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Clever Cycles FTW

This is so cool! After a comment conversation with fellow Portland bike-rider and cycle-chic blogger extraordinaire Portlandize about finding the right bike shop for my needs, I decided to go have a look at Clever Cycles today.

It's like a different world! It was so, so awesome! The shop has a narrow storefront on a busy central thoroughfare (Hawthorne), and it's like the TARDIS. You go in the door and it's HUGE inside!

Guy immediately says, "Hi. How can I help you today?" Ding! One point to Clever Cycles. (Mind you, there was nobody else in the store at 3:00 on Monday afternoon, but still.)

I say, "Six months ago I bought a bike that turns out not to be all the bike I need. I commute to work and do grocery shopping and errands, and I've been hearing that this place is the place for me." I add that I like the Dutch style bikes I've seen online, but I'm concerned that the women's or step-through configuration isn't available in a large, sturdy frame size that will suit my large, sturdy self.

No uncomfortable looking-away at that. Ding! Another point to Clever Cycles.

So the guy says, "Let's have a look at your bike." He looks out the window to where Clyde is parked and says, "Oh, that's a great configuration. I see just what you're doing there," (ding!) then walks me back to the Dutch Workcycles, which I've never seen in person before and which are splendidly utilitarian.

We discuss the bike's many fine characteristics, which include an enclosed gear hub and chain case, all-steel construction, and a generator hub that runs the built-in headlight and taillight by pedal-power. The step-through configuration is available in the large frame size. The whole thing is designed to carry real-world cargo, like kids and groceries. It will carry me.

We discuss the bike's drawbacks. ("It only comes in black.")

The Clever Cycles guy then shows me a similarly configured bike for half the price of the Workcycle, a Breezer.

"What's the difference?" query I.

"It's made in China, it's aluminum instead of steel, it has plastic fenders..." the CCG says, and reels off a few other facts, enough for me to determine that the Dutch bike will last longer and do better out in the rain than the Breezer, but he also makes it clear that a lot of the difference lies in the cost of European versus Chinese labor. (Ding! Ding! Ding! Just the facts, let me make an informed choice.)

I spot a chartreuse Gazelle brand bike that I like the looks of, and CCG says that it, too, is built in the Netherlands, and has many of the features of the Workcycle while offering a slightly lower price and a more fun look.

"We rent the Workcycles, if you'd like to try one out for a day," CCG says. Ding!

So, since Clyde's going to the shop on Friday and not coming out till Saturday, I signed up. I'll report back on what it's like to ride a Dutch Workcycle around Portland.

And in conclusion: I am buying my next bike from Clever Cycles and telling everyone about them because it's a wonderful place, well suited to my needs, with nice people who not only understand the kind of bike-riding I do, but actually sell the kind of bike I need, and will not make fun of it later when I bring it in for service--which it will hardly ever need.

This entry is cross-posted from DarkEmeralds on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 30th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, Clyde will be with us yet awhile. I love Clyde, I'm about to put some more money into Clyde, and I imagine that I'll continue riding him at least through the summer.

I'll probably also keep him even if I buy a Dutch bike. It's not a bad idea to have a backup for when the primary is in the shop.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 30th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Wow! *boggles*

No, not quite that sturdy--at least, not in appearance. And lower maintenance, I'd say, too, judging from the pedigree standards of that horse.

I suppose that something lamely cliché-Dutch like "Brinker" would be, well, lamely cliché. Ah well. It's a ways off yet.
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
Glad you made it over there!

Gazelle is one of the oldest Dutch bicycle brands, and now one of the largest manufacturers (along with Batavus, Sparta and a few others).

WorkCycles is one of the newest bicycle brands, but arguably one of the highest quality manufacturers in the world.

I'm sure you'd be very happy with either :) I'll be interested to hear what you think of the WorkCycles bike :)

Mar. 30th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: :)
Thanks for the historical perspective. The guy at Clever Cycles did say that Gazelle was a very venerable manufacturer of bikes, but he was really impressed with the build quality of WorkCycles. He was specific in saying that a WorkCycle could live out in the rain and did not need tender handling at all, because everything is sealed, bolted-on, stainless steel, etc.

In fact, when I asked how a step-through frame like that could go on a vertical parking rack (which is what we have in my building), he said it can't, but if it were his bike, he'd just park it on the street because it's a hard bike to steal (no easy-release fittings, built in wheel-lock, bolt-cutter-proof locking chain) and weather won't hurt it.

I'll certainly report on my WorkCycle ride over the weekend. I'll be riding it from Hawthorne to downtown, and then to NE Portland on Friday, and back to Hawthorne on Saturday, and it would be a shame NOT to try some grocery shopping with it that evening, so I'll give it a fair test.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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