I get by with the help of local businesses

10/07/2009

Kay gets the bike

Pictured above is the beautiful new bike I gave to my wife today for
our combination anniversary and her birthday (her birthday happened to
fall on a Saturday 9 years ago and so we got married on her birthday).
Jeff McNamee started this team with the idea that we have a lot of
local builders making cool stuff and though I was aware of several
frame builders, it wasn't until I completed this bike project this
morning that I fully understood it: there are loads of cool goods made
in Portland and local environs.

Downtube close up

The Bike

It all
started last month when local bike scene blogger Jonathan Maus of
Bike Portland mentioned on twitter that local women-specific
framebuilder Sweetpea bikes was starting to build off-the-peg
semi-custom bikes
in one of three sizes. Each frame has the
similar-sized geometry averaged from previous full custom Sweetpea
bikes. The program was announced with a 8 week lead time to get a bike
(which is much quicker than the 2-3 years most framebuilders make you
wait for full custom). I emailed Natalie at Sweetpea on the off chance
she had one of the first prototypes or unsold first run bikes around.
Lucky for me, she had one small frame in orange that could be built up
just in time for the big day. I placed the order with an Ultegra build
since the newest Ultegra has a simple adjustable throw for the brake
levers, making them easier to use for my wife's small hands.

Sykes fenders, with logo inlay

The Fenders

After
placing the order, I shopped around for some cool add-ons to help make
the bike more useful. I knew I wanted fenders and a rack on it, and I
thought wood fenders might look cool, so a bit of Google searching
later and I happened to find Paul Sykes making wood fenders in any size
and in numerous types of wood finishes, at a good price. I contacted
him by email and phone and I learned he was nearby in Portland. He was
nice enough to not only hand make a new set in bamboo just for me, but
he also took a break from his work and helped me install them yesterday
in his shop space.

The rack was one I noticed at the annual bike
trade show Interbike, a simple and svelte stainless steel rack from
Tubus. And though they are not local, the downtown location of the Bike
Gallery
was luckily a local seller of this German brand and helped
tweak the mounts just right so it worked perfectly on this bike (at no
extra charge, to boot).

Rear 3/4 shot

The Bags

I've always liked
the Queen Bee bike bags ever since I saw them show up on Bike Portland
a year or so ago. I thought they'd lend a nice final touch to the rack
(my wife currently uses some ugly technical bags to transport her
computer to work) and when I noticed they had a sale, I called to see
if I could pick up a set when I pick up the bike, rack, and fenders.
They said they were sold out of most designs but went the extra mile in
building a set just for me in a design they were out of, and they
rushed it in time for me to pick them up on the way home last night.

The
bags are really nice, a soft leather-like fabric makes up most of the
bag. The sides are buttoned by default and unbutton to extend the bag
out, while at the same time have a reflective fabric to increase your
visibility when expanded. There are carry straps hidden inside as well
as a hidden pocket. They're pretty amazing things while looking great
as well.

Conclusion

Today I put it all together and snapped a bunch of shots of it before giving it to her to ride and enjoy. She seemed to love it.

I
put a lot of effort into providing great customer service in my own
business, and I'm constantly disappointed when large companies treat me
like crap. Getting this bike together required four different local
companies to go the extra mile for me and they all did, going above and
beyond even what I'd consider great customer service. Natalie at
Sweetpea was nice enough to rush a build of a custom bike in just a
couple weeks. The mechanic crew at Bike Gallery were as always,
incredibly gracious and helpful. Paul at Sykes Fenders made me a custom
set of fenders in just a few days and even helped me put them on the
bike. The whole crew at Queen Bee came together to rush a new set of
bags in just one day to help me finish off the bike.

I know I'm
lucky to live in the Portland region, with its numerous bike-related
businesses, but sometimes I forget and take it for granted that just
outside of my backyard is some of the coolest, best looking, and best
performing stuff available.