The Best Gig in the World

September 29th, 2011

. . . being a juror at the Oregon Manifest.

I just returned from a weekend in Portland where I was a juror for the Oregon Manifest Constructors Design Challenge (OMCDC), a utility bike design competition. It was not a normal jury assignment. We reviewed the bikes for a full day indoors before the contestants set out on a 51-mile, challenging road and trail course.  At several check points along the way we judged criteria such as load carrying capacity, lighting systems, fender durability, and more. The day was a perfect sunny 80-degree day through the bucolic countryside north of Portland.  It was one of the most enjoyable work assignments I have ever experienced.

It seemed like the bikes held up better than many of the riders. But to their credit, all of the riders finished. Leading the pack was Tony Pereira on an electric assist bike with a built-in music system.  This iconoclastic magenta bike was a sign of what the future of utility bikes might be and what type of bike might realistically convince many people to swap in their car for a bike.  My shout out was Diana Rempe, on a Quixote bike, who covered the course in a dress and flip-flops with her daughter as a passenger. Be sure to check out all the entries and winners or follow us on Twitter where we will be featuring a bike a day for the next month with my comments.

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Portland
This event reminds us that while the US seems in a perpetual backslide as a producer of goods in the global market, we are actually the unqualified world leader in handmade bikes. Portland is the epicenter for the movement. It was fitting that Chris King Precision hosted the event. They are the recognized international leader in manufacturing high quality bike headsets and other components.

Biking is more than a subculture
Biking is becoming mainstream, as evidenced by the broad range of people at the OMCDC events. Two years ago the event drew mainly a hardcore biking subculture.  This year Levis and Urban Outfitters set-up a bike fix-it shop at the event and there seemed to be an even split of men and women. We were invited to speak about the event as part of Live Wire (a podcast will be out next week).  CNN covered the event as did many local newspapers.

Portland is transit progressive
Every time I go to Portland I am reminded how special this place is and how it is a bellweather for the country for more than just bikes. The light rail system linking to the airport and running through the city is an elegant and fun transit system that rivals anything I have ridden in Europe.

Global design firms are jumping in
The show drew concept bikes from prestigious design firms including IDEO, FuseProject, and Ziba. These bikes were not juried against the individual submissions, but they did join the road challenge and they all finished. These design firms are well respected internationally for conceptual work and branding, but they can also crank out world-class functional product design. Fast Company got wind of the LOCAL bike designed by Yves Behar of FuseProject.

PUBLIC products in evidence
We are happy to see a number of products that PUBLIC sells in wide use, especially Brooks saddles and brass bells, which now seem ubiquitous. If the professionals can use these over a 51-mile course, they will work for you.  Our Yepp seat and Nutcase helmets were also along for the ride.

Thanks to the other Jurors
It was a special pleasure to work and learn from the other jurors – Legendary bike icon Joe Breeze, Biking magazine editor Bill Strickland, Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, and UBI leader Ron Sutphin.

Take a Seat, More New Products

September 21st, 2011

No one should ride a bike that isn’t comfortable: life is too short. The touch points of your bike – the grips, pedals, and seat – are critical factors to your comfort level while riding. The most personal part of the bike is the seat (called “saddle” in the industry). No two derrieres are the same and no two people have the same riding style.  The seats shots above are taken from the streets of Amsterdam, where you will see as much diversity in bike seats than any other place on earth.

Racers prefer narrow thinly padded saddles, as they are always leaning forward and not sitting upright. Those seats look cool but are not comfy for city riding.  You will see some oversized seats on some bikes, but often these, like overstuffed sofas, appear to be comfortable but are not.

At PUBLIC, we believe that all bikes should have a seat that is both comfortable and good looking. So we designed our bicycle seat to fit these criteria. We also just introduced several other seats to meet special needs. If your seat is not super comfortable, try a new one. It’s worth it.

A few new seats are featured below, and don’t miss out on other products that just arrived.

Brooks B67 Aged
Classically sprung for supreme comfort, the B67 Aged is the ideal all-round for daily city use in an upright posture. Most Brooks saddles require a 300 mile break-in period, but this specific saddle comes broken-in. Specially formulated waxes and balms are skillfully worked into the hide resulting in a more comfortable riding experience, requiring less break-in time.

B17 Special
The B17 is Brooks’ flagship model and has been on the market for over 100 years. The B17 Special features copper plated steel metalwork and also features beautiful hand hammered copper rivets, which makes this saddle even stronger than the classic B17.


Selle Royale Freeway Saddle
This is the most comfortable seat we sell, and especially designed to please people who experience discomfort from a typical bike seat. (The best seat is the one you don’t even think about when riding). The secret to the Selle Royale seat is the Royal Gel (available for men and women). The center of the seat uses Twin Flex Technology to keep the seat soft in the right spots. Cool Cover technology keeps your saddle from burning your britches after it has been in the sun.

New Products for Pet Lovers, Winos, & Bike Geeks

September 21st, 2011

Thanks to everyone who submitted an idea to our “Pick a Product, Win a Bike” contest. Hundreds of ideas came in ranging from wooden robots, to couture reflective vests, to graphic art. However the most requested items were smart phone bike mounts, beverage holders, and other handlebar items. We’ll be in touch with the contest winners soon.

We just launched several new products. Stay tuned as we continue to unveil a wide range of new products this Fall.


Chromium Forum : September 21

September 14th, 2011

Learn about trend-spotting, branding, and how one serial entrpreneur has used rapid innovation to overcome the challenges facing his startups. Network over drinks with creative, business, and technology professionals to expand your horizons and your contacts at this engaging and informative event.

On September 21st, come and listen to Rob Forbes, founder of PUBLIC Bikes and Design Within Reach, and former executive of Williams-Sonoma, Nature Company, and Smith & Hawken, in conversation with Tony Wessling, Founder of ChromiumForum and President of The Wessling Group.

They will talk about putting creativity and innovation at the center of a business plan, and how leveraging new technology such as social media in tandem with real-life social activity has contributed significantly to PUBLIC Bikes’ success. They will also discuss how bicycles are changing the face of our communities for the better, and why such ‘old technology’ is being so readily adopted by the creators of our new technologies, the urban creative class. See Rob speaking at the TED Conference.

Tickets: $15 at Eventbrite


5:30 PM Check-in and networking. Refreshments will be served.

6:45 – 7:45 PM Conversation with Rob Forbes

7:45-9:00 PM Networking and check-out

More info:

Papergirl: Art Falls From the Sky In San Francisco

September 9th, 2011

Paper Girl SF

Papergirl SF is an annual art project that collects artwork from all over the world and, in the style of American paperboys, distributes the art by bicycle to people in the streets of San Francisco.  All of the art is free. To be a lucky recipient of the original artworks, you have to be in the right place at the right time. Papergirl literally makes free art fall from the sky and into your hands.

If you are an artist, this is a great way to get your art out into the public.
Anything Can Be Submitted: prints, photos, drawings, paintings, zines, writings, textiles, buttons, stickers, etc. We want anything you make!
There Are No Guidelines as to Medium or Quantity: originals, prints, photos, copies etc. are all acceptable forms of submissions, and we encourage you to send multiples of your work, so it can be put into many art rolls.
It Must Be Flexible: the only requirement is that the art be flexible enough to be rolled up! We won’t be throwing any stretched canvases around.

PUBLIC’s office at 123 South Park is serving as a drop-off location for art submissions. Submission deadline is October 3rd. We’re definitely going to help with art distribution on our PUBLIC bikes using our baskets and panniers. Join us.

Fall Colors & Seasonal Deals

September 9th, 2011

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. – Alice Walker

When it comes to color, we all have our personal preferences.  For Alice Walker it’s purple. For us it’s more mandarin orange and robin’s egg blue.  Color may be the most expressive element in the toolbox of human choice – only smell elicits a stronger memory response. Our bikes are known for their colors, and this was no accident. Color takes your eye to form and sticks it there. We think that the elegant and minimal form of a classic city bike deserves that attention.

This fall season, we are introducing a range of highly colorful accessories. Fall is a colorful time of year, so this seems appropriate.  Our PUBLIC Panniers will bring a nice splash of color to almost any bike as they fit most racks. Brooks just came out with limited edition color saddles that will compliment and set any bike apart from the pack.  The red Knog lights and locks with our red PUBLIC Federico bell add a great punch of color to any bike. We’ll also have limited edition bikes in new colors later this season before the holidays, but don’t hold your breath for purple.