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After a decade of service in northwest Portland, 21st Avenue Bicycles is closing

Posted by on May 2nd, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Sign on the door of 21st Avenue Bicycles.
(Photo: Park Chambers)

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.

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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.

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

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14 Comments
  • Kate May 2, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    Sad news as Park Chambers runs great shops!

    21st bicycles was my go-to shop when I lived in NW Portland and I always had a really super experience there. I’m happy to say I bought my first mtn bike at FTF, go there for all my mtb needs, and have done week-long rentals from Hood River Bicycles to enable friends to join me on camping/biking trips. I didn’t know about his suspension service so I’ll have to check that out. Sad to see another neighborhood shop go, but glad to hear he’ll be focused on what brings him the most joy.

    Thanks, Park, for all the ways you’ve helped make bicycling a really joyful part of my life!

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  • Kittens May 2, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Sad to hear this news.

    I’ve had the chance to stop by this shop many times over the years and have never been let down. Now I feel bad for not buying more stuff from them. These kinds of shops are the fabric of our city and are slowly being replaced with overpriced Knick knack novelty shops and overpriced housing.

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  • Rivelo
    Rivelo May 3, 2018 at 6:45 am

    Kevin Purcell, now formerly of 21st Avenue Bicycles, and his partner, Becky, of Makeshifter Bags, are opening their own shop –Golden Pliers– in June.

    Check them out at 1451 N. Skidmore Street. They are super cool* people, and we’re looking forward to their new place.

    *Kevin also makes a helluva’ mix-tape, but that’s another story….

    https://www.goldenpliers.com/

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  • Mick O May 3, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Got my Salsa there. I wish them all the best in future endeavors.

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    • Toby Keith May 8, 2018 at 6:49 pm

      Me too! Bought a Vaya there a few years back. Loved the shop but the only thing that kept me from going back is that I’m so far away. Sad to see them close just the same. : (

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  • bikeninja May 3, 2018 at 10:35 am

    It is a sad and troubling ( for the future of our city) economic dynamic that good stuff like bike shops, record shops, and hardware stores are driven out by high rents but fluff like “cookie dough in a cup” or pet jewelry stores move in to take their place.

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    • Chris Streight May 3, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      I agree with your points, but this shop didn’t close for those reasons.

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      • bikeninja May 4, 2018 at 10:00 am

        You sure you read the article.
        “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.”

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  • park May 3, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    I would like thank everyone for their kind thoughts and comments about the closing of 21st Avenue Bicycles. I’ve been very lucky through the years to have worked with some great people. Most recently Kevin who is opening his own shop . Tim who is an owner at cat6 in NE Portland; http://www.catsixcycles.com. Kurt who now works with me at The Fat Tire Farm. Corey over at 7 Corners; http://www.7-corners.com who we were lucky enough to work with. Mark at Revolver Cycles; http://www.revolverbikes.com was also a past alum of ours.

    Please check these shops out when you get a chance. They are great shops with an awesome collective knowledge about the industry and they all have great owners.

    Congrats to Kevin and Becky with their new adventure. And all the other shop owners and industry people in Portland and beyond.

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    • Pete May 5, 2018 at 9:07 pm

      Hey Park, I hope you’re doing well these days!! Had some work done at Hood River Bicycles last month – you’ve got some great mechanics there. Hope to see you around town again soon.

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    • Pete May 5, 2018 at 9:09 pm

      BTW, I think your guy got me sold on a Hakke MX as my next build…

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  • I wear many hats May 3, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    They were my go to shop in NW. Excellent service and far better mechanics than Western Bikes. They will be missed.

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  • Spiffy May 3, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    sad news… I bought my current Raleigh from them 6-7 years ago… I don’t work out that way any more but I’ve still gone out of my way to go there when I can… they were all really nice… the shop will be missed… I don’t like the vibe over at Western Bikeworks… but I do like the Paymaster Lounge across the street a lot…

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  • Michael Rubenstein June 28, 2018 at 4:30 am

    Back in the 1980s Matt was the go to guy for any complicated bike repair issues. And hey, any other LBSs with a pinball machine…

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