Introducing The Blackline, A Bike To Navigate The Windy City

Including an internal GPS antenna and a drive-train strong enough that it’s used for bikes in Africa, this entry in the Ultimate Urban Utility Bike design contest will get you around even the hardest to navigate city streets.


Inspired by the City of Broad Shoulders, our new Blackline bicycle has a strong spirit and is ready for just about anything. It takes its name from Chicago’s iconic elevated train lines that run throughout the city, nonstop. While the L will get you from station to station, the Blackline is the ride that gives you the freedom to get everywhere in between.

It’s not just about getting there, it’s about getting there safely. We chose balloon tires to help absorb some of the shock from rolling over potholes, and hydraulic disc brakes to give you reliable stopping power, no matter the conditions. Our custom smart handlebar has an internal GPS antenna, and can link to an iOS device to help you navigate the urban grid. The drivetrain is near-indestructible, with a Carbon Drive belt and sealed rear hub that was designed by our Chicago friends at SRAM to withstand the harsh conditions in rural Africa. And the cargo system can be configured to fit your needs, or completely removed if you are headed for a leisurely cruise down the lakeshore trail.

Throughout this process, we have been fortunate to have the skill and craftsmanship of Method Bicycle’s Garry Alderman. It was important to our team that the frame showcase Alderman’s craft. No smoke and mirrors here: Alderman bent every tube and brazed every joint. It’s a direct line back to Chicago’s history in the bike building industry that led to iconic brands like Schwinn. Bikes are in our city’s blood and we are happy to be a part of its lineage.

Though our journey is drawing to a close, the process has been unforgettable. We have learned new things, and most importantly, made new friends. The Blackline is everything we hoped it would be. Yes, we are competing in a design contest, but part of what we have gained over the past months is a new appreciation for our city and the people we work with every day.

Like this bike? Vote for it at the Oregon Manifest site and if it wins, they’ll make more of them!

About the author

Chris is a product strategy & development leader at MINIMAL, with a background in mechanical design, engineering management, and more than 15 years experience in bringing products to market. 2014 brought a beautiful baby daughter into his life, which doubled both his happiness and his consumption of coffee.