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Old shop gets new life on NW 21st Avenue

Posted by on June 20th, 2007 at 1:38 pm

21st avenue bicycles

Employee Peter Drake
(File photo)

The storefront on NW 21st Avenue that had been occupied by Northwest Bicycles for 32 years has re-opened after a complete renovation.

The new shop is 21st Avenue Bicycles and about the only thing that remains of the old shop are veteran employees Jose Cano and Hugh Nixon.

I met Jose and Hugh when I visited Northwest Bicycles right before they closed last fall, so I thought it’d be neat to drop by and see how things are going.

The space is now much brighter and seems larger than before. Employee Brian Bilich says things are picking up now that word has spread and the sun is out. He says they see a lot of business from commuters and from PSU and PNCA students.

The shop — which has the same owner as Fat Tire Farm on NW Thurman — sells a mix of commuter, road, and comfort bikes from Kona, Specialized, and Electra.

A visit to 21st Avenue Bicycles

Employee Brian Bilich
(File photo)

Store manager Kyle Von came over from Fat Tire Farm but he’s quick to point out that this new shop is much different in both focus and feel. I agree. Fat Tire Farm is a pro shop staffed by experts in high-end mountain bikes. If you brought in your beat-up commuter you might not feel the love.

In contrast, 21st Avenue Bicycles feels much more welcoming and definitely appeals to a much broader group of cyclists.

The address of the new shop is 916 NW 21st Avenue. Stop by next time you’re in the neighborhood and meet the crew…

From left to right: Brian Bilich, Sarah McCarry, Kyle Von,
Hugh Nixon, Peter Drake, Jose Cano.
(File photo)

Click here to see more photos of my visit.

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  • truth June 20, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    21st ave bikes is my friendly neighborhood bike store. they are always very helpful and creative! Hugh also once left me one of the most hilarious voicemails I\’ve ever received…

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 20, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    I used to take my bike there and had good experiences, but now that they\’re owned by Fat Tire Farm I will not be patronizing them.

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  • skwaraz June 20, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    old NW cycles used to have a card from a customer on the counter saying \”FTF really pissed me off…thanks for all your help!\”

    (or something like that)

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  • Ethan June 20, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    yeah, weird twist of fate. I used to live near FTF and tried to avoid it . . . I\’d trek over to Northwest Bikes. maybe without the Forest Park poacher scene it\’ll remain a special place.

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  • ME June 21, 2007 at 10:54 am

    So did FTF buy the nice gentlemen at NW bicycles out? Don\’t get it. Bummer. Not too much fun in the new name either…too safe for PDX and the crazy cyclists. I still like all the SE shops myself, and used to go to NW Bikes to pick up some small stuff.

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  • Chris June 21, 2007 at 11:51 am

    My experience with 21st Avenue Cycles:

    I called about a month ago to inquire about what chains they keep in stock. I just needed something inexpensive to get my junk bike running for the weekend. I made the mistake of telling the guy on the other end of the line that I was just looking for a “cheap” chain which caused him to immediately become hostile and tell me that they don’t carry any “cheap chains.” I corrected myself and told him that I meant I just needed a basic chain for my spare bike. He rattled off a few models but didn’t give me the prices. I understand that bike shops have to deal with lots of annoying people comparing their prices to the internet, but that is not what I was doing. I simply wanted to make sure that they had a $25 chain instead of a $50 model before I went over, since a $50 chain is worth more then the bike. The person I spoke too seemed to be very irritated to answer my inquiry, even after I made it very clear that I intended to stop by that afternoon and buy a chain from him provided he had something close to what I needed. I’m sure it may just be one bad apple as a few of the guys in the picture look familiar from the previous shop. Needless to say, I didn’t buy my chain there and I won’t ever give them my business again. I miss NW Cycles 🙁

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  • ME June 21, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    I almost wrote a different post besides my first. Because I feel everyone and business deserves a second chance. But after reading Chris\’ above it sounds like an encounter I had at FTF…regarding chain oil. Almost spot on with the \’tude. It was like I disrespected the guy when I picked a cheaper oil for my cheaper bike, instead of the expensive one he suggested. It was then that I decided to never go back. I hope they didn\’t drag the crappy attitudes to their new store. I\’ll try them sometime when I\’m over there though. Any whiff of their same ol\’ crap and I\’m gone!

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 21, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    That\’s fair enough, ME. I\’m all about the second chance and keeping an open mind.

    I\’ve had several bad experiences with FTF (because of my willingness to give that second, and third, chance) and know others who have as well. My favorite is one that happened around 2001:

    When I moved to Portland (the first time) in 1999, I had a job as a college professor. I spent my summers riding all the single track I could find in OR and WA. I was riding a hard tail and felt I was finally ready to upgrade to a full-suspension cross-country bike. So I went to FTF to have a look.

    I didn\’t have a lot of money, so I settled on a lower end Specialized model at around $1300. After looking around some, I went back to FTF because it was right around the corner from my house.

    As I was in the process of buying it, the owner came over and started talking to me. I told him my story and he explained to me that I could not ride the kind of great single track I wanted to on *that* bike – it wasn\’t good enough. I needed a better bike. One that cost more like $3-4000. He insisted that I not buy that bike, but buy a more expensive one. I resisted, and he kept after me.

    Finally, I said, \”I\’m either buying this bike (the Specialized) or I\’m leaving.\” He gave me the disappointed \”tsk\” and said, \”Whatever.\”

    The next weekend, my buddy and I went out for an epic ride: Ape Canyon, up on Mt St Helens. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed that the FTF owner and his buddies were unloading and getting ready to ride also. We decided to wait and give them a 15 minute head start.

    About an hour later while I was climbing up the mountain, I came upon him sitting on the side of the trail having a blow. It seemed that he needed a break despite how expensive his bike was. As I passed him, I resisted the temptation to point out that my $1300 bike was not only good enough for this ride, it was good enough to get me up the mountain faster than him. What I really wanted to say was, \”How do you ever sell anything?\”

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  • ME June 21, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Good one for the karma AO. FTF is totally a good \’ol boy system where everyone seems too cool for school. Lump \’em or leave \’em.

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  • Jean Reinhardt June 22, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Give \’em a chance, but they have enormous shoes to fill. Ron and Matt ran the best shop in the Northwest–not just in Northwest Portland!

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  • nigel January 31, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Does anyone know what happened to Hugh? I haven\’t seen him there in ages. I do enjoy dealing with him and Hose but the rest of them seem to be a bit to special to deal with the general public.

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  • Chris November 9, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I remember going in around 1982 to look at bikes, I was there again just before the shop was sold and some of the same people were there. It wasn’t as well kept, as I too am a sloppy bike shop mechanic, but it wasn’t boutique as the newer stores have become and for that, a true neighborhood shop is gone.

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  • Dave November 17, 2009 at 11:15 am

    what happened to hugh? i just called and found out he doesn’t work there and asked if they had any idea if he was working at another bikeshop. what a loss. maybe he’ll turn up at one of the other shops?

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