The Classic - Cycle Oregon

Bike maker Santa Cruz will match bike taxes paid in Oregon, then donate to MTB trail groups

Posted by on September 7th, 2017 at 10:14 am

Some of you totally called this.

When news of Oregon’s silly new bike excise tax sunk in, some readers figured it was only a matter of time before a bike company or bike shop did a promotion around it.

California-based Santa Cruz Bicycles just launched the “Oregon Trail Tax” promotion. It’s their play on the new tax; but it comes with real and serious benefits to mountain bike trail advocacy groups.

I’m pinched for time today, so I’ll just share the press release:

Santa Cruz’s ‘Oregon Trail Tax’ riffs on state’s new bike tax to raise money for mountain bike trails

SANTA CRUZ, CALIF. – Santa Cruz Bicycles has responded to Oregon’s controversial new bicycle tax with a promotion that promises to deliver thousands of dollars to mountain bike projects across the state. Dubbed “The Oregon Trail Tax,” Santa Cruz will match the $15 per bike tax customers pay on every Santa Cruz and Juliana bike sold in Oregon starting September 1 and for the remainder of 2017. Proceeds will be split evenly between three trail advocacy organizations who build trails in the state–the Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA), the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), and Team Dirt.

“The whole thing seemed like a bad deal for Oregon cyclists in general and mountain bikers in particular,” said Santa Cruz Bicycles CEO Joe Graney. “It doesn’t look like any of the money collected from the sale of mountain bikes will actually benefit mountain bikers, so we thought we’d try and do something to ease the pain of our northern neighbors.”


To promote the program, Santa Cruz is sending Oregon retailers posters, hangtags and social media assets to use in-store and online. The artwork’s theme is based on the classic computer game The Oregon Trail, a simulation that pitted would-be pioneers against the Wild West. Dysentery infection was a common cause of death in the game and it played into the program’s tagline — “Buy a Santa Cruz, We Kick in $15, Nobody Dies of Dysentery.”

The much-debated bike tax is part of Oregon’s new transportation bill that adds a $15 per bike fee on new bikes with 26-inch or larger wheels that sell or $200 or more. The fees will be funneled into a fund called Connect Oregon which provides matching grants for commuter bicycle infrastructure. Given Connect Oregon’s transportation biased selection criteria, it’s doubtful a mountain bike project would ever be considered.

Advocacy in Oregon is nothing new for Santa Cruz; as part of the company’s sponsorship of the Trans- Cascadia enduro race, its employee-based Factory Racing Team has logged more than a 350 hours of trail work in the state over the last two years on trails near the towns of Oakridge and Ashland.

Santa Cruz will send a kick off check for $1,000 to each of the trail organizations on October 5th—the day retailers start collecting the tax–and then send monthly dividends through the end of the year. Santa Cruz will be working with dealers to account for bikes sold for the duration of the promotion.

Nice going Santa Cruz. Way to make lemonade out of lemons.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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  • Alex September 7, 2017 at 10:22 am

    This is great of Santa Cruz. Glad to see them support the community.

    I hope the rest of the cycling/environmental community in Oregon would support the totality of cycling disciplines and not just their own niches. We are all in this together and any step forward by any niche is a step forward in the right direction for us all.

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  • Kate September 7, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Great idea, thank you Santa Cruz! I was already in the market to upgrade my mtn bike, and it definitely makes me want to look extra close at Santa Cruz…hopefully their Juliana bikes apply?!

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    • Don at Santa Cruz September 7, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Kate- Yes, Juliana bikes are indeed included!

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  • Matt September 7, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    As a loop hole, why don’t shops sell bicycles with cheap 20″ wheels fitted for $199, then charge the difference for the appropriate OE wheel set?

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    • Chris I September 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Do cheap 20″ wheels cost more than $15?

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  • Scott Turner - Santa Cruz Bicycles September 7, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    @Kate – Yes, this will apply to Juliana Bicycles as well.
    All Santa Cruz & Juliana bikes sold through any of our Oregon dealers.

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  • Andrew Kreps September 7, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Hmm, any idea why the DoD wasn’t named as a beneficiary?

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  • rick September 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    very rad

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  • Steve Scarich September 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Don’t mean to be cynical (OK, maybe a little), but at the price of their bikes (my bro just paid nearly $14,000 for two of them), $15 per bike is not like a painful hit. They have already received their money’s worth on this smart marketing move.

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    • Alex September 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      $15 per bike is much better than $0. You can be cynical all you want, I like knowing that they are taking even a tiny fraction of the cost and putting it into local trail organizations. It’s putting some money into where the bikes will be (hopefully) used. It’s better than nothing and more than any other brand is doing.

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  • ME2 September 7, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    When the bike tax issue arose, the thing that annoyed me the most was that I would likely only pay it if I bought a new MTB and the proceeds would do nothing to advance maintenance and expansion of mountain biking trails. This offer would definitely make me lean towards buying a Santa Cruz

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  • Al September 7, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Santa Cruz makes some very nice bikes. I don’t have any but I demo’d a 5010 at Sandy Ridge last year and it was the best MTB I had the pleasure of pedaling. They also seem savvy in the marketing dept so it doesn’t surprise me that they jumped on this. I think it will pay off for them.

    Speaking of the bike tax, remember that Connect Oregon spent $6,229,511 on bike/pedestrian infrastructure in its last round of funding WITHOUT the bike tax being in place. Keep this in mind when you see how much Connect Oregon spends on bike/ped infrastructure in the future now that the bike tax is being collected.

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  • Matt S. September 8, 2017 at 6:23 am

    I like Santa Cruz bikes, I am considering buying one. However, they must sale less than 200 bikes a year in Portland? $300 isn’t too much money.

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    • Eric September 8, 2017 at 8:35 am

      $15 * 200 = $3,000

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      • Matt S. September 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm

        You’re right, how embarrassing.

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  • Dave September 8, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Wait, wait, I’ve got it……………….An automobile-specific sales tax, $1500 per car, maybe Ford, Toyota, Audi will kick some money in for freeways!

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  • Scott Turner - Santa Cruz Bicycles September 8, 2017 at 8:47 am

    @matt – This donation program covers all bikes sold in Oregon, not just Portland.

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  • Dave September 8, 2017 at 11:22 am

    PS–I did NOT mean to mock Sta. Cruz bikes, a fine company who sell a great product, rather the tax itself!

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