Portland's bike culture plugged by biz mag

Carlton Reid
Portland's bike culture plugged by biz mag

Oregon Business has put bike shop workers on its front cover. Inside there's an indepth look at Portland's expanding bike scene

Oregon Business starts its long piece on Portland's bicycle business by saying "From Nutcase Helmets to Bike Friday, Oregon’s bike madness fuels a $150 million industry. Not to mention that there’s an organized bike ride every 27 minutes."

Writer Ben Jacklet features many Portland bike businesses, including bike shops, custom builders and Bikeportland.org, the local blog with a huge following.

"Last summer, when gas prices were hovering around $4.50 a gallon, the owners of Clever Cycles in Southeast Portland had a business problem. Their new bike shop was proving so popular that they couldn’t keep up with demand. They had to shut down their business at the peak of the season to restock the family-friendly utilitarian bicycles selling like crazy in bike-crazy Portland," writes Jacklet.

The Bike to Work market is huge in Portland and is getting bigger each year.

Bikeportland.org is run by Jonathan Maus. His site has become so key to the Portland bike scene he has had to hire journalists to "keep pace with all the news as the bicycle culture evolves and the industry grows larger and more complex, in a metro region where an organized bike ride takes place every 27 minutes on average, where the wild mud-worshipping sport of cyclo-cross has gone big-time, where bicycle documentaries sell out on opening night, and where the legion of bike commuters includes Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Congressman Earl Blumenauer and key members of the Metro Council and the Oregonian editorial board."

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Maus said: “We’ve got 8 percent of downtown workers commuting by bike. If this keeps up we will see 25 perent and more businesses will keep opening. We’re going to see equipment makers, roadside service stands. It’s going to happen. This is not some weird phase. It will be sustained. Even in the winter.”

Oregonian Business says 50 new bike-related businesses have sprung up over the past two years.

Bikeportland has links to 26 local frame-building companies, 42 bicycle shops and 40 Portland bike-related businesses such as the Rose Pedals Pedicab Company and SoupCycle, a company that delivers soup by bicycle.

"Add up the revenues for retailers such as the Bike Gallery, manufacturers such as Chris King Precision Components, organized rides such as Cycle Oregon and professional services firms such as Alta Planning and Design, and you get about $90 million in annual sales, in Portland alone.

Close by, in Eugene, Oregon is Bike Friday, Burley Design and Co-Motion Cycles.

"While the manufacturing base for the nation’s bicycle industry may not be in Oregon," writes Jacklet,  "the brain trust increasingly is, and so are the riders. Five years ago it would have been unusual to see an adult in work clothes commuting to their job with a child pedaling along in tandem. Today that sight is as commonplace as the latest horde of cyclists taking over the Hawthorne Bridge and the East Bank Esplanade during the morning commute."

Michael Morrow, a former creative director at Nike who founded Nutcase Helmets in 2005 told Oregonian Business he has sold 20,000 bike helmets in Denmark alone over the past 15 months. Morrow hopes to sell 100,000 more next year globally. The brand was introduced into the UK at the London Cycle show.

Writes Jacklet: "Other bike businesses are hoping the same holds true for their products, whether they are the stylish bike bags of Portland-based Queen Bee Creations, the functional bike racks of Eugene-based CETMA or the custom frames of Grants Pass-based Keith Anderson Cycles.

"It remains to be seen how many niches the bike industry can support, but for now the opportunities outweigh the risks, especially in comparison to the economy as a whole. And while the ongoing collapse of the nation’s auto industry is delivering a painful blow to the U.S. economy, it’s not hurting the outlook for Oregon’s bicycle industrial complex."

Tags: portland

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