said coming to Portland was
a “no brainer”.
(Photos © J. Maus)
United Bicycle Institute, a frame building and mechanic school based in Southern Oregon, will open a new location in North Portland this summer.
UBI is a licensed, private career school that opened its doors in 1981. They offer a variety of certifications and classes in bike repair, bike maintenance, and frame building. In 1986, it was purchased by Ron Sutphin and he has been the company’s owner and operator ever since. I spoke to Sutphin last week during a visit to Portland to finalize the deal.
“Our intent is to get established with the mechanics classes, learn more about the community and how we can fit in, and then add frame building classes as soon as possible.”
— Ron Sutphin, UBI
He said the decision to come to Portland was a “no-brainer”. “Portland is the bike culture capitol of the universe as far as I’m concerned,” he said, “And if it doesn’t have that title officially, it soon will.” In addition to Portland’s healthy bike scene, Sutphin said the city’s accessibility was also a big factor. The school has graduated students from over 40 countries, so having an affordable location near a major airport is a big plus.
UBI has been at the front of a surging interest in hand made bikes and many of the world’s most well-known builders have passed through its doors. Local UBI graduates include Jordan Hufnagel of Hufnagel Cycles, Aaron Hayes of Courage Bicycle Mfg., Jude Kirstein of Epic Wheelworks, and others. Sutphin said both their frame building and bike mechanic classes have been at capacity and backlogged for years and he hopes this expansion will finally help them catch up with demand.
It’s important to note that UBI is not moving from Ashland, they are expanding their business and they will now have two locations for aspiring bike mechanics and frame builders to choose from.
Last year, UBI graduated an estimated 400 professional mechanics, 100 frame builders and offered about 80 weeks of class instruction.
Sutphin says they’d like to offer even more at the Portland location. “Our intent is to get established with the mechanics classes, learn more about the community and how we can fit in, and then add frame building classes as soon as possible.”
In addition to their usual mechanic and frame building classes, Sutphin says they hope to add to their menu. In the works are continuing education classes for mechanics (such as manufacturer-specific trainings), shorter, more focused classes for existing frame builders that want to augment their skills, and even night classes for anyone in the community interested to learn more about how their bike works.
The location of the school will be at the corner of N. Williams and Shaver. The lot is being developed by Jon Kellogg and Thad Fisco, who are behind several other recent developments in the area. Last winter, searching for inspiration on what to do with the property, Kellogg told me he stumbled across the Oregon Business Magazine that had the bike industry on its cover. After that, Kellogg knew he wanted the entire lot to be filled with bike-related businesses.
It’s not a bad idea given the growing reputation of the area as being a bike haven, and the large amount of bike traffic that the Vancouver-Williams corridor attracts.
Having UBI in North Portland is a major jolt for that community and for our city, and it certainly bolsters our ever-increasing “bicycle-industrial complex”.
The school plans to open in late July/early August. For more about UBI, visit BikeSchool.com.
Three of the corners of that intersection have buildings. Which one?
This is fantastic news- no doubt they’ll be very busy; I have several friends who have traveled to Ashland for classes and have nothing but glowing reports. It’s not entirely clear from the article (to me) but it sounds like this is not a move, but the opening of a second location – correct?
GREAT!! The only surprise here is that it didn’t happen years ago.
Yay! I took the framebuilding class a couple of years ago and had an absolute blast. I have friends who took the mechanics class, and they have nothing but positive things to say about UBI. This is great news!
This is the most significant bike industry news that Portland has seen in some time…
I first thought about going to UBI back in the early 90s; I went on to other things instead. But every now and then, I still think about it– now for my own knowledge, rather than as a career choice. This move makes it a lot easier for me. Woot!
Now all I need is the hefty tuition fee…
Sweet,toataly awsome or whatever you want to call it.I have known Ron all my life so everybody should start dancing about this!
(Three of the corners of that intersection have buildings. Which one?)
Sw corner, used to be a refrigeration place. Curently has chain link fence around a parking lot. A fairly good size building that did not come cheap I’m sure. I heard it was purchased not leased.
I wish them well with their venture
As a result of the colleges locating here, we have no shortage of chiropractors,acupunturists and naturapaths. That is a good thing.Likewise,UBI landing here can only be one more reason for the bike industry to land here ever stronger.
Ok, but how about some details? How much per semester, what options are there for coed residency, etc.
Ron – congrats! and Good luck!
This makes a lot of sense…sense enough for the CCC to have considered it about 4 years ago…but then again you have to have the resources and the will to pull off the dream and good timing helps too.
Great add for Portland. What’s next, large scale manufacturing that can compete internationally?
Great location! Bike lanes, bike shop, micro beer, Ethiopian food and a bike school!
Love seeing this come to my neighborhood. Just another sign that Portland is becoming a bike business hub as well as the business of fun (SHIFT etc.)
UBI is one-of-a-kind. We are lucky and proud to have them as part of our community. Their reputation will draw a really good crowd from around the globe for the technical training and likely a quality group of small manufactures looking for well trained and skilled staff. Good stuff happens in Portland!
This is super. I’m a grad from UBI, Ron and his team are top notch.
Oh man, not another thing to start saving money for! And in my hood too!
This is so awesome!
I went to ubi back in 2002, and just yesterday I put the 0.0 (the one I made in class) back on the road/trail for my sister.
You continue to amaze me. You keep me inspired and working hard. And you make so much fun. Thank you