Thoughts from our winning entrants: “People really paid attention to this.”

Talk to any group of builders who took part in this year’s Oregon Manifest – we talked to three of the winners in the days just after – and you’ll get consensus on one thing: It was an event. It wasn’t just a clique-y little get-together for a subset of bike geeks… it was a happening.

“I was blown away by how many people really paid attention to this,” was the feedback from Jay SyCip, part of the Cielo by Chris King team that took third place. Rob Tsunehiro, who partnered with Silas Beebe on the second-place bike, was “really impressed by the awareness in Portland leading up to the event.”

The winner, Tony Pereira, took stock of the 2011 event in comparison to the 2009 version. “The entrants were much more focused – there was a lot more innovation and different types of bikes.”

He’s not kidding; the array of bike configurations was dizzying, and innovative touches were everywhere. We asked Tony, Rob and Jay for some of the favorite things they saw.

Tony: “The simplicity of Ira Ryan’s bike – keep it simple but get the job done. And Curtis Inglis’ bike was amazing; he designed it to carry two bike frame boxes to UPS at once – for what he needs to do.”

Rob: “One of my favorite entries was the Folk Engineered/Discovery Charter collaboration. It’s so cool that this group of kids got to be involved in all phases of design – and you’ve got a sixth-grader soldering electrical components. They created a piece of sculpture.”

Jay: “The bikes were so diverse. The different ideas for integrating locks were really cool.”
Maybe the most interesting thing about these three prize-winning bikes and their creators is that they all came from very different perspectives and intentions.

Tony’s bike was designed to be a replacement for a car for those short trips we take every day. So he incorporated, in essence, an engine, a trunk and a radio.

Rob and Silas built a bike with a specific need in mind: the ability for Silas and his girlfriend to ride comfortably and easily around town together (he’s keeping the bike, to do exactly that). They thought this was a common desire in cities everywhere, and they created an exceedingly elegant way to accomplish it.

And Jay’s team came from an especially intriguing perspective: They wanted to build a bike that was as close to production as possible. The design they showed will be one of Cielo’s available models in the near future, which is exciting as we all watch to see how the innovations unveiled at the event help change the utility bike world.

It was a great event, and it got a lot of attention. But in the end, there’s no escaping the fact that this was still a gathering of the fraternity of bike builders. Tony says it best: “My favorite part was just getting to ride with everyone.”