Bicycle Portage Handles: A Simple Design with a Big Story


Bicycle Portage Handles: A Simple Design with a Big Story

Today we featured Brian’s Rare Earth Cycles touring bike, which featured a portage handle. This detail has resulted in a good deal of internet chatter, lauding this simple design as a clever detail for touring bikes. Brian credits Meriwether Cycles’ work for inspiring him to include one on his bike, yet Meriwether was inspired by other framebuilders of the past like Sam Braxton.

While this simple bit of tubing looks pretty straightforward, there’s a big backstory behind its use. Roll on over to Meriwether Cycles‘ blog to read all about it and find an excerpt below…

“In 2015 I befriended Nicholas Carman who had a blog Gypsy by Trade. I loved reading about his bikepacking travels and offered to make him a frame. I could tell he had an interest in custom framebuilding and would be a great ambassador for Meriwether at a time when I was starting out…”

“One interesting new feature Nick wanted on this bike was a portage handle, something I’d never seen before on a bike. Nick was riding cross-country and stopped by the American Cycling Association (ACA) in Missoula, Montana and noticed a touring bike hanging on the wall that was built by a local Missoula framebuilder named Sam Braxton. Nick told me that he was getting a tour of ACA and was shown “…a mid-80s ATB with custom front and rear racks. It had a strange tube in the rear triangle and (he) asked me what I thought it was for. I guess it was structural, for strength. And then he simply described it was for carrying one’s bicycle. At the time, I’d not done much bike-carrying, but in the next few years as my unpaved adventures evolved, bike-carrying became routine. And then I designed a bike for myself…and it necessarily had a portage handle.” Check out the ACA Braxton bike a reader found on Flickr…”

“They’ve been called Portage Handles up till now but seems like Sam Braxton should be honored in some way. So how about calling it the Braxton portage handle? Or the Braxton handle? If anyone has a photo of a Braxton frame with a handle please send it along as I’d like to post it on this blog. Also, if Sam wasn’t the first to put a handle on a bike frame I’d like to know and get the history right. For now, go read about the late Sam Braxton, his shop, and custom-built touring bikes with integrated racks. You’ll notice in the link how the rear rack is attached to the seat tube on both sides, creating two handles. Was this the initial inspiration for the single handle Nick saw on that 80’s MTB at the ACA? We’ll never know but I’d like to thank Sam for creating a seemingly insignificant thing that makes a great addition to the touring bicycle…”