… and once again I feel like bicycle culture took a step backwards.

The Oregon Manifest set out to have constructors build “the ultimate” utility bike. The winner … was an electric bike. Greeeeeeat.

Tony Pereira of Pereira Cycles won Best of Show. I cannot help but feel like they missed the mark on this:

Tony’s bike – centered around an electric pedaling assist — was specifically designed to get people out of cars, introducing amenities that drivers have grown accustomed to on the road;  stereo, locking storage, stable loading and a huge dose of Fun Factor.

Okay. Getting people out of cars – great. But “amenities” like … stereo? So we talking about plugging in earphones? I cannot tell you how un-smart that is. If its the other thing … speakers so you can assault the urban soundscape with your own obnoxious noises … the judges need to be shot for being morons. I mean really. Clearly the fun factor was the ability to inflict sonic pain on your fellow citizens.

Second place was far more sensible:

Rob Tsunehiro of Tsunehiro Cycles and co produced this gem – no e-drive in sight!

Taking second place was Rob Tsunehiro of Tsunehiro Cyles and Silas Beebe of ID+, a collaboration team which brought a beautifully realized, convenience-laden approach to the competition.  Their entry featured an easily attachable/removable seat option, cargo straps for simple, on-the-fly load carrying, retro-reflective powdercoat to make the entire frame reflective at night and an elegant u-lock integration into the front rack support tubes.  Their collaborator, Blaq Bags created an ingenious pannier with electro luminescence strips sewn in for enhanced rear visibility at night.

This is something I might actually ride. Some of the other options were a bit too … bleeding edge in the geometry department for my liking. I’m all for e-bikes, but a utility bike should be for hauling goods and not encumbering a rider with a battery pack that just becomes dead weight when its lost its juice. Part of what I like about bicycles is their mechanical simplicity. A monkey with a wrench (usually me) can fix one without much effort. Complicate matters with electrics and you lose some of that simplicity. You also lose the clean part of cycling by introducing highly toxic battery packs.

To the Oregon Manifest judges panel: sorry folks, you failed on this one.

Oregon Manifest » The Constructor’s Design Challenge Winners