Sea of bikes

A sea of bikes at Oregon Manifest 2011.

In late September 2011, I attended Oregon Manifest in northwest Portland. I visited the opening night showcase, and was able to get a peek at most of the entries. I saw some beautiful bikes, some silly bikes, and some extremely interesting bikes. Though I did not spend enough time at this year’s Manifest events to provide a thorough or detailed report, I will write here about some of the bikes I saw that will be of interest to my readers. (If you care to read a very thorough, well-written, and well-informed report, get your hands on the Winter 2011 issue of Bicycle Quarterly.)

In the interest of full disclosure, note that I had a few cards in the game this time around. The Antload/Joe Bike team hired me to design the logos and website for their entry, the Byerley. Metrofiets and Clever Cycles are clients of my design studio (for work not pertaining to their Oregon Manifest entries).

The Byerley

Full disclosure (and plug): I designed the logos for the Byerley,
a collaborative effort between Mike Cobb's Antload Fabrications and Joe Bike.

Oregon Manifest’s primary event is a design competition called the Constructors’ Challenge, where framebuilders are asked to enter bikes that meet a certain set of criteria. This year’s challenge sought the “ultimate utility cycle.”


I wrote a review of Amy Walker’s On Bicycles for the Sightline Daily Blog. I’m cross-posting about it here because I thought some of my readers would be interested in the review, and also because Sightline is a smart, interesting organization that you should know about. Read the whole review on Sightline, and here are a few paragraphs to get you started.

Bike books are like bike infrastructure. Their purpose is either to attract new riders, or appeal to experienced users. Effectively appealing to both groups is difficult, if not impossible.

Yet that’s what On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life does. It’s an all-around guide to bike culture, filled with useful information and bursting at the seams with earnest enthusiasm for all levels of interest. But will this self-proclaimed bike culture make the bicycle a vital part of North American transportation networks? Does bike culture necessarily help to bring bicycling to the mainstream as a method of transportation?

Read the rest of the review on Sightline.

Steel fenders are important

Every year I hear from friends who have removed their fenders “for the summer” and then been surprised — shocked! — by a “freak” summer rainstorm. And I always think, wait, wait… back up a bit. Fenders are removable?

OK, I’m being snarky, but I just don’t get why you’d take off your fenders. Even if it NEVER rains, there is plenty of stuff on the roadways that I’d rather not have splashing up onto my pants.

Also, if you’re Anastasia, keeping fenders attached at all times is pretty important. You can use them to climb up into the box of the trike.

(I’m guessing that by the time she is heavy enough to damage the fenders by doing this, she’ll also be big enough to get into the trike without climbing up the fenders.)

I am always game to try out a new city bike, so I was excited to test out the new Pilen Lyx ‘Portlandia’ for a few weeks this past spring.

Pilen Lyx Portlandia, loaded for bear

Pilen is a Swedish bike company, founded in 1999 with the intention of creating a sturdy line of city bikes in a classic Scandinavian style. Like most American bicycle companies, the firm designs and assembles its bikes in Sweden, and has the frames constructed in Asia.

The Pilen Lyx is their all-road model, meant to be used on pavement as well as dirt roads and gravel. It’s got easy handling and a super comfortable ride. In a nutshell, it’s a lighter-duty version of the venerable Dutch city bike—a lighter weight, no skirt guard, a chainguard instead of a full chaincase—but still fully equipped for the rigors and pleasures of everyday urban transport.

Li'l minivan
This is a pocket photo I made in late January. As you can see, my daughter Anabee is doing a little drawing while we head to the grocery store. She had just started in with her habit of kicking back across the bench seat. She doesn’t do it any more… perhaps because her legs are too long to fit now!

I am about ready to give up on these little seasonal intros about how “spring is finally here.” Portland has gone a little wacko with the weather. However, despite the wet, rainy winter/spring that continued through April, temperatures are warmer now and the streets are blooming with people on bikes, as bright and fresh as a field of tulips. Every year brings new folks to the street and it’s fun and exciting to see so many people here enjoying my favorite means of transportation. Here are some of the many excellent contributions to the Vélocouture flickr pool in March and April of 2011.

Hottie with the Lottie
Photo by Flickr user Calteoh


As spring slowly pulls into the station, here are some glimpses of February’s Vélocouture panache and excellence from the last tendrils of winter. Best wishes from wet, bloomy Portland.

Photo by Flickr user Simply Bike

nihola panda

I finally took a Nihola trike for a test ride and thought I would share my impressions.

Nihola is a cargo bike company based in Denmark. Nihola trikes, like Christiania trikes, are popular among parents there, as well as businesspeople who want to haul stuff, advertise stuff, or otherwise use a bike commercially.

Like the Christiania, Nihola trikes have a well-designed rain canopy, and have design amenities specifically aimed at carrying one or two kids in the cargo box: the rain canopy, a sturdy bench, seatbelts, and a carriage design that maximizes head and legroom.

Unlike most cargo trikes, the Nihola uses a steering linkage system. Most cargo trikes steer by using the box as the steering mechanism: the front wheels are on the box, and you steer by rotating the box on a pivot — the headset — which is positioned underneath the box, near the center. This sounds crude but can be quite sophisticated and well-engineered (as in the Christiania, with its inverse-angled floating headset, and hydraulic steering damper).


Another fabulous winter showing by all you frosty-nosed people on bikes (and some Californians, too!).

What Storm?
Photo by Flickr user ‘Xander @416cyclestyle in Toronto


In 2006 I made up the word “Vélocouture” as a title for the Flickr group I started. It was one of those things that took a couple minutes to think up, although obviously it was informed by much that had come before it. In the years since, the word hasn’t become a household word, exactly, although I suppose that depends on your household. It has begun to pop up here and there, though, and I was excited to hear about a fashion show in Berlin that held a Symposium Vélocouture as part of its events.

It appears there are some upcoming bike-related events as part of this program, as well, so take note if you are in the area.

See the whole story here.