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New Bike Sunday: Soma Double Cross disc

Rainy Sunday mornings are a good time to put our thoughts together on the bikes we’ve brought in just for Portland. Here’s the first of three we brought in this past week. (The other two: the Soma Buena Vista mixte and the Norco Indie Drop. Write-ups coming soon.)

Soma Double Cross, now with discThe Soma Fabrications Double-Cross is a disc-brake cyclocross frameset constructed of high-quality Tange Prestige heat-treated chromoly tubing in the main triangle (top tube, seat tube, and down tube), and butted chromoly seatstays and chainstays. Yes, it’s a frameset not a complete bike, so you (okay, we) get to custom-build them exactly how we (okay, you) want. The rear dropouts use integrated chainstay-mounted disc-brake tabs, allowing for the use of almost any rear rack and fender combination.The cromoly fork has double eyelets and mid-mount eyelets for convenient fender and front rack options. Cable guides for the disc brakes allow for full length housing, preventing contamination of the brake cables and improving brake lever feel. The frame has clearance for 700x38c tires with fenders, and comes in a very wide range of sizes, from 42cm to 62cm, plus a gigantic 66cm frame.

You can even run 650B x 42mm tires, with fenders, for extra comfort, stability, and wheel strength.

High-quality double-butted steel tubing is known to give you a springy, lively ride that adds to your efficiency and speed in a most pleasurable manner; flex in the frame creates a rebound effect, snapping you forward after the initial pressure on one pedal diminishes and just before pressure on the

other pedal starts to peak. As your pedal stroke is smooth, this effect doesn’t seem very distinct…but neither does a fraction of a percentage favorable change in the grade of the road before you: we take it when we can get it. That makes you feel fast and strong and tireless.

Aside from cyclocross, the Double Cross is great for city riding, purposeful commuting, all-day rides in the country, and light to moderately loaded touring over smooth, bumpy, gravelly, or varied terrain. It’s an ideal choice for long gravel roads.

In short: lighter and faster than a touring bike, much more comfortable and versatile than a road bike.

The bike shown here is a 54 cm with Portland-designed Retroshift shifters, a blue Brooks leather saddle, blue bar tape. If you’re not familiar with Retroshift, you should know they’re superbly fast-shifting, simple, tough, light, and surprisingly unspendy.

Retroshift on Soma Double Cross discThe Double Cross can be build with single, double, or triple chainrings, drop bars or flat bars, mountain or road rear hubs, single-speed (with a chain tensioner), with full or partial fenders, and front and rear racks. Build it as your CX race bike with a tight road cassette and compact double crank, drop bars and STI levers. Or as your all-day charity ride or Cycle Oregon bike with a road triple, wide-range cassette and 700 x 28 slicks. Or as your every day commuter with a dynamo hub, fenders and rack, and swept-back city bars. Or as almost anything else you can imagine.

The build shown here is a little under $1900. We would need typically 7-10 days to build one up for you.


Joe Bike, JoeBike, Joe-Bike, and Joebike are trademarks of Joe Bike LLC.

Joe Bike, JoeBike, and are common-law trademarks of Joe Bike LLC and have been since August 2008. US and international trademark registration is pending.

Joe Bike LLC, established in August 2008, imports, distributes, designs, manufactures, and retails utility bikes and other kinds of bicycles, some with electric-assist (designated by “e-” or “e” before the name Joe Bike) across North America and around the world. Joe Bike also operates a full-service bicycle shop in Portland, Oregon, USA. Having used the name “Joe Bike” in commerce since August 2008, Joe Bike LLC owns the common-law trademark on the names Joe Bike, joebike, JoeBike, Joebike, joe-bike, Joe-Bike, and joe-bike. In addition, the model name ShuttleBug is trademarked under common law. Our trademarks encompass the use of these terms in conjunction with any internet domain, such as .com, .net, .info, etc. The prefix “e” or “e-“, indicating electric assist, is covered by our trademark. (E.g., establishing a computer company called e-AppleComputer would be an infringement of Apple Computer’s trademark.) Joe Bike’s logo is also trademarked. Any unauthorized use of our trademarks is prohibited.

Our cargobike rain canopies have gone viral. A brief history. @transportland

Sometimes it seems like everything relating to bicycles has already been invented and refined, and that the only changes are incremental. There’s one big exception t: cargo these days: cargo bikes, which are mostly kid-carrying bikes. Most of the cargo bikes we see now didn’t exist even five years ago. Their emergence has opened up a lot of opportunity to invent new products to make these bikes as useful as they can be. That’s right: at the moment, any schmoe can come up with a new product for the cargobike industry, and that new product stands a good chance of being wildly appreciated. For the growing number of cargobike enthusiasts who geek out over these things, this post is for you.

Boxbike with aluminum cabin and new canopy made in PortlandWe invented a unique rain and sun canopy in 2009, first for our Boxbike as shown above. Why did people like it? It was sturdy, big, roomy, and covered your hands, keeping them warm and dry. Unlike all the previous canopies, there was no barrier between you and your kids, and it was a lot easier to have a conversation with them too. They even served as an airfoil, so you’d find yourself moving along a little faster with it on. We developed a screen version for people in sunny climes, too.  The ShuttleBug was the most advanced kid-carrying bike ever made; we designed and made a batch of them starting in 2010. One of its features was a steel cabin that, unlike other longjohns, was both easily removable and integral to the frame, adding some beneficial stiffness. The steel cabin was covered in messenger bag fabric loaded with pockets, soft seats, and better safety straps.

Actually having these cabin skins made was a pain. After working with a few different fabric people, we settled on Blaq Design, a couple of guys who had just moved here from Ohio, because they did the best work and had the highly unusual characteristic of getting things done when promised. We had them make some large number of our rain canopies, as well. When we were done making bikes, we gave our design Blaq. When customers with CETMA bikes, genuine Bakfietsen, the Bullitt, and similar bikes approached us to see if we could apply our design to their bikes, we sent them directly to Blaq. We get inquiries all the time from people who want these canopies, so take note: please go directly to Blaq because otherwise we’ll just charge you for our role as the middle man, and we really don’t want to be the middle man. More importantly, you really don’t want us to be the middle man.

Now then. Here’s a history of the damn thing.

We unveiled this canopy design in the fall of 2009 for the Family Biking Day event in Portland (below) that was somehow, in some way, we think, related to Oregon Manifest, though the fog of memory only thickens with time. You can’t tell by the photo, but actually hundreds of people came out on a really, really crappy day to look at all the bikes. We recorded over 60 test rides in about 3 hours. Five of us stood around drinking coffee and eating pizza. Jonathan Maus of BikePortland showed up and we offered him a slice, but all he seemed interested in was taking some photos and asking  questions. Then he rode his kids around on a couple of our bikes just like everybody else. At one point he rode with 4 kids.The point is, we designed this canopy because the existing ones left a lot to be desired and actually ended up discouraging people from using the bikes year-round. Which, in turn, discouraged us. So we figured out what we wanted a rain canopy to do. We wanted open air in the rear instead of completely enclosing the kids, for both obvious and inobvious reasons: better airflow inside the box, no fogging, no muffled conversations, easier access while in motion. We wanted easier loading and unloading, without the need to remove the canopy. We wanted stitched-in reflective striping. We wanted higher-quality materials that didn’t rip or leak. We wanted an open, tall rear that would fit over the handlebars, keeping your hands warm and dry. The shape itself cheats the wind and makes you go faster with the canopy on than off, although really strong crosswinds can interfere. Finally, we wanted these things to be made in Portland.

After some prototyping, here are a couple of examples. The first is for our wooden Boxbike box, once we started making them in Portland. Earlier and later versions had a cross-brace that kept the middle front from sagging, but it’s missing from this one. Most do use either one or two strips of sail batten (Waagmeester’s first line of business: making sails!), which work great.

Boxbike with rain flyBelow is a canopy either Waagmeester or Blaq made (can’t remember) for one of our first fabric-on-cromoly cabins. The poles mounted to the front of the box are positioned and tensioned just-so to make the canopy lift gently open. With too much tension, the poles will catapult the rainfly open and the feeling you get then is similar to the feeling of scaring a dozen pheasant into simultaneous flight from an Iowa field, which is both a thrilling and scary sort of sensation. We did not want that. With too little tension, the whole thing will sag and the fly will not lift at all when you release the hooks (or snaps) in the rear. We did not want that either. That would be lame. Here’s what we ended up with:

blue boxbike at SW Sunday Parkways

We worked with a few different fabric folks before alighting on Blaq around the end of 2010, who were actually still in the process of moving to Portland from Ohio when we corralled them into making stuff for us. No, literally: they were unloading their van at the same building where we were bending, mitering, and welding ShuttleBug frames, and they quite literally put down their boxes to come have a look. Blaq ended up also making the skins to fit around most of our cromoly ShuttleBug cabins, which you can see below. And they made the hammock seats, cushions, pockets, and safety harnesses that made the ShuttleBug the mostly highly regarded bike of its kind in the world. Most importantly, it was all super convenient because all we had to do was drop off the cabin frames and the raw bike frames with them down the hall, like 20 feet away.

Below, a Big Dummy ferrying a completed ShuttleBug cabin and canopy from Blaq back to our retail store. At least a couple of drivers along the way assumed we had kids riding up there, and they voiced their concern. Noted. Do not ride kids as shown!


And here’s what it looks like when it’s all together. Different ShuttleBug, but same idea.


We’ve also had customers in climates where the sun shines directly onto your skin! Imagine that…at least try, anyway. Like in Colorado and New Mexico, but also apparently it gets really hot in the southern US too. For them we’ve had the same design but with mesh instead of vinyl windows. Blaq has been working on a convertible version so you can have the same canopy serve for either rain or sun. That will be nice.


Boxbike Ecospeed

Below: The latest adaptation: for a Eugene-made CETMA cargo bike. A customer brought us a CETMA frameset and wanted us to build him a wheelset and to get him a bunch of parts. He also asked us to fix him up with our woodworker, who then adapted our box for the CETMA frame, and with Blaq, who adapted our rain canopy to fit the box. We don’t have photos of the Metrofiets, Larry vs Harry, or Workcycles versions, but they do look good. It’s all about evolution.

Ken W's cargo bike

The Christmas Pigeon

The Prudent Cyclist's Xmas Flying Pigeon

It seems like ages have passed since we sold the last of our Flying Pigeons, so it was a nice surprise to find this photo today at of reporter Will Vanlue’s own Pigeon roadster decked out with Christmas lights. We had the frame and fenders powdercoated candy-apple red with a silver undercoat, then built it up with 28″ wheels, Schwalbe Delta Cruiser creme tires, Brooks saddle, and a Shimano 3-speed hub. Thanks to Will (The Prudent Cyclist on Flickr) for letting us post this photo.

Here’s one of our photos of almost the same bike from way back when.

Joe Bike Flying Pigeon

Reunited! A cargobike-theft story with a happy ending (and even a Christmas tree)

A friend on Facebook posted a story this morning written by his friend Ryan on Flickr.

Sometime between midnight and 3am on November 26th, The AoB was stolen from my home. By early Sunday afternoon- with the help of social media and many friends, I had recovered it. I had expected that, if I ever got it back, it would be trashed. The only damage though is the board you see in the middle of the cargo deck; someone had attached a Christmas tree to that board and then nailed it to the cargo deck. The Christmas tree was, ironically, a key factor in my getting the bike back: the person who had it when I found it (claims he bought it on the street and was not the thief) had been cruising around the Lloyd District with the tree nailed on it trying to sell the tree. A woman took a picture of that outside of a Safeway thinking it was just funny, and posted it to facebook. Within moments a friend of a friend recognized it, got in contact with me, I put out a request on my profile, and a small army of awesome friends quickly descended on the Safeway. We didn’t find him, but we got a bunch of information from people who were there. The next day, several friends and I met there again to look for the bike. My friend Risa asked a guy if he’d seen it, it turned out he had it, and I was able to get it back (thanks, Risa Dale!)

All of this, from the theft to recovery, took place in less than 36 hours. That I got it back was completely due to friends getting the information and pictures out on social media and to the help of my friends and caring strangers (as of yet, the Portland Police Bureau has not responded to my stolen bike report). Many of my friends stepped up to help, as did many caring strangers- several of whom are now new friends. It seemed that people were coming out of the woodwork and bending over backwards to help. That’s what community is all about- friends taking care of friends! I am humbled by and very thankful for the generosity and caring of this galvanized community. And that I have my bike back! I hope I will be able to, in some small way, repay the kindness, caring, and generosity shown to me during this situation.

Where are they made? List of Oregon-made cargo bikes

Joe Bike ShuttleBug: Made by Joe Bike staff in Portland

Metrofiets: made (and largely designed) in Bend, Oregon, by a subcontractor

Ahearne CycleTruck: made in Eugene except custom-built bikes

CETMA: Eugene

Human Powered Machines: Eugene

Tom’s Cargo Bikes: Tom turns used steel bikes into cargo bikes in Portland

Huckleberry: Forest Grove (outside of Portland)

Stites Design: Portland

Where are other cargo bikes made?

Larry vs. Harry Bullitt: Made and assembled in Taiwan

Gazelle Cabby: China

WorkCycles Bakfiets: Amsterdam

It’s the Black Friday pepperspray turn-in sale.

Black Friday Pepperspray Surrender Sale!T

Today only, 11-6: a deal so good it ought to be unconstitutional! Turn in your pepperspray gun and canisters, and we’ll give you 20% off any nonpepperspray accessories in stock. (Sorry, camping out front is strictly verboten.)

Police officer special: Have you deployed pepperspray on peaceful protesters, sirs? Then show us your badge and some video proving your valor, surrender your pro pepperspray System on the counter, and then take an additional 20% off the marked-down price. Wow, does that equal 40% off? NO! That sort of math would be in serious need of a well-enforced exercise training program. We’ll let you stop and figure it out, sir!