City bikes

  • WorkCycles at Clever, year eight

    workcycles kr8 cargo bike

    We unpacked another shipping container from WorkCycles one sleety morning recently. Most US bike shops order all their stuff from US distributors, who themselves import shipping containers full of stuff, mainly from Asian factories. But for nearly 8 years now we've been importing containers directly from WorkCycles in Amsterdam.

    WorkCycles are very tolerant of the vagaries and punctiliousness of our ordering process, but it's still a pain in the butt, frankly. Beginning to end, it can take 6 months or more for a container load to be specced for Portland conditions, any special orders developed and quoted with deposits taken, manufactured in a few different facilities, consolidated, packed, paid in full (no terms), shipped to the east coast (longer if through the Panama Canal), to pass customs, be transferred to rail, and finally to arrive in Portland on a flotilla of paperwork and obscure charges from customs brokers, shippers and their agents.

    And then we have a large volume of expensive merchandise that can take quite a while to sell through. Because 90% of Americans who see them immediately try to pick them up, look at the price tags, cluck and scratch their heads, and say something polite, or not.

    We do it because our specialist focus in family transportation by bike is way ahead of the national curve, so no national distributor could sustain the volume necessary to make it worthwhile, yet. We're not the only US WorkCycles importer, but we're the longest standing after the recession and "Dutch bike invasion" (fad) blew over. Meanwhile, we're proud to see how design features typical of WorkCycles have begun to be less unusual on the few utility bikes designed expressly for the US market: things like steering stabilizers and dynamo lights and center stands and balloon tires and frame-fixed front carriers and internally geared hubs.

    We do it simply because they make the best things of their kind. This has never been clearer than with WorkCycles house-designed lines Fr8, Gr8, and new Kr8, now in stock. (The names are bilingual puns, pronounced freight, great, and crate in English, and fracht, gracht (canal), and kracht (power or fervor) in Dutch.)

    Fr8

    The Fr8 will carry 2 child passengers plus groceries as well or better than the best longtails (Xtracycle EdgeRunner and Yuba Mundo), and up to 4 in a pinch. But it's only as long as a midtail (Kinn Cascade Flyer or Yuba Boda Boda). Unlike these others, it's a true step-through frame, and like all WorkCycles house designs to date, has an ingenious one-size-fits-most scheme, invaluable on utility bikes commonly shared within households.

    Gr8

    workcycles gr8 cargo bike
    Fr8 lite? Pretty much. Lighter than a similarly specced WorkCycles Oma, with arguably sweeter handling, striking industrial design. About 4" shorter overall, still plenty stout and roomy for one passenger on the back with space left over for stuff on the large front carrier.

    Kr8

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    Let's have a moment of silence for the beloved Bakfiets.nl Cargobike that has been probably Clever Cycles' most iconic offering, inspired dozens of competitors good and bad, and is now finally entering "Craigslist classic" status, at least in Portland, where numerous specimens are now serving their 2nd or even 4th owner families, rock solid. Indeed, about 15 years ago this bike pretty much invented the concept of using the old long-john cargo bike format specifically as an urban car replacement for families with young children. Superseding it at Clever is the new WorkCycles Kr8.

    The Kr8 is essentially an evolutionary improvement on the Bakfiets.nl Cargobike, an homage. It's a little bit better in dozens of ways. It's a bit lighter. It fits one more child. It handles even better. It fits people of widely divergent heights better. Better stand. Better seatbelts. You can change a rear tire without removing the wheel... We think it's prettier. Read more on the WorkCycles blog, Bakfiets-en-meer.

  • Introducing Vanmoof

    We remember the first time we saw a Vanmoof, in 2009. But then, everybody remembers seeing one the first time: they are strikingly different, with a massive top tube that extends beyond head and seat tubes, the ends then plugged with head and taillight. They must be on to something 5 years early, because 3 of the 5 entrants in 2014's Oregon Manifest design competition for the "Ultimate Urban Utility Bike" also play with this visual and functional design element. We believe that a distinctive look in bikes is as naturally desirable as in shoes, but the early Vanmoofs were a little too spare in function to hold our interest. This has changed completely now with the current, third-generation product line.

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    The Vanmoofs we stock now feature:

    • 8-speed Alfine gearhubs: all the range a Portlander needs in town, super smooth and sealed away from weather
    • Disk brakes: keep your rims pretty, stop consistently wet or not
    • Powerful LED lighting, hub dynamo powered: no need ever to turn them off
    • Full chaincases: who needs a belt, really, when your chain stays clean and off your clothes?
    • Anodized aluminum frames: no paint to scratch, no rust, just honest passivated metal
    • Clever, attractive front and rear carriers
    • Full metal fenders, kickstand, brass bell, OF COURSE.

    We could go on. All of the above come in right over the $1K mark, which is pretty great value. A little less gets you a 3-speed. A little more, a nifty ABUS chain lock integrated into that top tube. A lot more gets you the Vanmoof Electrified, which is the freshest, cleanest, almost even pure electric assist bike we've yet seen:

    The battery is in the top tube. (See, it's not so massive just for looks!) It's a 2-speed automatic, 2 speeds proving surprisingly adequate when a motor is added. It has no throttle. What these things mean together is an unprecedented ergonomic simplicity. While other electric bikes add complexity in operation, Vanmoof takes away: you can even ride no-hands uphill with no restriction of function except braking. While it's extra clean in operation, it packs a lot of technology inside, including bottom-bracket torque sensing, remote keyfob power switch and GPS anti-theft tracking! Super lightweight for an electric bike, too.

    What we can't convey in words is the ride, very distinctively Dutch in relaxed, smooth, even stately uprightness. One key is the exceptionally low bottom bracket, meaning that it's easy to get a foot down at stops without needing to lean the bike.

  • Faraday Bicycles

    Faraday Porteur Electric Bike

    Come on in and test ride the Faraday Porteur so we'll have an excuse to stop riding it ourselves!

    You can now reserve a bicycle from Faraday's second production run (shipping late 2014). Simply contact Clever Cycles to save your place in line and guarantee the earliest delivery possible.

    We know that they are onto something, because all our our staff keep wanting to ride it everywhere. This is the electric bike that you'll want to ride too.

    cc-0418 cc-0417cc-0430

  • Pimp your Surly

    We think Russ of Path Less Pedaled's video skills are pretty great, so we asked him to help us tell the story of turning Amanda's feral factory-built Surly Long Haul Trucker into the far foofier sort of city bike we ride ourselves:

    What did we do, exactly? What didn't we?

    • Replaced the front hub with a Shimano dynamo powering the super-bright LED lights wired fore and aft. These are Busch & Müller models Cyo and Toplight Line Plus. Modern hub dynamos and LED lighting are efficient and durable enough to leave on 24-7 without noticeable drag, and bright enough to add even daytime conspicuity.
    • Replaced the drop handlebars with North Road-ish town bars, this time from Linus, swept back and wide for a more upright ride, easier access to brakes and shifters, and great control.
    • Converted the bar-end shifters to thumb type, a Velo Orange widget.
    • Substituted classic slim four-finger brake levers from Tektro.
    • Added Ergon grips in fake cork, for comfort.
    • Swapped in a Brooks B17 Special saddle, antique brown, with copper-plate undercarriage and large hand-hammered rivets. Don't hate it because it's pretty: there's nothing more comfortable, most of the time.
    • Swapped in supple, efficient Schwalbe Big Apple tires, 2" width. These are among the lightest tires that won't fall into streetcar rail tracks.
    • Mounted Velo Orange polished aluminum fenders, full coverage.
    • Added a double-leg kickstand, Pletscher.
    • Mounted a brass bell on one of the headset spacers, Crane.
    • Added front and rear racks from Soma and Racktime, respectively, for her existing Ortlieb panniers, together with top-mount baskets, including a Wald 139.
    • Switched to MKS Sylvan touring pedals with Power Grips for plain-shoe foot retention.

    We didn't remove the Surly decals. These bikes are worth this much intervention because they have great bones; it's not their fault that most bikes in this country are still sold as "sport and leisure" goods rather than transportation, so they come stripped down. The total cost brings the bike into the range of one of our premium WorkCycles town bikes, which have similar functionality but are a) much heavier and heavier duty and b) near-zero maintenance. Given the magnitude of the changes undertaken, we had to remove relatively few original high-value parts, all of which will find good homes at one of Portland's nonprofit bike rehabilitation and skill-building centers.

    Amanda has returned wanting less front rack. We thought that might happen, given that the steering geometry isn't ideal for large front loads borne high, but some things require trial. We'll keep at it.

    Amanda bought her Long Haul Trucker elsewhere, before we stocked many Surly bikes. She hadn't ridden it much at all in the year she'd owned it, because she felt too stretched out on it, the saddle was torture, and it wasn't equipped practically for her dark-rainy-trip-to-the-market needs. We did cut her a deal in exchange for appearing in this video, but normally we don't charge anything for labor on component and accessory installation at time of purchase on bikes we sell.

  • Up to 50% off Breezer clearance

    Breezer city bikes have always stood out among our offerings as great valuesbreezer, bringing premium European city bike feature sets to the lighter, sportier feeling frames Americans are accustomed to. They've been selected as Bicycling Magazine's Editor's Choice among commuter bikes several years in a row. They've always been popular, but this year we just ordered way too many of the diamond ("men's") frames, and we need to make room for 2012's arrivals.

    All Breezer diamond-frame bikes in stock are now 33% off. This includes the super-nice Infinity model, equipped with the seductive Nuvinci N360 continuously variable transmission, as well as the classic Uptown 8 and fast Finesse. All but the Finesse make great Xtracycle conversions, too.

    What's more, we're downsizing our rental fleet for the Winter by selling most of the Breezers in it at 50% off the new price! This includes some step-through models. Breezers make up the majority of our rental fleet for the same reasons they make great commuters, particularly in the wet months (hint!): overall toughness, enclosed drivetrains mean virtually no maintenance, great dynamo-powered LED lighting front and rear, full fenders and rack, even a built-in lock.

    • Breezer Uptown 8, ex-rental: was $1039, now $520.

    Act fast for widest selection of sizes and models. Not to be combined with other offers.

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