Clever Cycles Blog Clever Cycles Blog 2015-11-27T00:57:19+00:00 <![CDATA[Black Friday: Brompton rental fleet sale]]> Brompton folding bikes remain among our most popular products. With soaring sales worldwide, the London manufacturer's iconic bikes virtually never go on sale anywhere, with eBay listings for used Bromptons often selling at or near full retail prices. That's why our annual Black Friday Brompton rental fleet sale has become such a hot date, the only day we see people form a line at our door before we open. It's a very rare time you can get Bromptons for less than full price. In addition to the discounts, the first 17 people through the door to purchase a bike will receive a free gift.

This year's fleet sale is bigger than ever: 14 bikes, many colors, all types, all freshly tuned up. Nearly all are 6-speed with hub dynamo lighting and tough Marathon tires. Hover over images below for details. Prices? We won't tell you until you appear on Friday. We set the price of each bike as we tune it up based on condition: no phone or email quotes, and no remote sales.

In addition to the rental fleet, we're deeply discounting a handful of new bikes — even 2 new Bromptons with modest specs (it seems most people want fully-loaded fancy Bromptons!) — and some city and even cargo bikes (see below).

Just a taste:



















2015-11-17T23:01:55+00:00 admin
<![CDATA[Magnic Lights are back!]]> We are proud to be the hemisphere's first reseller of Magnic Lights, the lightest and most efficient self-powered bicycle lighting system in the world. The newly-released IC version now includes standlight functionality, so you don't go dark at stops.

A few years ago, a fellow named Dirk Strothmann and his kids were playing with some magnetic balls. They also had some extruded aluminum channels, which served as tracks for the rolling balls. They expected the smooth heavy magnets to roll very fast in a smooth non-ferrous track, but that's not what happened. Instead, the rolling magnets induced what are called Foucault, or eddy currents in the track, transiently magnetizing the aluminum, and causing the balls to roll strangely slow, as if through honey.

This set him to thinking about bicycle lighting generators. Bicycle rims are most commonly made of aluminum. If the rims could be made to generate eddy currents while moving through a magnetic field, couldn't this be harnessed to produce a meaningful amount of light, improving greatly on the high-friction tire-roller types, or the more expensive and heavier hub types?

Several people told Dirk, an engineer, that it was impossible. After all, there were already lighting products on the market that attached magnets to the wheels to produce only meager light. Surely there wouldn't be enough power without adding anything to the wheels. Surely?

Dirk was undeterred, or perhaps encouraged, by the skeptics. And soon, he had built prototypes of the world's lightest and most efficient bicycle dynamo lighting system. Completely self-contained, with no batteries or switches, Magnic lights don't even touch the wheel: they light up when held next to the moving rim, with what seems like zero resistance. And they are bright enough to be your only lights!

The physics behind this invention are not new, of course. But this product could not have been made before recent improvements to the strength of rare earth magnets, and also in the efficiency of LEDs. Together, advances in these things have made the impossible possible. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," said Arthur C. Clarke. (Magnic is a portmanteau of Magic and Magnet.)

Should you get them?


  • Not cheap, but less expensive than retrofit hub-dynamo-based systems
  • Lightest and most efficient: especially important for, e.g. bikes that must be carried, or for endurance sport. Rando types: hard not to like Magnics.
  • Just like battery lights, you can move one set from bike to bike, much less expensively than outfitting multiple bikes with hub dynamo systems
  • Probably the brightest self-powered taillight around. Headlamps are respectably bright, but unlikely to elicit complaints that they are blinding, as increasingly is the case with many top-end headlamps
  • Redundancy: independent double headlamps and taillamp provide some security, as damage or loss of one part can't bring down the whole system as sometimes occurs with wired lights
  • Conversation starter, especially attractive to engineering geek types


  • Depending on your bike's brakes, tires, frame structure, and certain components like racks, mounting can vary from simple and elegant to awkward to impossible without custom fabrication. Many cases require either hands-on consultation or a somewhat technical interview for us to supply you the right mounting parts.
  • Current mounting options don't accommodate double panniers aft.
  • Default setup of single taillight makes you pick optimum visibility from either 7 or 5 o'clock, not both
  • Higher initial cost than equivalently bright battery lights
  • Switching among and locking/unlocking operational modes is not a usability triumph

Sold? Ride on over or order online.

2015-10-23T23:56:47+00:00 admin
<![CDATA[Big Autumn sale, 13-20 October]]> It doesn't happen every year, but nearly: At the end of the warmer half of the year, we have too much stuff. A sale!


* The following hot products are for sale at regular prices: Brompton folding bikes and accessories, Douze cargo bikes, and Xtracycle accessories sold without an Xtracycle bike. Not to be combined with any other offer. In-stock, in-store, purchases only.

2015-10-12T19:11:20+00:00 admin
<![CDATA[Faraday: Clever's first "normal" electric bikes]]> We now have 2 models and 3 sizes of Faraday's fantastic Porteur line of electric bikes.

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We've sold cargo bikes with electric assist for 8 years now, and used them for over a dozen. Moving car-size loads without cars, especially in hills, is the best rationale ever for having an electric helper motor on your bike. But what about motors for regular bikes that carry only their riders and a little more, like groceries and a laptop?

We've been pretty cool on the idea, for reasons we won't digress to explain. We've now come around to embrace electric assist even for non-cargo applications, and Faraday's Porteur is largely responsible.

In the broad and diverse field of electric bikes, these are as far as possible from scooters with vestigial pedals. They are attractive, visually and physically much lighter than most other electric bikes. The chromoly steel tubing is notably thin walled, giving a lively, smooth ride. It takes more skill and care to build a light supple steel frame than a clunker, but you can't tell by looking. It's a care you feel upon riding. These are nice bikes even without assist, well balanced and comfortable.

Then there's the assist itself. It's meant to be stealthy, superlatively well integrated, with battery concealed in frame and front hub motor not too big: no electro-clutter. There's no throttle: you just pedal, with a selector switch for full power, half, and none. The motor is very quiet, with internal nylon reduction gearing. The stealth ends with the ease you'll be humming along at 20 mph while sitting nearly bolt upright. A charge lasts 20-25mi according to most users, and then it's not too hard to pedal without help.

There are 2 models separated by $700. The fancier one comes with an 8-speed internal rear hub, belt drive, and bamboo fenders at $3500. The S model at $2800 has a 5-speed internal hub, chain drive, and metal fenders. Aesthetics aside, the metal fenders work better than the bamboo, there's nothing wrong with chains after you slap a guard on, and 5 speeds are likely enough when you have a motor helping.

Please come try one. We've got a medium-sized one in our rental fleet, even!

2015-09-14T21:17:53+00:00 admin
<![CDATA[Contenders: Xtracycle EdgeRunner Electric and Yuba Spicy Curry]]> IMG_1372

We now have two kinds of mid-drive longtail cargo bikes for you to try back to back: Xtracycle's EdgeRunner 9 and 10E, and Yuba's Spicy Curry. Heck, you could even buy either or both, yesterday.

These represent a convergence of thinking in the upper echelon of the world's longtail cargo bike makers: all two of them. Xtracycle and Yuba are fierce competitors, so there's a certain tension discussing them side by side. So many toes in such a tight shoe. But the competition is fertile, the one company driving the other to ship better, first, or cheaper bikes and accessories. There's a whole lot of copying going on, too.

Xtracycle pioneered the longtail cargo concept with the FreeRadical hitchless trailer. The FreeRad was a breakthrough product that proved hard to sell as great base bikes became hard to find, with too many conversions exhibiting too much flex to make good urban family car replacements. Yuba's founder left Xtracycle to make a complete heavy duty bike version, the Mundo. Xtracycle answered the challenge with a one-piece version of its own, the lighter weight EdgeRunner, lowering the center of gravity of the cargo area with a smaller rear wheel. Unsurprisingly, Yuba has followed with a smaller rear wheel and lighter weight on the new Spicy Curry.

What's new to both companies' flagship models is the best kind of electric assist for cargo: mid-drive. This means that the motor doesn't power a wheel directly, but instead takes advantage of the same variable gearing on the bike that you do. It's a mechanically more complicated approach than hub motors, but decisively better when you need lots of low-speed torque as well as a decent top end.

We've been personally involved using, breaking, inventing, patenting, manufacturing, refining, selling and promoting mid drives for longtail cargo bikes for almost 15 years in the form of our Stokemonkey product. There remain cases where Stokemonkey is the best approach, but suddenly now with both Xtracycle and Yuba offering mid drives as a factory option, those cases are much less common.

So how do these two contenders compare? Here are our first impressions:

Yuba Spicy Curry

It's the bang-for-buck winner, or is at least poised to assume that position if its assist proves reliable. The drive unit, by volume leader Currie Technologies, is more powerful than that of the Bosch assist on Xtracycle's offering. It is lighter than an unassisted Mundo. It has a lower step-over than EdgeRunner, and an even lower rear deck. It is better fabricated and specced than earlier Yuba products, with more sensible features like lights and fenders included in the base price than EdgeRunner, even at $1500 less. The ride is very stiff and confidence inspiring: massive aluminum tubing braced every which way. The jury is out on the various modular accessories forthcoming, but Yepp seats pop right into the deck with zero fuss. The assist, while potent, is less refined in feel than that of the EdgeRunner, tending to be balky at low speeds and exhibiting a comparatively on-off quality at higher. Still, it's super fun, with almost universal rave reviews from early test riders.

Xtracycle EdgeRunner 9E, 10E

Sophistication. Xtracycle's products have long shown greater attention to detail, and a certain aesthetic cohesion lacking in Yuba's. This is no different. Everything about Spicy Curry is new to Yuba, while this is Xtracycle's third generation of EdgeRunner, and it shows. Are these differences -- each small but adding up -- worth $1500 or more? Depends on what's important to the rider. If you've been ambivalent about electric assist because you take pleasure and pride in your skill and strength on a bike, fearing that a motor would diminish this experience, then the Bosch assist on these EdgeRunners may win you over. It is by far the most refined electric assist we've yet experienced, nearly transparent, never making your skill and strength feel redundant, nor training you insidiously to pedal or shift differently just to coax more or less help out of the motor. Where the Spicy Curry's assist seems to come on full tilt whenever you're moving the pedals, simply sensing cadence, EdgeRunner's clearly is doing something more nuanced, apparently reckoning power from torque and cadence together, and complementing your moves like a good dance partner. It feels great.

2015-08-09T21:56:47+00:00 admin