Cleverchimp is now Clever Cycles

Cleverchimp LLC is now Clever Cycles LLC. The latter company has absorbed the former. The formalities are complete; we’re opening a bike shop here in Portland. We’re now a two-family business instead of one. Or rather, we’re now two families very busy opening a new business. Before long this site will look quite different. Stokemonkey will continue to be developed and supported; the Cleverchimp name will likely shift from being a company name to a brand name of products that Clever Cycles develops.

Dean and Rachel Mullin live a ten-minute ride away from us. They have four children, three dogs, a cat and a dozen chickens. They’re down to one car now that sits idle mostly. Like us, they’re an all-bicycle, all-the-time kind of family. After working through the usual succession of typical solo bikes to trailers, tag-alongs, tandems, and sprawling mutant permutations thereof, they acquired a ZEM, and found it rather heavy. Their search for an assist motor put them on the Stokemonkey/Xtracycle path. They bought two. Rachel had meanwhile identified the Bakfiets as a missing piece of the puzzle between the too big, 300-lb ZEM and sometimes too small or light Xtracycles for big family transport. A few weeks after we spent a warm afternoon on a slightly tricky Stokemonkey installation, Dean proposed “Let’s open a bike shop!” It turns out he was serious.

I had always imagined Cleverchimp diversifying away from just assist kits into a bike shop, but not so fast. Not fast at all. Dean’s a lot more decisive than I am. All four of us complement each other pretty well. We all want our children to see and understand what we do for a living, to understand that turning 16, or 21, or 42 doesn’t mean you need, or need aspire to a car (if it will even be an option in 2020, 2025, or 2045), and to build a business they can someday run, if they choose.

We’re doing something that’s either unprecedented, or whose previous attempts to do in this era, in this country, have failed in silent obscurity. We’re selling bicycles designed squarely to replace car trips, or render cars entirely spurious within town, even for larger households, as a matter of pleasurable, enlightened self-interest instead of frugal compulsion, hairshirt eco-guilt, or body-sculpting fantasy. Exclusively. Bikes you can haul your sweetie to the movies with, that he can haul you back home on, and that you’ll both haul your kids to the grocery on. There’ll also be folding bikes for their ability to permeate the smallest interstices of your mobile life, be it under the table at a posh restaurant, through the aisles of local shops, between the seats of a train, or in the trunk of a shared car or cab. Soon there’ll be more hub gearing, generator lighting, center stands, mudflaps, bells, and steely plain-clothes cargo goodness than under maybe any other roof on this continent. I’ll save details for future posts, but longtime readers of this blog should have a pretty good idea. We live it. Actually, you ain’t seen nothing yet. We’re always learning.

We assure ourselves often that “if it can work anywhere in this country, it can work in Portland.” We can’t go anywhere without being halfway mobbed by interest in our rides, and nobody in town sells this stuff. Whether or not it works as a business, we won’t regret introducing vital new material strains of bike culture to Portland. We hope to help restore Portland’s streets to the child’s play and slow conviviality they were designed for, to return the advantage to city businesses without parking lots who sell bulkier stuff than haircuts, to revive the enchantments of place and distance within our city by opening the eyes, ears, nostrils and lungs of those who traverse it, to take back family vegetable gardens and fruit trees from retrofit driveways and garages, to reclaim our bodies for the complete locomotive functions they are evolved to serve, and to proclaim, daily, that free and dignified people of all ages and stations in life needn’t strap themselves into cages weighing tons to go places, carry things, live long, and prosper.

Our shop will open during the month of May June (drat contractors!) at 1516 SE 9th Avenue, right off Hawthorne, across from the Lucky Labrador brewpub. A grand opening will follow us getting up and running more completely.

15 thoughts on “Cleverchimp is now Clever Cycles”

  • Andrew Janjigian
    Andrew Janjigian March 18, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Todd -

    Very cool. Sounds like a totally organic and obvious extension of a great idea. It sounds to me like you will be expanding the business to promote what is essential about the XC/SM: not the motor, but rather the added carrying capacity it promised. The nice thing about it for us ex- or non-Stokemonkey Xtracyclers/cargo haulers is that you'll be providing services and items we can use too. I hope you'll extend your sales to those of us outside of the Portland area.

    Will you be moving or renaming this blog?


  • Jeff

    This is excellent news. Congratulations!

  • Tommy Williams

    Now I've got a reason to head down to Portland in May. I've been itching to put together a more utilitarian bike than the one I ride to work every day but have struggled trying to decide between a long tail, or building something around a Kogswell to carry things in the front, or just building up a good touring bike like an Atlantis or something from ANT in Boston.

    For a while, anyway, this will have to be my only bike so I can't specialize too much with this first bike.

    Glad to know that there will be a bike shop that focuses on the niche of car replacement because that's exactly what I'm looking for.

  • Jeff & Pam

    Congratulations! Once again, you are living your convictions. We wish you well in your new business. Today Portland, tomorrow the world!

  • Phil

    I'm looking forward to it, good luck. Are you planning on carrying any touring/rando gear, or just utilitarian/city gear? It seems there's a big overlap w/r/t load carrying and lighting.

  • Todd

    Phil, as you observe there's a lot of functional overlap. People have done PBP and transcontinental touring on Bromptons, but at the outset at least, we don't intend to carry equipment conceived primarily for "escape from daily life." Our niche is right in the middle of your life, not at the weekend/holiday aspirational fringes.

  • Erik Sandblom

    Wow. It's so great to see someone do something so constructive. We are all jealous of Portland.

  • Bill Manewal

    Hearty congratulations to Todd and Martina and Dean and Rachel! While we've seen this coming, now that it's just about to happen, it's VERY exciting. And your last paragraph is a powerful, eloquent mission statement, not only for your shop, but for us all. Thank you.

  • Jim

    I take issue with your plan to have more generator lighting and mudflaps than anybody else... Nonetheless, I wish you the best of luck, though I don't think you need it.

  • Ana

    Hi! :-)

    I've discovered your site more than a year ago and have been watching it closely since then. ;-) I stumbled upon it while searching for a commuter bike for my own use. Since then lots of things have happened and I'm currently also involved in a recent bike business. I just wanted to tell you I want to be like you when I grow up. ;-) And what you wrote about the philosophy of your new company is much of what I write and feel about my own.

    I wish you all the best for this new venture of yours. You're helping create the conditions people need to start changing their world. It's a dirty job but somebody's gotta do it. ;-)



  • Aaron Goss

    That was fun the last 2 days. I look forward to my very own Bakfiets!

  • Ian Hopper

    Congratulations! That is so AWESOME! As a long time reader of your blog (does a year and half count?), I could see something like this coming (as could many others). I look forward to visiting the shop the next time I'm in Portland! Now, if someone would just do the same thing here in SF...

  • Scott Mizée

    Congratualations, Todd, Dean and families.
    I know you all have been very busy lately. What an exciting time. Frankly, I can't wait to tell all the people that ask me whenever I am riding "my" Bakfiets, "There's a great little shop down on Hawthorne where you can get one of these!" For now, It will have to suffice to continue handing out Clever Cycles business cards to them.

    Todd, It was great to meet you at the Alice Awards. I am confident that the balance that you and Dean create will be a successful business relationship. Your writing in the above article (and I say article because "post" for some reason does not seem dignified enough)...the writing was very engaging.

    The conditions are right. The future is almost here. To roughly borrow a quote from truly great literature, "The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few."

    I look forward to being there opening day!


  • Lindig Harris

    I'll be watching this closely. At age 64, I'm downsizing into a 22ft RV and simplifying my life considerably. Fulltimers in RVs don't move around as much as you might think -- as a lifestyle it's pretty slow. What I'm looking for is a method of transportation to run errands on so that I don't have to unhook the RV and use it. I can't do too much pedal power as it makes my knee problem worse so I'm looking for something with an assist engine of some kind. This may be it. I'll keep in touch.

  • Nic Nelson

    Congratulations on your new team! I'm thrilled for Clever Cycles and hope to give you some business soon.

    First off, we have a ZEM too! Living in the city (one with hills few and far between), we love it. But we need more range, and the ability for my wife to drop off her chief stokers at school and still make it 4 miles home pedaling the ZEM in traffic by herself.

    I emailed you a couple of years ago about using a Stokemonkey on a ZEM. If you fellows figure out how to do that well, I'm a guaranteed sale.

    Not to mention my X that needs a 'monkey... and a snow-bike that REALLY needs a 'monkey...

    Looking forward to earning the cash necessary to buy all this stuff from you!

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