Cargo Framebuilding Apprenticeship

Information for enrolled students HERE. (Password required)

For a Human Powered Network


Program Description

Why an Apprenticeship Program?

Human Powered Network, Human Powered Network, Human Powered Network. A concept that facilitates cooperative thinking and action.

If you understand why Human Powered Machines thinks its best customers are the apprentices who build their own cargo bike – we’re probably for you. If you like utilitarian designs – very little bling – we probably are for you. If you feel comfortable fighting the monoculture of society – you could grow food, do valet bike parking, TIG weld all in a days work -we probably are for you. Before you apply try to understand the thoughts driving the Human Powered Network (see below).

Course Study

Including but surely not limited to:

  • The history of cargo bikes, trailers, trikes and recumbents.
  • How to build various Human Powered Machines cargo bike designs. All participants will build a cargo bike frameset of their own (cost included in tuition!)
  • Bike maintenance and repair including advanced repair (frame alignment, braze-ons, dropout replacement, etc.)
  • Welding, machining and powdercoating.
  • How to set up a retail shop with a workspace rental area.
  • The operation of a cargo transport business.
  • Skills for instructing youth and adults, management of a non-profit social enterprise, bookkeeping, etc.
  • Marketing skills, website and graphic design.
  • How to be an affiliate of Trips for Kids and how to run a Valet Bike Parking program.
  • Organic gardening, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), waste recycling and vermiculture.


Our apprenticeship program is taught by a variety of professionals with many years of experience in their areas of specialty.

Jan VanderTuin

Jan VanderTuin spent several years living in Europe. While there he studied cargo bikes, trikes and trailers from around the world. Since then he has designed and built over a hundred unique vehicles as well as HPM’s product line. He has been the executive director of CAT since its founding in 1992.


Jim started working in the construction and design industry at a young age, spent several years studying architecture and construction management. Within this profession he has become very knowledgeable of many different types of CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. At CAT he teaches Apprentices how to use this software to design there bicycles. He also makes drawings for HPM’s products.

Mac in the past was a machinist, maintenance machinist, and machine builder, working in prototype shops for companies like Nike and Tektroniks. Throughout this he has always been and avid cycling commuter and touring cyclist. Upon leaving that life Mac found himself at CAT building HPM’s products for a couple of years. Now he teaches apprentices machining via process of thinking through building parts using the Lathe and Mills.
Mike Curtin will be teaching machining, with his 9-years experience as a CNC machinist, he will help apprentices learn the ins and outs of fabricating parts. Mike’s interest in machining and bikes has led him to CAT, where he has been helping and teaching for some years.

AJ is a welder by profession, he has been welding for a number of years. After a few years of welding he became fascinated with bicycle framework and design, so much that he does it in his spare time in his garage. At CAT AJ teaches our apprentices the basics of welding and brazing while teaching/assisting them in building there own bikes. He also builds most of HPM’s product line.


Glynn is a professional seamstress here at CAT. She learned how to sew from her best friend’s mother in middle school. In turn she has taught others to sew from elementary, middle and high school and the local community college. After creating and selling a business teaching others to sew; Glynn now teaches the apprentices at CAT all aspects of sewing and producing our product line of rain gear for cyclists. Her favorite modes of transportation are horses and bicycles.


Our program will have two sessions per year that run for five months, from July 15th to December 15th and from Jan. 15th to June 15th.

Class days are Monday thru Friday. A typical day runs from 9 to noon in the morning, from 1 to 4, and from 4 to 6 ( own your own with approved project or practice).5 in the afternoon. There will be days that will go beyond 5:00 or instances where participants will want to complete projects.

The diversity of CAT means that the variety of learning experiences might seem overwhelming at times. However, the synchronicity and the way things mesh will become apparent, quite like companion planting in a garden.

Although we will have part of each day dedicated to a focused curriculum, most of the time the flow of the educational process will be determined by what is happening in the real world that day.  Students may do machining in the morning and ride along with Pedalers Express in the afternoon, build a bike rack one day and place braze-ons on a Long Haul the next.

Permission for after-hours work for practice or for personal projects will be given on a case-by-case basis.


Join us!

First, email or call 541-683-3397 (Tues.- Sat. 12-6) to make sure we still have an opening. We are limiting the program to three participants. Programs are offered on a space-available basis to qualified applicants. Our main criteria for acceptance are enthusiasm, agreement with our Organizational Philosophy, sincere interest in starting a business based on all or parts of our evolving manufacturing model, and a willingness to join in a cooperative learning experience.

If we have an opening, we ask for a Formal Resume and Letter of Intent that should include:

  1. Your skills, history, and anything else you consider important.
  2. Briefly tell us why you would like to be considered for a position in the program.
  3. How do you feel about living in an intentional community/group setting? Are you open to helping with household responsibilities (for example, cooking a meal/doing dishes and daily chores)?
  4. What your other options are if this doesn’t work.
  5. The phone numbers of three references.
  6. How did you learn about CAT?

You may apply by completing the application form and return it by mail or fax ( if paying by credit card). Send your application form, resume, letter of intent and processing fee of $25 ( Non- refundable) to:


Attn: Apprenticeship Program Coordinator

455 W. 1st Ave.

Eugene, OR 97401.

Our Fax number is 541-344-1197.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at

Applications are currently being accepted.

Upon reviewing your application form, resume, and letter of intent, we’ll talk with you by phone. You may expect a decision within two weeks. If you’re accepted you will need to send a $1500 deposit within 48 hours.  We accept personal checks, Visa, Discover or MasterCard (if you pay by card there is a 3% suggested donation as we don’t include card fees in our tuition). Call our retail store, Eugene Bicycle Works (Tues- Sat 12-6) if you wish to make payment via card. The remainder of the fee should be paid 30 days before the program begins.  Phone us to confirm you have mailed your fees and deposits. When we receive your tuition deposit and housing deposit we will call you to confirm your placement.

Fees / Deposits

* We have not increased our rates for 5 years, our new fees reflect a 3% cost of living increase. Fees are current as of 9/25/14.

    • Application/ processing fee: $25 (Non-refundable)
    • Fees for the Apprenticeship are $10955. There is a $1500 non-refundable deposit. Fees are all-inclusive and are broken down as follows:
Apprenticeship Tuition $7198
Rent (5 months at $375 per month) Apprentices live on site, see below for details. There is a $375 refundable housing deposit. $1875
Components for Long Haul (priced 10% above wholesale cost) $1100
Long Haul rack or flatbed with aluminum treadplate $232
Human Powered Network development fee $400
Required personal gear (welding helmet, etc) $150*
Total $10955

* Total for personal gear may vary depending on what you already own

  • The component fees get you a complete build with a Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub and Avid bb7 mechanical disc brakes front and rear. We want each apprentice to build a Long Haul that is ready to ride at the end of the program and representative of Human Powered Machines product (a standard build).
  • The Human Powered Network Development fee will be used to develop infrastructure and pursue grants for the Human Powered Network.
  • The rest of the fee structure is derived from average expenses based on costs incurred by previous Apprenticeship participants.
  • The change to an all-inclusive system does not represent increased costs across the board, but rather offers an easier way for everyone to handle the existing costs.

Refunds and Cancellations

We will have an evaluation at the end of the 1st month. If this placement is not in the best interests of both student and Center we will refund the fee minus the Non Refundable Deposit of $1500. We will not give any refund after the 1st month. In the unusual event that CAT cancels the Program, deposits and fees will be promptly refunded.

Housing: Facilities, Accommodations and Location

We are located in the heart of Eugene, near city parks, bike paths, and downtown.

We are located in the heart of Eugene, near city parks, bike paths, and downtown.

CAT is located in the very bicycle-friendly city of Eugene, Oregon (and don’t tell anyone, but it doesn’t rain as much as its reputation). The city is also noted for its natural beauty, activist political leanings, alternative lifestyles, recreational opportunities (especially rafting and kayaking), and focus on the arts. CAT is located very close to Amtrak and Greyhound, and Eugene is also served by a regional airport.

We provide accommodations for participants, including utilities. This includes a shared living space with one private room and 2 semi-private. There is a shared kitchen/eating area and a shared bathroom. You will be living and working with like-minded individuals and when the apprenticeship is complete, you will have created a community of social entrepreneurs. It is our hope that the strong relationships you build will continue after you’ve returned to your own community and be the basis for the Human Powered Network. You/we are stronger as a community than as individuals; this community approach is a fundamental value of CAT.

We will have group meals for dinner with breakfast and lunch left to the choice of individuals. Food will be supplemented by a “work for food” program with our local Skinner City Farm partnership. A community garden of the City of Eugene,  SCF shares office space at CAT. You as an apprentice have access to food from the garden plots (¼ of an acre). This is an integral part of the apprenticeship program and requires 3 hours per week. We have a common kitchen with stove, refrigerator, food storage area, high-quality kitchenware and a large dining table. We don’t use a microwave, we buy organic, we do recycle, etc.

We have high speed internet, numerous computers, solar hot water, solar electric panels, inside bike parking, one bathroom with shower/tub upstairs and a public bathroom downstairs. We try to conserve energy.

We operate out of an 8000 square foot facility on the edge of commercial and residential zoning. Located within ¼ mile of the Amtrak station, two blocks from the prominent butte, and two blocks from the famous river bike paths, CAT is in an ideal location for a car-free life. Buses go from Eugene to the McKenzie River (for $3 round trip) and Oakridge ($5 round trip). Both areas are superb examples of Oregon’s outdoors. There are several local businesses and coffee shops within walking/biking distance.

No cars permitted. When you are in bike heaven why bring a car into it? Kindly leave your pets at home. No smoking is permitted on CAT property.


The appropriate in Center for Appropriate Transport encapsulates our philosophy. The term comes from the appropriate technology movement which came into prominence during the 1973 energy crisis and the environmental movement of the 1970s. The term is typically used to describe the utilization of the most effective technology to address a need (Wiki).  In relationship to tools examples of “inappropriate” might be pruning a rose bush with a chainsaw or to going one block to the store by car.

Educational Philosophy

The educational philosophy at CAT is embodied in the apprenticeship model that has been practiced through the ages. Watch, do, and teach.

  • Accumulate knowledge but don’t hoard it.
  • Knowledge is as valuable to give away as money (there are many kinds of philanthropy).

Fiscal Philosophy

Simplify and conserve.

Question where money comes from! For example, CAT tries to prioritize its sources of income. In order of priority (emphasizing local sources first), CAT is funded via:

  • Income from its services and products
  • Donations
  • Grants from local organizations, foundations, government, and corporations
  • Grants from national corporations, and state and federal government

In our history, the majority of our income has come from the services we provide to our local community and the products we make. We have gotten almost every grant we have applied for (about a dozen) and used those funds primarily for capital expenses (income-generating equipment).

Our building rent is about 1/3 of current market levels, but it covers all the owner’s costs, including property taxes. CAT employees and volunteers do most of the building’s maintenance; while the owner is responsible for larger projects (painting, structural repairs, and so on).

Organizational Philosophy

The inspiration for our program and organizational approach comes from the following:

For more information, see our Human Powered Network information page.

Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are social mission driven organizations which trade in goods or services for a social purpose. Their aim to accomplish targets that are social and environmental as well as financial is often referred to as having a triple bottom line. Social enterprises are profit-making businesses set up to tackle a social or environmental need. Many commercial businesses would consider themselves to have social objectives, but social enterprises are distinctive because their social or environmental purpose is central to what they do. Rather than maximizing shareholder value, their main aim is to generate profit to further their social and environmental goals. Call them ‘for more-than-profit’.


We broadly define Microfranchises as small businesses that can easily be replicated by following proven marketing and operational concepts. The overall objective of Microfranchising is to promote economic development by developing sound business models that can be replicated by entrepreneurs at the base of the pyramid; therefore, the start-up costs of Microfranchises will be minimal. The key principle is replication, replicating success to scale.

Social Franchising

Social franchises are a critical new stage in the evolution of social enterprise. They bring together proven business models and corporate expertise with the nonprofit organizations that are often a community’s more committed stakeholders.

Flexible Manufacturing Network (FMN)

FMN means a group of firms working cooperatively to (A) manufacture products, (B) sell, market, develop technologies for or create or disseminate information concerning manufactured products or (C) provide manufacturing support services for such firms.

Community Supported Agriculture

CSA is a relationship of mutual support and commitment between local farmers and community members who pay the farmer an annual membership fee. In turn, members receive a weekly share of the harvest. This concept allows the producer to price according to their true costs through an open bookkeeping/ budget process and allows the consumer to pay the true costs. This versus a reliance on the oftentimes false pricing of the market system (ie., price per pound based on large agribusiness). CST anyone? Community Supported Transport.

For our evolving vision of a Human Powered Network based on these Philosophies follow Jan’s Blog

Suggested Reading

John Taylor Gatto

Derrick Jensen: Walking on Water

Social Enterprise

Social Franchises



Flexible Manufacturing Networks (International Work)


Schumacher Society

Community Supported Agriculture

Brief history of the origin of CAT

CSA, Switzerland 1982

CSA, Switzerland 1982

The inspiration for CAT comes from projects seen in Western Europe in the early 1980s. While living in Switzerland, Jan VanderTuin helped to found a cooperative farm project that was the precursor to a CSA farm. At the time, the “death of the forests” was of great concern to many Europeans, and the group Topinambur wanted to do something about it.

They sent Jan across Europe to search for the best pedal powered solution for transporting their produce from the farm into the city of Zurich. A former bike racer, Jan was aware of the potential of human power and from this research designed and built heavy duty cargo trailers for use by the farm coop. This was the beginning of his life-long passion for cargo vehicles and ultimately this program.

During his time researching cargo vehicles in Europe, Jan VanderTuin saw centers, often times former industrial buildings, that were converted for multiple usages. One place that really inspired him was a place in Frankfurt Germany that had a café, a woodworking business and other enterprises, all sharing space under one roof. The enterprise that really got his attention there was a bike fabrication shop that included teaching young people fabrication skills. They made all sorts of pedal powered contraptions and Jan was taught brazing by a 17 year old student. He was hooked, not only by the products but by the process as well. He became convinced that products incorporating sustainable, deep processes in their making are the preferable kind to fabricate and to own. He also became convinced that diversity of product and activities by one enterprise was healthier than a monoculture production.

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