Cyclepedia at the Portland Art Museum

Maybe I shouldn’t confess that despite my intense love of biking, I don’t really get all that much into bike nerdery. I do like knowing how things work, and I appreciate that I can find my way around the various parts on a bicycle–I even like knowing about different options that are out there–but when people start having heated and involved discussions about, say, why one particular derailleur is soo much better than last year’s version of much the same thing, I can’t help but roll my eyes a little.

That being said, I got a little into the bike nerdery at the Portland Art Museum’s Cyclepedia exhibit this weekend.

bike in a box(this bicycle retracts into the box to be its own suitcase!:)

Basically, the exhibit is approximately 40 crazyass bicycles all from a dude called Michael Embacher’s private collection of bikes. It may not sound like much of an exhibit, but seriously. There are some crazy bikes.

This one, for example, has a wacky gearing system so that when you’re pedaling forward you’re in one gear, but the when you pedal backward it shifts into an easier gear to go up hills.

Cycles Hirondelle Retro-Direct

I really wanted to take this one for a test ride, just so I could have the experience of pedaling backward but still moving forward. I imagine that’s sort of trippy.

There were also all sorts of old, funky bikes that don’t seem super practical but were pretty rad, including an ice bike (the front wheel was actually a skating blade) and a tandem bike where the riders sit side by side instead of one behind the other.

crazy seat bike(this one apparently became more stable once the rider sat on it and put downward pressure on that funky slingshot-looking seat)

I also liked this experimental version of shock-absorbing devices:

 old-school shocks(the circles allow the frame to give, absorbing some of the bumps)

For not being super into bike nerdery, I definitely spent a lot of time looking at little bike pieces and wondering what the heck they were for. But even if you’re not necessarily into bikes, I imagine this is kind of a cool exhibit just for the walk through history it represents and the progression of innovations you can see.

It was also funny for me to imagine Michael Embacher with all these bikes (plus many, many others) stored somewhere–perhaps in his spare airplane hangar? I have no idea how someone stores so many bikes.

Anyway. The exhibit runs until September 8, so you still have time to check it out. Admission to the museum is a fairly steep $15 for adults ($12 for students), but if you give yourself lots of time you can make a day of it and feel like you got your money’s worth. I felt like even just for the bikes it was worth it, though I did have a $5 off coupon:)

2 Comments:

  1. “…but when people start having heated and involved discussions about, say, why one particular derailleur is soo much better than last year’s version of much the same thing, I can’t help but roll my eyes a little.”

    You need to stop hanging out with the roadie crowd! ;-)

    • Ha! That’s awesome. I don’t even really know who the roadie crowd IS–I just know I often have that feeling where someone is clearly trying to impress me and others with their intricate knowledge of bikes and they just sort of sound like a tool;)

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