I've seen Jake Rosenfeld around the Portland bike scene here and there. He's always at the short track races and the cross races. I heard he was making bikes a few years ago and have since seen a lot of his bikes showing up in town. He also frequents the Velocipede Salon frame builders forum and I feel like I know him more from the computer than I do in person.
Today I made the trip out to his shop in Forest Grove to say hi and pick up a rolled tube for a project we are working on. I got to spend a little more time with him and confirm my earlier suspicion, he's a really nice guy. Jake was very gracious with his time and even showed me some of his TIG skills. Good tig beads like his are hard to come by on bikes build by people with only a few years experience. Jake honed his skills on a variety of other projects and has adapted them very quickly to bike building. I'm impressed with the cleanliness of his bikes and that they have a very considered look at the same time.
He also showed me his latest project, a batch of cargo bikes based on the old Schwinn Cycletruck. It sounds like this was a project that he'd been working on for a while and when Ahearne came out with his, Jake had a slap the head moment. Jake is going for a more stripped down, simple bike for people who don't even want to mess with derailleurs. It's got a 2 speed Sturmey kickback hub that works way better than the old Bendix on my Schwinn. The coolest thing (in my opinion) is that the front cargo tray accepts a recycling bin to use as a basket.
In Jakes words:
"Everyone has a couple of those kicking around, and they carry a lot.
You can remove it and the aluminum tray stays there and allows for a tie down or cargo net."
I rode the bike down the street and back and it handles really well. The simplicity of the shifting, the high volume tires, and the cushy seat make it a great bike for someone looking to make short shopping trips without using the car. Another nice thing about this design is that it is a normal bike scale. I have a long tail cargo bike and it's great for a lot of things, but turning 180 is not one of things.
It's always fun snooping around someone else's shop, Jake was happy to chat about all things bike. I'm going to predict we will be seeing a lot more of his bikes in the future.