The 2011 Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge will be held in Portland, Oregon, on September 23-24, 2011. The goal is to determine what the ultimate modern utility bike looks like and who can build it.
The 2009 Constructor’s Design Challenge was an innovative event that focused on riding bikes over a challenging course. Inspired at least in part by the famous French Technical Trials, the Challenge awarded points for desirable features. Unfortunately, the penalties for “problems” were inconsequential in 2009, even though several bikes had racks coming loose, fenders breaking, unsuitable tires, and a host of other problems. Thus, the on-the-road test was instructive to observe, but neither on-the-road performance nor failures influenced the final results.
Over the last year, it appears that the Oregon Manifest crew has examined what worked in 2009 and what needs to be improved. I hope that there will be clear rules, published months before the event, so that builders can determine their likely scores as they design their bikes. Performance on the road should be required (for example, by imposing a minimum speed), and failures should be penalized. One thing probably should not change: The course was both challenging and scenic (see photo above), and it truly tested the bikes. The 2009 event was great fun, but with some careful fine-tuning, the 2011 event has the potential to be much better. I really look forward to next year’s Challenge. More info is at the Oregon Manifest web site.