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Bike for uMamas & uPapas

When it comes to the family bike ride, there are bike trailers, there are bike tag-alongs, but - of course - there are also the adult bikes that pull them!  Can you give Meliah some tips on what sorts of bikes would be good for an urbanMama and urbanPapa?  Any advice on where to get them?
One of the things I love about living in Portland is the vast array of transportation options. I am fortunate enough to live in a great downtown location where we don't have to drive to much at all. With the summer setting in and our oldest one getting to that age where bike riding is a feasible thing for him on his own, we've been talking about purchasing bikes for the family.   Here's the thing: I am a total novice when it comes to this field! I sold my bike when I was 14 and haven't been on one since (not even the stationaries at the gym). I obviously have no interest in putting myself or my family at risk of any kind so I'm wondering if there are some urbanMamas out there who can help me out.
  • WHAT KIND OF BIKE/S AM I LOOKING FOR?  We are buying mostly for pleasure riding (along the waterfront/sauvies island/mt. hood trails, etc). I know NOTHING about bicycles and don't want to get ripped off or end up buying something inappropriate for what we need. Just something functional, basic and reliable.
  • BUYING.  When it comes to actually purchasing a bike, where can we go to get what we need for a bargain price? The pocketbook will dictate a lot of what we can and cannot do on this matter.


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I just test rode a Trek Lime bike in Bend last weekend, and I LOVED it! It is super light and you don't have to worry about shifting, it is an "automatic" bike. I haven't been on a real bike in close to 20 years and it was very easy to ride. And the cost is only about $400. It also has different color parts that you can change out when the mood suits you! Check out their website: http://www2.trekbikes.com/lime/

hay you should check this out and try to build your own bike. that way you know more about bikes and you can customize it to your own needs and for very cheap. there are even women only nights and very knowledgeable staff.


time to head to a local bike shop (or even REI)! we're so lucky to have so many in this town, and they'll help sort out what you need. every one i've been to so far has had super friendly, non-attitudnal staff.

sure, you could go to target or walmart and buy something cheap, but the old adage, you get what you pay for, is applicable here. it doesn't mean you have to spend a ton, but you want something better than a super cheapo bike.

after you sort out what you're looking for (mountain bike v. cruiser v. hybrid v. road, size, etc) you can always do the craigslist hunt.

This is not quite in the realm of the questions being asked BUT if you didn't already know, the ultimate cargo/family bikes are now available in Portland - Bakfietsen!

We haven't made the investment but have a few friends who have.

We encountered our friend Erin a couple of weeks ago on her Bakfietsen. She was beautiful and glowing and nine months pregnant at the time with her son and daughter strapped into the Bakfietsen carrier.

You can check out photos and videos and such here:


I affectionately call my husband a "bike whore" ...we've spent at least one college fund on bikes in our 10 years of being together! Since living in Portland this last year, he's purchased 2 bikes here, one from Hike 'n' Bike on Grand and one from River City and was very impressed with the service at both shops. I'd highly recommend visiting a local store to test ride some different bikes and find out what you like in your price range. Getting a good bike doesnt have to cost a lot of money, but finding the right frame size/style for your body is key.

Moving to Portland and entering the bike world was intimidating for me. Even though I have biked all my life and through college, I never knew much about bikes aside from how to pedal and how to get to the market/salvation army, how to carry groceries or small furniture, and how to get back.

I highly, highly, highly recommend visiting with your local bike shop. I feel like there are at least 2 local bike shops in every neighborhood and they are all helpful. Ours, in NoPo, are Revlover Bikes (N Interstate/N Portland), Cascade Cycling (N Killingsworth/N Williams), and North Portland Bikeworks (N Mississippi).

Of course, the professionals at any Bike Gallery, River City, and Hike 'n' Bike are also really helpful, but I feel like our neighborhood shops have more time to spend with us. The big shops will show you what sorts of frames fit your body, what angles to look for, how it should feel. You can talk to your shop person about what you'll be using the bike for - pulling a trailer, running errands with a couple of panniers on a rear rack, pulling a tag-along that pulls a trailer. Talk about what distances you'll be traveling because that makes a difference too.

Another resource for bike advice is Portland By Cycle clinics, classes and rides: http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=44099

The Cycling Center has also been awesome in educating us. My husband has been to the 6-week long bike maintenance workshop here: http://www.communitycyclingcenter.org/

At this point, our family (2 parents and 2 kids) now have 7 adult bikes, a double trailer, 2 tag-alongs (the folding, shifting ones), and lots of kids bikes. We have bought only 1 adult bike brand new (my husband's trek road bike from Bike Gallery during their annual spring sale), 1 adult bike from the Community Cycling Center (my road bike), and the rest were purchased used off craigslist. We feel like, in this town, where people are constantly buying new bikes to suit their new needs, there is constant recycling of bikes on craigslist. So, if you are able to get lots of tips and advice from the shops, you could always go to craigslist.

On the type of bike that works best for me, a mama who tows 1-2 kids plus groceries and who traverses 4 miles from downtown pdx to our n pdx home (which is a climb), what works best is a "flat-bar road bike", a comfy hybrid thing that has some muscle to help me climb an incline with kids/stuff in tow. I have another bike at home that we just use in the neighborhood, it has fewer gears and it's more upright. But, when I go downtown, I need the power of something I can crank up, something speedier and lighter.

For longer rides (over 10 miles or so), we'll ride our road bikes. They just feel better for the long haul. But, on an every day basis, my husband and I have great commuter bikes with rear racks and adapters for the tag-alongs. For reference on our commuter bikes - he has a Giant Cypress XS and I have a Specialized Sirrus Elite (the urbanMama commuter bike of choice - I know at least 2 other urbanMamas with the exact same bike!)

Happy, happy biking!

We purchased a Bakfietsen from Clever Cycles last month. My son loves riding in the front cargo area of the bike, shouting and pointing at all of the trucks, dogs, and lawn mowers (mower!!) that we are passing. When we are feeling particularly adventurous, I sit in the front of the bakfiets with my son while my husband pedals the whole family around. It truly is an amazing bike.

Happy biking!!

I am always compelled to take EVERY opportunity to say that Seven Corners Bicycle down on 21st and Powell is soooo wonderful. Their service is hands down the best in this city, the prices are affordable, and they stand by their work. If your bike ever breaks down, they'll give you a loaner. Have an emergency on your way to work, they'll fix it on the spot. They offer lifetime maintenance on any bike sold by them. And, Corey Cartwright, the aptly named owner, is so sweet and friendly, you will have a hard time matching his smile at any other shop.

Anyway, I'm a commuter and I bought my Marin there and I'm very happy with it.

A hybrid is a good choice if you're just getting into riding. Flat handlebars (kinda like a mountain bike), but bigger wheels than a mountain bike and thicker tires than a road bike. It will go pretty fast if you want it to, but it's really stable. You are also more upright than you would be on a road bike.

Make sure it has good brakes, fits you well, and feels comfortable. You should probably anticipate spending a few hundred dollars if you are going to buy a new bike (300 - 500) if you want the bike to last a long time.

Good luck!

Wow! Thank you all soooo much for the TON of information! This is amazing.I am even more excited now to start the search! Thank you so much!

Having just purchased a new bike after nearly 20 years of not riding (and now using it to commute to work)I can understand how intimidating it can be to walk into a bike shop and feel like you know nothing! I visited several bike shops and everyone was so helpful. I ended up purchasing from the Bike Gallery and would do so again in a heartbeat, they have excellent service. What I never experienced at any shop I visited was any high pressure sales tactic, or trying to get me to buy a more expensive or wrong for my situation bike. In fact, I experienced the opposite: knowledgable, friendly staff people who just want to help you get the right bike for you and situation. They love riding, and they want you to love it too.

There are so many options out there (and I wish I'd know about the Bakfietsen before I bought my new bike!)the only thing to do is shop around and try out the bikes you like. Good luck on your journey!

Something new? And expensive. But it looks more stable and easier than the cargo bike.

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