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Utility bike designs from Ziba and Signal Cycles (photos)

The Portland design firm and independent bike builder work on creating a new kind of bike for urban cyclists for the Oregon Manifest bike building competition.

Jay Greene
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Jay Greene
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Brainstorming session

A team of designers from Ziba consultancy in Portland, Ore., and bike builders from Signal Cycles brainstorm on creating a new utility bike. They're competing against two other design studio-bike builder tandems to come up with a new take on the urban bicycle to handle everything from the daily commute to the supermarket run.
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The project room

In the bike design project room at Ziba, designers post images on the walls with Post-it notes to help guide their thinking. They want their bike to be casual and fun, not a ride created only for the most hardcore cyclist.
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Frame exploration

The Ziba-Signal Cycles design team draws several concepts, testing the look of the bike on paper first. The designers are tinkering with everything from the frame geometry to the style of handlebars to the storage system for the bike.
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Making plans

Ziba's Dan Rowe and Matt Cardinal and Nate Meschke of Signal Cycles discuss plans for their ultimate utility bike.
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Quick-and-dirty sidecar

The Ziba-Signal Cycles team put together a quick-and-dirty sidecar for a bike to see if the concept might work. The idea is to create a rapid prototype, something that designers aren't too wed to so they have little vested in the creation in case it doesn't work. In this case, they liked the sidecar approach and are planning to build it into their final creation.
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Signal Cycles shop

The final version of the utility bike will be built at Signal Cycle's shop near downtown Portland. Here, Matt Cardinal and Nate Meschke work on some tubing.
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Bike welding

At Signal Cycles in Portland, frame builders weld steel bikes. This isn't a prototype for the competition, but rather a custom bike for one of the company's clients.
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Metal lathe

The metal lathe that the frame builders in Signal Cycles shop use to cut steel tubing.
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9 of 9 Jay Greene/CNET

Signal Cycles bike frame

A finished Signal Cycles frame. Notice the details on the rack, much smaller and more elegant than the standard bolt-on aftermarket racks. The angles and tubing on the rack are cut to match the geometry of the frame itself.

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