The “Portland Bicycle”

One of the pieces of news this week from the Federal Transportation Bill was funding to prototype local manufacture of streetcars, so that we might have a true “Portland Streetcar”.

Well, Portland Transport doesn’t have $4M for a project, but we do have a very creative audience. On several threads it has been remarked that bicycles on the market in the U.S. are optimized for racing or the open road, not for commuting. So today’s question is could we specify, design and manufacture a “Portland Bicycle” for the commuting market that would have a strong local market AND be an export product for our region?

I’m told we have local bike frame manufacturing (and certainly an active metals industry), so I don’t see any inherent obstacles.

Let’s start out with the specifications. I know several of the cycloscenti in Portland ride bikes from the Trek Lxxx series, manufactured in Europe as commuting bikes and imported on a limited basis to the U.S. But when I priced one, it was in the $700+ range, way beyond the means of the masses.

So what do we want in a commuting bike for our region? I’ll start with two requirements:

1) Usable in street clothes, which means fenders and a chain guard.

2) Fits the standard rack on a TriMet bus (why my recumbent is very dusty).

So what else does the “Portland Bike” require? Weight? Price point? Gearing? Lights? Bells? Whistles? What else?

Contributor Rick Browning is on his way to Japan on a research project (more on this later this week), so we’re charging him with bringing back ideas from the east!

22 Responses to The “Portland Bicycle”