time. To my thinking, that's a better single safety investment than a wardrobe full of day-glo plastic garments and even a crash helmet for non-sport biking, because it can ward off rather than mitigate collisions. Our experience running bright daytime lights supports the conclusion of studies conducted with motorcycles, that they draw significant notice from other road users, preventing right-of-way violations in particular.

    One last thing: one reason that battery operated lights have remained popular, apart from their lower initial expense, is that they can easily be transferred from bike to bike. If you care enough about safety and convenience to value the benefits of generator lighting, there's a good chance you own more than one bike. But then, equipping multiple bikes with generator lighting can be prohibitively expensive. Magnic Lights can be moved from one bike to another in seconds with no tools: only the inexpensive mounts need installation in advance.

    One of the better early reviews: http://bike.duque.net/review-the-magnic-lights.htm

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