Portland’s ever-changing bike retail landscape is taking another turn.
21st Avenue Bicycles, a fixture in northwest Portland since it opened in 2007, will close for good on May 12th. This storefront was previously Northwest Bicycles, which had been in operation since 1975.
Owner Park Chambers says he’s selling the building that houses the 2,000 square-foot shop and he’s decided the time has come to move on. Chambers, 48, told me in a phone call today that he suffered a stroke back in November. “Being paralyzed for a week” gave him time to reflect and he’s decided to simplify his life and focus on the two other bike shops he owns: Both of which cater to his main passion of mountain biking.
Chambers bought Fat Tire Farm, a shop on NW Thurman that specializes in mountain biking, in 1997. In June 2014 he opened Hood River Bicycles. He opened a suspension-tuning specialty shop called Traction Works in Portland in March 2016 and he moved that into the back of Fat Tire Farm last June.
So he’s gone from one shop to four, and with the closure of 21st Avenue he’s back down to two.
“I would have loved to see it stay a bike shop; but financially it just didn’t make a lot of sense.”
— Park Chambers, 21st Avenue Bicycles owner
“I just came to the conclusion,” Chambers shared today, “That I just don’t have the bandwidth anymore and that what I love doing is mountain biking.”
A 21st Avenue employee inquired about re-opening a shop in the same building, but with skyrocketing rents in northwest these days — coupled with the anemic state of the bicycle business — Chambers says it doesn’t pencil out. “I would have loved to see it stay a bike shop; but financially it just didn’t make a lot of sense.” As he lamented over how Portland has changed for the worse in the past 20 years, Chambers says he’s sad to close 21st Avenue. “It’s definitely bittersweet.”
Primarily a service shop that catered to everyday utility riders, 21st Avenue Bicycles had also made a name for itself in the bikepacking and gravel riding markets. I worked with the shop to build a custom Salsa Vaya that I used to tackle the Oregon Outback and it was the unofficial clubhouse for the Our Mother the Mountain/Unpaved riding groups.
The closest remaining shop is Western Bikeworks at NW 17th and Lovejoy.
And while this is, sadly, the fourth shop we know of that has closed since last winter, there are still new shops opening. Portland Bicycle Emporium opened last month on the corner of SE Division and 48th.
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