Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Portlander takes unlikely road to new bike business

Posted by on January 12th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Eric McGraw can work on them,
but a medical condition prevents
him from driving.
(Photos: Eric McGraw)

Eric McGraw loves cars. In fact, the 28-year old Southeast Portland resident has built and restored almost 25 of them. But two years ago he was diagnosed with a rare (and only recently known) medical condition called Vertical Heterophoria Syndrome. The condition caused Eric to get dizzy spells and blurred vision while driving, so doctors told him he could no longer do it. So, he started biking instead and has been hooked ever since.

Now, he’s transferred the skills he perfected on cars and is putting them to use on bikes. Eric has just launched a new business, Portland Bike Refinishing, based out of his shop near SE Foster and Gladstone.

“I had all this body work and painting skill, then I started riding bikes around more… And the more I looked at it, I realized there wasn’t anywhere to get this type of work done affordably. There weren’t a lot of options for the bike community. ”

A refinished Schwinn World Sport.

Portland Bike Refinishing specializes in making old bikes look like new again. Eric’s website says, “Old bikes are not bad bikes, why throw out the old for the new? We can take the worst looking “thing” covered in dents, scratches, chips, rust and give it back to you looking better than new.”

Eric says he hopes to partner with local bike shops for referrals and to, “keep these old bike going strong.”

Eric uses an industrial paint (similar to what’s used on tractors and bulldozers he says) that is very durable and doesn’t chip easily. His prices start at about $100 for a frame and fork. For that price, he and his shop assistant will sandblast your frame (to get rid of the rust) and then paint it any color you can dream up. Clear coats, pinstripes, metallics, glow-in-the-dark colors and other fancy add-ons are available too.

Given Portland’s love of old city bikes, and judging from the amount of people I see on various email lists looking for local bike painters, I think Eric will stay quite busy. Check out PBRBikes.com for more info.

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  • Andrew Plambeck January 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    This is great, and right in my neighborhood! See you around, Eric!

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  • jv January 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    This is a great service, and I may just put it to use! I think industrial paint is definitely the right solution, and workmanship looks good.

    Also, he appears to be working on an Isuzu diesel engine in the top photo, which I can fully support !

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  • Jackattak January 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Just what I’ve been looking for. My lady’s ’55 Fairlady needs some resto work done (namely a paint job) and I’ve been looking for someone with enough skill to get it done right.

    Based on Eric’s work I think I’ve found my guy.

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    • Jackattak January 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      Prices are extremely reasonable, too.

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  • borgbike January 12, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Love the name.

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  • wsbob January 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Classic and vintage bike enthusiasts can get very serious about restoring their old steel, and have paid way more than $100 for a quality paint job. The white lug detailing on that Schwinn World Sport looks pretty good in the shot above. Wonder how good it looks really close up, cause, I think that’s something that’s hard to do well.

    “… My lady’s ’55 Fairlady …” jackattack

    Like, a Nissan Fairlady? 1955? Is that right? Guess I didn’t realize those cars dated back that long ago.

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    • Jackattak January 13, 2011 at 7:54 am

      Heh-heh no a Schwinn Fairlady 😉

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  • rider January 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Any thoughts on how the durability of this kind of paint compares to powder coats?

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  • Johnnie Olivan January 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    ahhhh yeah, awesome!! Nice Work!! Who knows when the bicycle will choose you?

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  • Izaac Spencer January 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Great article. Seems like more and more of bikeportland articles are showing up in google news.

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  • h January 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Nice story!

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  • CaptainKarma January 12, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Awesome, much more bang for the buck than those 4 & 5 K bikes.

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  • denvercx January 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Can’t we stop ragging on expensive bikes? Now, this thread is polluted also.

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    • rigormrtis January 13, 2011 at 11:21 am

      No. Anyone who has an expensive bike is a bad person and should be castigated at every opportunity.

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  • Perry Hunter January 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Ah…that old ’74 Raleigh frame is going to get cleaned up with a nice coat of British Racing Green and off-white pinstriping around the lug faces on the way to becoming the randonneuse I hallucinated when I bought her. Nice!

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  • Rebecca C. January 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    This is a great idea! Can’t wait to let my ancient white Trek’s “inner flamingo” emerge. Good luck, Eric!

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  • Marijke April 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Wondering if this company still exists, the link appears to be to something else and web searches have not revealed anything. Any leads? Thanks!

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