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That’s Sooo Vanilla!: Friday Bike Porn in Forbes Magazine

11:51 AM PDT on March 27, 2009

Picture_8.pngYum.

One of several ways I drove down my productivity when I worked at Transportation Alternatives in NYC (think SFBC with a livable streets angle) was to click through the websites of the hand-made bicycle manufacturers who participate in the annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show competition, ogling the master craftmanship displayed there.  No bicycle maker appealed more to my sensibilities and my lust for a unique bike than Vanilla Bicycles, based out of Portland, Oregon (warning: bike porn, NSFW, if you need to do any more work today).

Picture_7.pngMmmm, brazing.

Vanilla, the handiwork of former bicycle courier Sacha White, got a nice plug in Forbes Magazine, as part of the magazine's profile on companies that are fairing well despite the economic downturn.  The magazine gives background on White I'd never read before, including:

White fell into his business after his own bike frame cracked in 1999.The frame builder, Timothy Paterek, offered a weeklong course onbuilding for $1,250. White saved for a year to enroll and later spentfive months making his first solo frame for his wife, then friends,then strangers who had seen or heard of his work via the spideryPortland cycling network. Taking off a month from his courier route tomake bikes in 2001, White never carried another message.

But then it makes a claim that strikes me as dubious:

Bike couriers in Portland and San Francisco, when describing something as cool, now routinely say, "That's sooo Vanilla."

Can anyone help me out?  Have you ever heard that phrase or used that phrase?  Am I really that out of touch and old already?

Some of the other delectable offerings from NAHBS are local manufacturers, including Broakland Bicycles in Oakland, Inglis and Retrotec in Napa, Sycip in Santa Rosa, Caletti in Santa Cruz, and Hunter and RR Velo in Watsonville.

Another local hand-made builder, Calfee Design, has been getting lots of love for its bamboo frames, including articles in Time and Newsweek

I know a lot of these bikes are super pricey, but I generally think that trends that make cycling sexy are good trends.  As the old adage goes, "If you buy quality, you only cry once."

Picture_6.pngForget the Batmobile, I want a Vanilla!

Photos: Vanilla Bicycles

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