CIRCA Cycles is a Portland-based custom bike maker that has devised a fabrication process that utilizes bonded and anodized aluminum tubing to create distinctive one-of-a-kind bicycles that can be manufactured with incredible speed, durability and efficiency. CIRCA’s frames have no welds. Instead, the tubes are joined to CNC-machined lugs and bonded with high-strength epoxies. Instead of painted finishes, CIRCA anodizes its aluminum tubing to create lustrous colors that pop, never fade and last longer than paint. Anodizing forms a protective aluminum oxide coating that permanently seals the color to the surface of the metal.
Pictured above and below is the Goldie Deluxe city bike, which is outfitted with premium features including leather touch points, dynamo lighting, disc brakes, a Nitto front rack, an eight-speed Alfine hub, and hand-built wheels from Portland’s Sugar Wheel Works.
Below is the Icon PDX, which shows CIRCA’s ability to laser-etch finely detailed graphics onto their anodized tubes. “Our proprietary manufacturing process lets us build bikes to order with amazing attention to detail and surprising efficiency, enabling us to go from ‘zero to bike’ in less than two weeks,” says founder Rich Fox, who previously worked as a strategist at global design firm Ziba and as an innovation director at Nike.
Prior to launching CIRCA, Fox–a lifelong cyclist–thought long and hard about how he could innovate the bike building process and leverage Portland’s industrial design and manufacturing expertise. The idea for bonded lugged frames was inspired by the Italian bike brand Alan, which used a similar process in the 1980s. Fox bought an Alan in 1984 and still owns it. “It was my first real racing bike,” he says. “That bike is 34 years old and still going strong. The anodizing still looks like new.” Today’s epoxies and bonding processes are even more robust, as is Circa’s American-made aluminum tubing. All CIRCA frames are Gates Carbon Drive compatible.
Fox works with a number of Portland firms. MC Laser Labs does the laser etching. “We designed CIRCA’s manufacturing platform to take advantage of Portland’s amazing ecosystem of collaborators, innovators and vendors who serve a variety of industries including the outdoors, medical and technology industries,” Fox says. “This, in tandem with the city’s love of bikes, makes Portland the perfect place to do this.” ridecirca.com
The Rheinauhafen is a former industrial port that has been transformed into an outdoor plaza with restaurants and ice cream shops, modern office buildings and fashionable dwellings on the banks of the River Rhine, a waterway that slices through Cologne and provides the heartbeat of life, commerce and recreation for this German city. This is one of Mika Amaro founder Michael Nagler’s favorite bicycling destinations. From here he pedals over the Suedbruecke, a historic railway bridge with a bike lane that provides views of the city and the boats below.
Mika Amaro makes stylish urban bikes that are perfect for exploring Cologne and its historic landmarks, including the Koelner Dom cathedral. Located in Cologne, Mika Amaro has just launched three new bikes, the Agravic Grey, Pearly White and Avid Blue, all equipped with Gates Carbon Drive and Shimano Alfine eight-speed internal hubs for smooth and clean pedaling.
“Our new urban bikes remain true to the clean lines of a single speed,” says Nagler, who highlights their “purist design.” The Columbus steel frames are adorned with fine touches including Brooks saddles and grips, and polished rims. Call them a splash of Cologne style for a new generation of bicyclists. mika-amaro.com
Volata Cycles is an innovative new brand based in San Francisco and Milan that is using digital technology to create next-generation bicycles that improve safety, decrease maintenance and smarten your ride–all wrapped up in a stylish Italian design. “When you buy a car you don’t need to acquire lights as an accessory, or an iPad as a dashboard. As cars have evolved, also bikes need to evolve,” says Marco Salvioli, co-founder and CEO of Volata.
This evolution includes a 2.4-inch app-based computer integrated into the handlebar. Riders can access apps for weather, directions and heart rate, receive smartphone notifications, and more. One feature we like is the integrated 96 decibel horn, which allows you to honk back at bad drivers. The Volata also inclues a GPS-based anti-theft system with a motion detector that informs the owner if someone tries to steal the bike. It has front and rear lights, and a hub dynamo that charges a battery to keep everything powered up.
Salvioli is an automotive engineer who came up with the concept for Volata in 2014 while developing smart IoT platforms for automobiles at the University of California-Berkeley. He partnered with Mattia De Santis, a bicycle designer in Milan who is Volata’s chief technical officer. Volatas are assembled in California, where the company’s marketing and operations are based. Design and R&D is done in Milan.
Unlike some handlebar-mounted smartphone applications, the Volata’s computer is controlled by a thumb joystick that ensures riders keep their hands safely on the bars. It also features a Gates Carbon Drive belt system connected to an Alfine Di2 electronic shifting rear hub for low-maintenance durability. The price is $3,499. Volata is now taking $299 online deposits with the balance due upon delivery in July 2017. “Volata merges all the heritage and creativity of Italian design with the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley,” the company says in its press materials. Check out these features in the slick video below.
Volata comes in four sizes, two colors and three saddle options. The company plans to introduce more accessories including racks, frame bags, fenders and more. Customers will be able to book a test ride during events the company will host, and at showrooms Volata aims to open in late 2017. Honk if you like it. volatacycles.com
Amsterdam has more bicycles than inhabitants and The Netherlands is one of the most bike-friendly nations in the world. Yet virtually no bicycles are made here due to high labor costs. Now, some Dutch entrepreneurs want to bring bicycle manufacturing back to The Netherlands by using automotive industry techniques. “We had to re-think the way bicycle frames are produced,” says Bob Schiller, founder of Mokumono Cycles.
Instead of welding tubes together, a process that is highly labor intensive, Mokumono uses robotics and an automated production process. Two sheets of shaped aluminum are pressed together and then laser welded. Schiller explains the Mokumono concept in the company’s Kickstarter video below.
Mokumono will sell two versions of their bike, a singlespeed and an eight-speed, both with the Gates Carbon Drive system. Pre-order prices are $1,150 for the singlespeed and $1,400 for the geared version. “The name Mokumono is a composition of two words that express where we are from and what we make,” says Schiller, who is launching Mokumono with his brother. Mokum is an old nickname for Amsterdam. Mono refers to monocoque, “a construction technique whereby loads are supported through an object’s external skin without internal strengthening.” While the target market is The Netherlands, Mokumono will ship its bikes worldwide. In a country where even the Prime Minister rides to work on a bicycle, Mokumono seems poised to bring Dutch bike heritage into the modern era. mokumonocycles.com
Chelsea Koglmeier founded Bikes of Reckless Optimism, a “socially conscious” bike brand, after living and working in impoverished regions of Uganda and Bolivia, where she was struck by the power of bicycles to change lives and improve economic standards. Bikes ORO has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise capital for three new models including the Porteur, seen below with Koglmeier. In keeping with its social mission, Bikes ORO will donate $25 to World Bicycle Relief for every bike sold. Bikes ORO’s new models were developed in partnership with Matthew Andrew of Flying Machine, a top frame designer in Australia, and all feature low-maintenance and practical components including Gates drives. Watch the video atop this post to hear Koglmeier’s inspiring story, see the bikes in action, and learn more about World Bicycle Relief.
Bikes ORO is among the growing number of bike companies that are using crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter to launch their belt drive products and grow their brands. In our last post we featured Priority Bicycles’ launch of their ultimate beach cruiser on Kickstarter. Now we look at some more brands employing crowdfunding.
Faraday recently launched its new step-through electric bike, the Cortland, on Kickstarter, raising $187,821 to bring the bike to life. In addition to a Gates belt, the Cortland, below, features an eight-speed internal hub, hydraulic disc brakes and bamboo fenders. faradaybikes.com
Coastline Cycle Company is a new brand founded by bicycle industry veterans Chad Battistone and Brady Sorenson that is crowdfunding The One on Kickstarter. The One is offered in five options, from singlespeed to eight-speed, and kitted out with components for urban or trail riding. All the bikes will be equipped with Gates’ premium CDX system, Shimano hubs and Race Face cranks.
Velorution is London’s top seller of belt drive bikes from Schindelhauer, Biomega, Van Nicholas, Lios and more, and they are a Gates Carbon Drive distributor in the UK. Now they are raising capital on the Seedrs platform to expand and open more shops. “The continued strategy is to offer London’s urban cyclists a curated collection of innovative, premium, exclusive and semi-exclusive brands from around the world,” says Velorution’s Gretta Cole. Watch their crowdfunding video below, and join the crowd!