Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 15th, 2015 at 5:09 pm
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
The lights at 2025 SE Hawthorne will be turned back on tomorrow when a new bike shop, Recumbent PDX, opens its doors for the first time.
Back in November the unexpected death of Marilyn Hayward darkened spirits across the community. Hayward was the owner of Coventry Cycles, a beloved shop that had operated at this same location for over three decades. The shop has remained closed since her passing — but now it’s time for a new beginning.
Standing outside the shop this morning were Morgan, her husband and business partner Mel Birgé, and five employees who are eager and excited to get to work. Four of them are Coventry alumni and one of them, General Manager Martina Fahrner, is a former co-owner of Clever Cycles.
Fahrner, who has become something of a bike shop consultant met Birgé and Morgan in April of last year, about a month after she parted ways with Clever Cycles. Since then they’ve plotting how best to realize their dream of owning a bike shop.
Birgé and Morgan moved to Portland from Chicago four years ago. It was a total quality-of-life decision. “I wanted to die someplace fun,” Birgé said with a smile this morning, “So Portland was a natural fit.”
The couple can almost see their house on SE Elliott Street from the front stoop of the shop. They’re no strangers to owning a small business (they ran a company that provided customer service for commercial phone systems), but this is their first foray into the bike industry. Birgé is the more enthusiastic biker of the two. He owns several bikes while Morgan still prefers her vintage, 1982 pink Terry road bike. “People make fun of it, but I love it,” she said. “It’s a classic, but so am I!” Birgé started riding a recumbent two years ago when back pain made his jaunts up the hills of Washington Park too painful to pedal through. “It was my sciatica,” he shared today, “but I started riding a recumbent and all my pain went away.”
“It’s a new era for recumbents. They’re going to be the next cargo bikes.”
— Martina Fahrner
And Morgan’s far from alone. As more and more baby-boomers take to cycling, keeping them comfortable with different bike options represents a golden business opportunity. “I really think it’s a great time for recumbents,” Fahrner says, “Or I wouldn’t have talked Mel into getting into it!” Fahrner’s read on the bike market deserves respect — she helped establish Clever Cycles as the first major specialty shop for cargo bikes in America.
Birgé, Morgan and Fahrner have been meeting since August to draw up a business plan and get their visions firmed up. When Hayward’s passing put the future of Coventry in question, they shifted their timeline up and decided to open up in the same location. “There’s a lot of tradition here,” Morgan said, “While we have our own plans and see this as a new beginning, we also want to honor and continue what Marilyn stood for.”
Plans for the store include having the largest selection of recumbent bicycles on the West Coast. As part of the lease agreement, Morgan and Birgé purchased all the existing Coventry Cycles inventory. They also plan to beef up the bike selection and hope to have 90 fully-assembled trikes, recumbents, and niche cargo bikes on the showroom floor (50 of which are set to be delivered in the next 6 weeks). The idea is to have bikes ready to go so customers can come in, find the one they like, and take it home the same day.
Recumbent PDX will be the exclusive dealer for many of the top brands on the market including Greenspeed, Hase, HP/Velotechnik, Catrike, Bacchetta, and others.
In addition to serving the existing recumbent market, the shop will have a special focus on customers with special needs and adaptive cycling products. Employee Eddee Edson is the woman behind Thrive Cycling and has special expertise on fitting older riders onto bikes that are comfortable, safe, and accessible. Fahrner said they even plan to make house visits to older customers who aren’t able to visit the shop.
There are plans for an opening party late next month, but for now the crew is focused on building new bikes, cleaning up the shop, turning the lights back on, and getting ready for customers. A lot of them, if Fahrner’s instincts are right.
“It’s a new era for recumbents,” she said, “They’re going to be the next cargo bikes.”