Urban Velo

Meet the Oregon Manifest Constructors

Meet the 2011 contestants in the Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge.

Visit www.oregonmanifest.com.

About Urban Jeff

I'm about to have a nervous breakdown, my head really hurts. Contact me.

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  1. NYC_cyclistApril 22, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Looked like a great idea at first, but moments later I realized that I haven’t seen the word “affordable” anywhere. Without it all the talk about “two-wheeled revolution” is just some more idealistic utopian BS.
    To illustrate my point better, let’s take a look at the very first designer on the competitors list – Ahearne Cycles. Great looking, functional bikes, probably quality-built as well. However, the cheapest frame is $2,050. “Millions of Americans” my @$$!
    If you truly want a revolution, you better design your bike with utility, affordability(!), and simplicity (=mass production) in mind. That means standard brakes and fenders as the bare minimum. Well-designed accessories such as racks, kickstands and chainguards must be readily available and easily installed. Options, such as multiple speeds, coaster brakes, etc. are always nice.
    Finally, please, stay away from dumb ideas, such as “integrated U-lock”. Who gives a hoot, if you have to carry the damn thing “in a special pocket of the custom rack bag” anyway? Besides, it always clicks into the frame at a fixed height and angle!

  2. Urban JeffApril 22, 2011 at 11:21 amAuthor

    Really? There aren’t enough mass-produced bikes out there?

    Millions of Americans are happy to spend $20,000+ on an automobile (about 4 million new cars were sold in the US in the past year).

    There are about 250 million cars on the road in the US, and the average costs about $8000 per year (ownership, maintenance, insurance and fuel).

  3. NYC_cyclistApril 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Urban Jeff,

    With all due respect, dear sir, you need a bite of a reality sandwich.
    Millions of Americans aren’t going to suddenly stop their $8,000 per year car payments and start spending that cash on bicycles. “$8k per year car payment = 4 good bicycles for the whole family. Done! Viva la revolucion!” I got news for you: it ain’t happening. People will NOT just give up their cars overnight. You can’t ignore these facts.
    People can, however, start taking small steps, by making short trips (train station/grocery store/etc) on a bike, instead of the SUV. That is a much more realistic way to get more people to live more responsibly. If we ever want the transition from car-centered lifestyle to happen, we have to make that transition smooth and easy, and selling them $2,000 artisan frames won’t help the cause.

  4. bradApril 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    If your point is that you don’t like expensive bikes, you’ve made it. The bikes you are arguing for already exist at the bike shop.

    Otherwise, the challenge has nothing to do with making a production, affordable bike or starting a commie invasion.

  5. NYC_cyclistApril 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm


    “liking” expensive bikes has nothing to do with it. Proclaiming a “two-wheeled revolution” has. Revolution and $2,000 artisan frames don’t go together.

  6. Joe PeraltaApril 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    A good reliable $500 bike would be nice. Most people get to choose between “mountain bikes” or “sport bikes”, neither of which is really suitable, thanks to the industry’s mentality of marketing bikes as leisure toys rather than transportation.

    Most bikes are designed for exactly what they wind up doing – taking up garage space. That mentality could use 72 revolutions per minute. Bikes as lifestyle accessories are equally useless.

    They do lay the BS on thick in Portland. I’m still laughing at the dashing dweeb in his Harris tweed impressing the hell out of his art director.

  7. Urban JeffApril 22, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    With all due respect, Mr. Cyclist, you need a bite of “your opinion is not the word as law” sandwich. And you can’t be so ignorant as to presume that the publisher of Urban Velo doesn’t know the realities involved with inspiring people to ride bicycles, could you?

    I never insinuated that Americans are going to stop paying for cars. My point is that when you consider the cost of transportation, even a high-end custom bicycle is affordable compared to a car.

    That said, many successful products start out priced far too high for the average consumer. Consumers, however, aspire to own said products and when the price drops, there is typically an incredible demand. This was the case with bicycles in the late 1800′s. And with automobiles not long after. Both started a “revolution” however not all revolutions lead to permanent regime changes. Obviously, the bicycle revolution waned, whereas the automobile revolution developed into a mainstay of contemporary American life.

    And then there is the notion of marketing the high-end product in order to attract customers who will buy the entry-level version. This has certainly been the effect of shows like NAHBS and Oregon Manifest. After recognizing that consumers were salivating over custom creations with things like integrated racks, one piece bar/stem combos, etc., numerous major manufacturers responded by introducing mass produced versions of their own (Specialized, Trek, Raleigh, etc.). This, in turn, has effected the cycling media in a major way.

    The largest cycling publication in the country, who accepts automobile advertising and has a reach far beyond the “preaching to the converted” audience, has recently announced a shift in their editorial focus. Their plan is to lessen their coverage of recreational and competitive cycling and make a concerted effort to cover and promote urban and utility cycling.

    A revolution in the making? Perhaps.

  8. NYC_cyclistApril 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Urban Jeff,

    The average american WILL spend 8k on his car anyway. If he decides to buy a bicycle (and that is a very big “if”), he’ll be paying for it with whatever money is left from rent, car payment, food, bills, kids’ school costs, etc., etc., which is not a lot. Spending $2,000 on a bicycle from that small remaining amount is a big, BIG decision. THAT is the reality. Cost of a bicycle should be measured against the post-rent, post-car, post-bills family budget, and not against automobile costs.

  9. Joe PeraltaApril 23, 2011 at 6:57 am

    I’ve seen a couple of “marketing shifts” in the past, but they were so tentative and wimpy they were practically DOA. Now the elements are in place for a real revolution, if they have the guts to see it through and the brains to partner with city planners who are up against a wall with traffic congestion and air pollution. Bikeways with bike-compatible mass transit is the way to go – and when business and government work together they usually succeed.

    I don’t see much “preaching to the converted” – more like people with common interests sharing ideas and opinions to get hashed out.

  10. JuddApril 24, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Mass market bikes are designed by comities and corperations for what they believe most people will buy and/or that the consumers can be convinced that they need/want. Custom makers and artist explore outside that box, they may not be practial, but they lead the way to the next big thing, or actual improvement.

  11. Joe PeraltaApril 25, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I’m all for those big things – the wheel, the pneumatic tire – but I think getting more people using bikes to get around will depend on a lot of people working in an organized way, rather than one individual’s flash of genius.

    Giving wannabe cyclists a street-ready package for $500 would go a long way, but inbred piggyback marketing discourages giving floor space to anything that isn’t mountainy, or racy, or kiddy. Changing that is Big Thing #1 on this, I think.

  12. dpowApril 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Joe I agree. However, what Specialized has done with Globe, Electra has done with Ticino and what Torker is doing with all of their bikes are three examples of how events like Oregon Manifest can/will trickle down to the $500-$700 bikes that people see on the floor at their local shops.

    Revolution needs momentum. Gas at $5 a gallon is a nudge. Seeing that you can dress nice, carry groceries and your children on your bicycle and aspiring to do it yourself is maybe what it takes to get someone on a bike. That is the driving force behind Manifest.

    Hey, I agree some folks here in Portland take themselves and bikes pretty seriously. (I should know I’m one of them) Dismiss Manifest if you want, but the rest of the industry won’t you can bet on that. Change is coming.

  13. Joe PeraltaApril 26, 2011 at 10:17 am

    We’re all pushing in the same direction, so all hands are welcome, but it’s a bit like pushing the earth off it’s old axis – it’s gonna take a lot of hands.

    I like Portland and the people I’ve met up there while passing through half a dozen times the last 2 summers. It’s a cool place. The flip side of that is getting a rosy view that doesn’t apply so well in less-cool places.

    The technology exists to put people on suitable bikes for $500 total, out the door ready for anything. What’s lacking in my view is packaging, marketing, and support, particularly in infrastructure. Selling people bikes is easy – giving them what they need to succeed at getting around on a bike is a whole ‘nother much bigger job. Usually they’re out the door clueless in a cruel world.

    Getting around successfully on a bike is like sailing vs. motor-boating. People raised on cushy turn-key automobiles are simply stumped. Most people these days don’t even know how to pop a tire off to fix a flat – and they shouldn’t have to.

    Over the last 6 years I’ve spent about 23 months touring – in the East,from the Adirondacks to Savannah, GA – in the West from LA to Bellingham, WA. One of my interests is bike shops. In the Western US I’d rate them an average AA+ – they’re generally big, well stocked, and staffed with friendly people who dig what they’re doing.

    Back East, where most people live, I give them an average B-. In ’05, ’07, and ’08, good ones were the exception. They’re competing for space with the businesses that make the highest profit, and so are forced into that rat-race mentality. Many won’t even carry free bike maps if they can’t sell them at a profit. Their ideal customer drives up wanting to “Lose 10 pounds in a week!” and buy “The 10 hot go-fast goodies you gotta have!” Sales and support are geared to that. They see bikes as fitness machines or kiddie toys, and have no time or space for anything else. They’re really just an extension of car culture – people wanting to use a bike as transportation are on their own. Flat-proof tubes? Never heard of ‘em. I have to get mine at Wal-Mart.

    That what needs to be fixed. Re-inventing the wheel may have some benefits in the long run, but the real problem is the hostile car-centric environment US cyclists have to face.

    I was wondering if we’d see $6 gasoline by July, but the last few days I’ve been seeing news indicating the Fed’ll starting tightening up the money supply, which is likely to implode commodity bubbles. Maybe not in oil, though – too many people have arranged their lives so they have to pay whatever the price may be. Gee – that also needs to be fixed.

    Intelligent people are getting the message on treacherous oil prices, traffic, and smog. When they see a practical alternative, they take it, paying hefty premiums to live near mass transit. More would be happy to get around on bikes, if the necessary support was there. Instead they’re literally bullied and terrorized into driving cars.

    Luckily there’s a “critical mass” – of traffic and smog beyond what cities can handle, and looking to get continually worse if something doesn’t give. That’ll break the chicken-and-egg conundrum of building infrastructure for cyclists who don’t yet exist. That, I think, is our best leverage and where we need to be pushing. Building ever-cooler stuff can’t hurt, but from the grit and smog it looks like a sideshow rather than the main event.

    Either way, we agree change is inevitable. One of the coolest things about bicycles is they make the world a much bigger place, and we need that more every day.

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