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Bike business round-up: A salon, a consultant, and Portland’s first bakfiets-based business

Posted by on May 2nd, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Three new bike-related businesses demonstrate that the economic side of Portland’s bike scene is alive and well.

Here’s a brief intro to a few pedal-powered entrepreneurs whose businesses are just getting off the ground:

The Cycling Salon

Carol Farr (L) and Audrey Block
(Photo: CyclingSalon.com)

Carol Farr and Audrey Block see cycling as a key ingredient to improving women’s lives.

Their new business, Cycling Salon, offers a Pedal Cure Menu of services that includes expert bike fitting, skills classes, bike assessment and selection (if you need/want a new one), and bike repair and maintenance classes.

Farr uses her 20 years of experience as a physical therapist and years of commuting, road biking, and touring to help you stay comfortable in the saddle, and Block — who has completed courses at the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland — helps you decide which bike and components are right for you (she’ll even shop with you).

Learn more at CyclingSalon.com.

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Gracie’s Wrench

Ms. Bortman now offers business
and corporate consulting services.
(Photo © J. Maus)

North Portland resident Tori Bortman has established Gracie’s Wrench as a successful business offering private bike repair classes to individuals and small groups (I took a class from her last year).

Now she’s expanding her offerings to include consulting programs for businesses and corporations. Bortman — who also works at Bike Gallery — says she’ll use her expertise to help companies get more of their employees to commute by bike.

According to her website, Bortman will help people make the switch by “networking with local non-profits and government services, examining what your business can offer your employees to encourage them to commute (such as parking facilities, subsidies, etc.), and what your business can do to take advantage of all the cycling resources Portland has to offer.”

Learn more at GraciesWrench.com.

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Café Vélo


Behold Portland’s first bakfiets-based business!
(Photos: Rick Wilson)

For anyone that knows how bakfiets-crazy Northeast Portlander Rick Wilson is, this news will come as no suprise. Wilson, the guy who started a bakfiets blog back in 2006, has turned his passion for the Dutch cargo bikes into Café Vélo, Portland’s first bakfiets-based business.

Wilson has just finished customizing his new, industrial-sized cargo bike and he plans to pedal it to the farmer’s market twice a week. It’s large enough to carry everything he needs to set up a booth to sell coffee drinks (see photos at right).

You can catch Wilson at the Portland Farmers Market on Wednesdays (South Park Blocks) and Saturdays (at Portland State University). He also plans to offer event catering and setting up at races, conferences, and other events.

Contact Rick at limonaia [at] gmail [dot] com or call (503) 476-6090.

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11 Comments
  • Austin Ramsland May 2, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    I LOVE how two of these businesses are women owned and run. I was lucky to meet Carol and Audry at NAHBS, and in addition to being really great folks, they have a really cool business.

    And Tori. Oh man, Tori would be awesome even if she were just sitting alone in a room drinking coffee and reading the paper. But to take Gracie\’s Wrench where she has is just completely rad.

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  • Todd B May 2, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Good luck Rick (and Tori and Audrey and Carol).

    When I was in Amsterdam last month…I visited Henry\’s Workcycle Shop…and they were quite excited about shipping your big bakfiets and others out to Portland…plus its transformer attitude for the cafe gear.

    Henry and his staff are great…they allowed my girlfriend\’s boys to have bakfiets races in the street in front of the shop. (Jonthan I will share the photos with you.)

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  • annefi May 2, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I\’m lucky enough to be taking Tori\’s class series right now and I\’m loving it. I used to take my bikes to the shop for every little thing and now I\’m feeling more and more independent with each class. Tori\’s an excellent teacher! And the 1-2 teacher-student ratio is ideal for me.

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  • mark May 2, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    I had the pleasure of helping to unload that bakfiet beast off the truck at Clever Cycles. It weighs like 600 lbs! I don\’t know how difficult it will be pedaling it around, but it\’s awesome!

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  • Todd B May 3, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Yes…I was thinking that the bakfiets cafe bike needed the power of 2 hydrogen stokemonkeys.

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  • sarah gilbert May 3, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    I had the pleasure of drinking coffee at Cafe Velo today and chatting with Rick — it was such great coffee I came back for a second cup and he\’s a great guy! boy is that contraption a lovely one.

    drip-to-order Stumptown. awesome.

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  • Jessica Roberts May 4, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I was excited to see Cafe Velo at the farmer\’s market yesterday, but then I was less excited to see that a cup of Stumptown was $2.50. I couldn\’t bring myself to do it.

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  • Rick Wilson May 4, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for the kinds words, Jonathan and others.

    Jessica – sorry to hear you were disappointed at the price. We use Stumptown\’s higher end single origin & small farm beans instead of the less expensive blends typically used for house coffee, so our price for drip-to-order is the same as or less than you\’d pay at Stumptown\’s own Annex shop to sample 12 oz. of these coffees brewed individually by hand. Our French press brewed in larger batches of these same top quality single origins is $2. Retail per pound on the beans we are using is generally $14 to $20+ a pound, so unfortunately we can\’t afford to sell for less and make this work.

    Just wanted to clarify that we\’re not trying to take advantage of anyone over price, we\’re just using better beans.

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  • Rick Wilson May 4, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    In addition to the above, I\’d like to add that our reason for selecting small farm, direct trade coffee instead of cheaper blends is that Stumptown pays a premium price when buying these beans directly from the grower which in turn means much more money ends up in the hands of the farmers and workers themselves in the countries where these beans are grown. Well, okay, another big reason is that they are just more interesting and taste better, too 😉

    What I mean by making Cafe Velo \”work\” is not that we hope to get rich and retire in the burbs at 45, but that we can simply make Cafe Velo profitable enough so we can stay in business over the long term and as generously as possible support local causes that we believe will improve our own city and region in the long run – orgs such as, ahem, the BTA, etc.

    So yes, there\’s cheaper coffee out there at McDonalds or Costco and admittedly even many other indie cafes, but we are trying to do something that\’s ultimately more sustainable and that gives back more to the communities that grow this wonderful coffee as well as to our own.

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  • Ed May 5, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Man I saw that huge Cargo bakfiet sitting outside of Clever Cycles and I had to 180 to check that thing out. Nice work.

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  • Colin Purrington May 13, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Will somebody please take a photograph of Café Vélo with Mr Wilson in the frame, and then post it to flickr?

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