Builder Spotlight: Jonathan Reed / Quixote Bicycles

What inspired you to enter the Constructor’s Design Challenge competition?

I like that it’s not a beauty contest like some other shows – there’s the element of having to use the bike. I enjoyed the 2009 event. It involves a lot of people I’d like to be associated with.

The design criteria are aimed at inspiring new solutions and flexibility – how is this influencing your thinking? Are you taking it back to square one?

I’ve got a handful of ideas I’d like to combine into one thing I’ve never tried before. Some of the ideas are new to me – in that sense I’m taking it back to square one. But in the larger scheme of bikes they’re all things I’ve seen before, just never tried myself. A lot of puzzles I haven’t sorted out, the way you do in the process of building. Typically I end up doing batches of a certain kind of bike; you get it kind of dialed. But this is a totally unproven thing, which is both exciting and challenging.

What does true flexibility in a modern utility bike mean to you?

Part of my goal is replacing automobile trips, so it needs to be flexible enough to carry a significant amount of stuff. It’d be great if it fit a wide range of riders, so each family would only need one. It should lock up anywhere without having to worry about it. It’s more of a workhorse bike – its sturdiness and carrying capacity are the anchors.

At its heart this is a competition – how do you feel about the competitive aspect? Will it drive innovation?

It’s exciting, and humbling. You’re putting yourself in a position to be judged. The call for innovation sets the framework for expectations, and invites people to try new things – to start with a blank piece of paper.

Why do you think innovation is important for the everyday citizen cyclist? How can it change why and how people ride bikes?

It’s laudable to push innovation in the form of a bicycle. The builders in Oregon Manifest will come with an interesting array of stuff to display, but fundamentally it’s the people we want to use these things whose mindset we must change. We want to start to open people’s minds to what’s possible with a bike – how they can live their lives – rather than how something’s put together.

What about this design challenge is inspiring you the most?

It’s fun to try to bring it all together in one place. That glut of frame builders in Portland – that’s what I sought out by locating here. The friendly competitive aspect is fun. The term “ultimate utility bike” is open to interpretation – seeing what everyone comes up with, and what it means, is inspiring to me.

Where is your workshop? Describe it in one short phrase.

My shop is at home. It’s cold and wet, small and crowded, underpowered and underlit. But it’s close by, and there are definite advantages to having it at home.

What do like best about building custom bikes?

The best part is when they’re done. I’ve put in dozens and dozens of hours on something I’ve built with my hands. It was a pile of stuff, and now it’s become this transformative tool. Seeing the finished product is very gratifying.