Holiday Sale at Western Bikeworks

Bike shop news roundup: Portland Bicycle Studio, Holy Spokes, and Orenco Station Cyclery call it quits

Posted by on December 6th, 2017 at 10:50 am

Holy Spokes on Division is no more.
(Photo: Holy Spokes/Instagram)

To sustain a small bike shop has never been easy. If you did it in the past few years during this downturn in the U.S. bike industry, it was even tougher. That’s just one lesson we can take away from three shop owners in our region that decided to close their doors last month: Holy Spokes on SE Division, Portland Bicycle Studio/3928 Bike Shop on N Williams, and Orenco Station Cyclery in Hillsboro.

All three of these shops opened in the past three years.

Tim Ennis opened Holy Spokes at SE Division and 31st in July of 2014. It was the brick-and-mortar version of his Rolling Wrench mobile bike shop business. The neighborhood shop focused on repair, daily riders, and carfree families. On November 10th he announced to customers on Facebook that, “The time has come to close our doors. It’s been fun but it’s time for new adventures.” We reached out to Ennis to learn more about his decision but have yet to hear back. Holy Spokes is now having a closing sale. Check the shop’s website for the latest deals and updates.

If you were a Holy Spokes customer, check out A Better Cycle (2324 SE Division St), Seven Corners (3218 SE 21st Ave) or Joe Bike (2039 SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd.).

Portlander Molly Cameron has a long history as a local bike shop owner. She opened Veloshop on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in 2001 and had moved her shop downtown and to the Pearl District before relocating to north Portland one year ago. In addition to running a shop, Cameron has organized cyclocross races and race teams. This past season she managed and raced on the Point S Racing Team.

Cameron’s Portland Bicycle Studio (a.k.a. 3928 Bike Shop) shop on Williams was hit hit by a major theft last month. KATU reported that thieves made off with a whopping $100,000 worth of bikes and parts. We heard from Cameron a few weeks ago. She said via email that the losses were the last straw: “Post burglary, we’ve lost our lease and, commercial real estate is too expensive in Portland now for a small to mid-size retail bike shop to be profitable or sustainable.” The shop is now closed; but Cameron’s Portland Bicycle Studio brand will definitely live on. Stay tuned for what she does next.

If you were a Portland Bicycle Studio customer, check out the two other shops on Williams: Abraham Fixes Bikes (3508 N Williams Ave) or Metropolis Cycle Repair (2249 N Williams Ave).

Out on the West Side, bike shops are fewer and further between. That’s why we’re sorry to see Orenco Station Cyclery in Hillsboro call it quits. Shop owner David Strickland just can’t make the numbers work any longer. He took over the shop from its previous owners in 2015 and it seemed like the perfect location for a neighborhood bike shop: Near dense housing, the massive Intel campus, the MAX station and commercial destinations like New Seasons Market.

Reached via email this week, Strickland said he just couldn’t compete with sales that hapen “seemingly every week” from larger shops nearby like Bike Gallery and Performance. He also wasn’t selling enough bikes in the summer season, and said he had a “terrible year” in 2016 “due to the bad winter and late season start that fizzled out pretty early.”

Fortunately for Strickland, he has another location in Newberg that looks a lot more promising. He plans to focus his energy there where, “the market is more diverse.” He plans to offer skateboards and bike tours as well. Orenco Station Cyclery will be open until December 31st.

While it’s never fun to hear about bike shops closing, it’s worth remembering that there are many shops in the region that are thriving. Just a few blocks south of Portland Bicycle Studio, Metropolis Cycle Repair is celebrating its ninth year in business. And Joe Bike near Holy Spokes just signed another five-year lease.

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

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44 Comments
  • rick December 6, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Sad. I don’t care for the online stuff unless they have retail store.

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  • John Liu December 6, 2017 at 11:36 am

    I count 77 bike shops in Portland, on this list https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/71973

    There’s going to be a shakeout.

    Of bike shops, of coffee shops, of restaurants, of you name it.

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    • David Hampsten December 6, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      According to the trade publication Bicycle Retailer, there are half as many bike shops today as there were in 2000.

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  • B. Carfree December 6, 2017 at 11:40 am

    For the second time in a decade, my favorite LBS has closed down in Eugene. In fact, this past decade has seen seven bike shops close and one leave town. That leaves us with five bike shops and one e-bike shop plus the tiny Center for Appropriate Transport. It’s not quite a bike shop desert, but it’s rapidly getting there considering three of those closures and the out of town move happened this year.

    This is what happens when cycling use plummets. Eugene has seen a 43% decline in bike use since 2009 according to the US Census American Community Survey (tracks commute mode only). Portland has seen more of a plateau with hints of promise, but 2016’s drop looked like more than noise in the data and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that confirmed when the 2017 data comes out next September.

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    • Binky December 6, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Closed or merged with the Hutch’s (both owned by the same people) 5 blocks away? It’s really not that bad in Eugene. I can only remember one bike shop closing in the last 15 years that I actually frequented.

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      • B. Carfree December 6, 2017 at 8:43 pm

        Collins did indeed fold into its sister shop. Paul’s has (shrunk from four locations to two, giving up on the north and the west sides of town. Hmm, maybe the issues with the bike path underpasses being used as housing has something to do with that.) Revolutions was doing pretty well in the Whiteaker before its demise. I’ll miss Wheelworks, which closed down last month, because it had the best mechanic in town and the owner was/is a beautiful person. Bike Barn wasn’t much, but it had been around for many years. I can’t say I’ll miss the Performance chain, since I never went in, but they also chose the north side of the river and didn’t stay long.

        It’s not that bad, but the trend is worrisome. We’re down to five bike shops, six if you count the CAT. Davis, CA, with a population of less than half of ours (68k vs 160k) has almost twice as many shops and they’re not going out of business. Of course when I’m in Davis and head out on a 100km joy ride I expect to see 60-100 other cyclists. In Eugene, I expect to see a couple of other cyclists on such a ride.

        If people who used to ride are giving up, and they are, and new people aren’t taking up cycling, and they’re not, then we’ve got a problem and the folks who own/run/work in the bike shops aren’t going to be able to stay in business. It’s been years since I got any response from a bike shop owner to the question, “How’s business?” other than some form of, “Down, but we’re hoping for a better Spring/summer this year.”

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    • Chris December 6, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      Is ridership truly falling in Eugene? Hard to imagine this is legit.

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      • B. Carfree December 6, 2017 at 8:26 pm

        It’s fallen dramatically over the past eight years. Since I live adjacent to the main bike path, many a journey has me riding the first three miles on the path and I very often encounter more cars than people on bikes and always encounter more campers than people on bikes. According to the American Community Survey numbers, Eugene had 10.8% of commuters using bikes in 2009 and is down to 6.2% as of 2016, with the downward trend showing no signs of abating.

        Another anecdote: We chose the neighborhood we live in because most of the folks who lived here thirteen years ago didn’t use cars as their primary means of transportation (documented by the neighborhood association a few years later). The very visible evidence of this was seen daily at the railroad crossing, where the trains often go back-and-forth to hook up and unhook in the nearby rail yard, resulting in some long (15 minute) waits. A decade ago, people on foot and bike usually outnumbered motorists by about five to one. These days, that ratio is reversed most of the time.

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        • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 6:20 am

          Given that bike infrastructure continues to improve, what are your thoughts on the causes behind the drops you’ve observed?

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          • Middle of the Road Guy December 7, 2017 at 11:36 am

            I’m waiting for the induced demand argument 🙂

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            • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 1:49 pm

              Why cycling is not in a better state is an interesting question. There may be plenty of room for improvement, but the fact remains that infrastructure, equipment, laws, clothing, emergency options, and societal attitudes are better than ever. With electric assist, you can even choose how hard you work (down to zero):

              But the number of people cycling is relatively small, and there’s no indication that will change soon.

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    • David Hampsten December 6, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      I’d be cautious about using results from the American Community Survey or any other survey these days, as most Americans either don’t reply to surveys or lie outright, as Clinton discovered to her dismay when she over-relied upon poll results. Technically and legally you are supposed to reply to the fairly random census ACS forms, but even the census acknowledges that they are getting steadily fewer responses, and the responses they do get are skewed towards white middle-class elderly.

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    • Joey campbell December 8, 2017 at 7:44 am

      It’s more of a plateau in the Eugene as well. Still not where we want to be headed..
      http://www.thempo.org/905/Commute-Mode-Share

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  • Daniel S December 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I’m sad to see Holy Spokes close. When I moved to Portland they supported my efforts to build my first bicycle from the frame up. Their staff was always helpful and attentive. I live just blocks away from their location. Now I’ll have to go a little further to get to my local bike shop.

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  • VTRC December 6, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    I loved Holy Spokes. It became not viable for me to get to it, but they had great service.

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  • Justin December 6, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    bike shop sales are down pretty much everywhere as more people are turning to ordering bikes online. i don’t understand why so many people would spend the money on buying a bike without test riding it and talking to experts about different features and differences between bikes.

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    • VTRC December 6, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      I tried Bikes Direct in the $500 range. Once everything got settled and all things were apple-to-apple I don’t feel I saved a significant amount of money over an equivalent bike shop bike.

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    • BradWagon December 6, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      If someone is buying a relatively inexpensive bike as long as it’s the right size I imagine most are not overly concerned with small details… if they are they are likely buying a more expensive bike and likely more knowledgeable about what they are buying to the point that they can get it without advice, sight unseen.

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      • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 6:28 am

        Having helped a number of people buy bikes here, one major factor I see is that people find the process very intimidating. I tell them that one way to know a good shop is that it won’t be intimidating — they’ll ask good questions and make you feel comfortable. But they’re still scared and want me to be there.

        People who are not intimidated often buy based on specs, reviews, and other sources of information. Finding people on very expensive bikes that are very obviously not adjusted properly for the rider is not hard.

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        • VTRC December 7, 2017 at 9:46 am

          Fitting, help with saddles and cockpit, quick adjustments during the break in period. Those things can add a lot of value that you don’t get online.

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          • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 10:08 am

            Sure, but the trick is that most people don’t know what they need and are scared of being taken advantage of. That’s why my friends and coworkers like to have me right there to reassure them that the shop is trying to help them.

            There is another issue in that those lacking experience just see the words “Bike Shop” and don’t understand how different they are. For example, those looking for a good commuter, recreational cruiser, race, MTB, whatever rig are going to be served best in totally different shops. So if they go into the wrong one, they’ll have a bad experience.

            The very first thing I do when working with someone is to identify the shop that will serve them best. I love the shops I go to, but I don’t take my friends and coworkers there because my riding objectives are very different than theirs.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy December 7, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Because you can find much of that information on line, also.

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  • dan December 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Joe Bike was suggested as an alternative for former customers of Holy Spokes, but I would suggest trying one of the other suggested alternatives. A few years ago, they sold me new brakes+installation rather than a 10-minute brake tuneup – maybe my fault because I didn’t know what was wrong?

    Then this last weekend I walked in to buy some parts. There were 2 people in the shop, someone wrenching on a bike and his friend(?) or coworker. They looked up when I came in, then returned to their conversation. No greeting or acknowledgement, even when I walked up to the counter, so I stood there for a bit and left.

    Oddly, I never really encounter the “I’m too cool for you” attitude at Portland bike shops, but I guess there’s an exception for every rule.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty December 6, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I’ve used all three of those alternatives, and would recommend them all without hesitation.

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    • Anthony December 6, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      I don’t have personal experience with them, but a few years ago, a good friend who had recently moved just down the street was excited to have a bike shop so close to her home. However, when she went in, they weren’t very helpful and completely condescended to her, treating her as if she knew nothing about bikes, presumably because of her gender. That was enough for me to decide never to bother checking them out.

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    • speedchainbrown December 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Jeez, I hope I’m not the only one that is frustrated by a negative review of a bike shop for work that was done literally years ago and had no issues other than the customer was too anti-social to ask questions at the time, yet is still bothered by it enough to try to hurt their business years later.

      Some of y’all act like the only positive bike shop experience is walking in, getting a compliment on your haircut, and being told your bike is a work of art regardless of whether it’s got all the parts attached or not.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty December 7, 2017 at 4:37 pm

        Why, thank you! I’m glad you like my haircut!

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  • Buzz December 6, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Unless you are a better than average bike mechanic, most discount bikes sold on-line have not been professionally assembled or tuned up and you should be taking them to a local bike shop for final assembly and tuning anyway.

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  • PeaDub December 6, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    My theory is that bike shops on the west side struggle because the west side is horrendously car-centric and actively hostile for cyclists, so there will never be enough steady-state business from cycling commuters to sustain a small bike shop. Hopefully Veloce Bicycles in Progress Ridge will be able to survive off of high-end sales; unfortunately the shop is so small that they don’t have room for a decent stock of inventory, so it doesn’t work well as a drop-in shop for me. 🙁

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    • BradWagon December 6, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      I love Veloce in concept and always stop by and say hey when my wife is shopping but I agree that they are pretty small. Really nice group of guys and they have Sunday morning group rides. When I see something they do have that I’ve been considering or need I do make an effort to grab it, but again, these instances are few and far between given small stock.

      Westside shops absolutely have to rely on high end stuff and recreational bikes (but not too low end where the big box places destroy them). The commuter / regular service and parts isn’t gonna be reliable. Also, I can hardly think of a single bike shop that is easy to ride a bike to in the Beaverton / Tigard area (this may not be a big deal where so many more drive but idk..)

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      • rick December 6, 2017 at 8:32 pm

        Bike Gallery and a Performance Bicycle are both on Hall Blvd near the very busy Beaverton Transit Center with new concrete paths.

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        • BradWagon December 6, 2017 at 8:50 pm

          Yes but for being in the middle of downtown Beaverton they are still out of the way from safe bike routes, no bike lanes on Hall and good luck getting to this area from other parts of town. Central Beaverton is a cycling nightmare. Saw a guy pull into Bike Gallery while I was leaving and the relief of having made it into a parking lot was painfully visible in his body language.

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          • bikeninja December 7, 2017 at 9:15 am

            While I agree that central Beaverton is a cycling scene full of holes, there are a couple of decent routes to get to Bike Gallery. One can ride down Lombard from the nice bike lane on 5th then cross to Milliken on the new concrete path (very nice). One can also come from the Hwy 26 MUP, down through the low car traffic neighbor hood along the max tracks ( dead ends hold car traffic down) then pop out on to center street, and then go down bike lane on Lombard to the new concrete path. Bike Gallery is actualy one of the busiest stores in town on the weekends.

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      • PeaDub December 7, 2017 at 9:43 am

        Agree, and I do the same. They’re also my new go-to shop for bike work. Good folks!

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    • rick December 6, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      No govt officials in Wash Co have stepped up to implement the Washington County Neighborhood Bikeway or built County paper street trails. I believe certain trails in the current planning process could become game-changers. The first country-style, low car grocery store in who-knows-how-long is finishing construction behind St. Vincent’s Hospital, The Little Store.

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      • PeaDub December 7, 2017 at 10:28 am

        Exactly. Some things have improved over the years, but there’s obviously no coherent strategy. Bike lanes disappear at random; shoulder maintenance is… well, there pretty much isn’t any. There’s the abysmal “shared” two-way bike/ped monstrosity along Farmington through Aloha, which is worse than nothing. Most of the roads crossing 217 have NO bike facilities or even shoulders. And they just keep building huge swaths of suburban wastelands, steadily degrading the rideability of rest of Washington County (e.g. River Rd is now treated as a main N/S thoroughfare with a huge volume of traffic). It’s terrible.

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  • joan December 6, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    That’s really terrible news for Molly. I hope insurance covered her losses at least?

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  • onegearsneer December 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    $100k in theft at PBS?? Surprised we didn’t hear about this earlier as that’s obviously a devastating amount/situation for any small biz and for that community in general. Hope the next venture works out for Molly.

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    • bikeninja December 7, 2017 at 9:09 am

      This break-in and theft was reported on KATU a couple of weeks ago, but for some reason the news did not migrate out in to any other news sources until now.

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  • Mike Quigley December 7, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Personally, I prefer REI for bikes. They have a good product that they stand behind, and are willing to swap out parts at no charge in order to fit you right, even if the bike has been ridden for awhile (three months in my case). Their mechanics know their stuff, too, unlike many private shops that seem to hire juvenile dropouts for on-the-job training. I had a vintage PX-10 damaged by one of those. Ended up buying the tools and fixing it myself. And, with that, found that bike repair is not rocket science.

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  • canuck December 7, 2017 at 7:00 am

    This is an industry wide issue and the sad part is most are just closing up shop, unless you are lucky enough to represent a major market share for a major manufacturer as the articles below indicate. Trek is having to buy dealers in major markets to maintain market share because no one wants to get into the business. I know that in the early 2000’s they went as far as opening stores in San Diego when a 6 store chain sold out to Performance. In that instance they did not fare well at being retailers and sold off the stores. It will be interesting to see what they do this time,whether they are just being a placeholder owner until someone can be found or they plan to put a real effort into becoming more involved in direct to consumer sales.

    http://www.bicycleretailer.com/retail-news/2017/05/05/trek-plans-buy-bike-line-philly-area-retailer-16-stores#.WilWV3lrxEY

    http://www.bicycleretailer.com/retail-news/2017/02/02/trek-buys-four-store-chain-revolution-cycles#.WilWinlrxEY

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  • PeaDub December 7, 2017 at 10:12 am

    BradWagon
    Central Beaverton is a cycling nightmare. Saw a guy pull into Bike Gallery while I was leaving and the relief of having made it into a parking lot was painfully visible in his body language.Recommended 1

    Exactly. Both the main N/S and the main E/W routes in Beaverton are atrocious for cycling. The areas with acceptable infrastructure are surrounded by vast wastelands with no facilities at all. And (probably because of this) Beaverton drivers are just about as entitled as they come. It definitely seems like I get more close passes, honking, engine rev’ing, tailgating, yelling, etc. around downtown Beaverton than anywhere else I ride.

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  • Trevor Maher December 8, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I had never been to bicycle studio, or orenco, but I’ll truly miss holy spokes as part of division street. they were always super nice, and the shop was more interesting than others i’ve been around not only because of the staff but the layout, and the products/brands etc. but that whole building seems to have slowly changed, storefront property on division probably not easy to swing. joe bike is “ok”, and i’ve had too many weird, egotistical experiences at a better cycle (to a point where it seemed like a joke, like candid camera or something, like is this really happening?) i really don’t like visiting bike gallery, rei, or river city.. too big, pushy sales people, and a general, scripted, chain store feeling.. i guess i’ll be going to seven corners from now on…

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  • Gus December 8, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Keizer needs a bike shop, if any of them want to leave Portland…

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