Moulton Small Wheeled Delivery Bike Proves to Be Challenging and Interesting

Here at Cycle PDX we recently had the opportunity to work on an early Moulton small wheeled bicycle. After one week of grueling searches for parts, it became obvious that this was one of the most interesting bicycles ever made with an even more interesting history.

Guthrie taking a spin on the Moulton we worked on here at Cycle PDX
Guthrie taking a spin on the Moulton we worked on here at Cycle PDX

Alex Moulton was an engineer in the European aviation/auto industry. His grandfather was one of the first rubber pioneers, bringing vulcanized rubber to the UK. The family ran a large rubber company that at the time specialized in developing rubber suspensions for the european auto industry.

Moulton had multiple qualms with conventional bicycles being produced during the late 50’s and early 60’s. Thus, he decided to come up with his own unique design. He thought that the conventional diamond (triangular) frame design made it difficult to size correctly as well as mount and dismount. Storage was also an issue because larger bikes require more space. Comfort was also an essential concern. In order to make bicycles more comfortable, people would mount larger, lower pressure tires, which resulted in more rolling resistance that potentially made the bikes less efficient. Moulton sought out to design a frame that would quell most of these issues and his frame design allowed ease of use for both sexes without compromising the integrity of the bike. Smaller wheels measuring 16 1-⅜” made a bike that accelerated quickly and the fitting of high pressure tires brought rolling resistance down. The high pressure tires did increase the efficiency of the bike, however, they did make it arguably more uncomfortable.

Moulton small wheeled bicycle posing outside Cycle PDX
Moulton small wheeled bicycle posing outside Cycle PDX

This is where Moulton’s suspension knowledge came into play. He designed a front and rear suspension in the form of a single shock integrated into the steerertube/crown of the fork, and used a solid rectangular bumpstop where the rear triangle meets the frame. By doing so, Moulton was one of the first to incorporate suspension into bikes 30 years before they became an industry standard! Moulton wanted to create a bike that could be used for multiple purposes. It was with that thinking that he fitted the bikes with large front and rear porteur style racks.

Front porteur style rack on the Moulton small wheeled bicycle

The Moulton we worked on here at Cycle PDX spent its early days as a delivery bike for a bakery in Portland. An employee inherited the bicycle from said bakery and really wanted to breathe new life into it, which is why it ended up in our hands here at Cycle PDX. Some of the parts used on Moultons are very rare, which is why this particular bike was a challenge at times. It was, specifically, very difficult for us to find 16-1 3/8″ wheels to match the old ones brought it by the Moulton’s new owner. Regardless of difficulty, this bike was extremely rewarding to work on and is an absolute gem in its own right. A very unique addition to this particular Moulton as well was the very rare 4-speed Sturmy Archer hub on the rear.

The drivetrain on the Moulton, including the 4-speed Sturmy Archer hub

The Moulton’s smaller wheels tend to have less spoke flex, this allows the rider to carry heavier loads without the worry of spoke failure. The smaller wheels also aid in lowering the overall center of gravity, an excellent attribute to take account of especially when carrying heavy loads. It is a common misconception that Moultons are folding bikes, they do make some folding models, but all of the original models were non-folding frames.

Front view of the Moulton bicycle
Front view of the Moulton bicycle

Moulton bicycles have been around for quite a while. The company itself has changed hands a few times, but the design has stayed relatively the same. Hence, their success and build quality have allowed for a cult following status. They call themselves “Moultoneers”. This unique group of individuals take advantage of the many positive attributes the Moulton has to offer. The Moultoneers generally embark on long distance touring trips centered around one primary goal, having fun while enjoying the freedom only achieved by bicycle.

55 years have gone by since Alex Moulton designed his first bike and the brand still remains strong. The company makes many different styles of bikes now, but the original model (AM designation) can still be purchased today.

For more information go to:

Or, check out what our friend Sheldon Brown had to say about his sweet Moulton!

Crank Brothers m17 is a great multi-tool option for cyclists

Blog post made by our tour-guide, Sierra

As both a commuter and recreational cyclist in Portland, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good multi-tool with you on just about every ride. Even if it is rarely used, there will always be the occasional moment in the field that it is needed. There are a variety of multi-tools out there, all with relatively similar features, so it can be hard to sort through the bunch. With multi-tools, it’s ultimately hard to find the balance between insufficient and excessive. You can never know for sure exactly what you’ll need in a crunch. At this point, I’ve had enough crises to know what is most useful in the field and what will end up collecting dust. In my opinion, the multi-tool with the absolute best design and most pragmatic collection of tools would be the Crank Brothers m17, one that is personally recommended by many of us here at Cycle PDX.

Figure 5: the Crank Brothers m10, m17, and m19
Figure 1: the Crank Brothers m10, m17, and m19

Crank Brothers has three mid-level multi-tools: the m10, m17, and m19. The m10 has ten tools, the m17 has seventeen, and so forth. While all three are, in my opinion, very useful, the m17 is the one that really hits the sweet spot. Goldilocks would be pleased. Each tool expands on the other, so the best way to explain why the m17 is preferable would be to compare it to the other tools in its family.

Figure 2: the m10, m17, and  m19 make a happy group
Figure 2: the m10, m17, and m19 make a happy group

The m10 is the most basic of the group, with seven allen keys, two screwdrivers, and one torx. Essentially, everything on a bicycle can be tightened or adjusted with an allen key, which is why the m10 comes with seven different sizes. Allen keys help with adjusting seat height/angle, modifying rim-brakes, adjusting cable tension, installing or correcting front and rear racks, installing water bottle cages, and a variety of other things. Allen keys are the most useful part of a multi-tool, which is why the m10 is, at heart, just that: allen keys. The m10 is also capable of making emergency derailleur adjustments and modifying disc-brakes, which is why the screwdrivers and torx are included. All of these features are useful and calculated and, even for a basic model, the m10 can take care of a multitude of tasks. What really sets the m17 apart, though, is that it includes four spoke wrenches, a chain tool, and two open wrenches, making it well worth the extra $6.00.

When I was first contemplating whether to buy the m10 or the m17, I thought, “I’m never going to use a spoke wrench in the field”. I ultimately bought the m17, originally, for the added chain tool. However, there was a time that the spoke wrenches saved the day, and now I believe that they are worth their weight in gold on this multitool.

Figure 3: the added spoke and chain tool of the m17
Figure 3: the added spoke and chain tool of the m17

This past summer, I took part in a century ride with about 200 other women out to the Columbia Gorge. On the last leg of our ride (figure 10 miles away from Portland), two of the riders crashed into each other. Their wheels were so out of tru that their bikes were rendered unrideable. Of the assemblage of riders, I was the only one that had a spoke tool. If it hadn’t been for this handy little feature of the m17, neither of the women would have been able to continue the ride. The moral of the story is the spoke wrenches and the chain tool are not the least bit excessive, I think that having these tools in addition to the allen keys is a necessity if you do a considerable amount of riding.

Interestingly, the m19 jumps in price quite a bit ($34.00 compared to the $28.00 of the m17), but it only includes two additional tools: an extra phillips head and an extra torx. I believe the jump in price can actually be attributed to the sleek hard-case that comes with the m19, something that I believe is unnecessary. Multi-tools, on their own, are very tough. You could probably throw the m19 at a wall and not damage it. In fact, you would probably damage your wall. For this reason, I think the hard-case is excessive and mostly meant to be aesthetically pleasing. But, if protecting your tools in a really beautifully made case is your jam, the m19 might be a nice upgrade. I personally keep my tools in a tool roll, so my multi-tool already has its own little pouch and the hard-case would be useless to me for that reason.

Figure 4: m19 with its additional hard-case
Figure 4: m19 with its additional hard-case

If you have certain types of disc-brakes or road calipers, the extra #1 phillips head and t-10 torx of the m19 might be worth the upgrade. However, for most bicycles with most brake types(rim and disc alike), the m17 will certainly get the job done. It’s handy, it’s compact, and it’s easy to use; thus, I recommend it to all riders tenfold.

The most common problem riders face in the field is actually flat tires. So, on top of having a very useful multi-tool like the m17, I recommend carrying tire levers(Pedro’s are the best, in my opinion), an extra tube, and a small hand-pump. Patch kits are also very useful. If you have bolt-on wheels, you should also carry the appropriately sized wrench with you if your multi-tool doesn’t already have it. Flat tires are very easy to fix if you have the equipment with you, so I would suggest carrying these items with you in addition to the handy Crank Brothers m17.

Figure 5: Crank Brothers m17
Figure 5: Crank Brothers m17

All items mentioned are available for purchase in our shop, so drop on by and see if the m17 is right for you!

Blog post made by our tour-guide, Sierra.

Red Ledge Rain Gear is the Best Value for Your Waterproofing Needs

This post brought to you by courtesy of our awesome tour guide, Sierra!

Here in the Willamette Valley, having a good set of rain gear is essential regardless of the way you might commute. That being said, good, water-proof gear is even more of a necessity if you get around by bike for most of your transit. There have been a number of times that I have left the house with no rain gear, thinking that the grey clouds wouldn’t be malignant that day, only to arrive at my destination completely soaked.

Usually the “Portland rain” that people talk about is actually just a very light, all-day mist that might render itself slightly inconvenient if you let it. This season, however, we’ve typically seen one day with constant, pouring rain with a string of very dry, sunny days in between. On the one day where it would be pouring, I would often arrive at Cycle PDX with my pants completely soaked through… and it would take them hours to dry. I decided that it was time to pick up a pair of rain pants to alleviate the feeling of wet, cold legs. So, I put the Thunderlight Pants by Red Ledge to the test.

Figure 1: Red Ledge Thunderlight Pants, size small
Figure 1: Red Ledge Thunderlight Pants, size small

The pants that I chose were the most affordable of the Red Ledge bunch, which is what really attracted me to them. I wasn’t looking for anything lavish, I saw “water-proof” and “$40.00” and I was sold. Despite their very low price, these pants function wonderfully, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the features of the Thunderlight Pants.

First of all, these pants are extremely lightweight and pack down tremendously. If I want them to, they’ll pack down small enough to fit into the back pocket of my jersey, my jacket, or my jeans. All Red Ledge products come with a small draw-cord bag to store pants or jackets, making it even easier to pack them down. So far, these are so lightweight that I keep them in my commuter pack and haven’t been caught in the rain without them.

Figure 2: Mike the Mechanic suffers from wet, cold legs. Don't be like Mike, equip yourself with rain pants!
Figure 2: Mike the Mechanic suffers from wet, cold legs. Don’t be like Mike, equip yourself with rain pants!

Another detail of the Thunderlights that I appreciate is the fabric that Red Ledge chose is very breathable, something I wasn’t expecting to find in a $40 pair of pants. Unlike most affordable rain gear I’ve tried, I have never arrived at my destinations feeling too hot or sweaty with these pants. I have only arrived with my jeans feeling perfectly dry and comfortable. These pants are unisex and I took to wearing the size small.

If there is one thing that I really don’t like while riding a bike, it is storing items in the front pockets of my pants. I’ve always found the placement of pockets on both rain jackets and pants inconvenient for biking, but this is not at all the case with the Thunderlights. These have one zippered back-pocket and it is in the perfect spot for riding. The lightweight feeling of these pants can be partially attributed to their lack of front and cargo pockets, so I appreciate that Red Ledge skipped the extras and allowed the pants to be a truly featherweight shell.

Figure 3: Sierra wears the Thunderlight Pants, size small, and our soft women's Cycle PDX Tee
Figure 3: Sierra wears the Thunderlight Pants, size small, and our soft women’s Cycle PDX tee-shirt

The Thunderlights have a tapered leg with adjustable snaps at the ankle, also making them great for cyclists. If it weren’t for the provided snaps, the leg of these pants would easily get caught in my chainring and be completed destroyed, so this is a great detail for cyclists. My one complaint is that the snaps are extremely difficult to unfasten, and for this reason I wish that Red Ledge had gone with velcro instead.

Figure 4: Thunderlight ankle snaps help prevent the pants getting ruined by your chainring
Figure 4: Thunderlight ankle snaps help prevent the pants getting ruined by the chainring

My one real complaint is that, because I am 5’2” and these pants are meant to accommodate a variety of heights, I’ve had to wear them well above my natural waistline(see Figure 3). If you are of an average height, this wouldn’t be an issue for you. But, if you’re petite like me, it is something to consider. One other aspect of these pants that I find troublesome is the waistband gets twisted very easily, so I am constantly having to straighten out the elastic(sometimes in vain). That being said, the Thunderlights are still an absolutely wonderful value, and I recommend them to anyone that is perturbed by soaking wet jeans.

These Red Ledge Thunderlight Pants are available in our shop, along with a variety of rain jackets by the same company. I haven’t had the opportunity to try the jackets out yet, but if they are anything like the pants, I believe the two would make a wonderful pair.

Figure 5: Red Ledge bright rain jackets keep you dry and visible
Figure 5: Red Ledge bright rain jackets keep you dry and visible

Blog post by our tour-guide, Sierra.

Valentines Day Discounts For You and a Loved One

As Valentines day approaches, you might still be looking for an ideal gift for a fellow bike-lover. Well, here at Cycle PDX we have a gift for both of you: a well-functioning, cared for bicycle. With the constant rain Portland gets, we know that your bike could use a bit of tender loving care. If you bring your bike in for a full tune-up, you get 50% off a second tune-up for a loved one.

Our full-tune special includes a full adjustment of your hubs, bottom bracket, headset, wheels, gears, and brakes. In addition, our mechanic will clean your bike, lube the chain, and grease all of the places that are prone to rust. Show your bicycle and your partner, a friend, or a family member how much you care with the gift of a tune-up.

Valentine's Tune-Up Special

If you have a loved one that doesn’t have a bicycle, but you’d love to take them for a stroll on two-wheels this February, we have an offer for you as well! If you make a purchase in our shop of $50 or more, you’ll receive 15% off a rental for date-night. Our tour-aficionado Sierra recommends our high-power, USB rechargeable lights by Cygolite that are the absolute best bang for your buck. 310 lumens at $56 is a smokin’ deal. If you’re in need of a decently bright light, give yourself the gift of safety and we’ll give you the gift of a bike ride with a loved one.

Both offers are good through February 14th.


Cycle Portland Brewery Tour Featured by Momentum Magazine!

“Bikes and Brews go together perfectly on this fun city bike tour.”

Why thank you, Momentum Magazine! We’re glad you enjoyed the experience!

We’re constantly seeking out the best in excellence for the breweries we visit, formulating stops based on locality, brewing practices, and most importantly, great tasting beer. We work hard so you don’t have to, and love showing folks around some of the best breweries in Portland, OR.

Whether getting to know the tastes and taps of Portland for the first time or just looking to expand your Portland craft brew palate, Cycle Portland’s Brews Cruise brewery tour is a must experience, and Momentum Magazine agrees! Check out the link to read our most recent press love from the top bicycling lifestyle magazine in the country!

And next time you’re in Portland, stop in with us here at Portland’s original bike tour & rental company, we’d love to take you out on a brewery bike tour through Portland, OR!

10% Discount for Participating Old Town Businesses

Here at Cycle Portland, we value our Old Town community. For that reason, we are proud to offer a 10% discount for employees, students and owners of Old Town businesses.

Current participating businesses include:

– Upper Playground


– Portland Walking Tours

– NW Natural

– Mark Spencer Hotel

– Airbnb

– Boiler Room Bar

– NXT Industries

– The Duck Store

– SERA Architects

If you would like to have your Old Town business added to this list, give us a call, send us an email or just come on in, we would be happy to chat with you!

Christmas/New Years Hours 2014

Greetings folks! Just a quick update on our holiday hours for the end of 2014/start 2015

Cycle Portland will be closed the following days:

Dec. 24th (Christmas Eve)
Dec. 25th (Christmas Day)
Dec. 31 (New Years Eve)
Jan. 1  2015 (New Years Day)

All other days assume normal operation.

P.S. – If you’ve been like our manager (Guthrie) and have put off some rad gifts to the last minute, good for you! We’ve still got you covered if you’re in a pinch. Happy holidays!