East Portland metal fabricator/bike builder launches ‘Lewd Bikes’

Posted by on April 3rd, 2012 at 10:21 am

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Chris Lewis of Lewd Bikes and his Nor’Westerner model.

The other day while riding home up N. Mississippi just off of Interstate Ave, something caught my eye near the new Green Garage bike shop. A banner for “Lewd Bikes” and what looked like a party going on inside. I was already late getting home, but I had to see what was going on. I’m glad I did because I ended up meeting Chris Lewis, the man behind Portland’s newest bike company, Lewd Bikes.

Lewis, 33, is a veteran metal fabricator with 15 years of experience. When he got laid off from his former job doing high-end Tig pipe welding, he decided to start a metal fabrication business. After doing custom jobs for a while, he decided to focus on a single product: “When thinking about who we are and what we know and where we live, it didn’t really take us long to decide on bicycles.”

He made his first bike one year ago. Since then, he’s made 18 bikes for family and friends and yesterday’s party was meant as his big public debut. Like many builders, making bikes for family and friends is the first step. Now Lewis says he’s ready to start taking orders and he’s excited to branch out into the Portland market.

It struck me that Lewis is much different than the other custom builders in town. For one thing he’s the only builder in outer east Portland. His shop (in his garage) is near NE 162nd and Glisan (right at the border of Gresham). Lewd Bikes is also a family business. Lewis’ stepson, who happens to be a UBI certified mechanic, helps him around the shop and his wife takes care of the billing and business paperwork. (The name Lewd is a mashup of Lewis and the first letter of his stepson’s name, Devin.)

Another difference about Lewis’ bikes? They’re a lower price point than you might expect. At the party last night he was happy to point out that he offers a made-to-order, handmade steel frame for $650. A complete bike, Lewd’s “Nor’Westerner’ commute/touring bike, can be built up for $1,700.

Lewis has made a wide range of bikes including: a BMX bike (he’ll have one ridden by a pro in the Dew Action Tour); a race-ready road bike; a 26-inch, flat bar urban fixed gear; a 20-inch wheeled full-suspension downhill bike, and more. When asked what he’ll focus on as his marquee model, Lewis said, without hesitation, the Nor’Westerner. It’s a highly functional and versatile bike that looks tailor-made for Portland. You can bike to work in it, do long rides, or put racks on it and tackle a multi-day trip.

With his fabrication and welding experince, Lewis says he can produce a higher volume of frames than other small builders. He also has plans to make his own hubs, stem, bars, and other parts. Current wait time for a custom order is under one month.

Check out a few more shots from the party (and please excuse the poor quality, I took them with my phone and was in a hurry):

Got a little one who likes to go fast down hills?

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A work in progress touring bike with his trademark stainless steel seat-stay bridge…

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I know some guys who could have a lot of fun doing some urban riding on this thing…

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A Nor’Westerner in pink…

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Chris makes his own custom stainless dropouts…

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I like how he integrates a fender mount into the seat-stay bridge…

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One last shot of a Nor’Westerner (sorry it’s not drive-side)….
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Watch for Lewd Bikes around town, and let’s give Chris and his family a nice warm welcome to the Portland bike industry.

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    Mindful Cyclist April 3, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Best of luck to you, Chris. Good for you for taking a chance at this and may it go well!

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    Nathan April 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

    That seatstay bridge is hot!

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      Toby April 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Agreed – but what is up with the rack brazeons above it? They really should be parallel with the ground, not perpendicular to the seat stays. Hard to get you rack stays bolted on there, I would think…

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        Nathan April 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        The front arms of a rack are usually just stamped metal so they will probably just bend a little. In the case of Tubus and Surly they are rods that can rotate which would seem to work. I did wonder about that too.

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    Andrew K April 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

    excellent. I used to live about a block of away from where they are operating now. Very cool.

    I’m going to be in the market for a new bike soon and I think I’ll give these folks a look!

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    GlowBoy April 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Wow, $650 for a full custom frame is excellent. They look like really nice, well thought out bikes.

    Get one while you can, folks. Usually custom builders who start out with great prices like this, and who manage to take care of their customers, find themselves with long wait lists after word of mouth has spread for a couple years. Sooner or later market forces find their equilibrium in the form of higher prices.

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    middle of the road guy April 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    You too can have your own BILF.

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      oskarbaanks April 4, 2012 at 12:39 am


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        MIddle of the Road Guy April 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm

        Lewd act. Bike I’d Like to (commit a lewd act on).

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    Dan V April 4, 2012 at 9:23 am

    With a name like Lewd, I think a ‘cross team is in order… Team Lewd, just imagine the logo

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