Photos and notes from the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show

Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show-31
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A big rain storm cancelled many events around Portland today, but not the sixth annual Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show. Inside the Sandbox Studio on NE 9th, dozens of exhibitors showed off their finest creations to an appreciative crowd.

While the show seemed a bit smaller than past years (both in the amount of bikes on display and the amount of people looking at them), there was still plenty to see and a few very nice surprises.

The first thing that caught my eye was the “CarGoAway” by Ti Cycles. This cargo bike has already been in the local news thanks in part to its second place showing at the recent Disaster Relief Trials competition; but I hadn’t seen it in person yet.

The CarGoAway is a massive beast of a vehicle that Levy created for himself to replace his car. The project started when friends from his native Seattle teased him for driving too much. In his defense, Levy lives and works in the hills high above Highway 30 on NW McNamee Road (near Skyline Blvd). But still, he took it on as a personal challenge to build a bike that could be a viable car replacement.

The CarGoAway looks like a traditional bakfiets/long-john style bike; but it’s got loads of custom features. The front bin is huge. “It started as a place to fit four bags of groceries,” Levy explained, “and I also had a 100 pound black lab at the time.” In the rear, he’s got a super-long rack with a seat deck and running boards for carrying a passenger.

To power the bike, Levy collaborated with Portland-based EcoSpeed for the electric assist system. And no need to worry about running out of juice, the bike comes with an optional solar charging system.

“It can do 32 mph on the flats,” Levy claimed with a grin. “But honestly,” he added, “going anywhere over 24 mph on this thing is beyond reasonable.” With that kind of power, Levy says he can get from his house to downtown in about half hour.

And just to show Levy’s range as a builder, he also showed off a full-suspension, titanium fatbike that tips the scales at a mere 33 pounds.

Another bike at the show that was built with utility in mind was Joseph Ahearne’s latest variation on his tried and true cycle-truck design. Built for a customer who wants to do a bit of everything with it, Ahearne integrated ample cargo capacity (via a beefy front rack and bags from Portland-based Black Star Bags), a Jeff Jones H-bar for multiple hand positions, disc brakes, full fenders, knobby tires, a dynamo light system, and more.

The other Ahearne that everyone was buzzing about was his new, personal adventure steed. This bike is an evolution of his existing touring/adventure road bike and Ahearne opted for stainless steel. The result is a sight to behold. Look closely and you’ll notice it’s also made to break-down for shipping…

While Ahearne is one of Portland’s veteran bike builders, just a few feet away was the booth of Jason Gayton, owner of Pioneer Bicycle Company. This show was Gayton’s first. A mechanical engineer by training and a self-described “avid cyclist,” Gayton came to this show last year and was inspired by what he saw. “After that, I made up my mind to do this,” he said. So he enrolled at United Bicycle Institute and the rest is history. Gayton showed two steel road bikes, a fillet and lugged model. As for the name, Gayton shared that he’s a sixth generation Oregonian whose ancestors came here in a wagon train.

Jason Gayton.

Gayton’s mentor has been Andy Newlands of Strawberry Cycles. Newlands has been making bicycles for decades and he’s the founder of the Oregon Bicycle Constructor’s Association, the organization that puts on the show. These days he’s pouring his energy in a fork testing machine. Once it’s ready for use, it will be housed at United Bicycle Institute and builders will be able to test the strength of their forks against rigorous European standards. While I was poking around the unit, Newlands was explaining it to builder Mitch Pryor (formerly of Portland, now based in Chico, California)…

Mitch Pryor (L) learns about Andy Newlands’ fork testing machine.

And have I mentioned yet how great it is to have Chris Igleheart in town? Check out this sweet step-through he built…

And finally, remember the name Ruphus. It’s a new bike brand from Matt Raphael. Raphael is an architect and wooden furniture/cabinet maker who’s been experimenting with wooden bike designs for several years. After much trial and error, he’s settled on a material, process, and design that I think will raise a lot of eyebrows (and make a lot of sales). Raphael’s bike uses a maple wood laminate that he sources from a longboard skateboard maker in Canada. The wood is folded into a chassis that forms most of the bike which is then supplemented with a steel head tube and seat tube. It’s a great looking bike that has a lot of potential — especially with someone like Raphael’s eye and talent behind it (he designed the University of Oregon’s winning entrant into the 2011 Oregon Manifest competition).

Sorry for the box in the background, it really distracts from the bike.

In addition to his bike, Raphael also showed off two interesting wooden rear racks. One of the racks cleverly integrates the shackle of a u-lock…

Matt Raphael of Ruphus.

I’ve got more photos to browse — including the amazing Contes Engineering four-wheeler and some action shots of Swift Industries’ Martina Brimmer sewing up handlebar bags — in the gallery.

If you’d like to see these and other great bikes for yourself, the show is also open on Sunday (9/29) from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Get more info at

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