A Splendid Way to Commute


Jeb was an avid cyclist. He loved his lugged steel road bike and rode it everywhere, including bike touring through parts of Europe. On sunny days he'd join a group ride and put in some miles. On weekdays his miles were logged on an old mountain bike as he made his way to and from work. But Jeb's cycling was interrupted. A serious accident left one of his knees badly damaged. Even after lots of physical therapy, surgery, and more therapy his cycling was limited to short easy rides. Although his commute is only about 5 miles each way, it includes about 650 feet of climbing in the last mile. That ascent proved too painful for him to endure.

His knee was damaged but not his spirit. Jeb continued to think about cycling and search for a way to return to the activity he loved so. After a couple of years he found hope. He learned about electric assist bicycles, specifically the BionX e-assist system. He did his research and in doing so found out that one of the BionX dealers was in his neighborhood. That's where Splendid Cycles enters the story.

Jeb walked into our shop one rainy Sunday after having breakfast with his family next door at Roost. On that very day we were putting the finishing touches on a Surly Big Dummy equipped with the BionX. It gave him a chance to see the system and later on, test ride the bike. In the process Jeb and the Splendid staff talked bikes, we learned more about Jeb's vision for a commuter, and proposed building a bike up specific to Jeb's needs. With a nod from Jeb we got to work.

The result? A Surly Karate Monkey with BionX PL350, disc brakes, and a Shimano Alfine Dynamo hub with SuperNova E3Pro headlight and tail light,  and Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires. AND, wait for it... IT'S A SINGLE SPEED! Yup, you read that right: single speed. Portland's wet winters can take their toll on drivetrains, brake pads and rims. The answer to Jeb's desire to minimize maintenance was disc brakes and the simplicity of a single gear.


So, how is it working out? After not riding much for a couple of years Jeb is now riding every day to his job at the Oregon Zoo. He stopped in so we could install an additional accessory and expressed his thrill at being able to keep his car parked at home. He's found the Surly a reliable, steady mount for his trips up and down the West Hills of Portland. His enthusiasm is catching and news of Jeb's unique bike has caught the interest of many of his co-workers. I'm sure his neighbors and friends too are learning of what this bike has done to return Jeb to the world of commuting.

As for us, this is why we are in the bike business. Helping people find ways to overcome obstacles to cycling is what we do best. Whether with a cargo bike or an electric assist bicycle it is incredibly gratifying to find solutions that lead to the big grins, like the one we see on Jeb as renews his love for cycling.