Friday, October 2, 2009

Oregon Manifest Constructor's Design Challenge

I went to the opening of Oregon Manifest Constructor's Design Challenge on Friday.

Oregon Manifest 09

That's a nice thought and I would like to see the bicycle become as popular as they are in Copenhagen, but I think Portland has quite a unique bike culture as evident in this event and I think Portland will become something quite different than Copenhagen. I'm not sure if there's a greater concentration of custom frame builders anywhere in the world right now. I think for me as well as for a lot of people, the custom built bicycle is the ultimate bicycle to have. I don't see that I will ever be able to afford one unless my income somehow miraculously starts to increase, but it's nice to just look at all the pretty bikes for free. This Constructor's Design Challenge as I understand it is a challenge for the frame builders to design and build the ultimate modern transportation bike to create an innovative, purpose-built rig for the everyday rider. So, I expected to see innovations I haven't seen before.

Well, it was quite packed with people and I wasn't able to closely examine each and every bike, but my first impression is that there were a whole lot of beautifully built bikes, but most of them didn't seem to offer anything new. There were lots of bikes with disc brakes, hub dynamos and custom racks, but those are all things that have been done before. A few bikes though stood out from the rest.

Pereira Cycles
Oregon Manifest 09 - Constructor's Design Challenge

This Pereira bike definitely seemed to stand out the most. Not just because of its bright paint job, but it has a couple of unique features. One is the integrated U-lock. I often thought it would be so cool if the U-lock could be an integrated part of the bike, but I couldn't quite visualize how this could be done. From what I gathered, the lock works perfectly with Portland's staple bike racks and when you ride, you can store the lock arm into the pocket within the bag on the front rack. I think it would be even better if it didn't need to be taken off to ride, but I think it's very worthy that he made this. I think for the purpose of this challenge, it is more important to try something innovative even if it isn't perfect. The other feature is the custom Lemolo bag which was made especially for this bike. I don't know the details of the bag, but I haven't seen any bag like this before, so I'm quite curious what it looks like on the inside.

donkelope bikes
Oregon Manifest 09 - Constructor's Design Challenge

I've never heard of donkelope bikes before, but this bike caught my eye as it has a Hammer Schmidt crank set. I'm not too familiar with them, but I think they are mostly used on trial mountain bikes and its advantage is that it has a very small chain ring compared to normal cranks, so you will have more clearance for obstacles. I'm not quite sure why it's on this bike, but I guess by the look of the bike, it's meant for heavy duty riding and you will be able to go over obstacles more easily.

Ahearn Cycles
Oregon Manifest 09 - Constructor's Design Challenge

This bike doesn't have any break through innovations, but the custom rear rack basket and the front light guard are quite unique and they really add to the overall look.

Inglis Retrotec
Oregon Manifest 09 - Constructor's Design Challenge

Lastly, this Inglis Retrotec doesn't have any innovative features as far as I could tell, but I thought I'd mention it because these Retrotec bikes are a personal favorite of mine. Something about the smooth curve of the top tube to the seat stays is so visually pleasing. This particular bike is pretty big, so if I were to get one, it would be a lot smaller though. (Dreaming is free, right?)

That's about all I was able to gather at this event.
The opening was pretty crowded as well as not very well lit in some places, so I wasn't able to really look at all the bikes carefully. I think I will try and go see it again when it's less crowded and see if there were things I missed. I'm sure there's quite a lot I didn't notice.

here's my flickr set if you want to see more pictures.

Bike Portland has a better looking and much more thorough set here.

and Pereira Cycles has a set of its own bike here.

Will Pereira win the challenge? Stay tuned.

p.s. I think if I was somehow involved in this challenge, I would try and add turn signals on a bike. That's something totally separate from the skills of a frame builder, but I think it's doable and would be great to have on a bike for city riding along car traffic.

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