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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Prêt à Porteur

Posted by Rick | May 9th, 2011 | Filed under Bikes, Personal Reflection

43rd and Sandy

I’m kind of obsessed with porteur bicycles, simply because they are so damned beautiful in their simplicity. Though variations of this style of bike have been used around the world for transporting goods on the flat rack over the front wheel, Parisian newspaper couriers owned these utilitarian rides in the mid 1900s, the Porteurs des Journaux.

This obsession, along with the need for a commuter bike, resulted in my buying a plug-and-play version of a porteur last year—a basic Linus Roadster with a Velo Orange Porteur rack. The bike has served me well for the last year on my 10-mile daily commute. I just strap my laptop to the rack and go, no need for a sweaty backpack or unbalanced panniers hanging over the back tire.

But recently I have become interested in the modified, motley porteurs I see around Portland that are jimmy-rigged from old bike frames and clunky racks, and the one above is my favorite of that style. I first saw it parked in front of Whole Foods on Sandy and 43rd and I had to drive around the block to get a second look (and to snap this drive-by photo). I love its garish colors, hot pink heavy-duty rack and mismatched rims, not to mention the green seat and pink break lines. It’s a complete 180 from the precious porteurs I had been fetishizing before—those hand-made versions that take years to actually get underneath you (and to pay for).

A month or two later, I saw the bike again. It was being pedaled down Sandy Blvd. by a guy in lime green coveralls. I think he had dreadlocks. He may have been wearing a pink hard hat. Anyway, we’ve been doing series of posts here called “This Is My Bike” for a while now, and what I loved about that was how it showed how bikes can be a reflection of the rider—in the same way a dog and its master strangely resemble one another. This was one of the most overt expressions of that. It reminded me that we need to resurrect our TIMB posts. And that I should have been on my bike next to him instead of in my car.

10 Responses to “Prêt à Porteur”

  • May 9, 2011 at 10:19 am | Gabriel Amadeus says

    That’s my friend Sauce! He was one of the founders of A Better Cycle, and built that frame himself at United Bicycle a few years ago. I think the rack is a TCB Rack, made here in Portland. He’s a great guy, champion pinball player, and school bus driver.

  • May 9, 2011 at 11:07 am | Rick says

    That is so awesome. Man, we need more details about Sauce’s bike. Sorry about all the assumptions I made. So his frame is handmade, as is the rack! Did I even get the dreadlocks right?

  • May 9, 2011 at 11:25 am | Sauce says

    I actually have a staunch anti-dreads stance, so this made me hurt inside. But yes, I built the frame at UBI in Ashland in 2007. This is the 3rd build of it. And the rack was made by Tad Bamford of TCB racks here in PDX. Other details: Front hub is a Sturmey Archer X-FD drum brake hub. Rear is a X-RD5 5 speed internal with drum brake. I often call it my hipster infiltrator cause at a glance many people assume it just a neon fixed gear.

    Let me know if you have any more questions, I have lots of stories.

  • May 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Rick says

    Sorry about the dread comment. It was early and my windows were probably foggy/rain-covered. I think I was creating a Mad Max scenario there… but you’re right: That’s no hipster fixie. Funny enough, I’m from Ashland. Next time I’m there I’ll have to check out UBI. Thanks for all the deets. Are you still affiliated with A Better Cycle?

  • May 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Sauce says

    I will be working there again through out the summer months, starting mid June.

  • May 10, 2011 at 8:24 am | Bicycle Defender says

    That bike is so hot! Happy bike to work week.

  • May 10, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Ryan Flood says

    This post just became so much better, now that we know the owner considers it a “hipster infiltrator”. Thanks, Sauce!

  • May 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm | DenverCX says

    Is that a carbon fibre racing bike? Looks FAST. Just kidding. Nice bike Sauce. Can’t tell for sure from the crappy Polaroid-esque photograph, but it looks like it might be lugged. Sweet.

  • May 11, 2011 at 6:09 am | Sauce says

    Richard Sach’s Newvex lugs. Kasei 4130 double butted steel.

  • May 11, 2011 at 11:54 am | Rick says

    @DenverCX: Kind of tough to get a beauty shot of the bike at 25mph, with one hand out the passenger window while driving with the other. I do now realize that this isn’t some spray-painted cannibalization of other cycles like I’d assumed. I stand corrected! :)

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