Velo Cirque brings out the customs, classics, and those who love them

It was packed!
(Photos: J Maus/BikePortland)

Portland is no stranger to bike shows. We’ve hosted the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, we used to have a show that roped in the design industry, and we have an annual show just for Oregon-based custom builders. But Velo Cirque is different.

Held at Velo Cult on Saturday, the show was open to anyone with a story to tell about their classic or custom bike — whether they built it or not. As I walked the aisles and met the owners of many fine rigs, it reminded me of the classic car shows I spent so many days of my youth walking through with my dad. One of the owners of a 1970s touring bike was proud to show me the original owner’s manual and set of pannier bags that came with it.

Here’s what else I came across at Velo Cirque…

Ahearne’s Stainless Wonder

Like a beaming lighthouse, a stainless steel bike shined down on show-goers. From its pin-striped fenders and custom racks to the embossed script logo on the down, Ahearne’s gleaming off-road adventure bike had people buzzing all day. I heard through the grapevine that it’s already sold to a customer in Colorado. The price? I’d rather not say. Just make a guess and then add about $10,000 and you’ll be in the ballpark. Someone familiar with the bike said it took Ahearne six months to complete. “It was the scariest test ride of my life,” he reportedly said after doing a final road check for the lucky new owner.

1937 and ’39 Colson Snap Tank Cruisers

I didn’t get all the photos I wanted of these gorgeous twin cruisers. They’re owned by Velo Cult’s resident photog and graphic designer Anthony Borreno. Turns out he’s sort of addicted to them. He has about 30 of them home in various states of repair. These are fantastic examples of Art Deco design with swooping lines from the front fork that continue through to the snap tank. And then there’s the “turkey wing” chain guards. What beauties!

1979 Jim Merz touring bike

Van Smith is the proud owner of this rare Merz. As we shared in a post last spring about his connection to Specialized Bicycles, Merz is a legendary Portland builder. He was a contemporary of Andy Newlands at Strawberry and also worked with Mark Dinucci before splitting off on his own. Van Smith bought this specimen via consignment from Sellwood Cycle Repair a few years ago and has since bought two other bikes made by Merz. He rode this one in L’Eroica last year. I especially liked the custom racks. The rear one has a curved stay to go around the brake arm.


1968 Peugeot “Hobo Weekend Gravel Tourer”

I don’t know anything about this bike other than it made me smile.

2018 Norther Cycles

Portlander David Thummavongsa loves classic bikes — especially French ones. When he couldn’t find a bike in his size with all the old French constructeur tech, he decided to work with local builder Starmichael Bowman of Norther Cycles. The result is this gorgeous sky blue road bike he just got last month. It features a classy Gilles Berthoud saddle and Rene Herse cantis. “I was trying to keep it as French as possible,” a clearly giddy David shared before setting it out for all to see.

1962 Allegro Special

This Swiss road bike was imported to Los Angeles well before the “bicycle boom” of the 1970s had begun stateside. Owner Bill Wayne said the sticker on the down tube is of Bobby Kemp, a professional racer of the day and son of Jack Kemp, the man who imported these bikes into the U.S.

Aaron Edge’s 2017 Moth Attack Trilogy

When I saw these three bikes, everything stopped. I just stood, agape, taking them in. Mr. Edge, aka @ManofMultnomah on Instagram and Flickr, is a photographer and full-time employee at Western Bikeworks in northwest Portland. What’s he done here is something very special. He has put together three custom bikes with the exact same colorway and parts kit (when applicable) all in the same year. The result is an aesthetic I’d never come across before.

The Moth Attack frames and forks were made by Colorado-based builder Megan Dean. All three are finished in matte-black paint that’s inlaid with gold-leaf graphics. There’s a 19-pound (!) stainless steel gravel bike (bottom), a 16-pound stainless road bike (!) (middle), and a 15-lb lugged track bike made with Columbus Spirit tubing. The only difference in the graphics on each bikes is the three words on the seat-tube: “Into the wild” for the gravel bike, “Into the hills” for the road bike, and “Into the banks” for the track bike.

Nice work Aaron. What good is money anyways, if not spent on the things we love?

The Scene

Uber-mechanic and owner of Efficient Velo Tools Brett Flemming goes deep into tech with Velo Cult owner Sky Boyer.

Vintage Cook Bros Racing California fire road bomber.

Velo Cult was packed with great bike people enjoying the bikes and each other and a thoughtful assortment of fine drinks.

Hope you enjoyed the show. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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

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