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Portland cargo bike maker Metrofiets calls it quits after 11 years

Posted by on May 20th, 2018 at 8:43 pm

Metrofiets bikes were known for a near-perfect combination of utility, ride quality, and aesthetic beauty.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

Just over a decade after launching as “the Portland-made bakfiets”, the owners behind Metrofiets have decided it’s time to move on.

Phillip Ross standing in a hop farm during the Fresh Hop Century in 2016.

Our friend Phillip Ross just sent over the official announcement:

All good things come to an end. 

After 11 years of making cargo bikes, Metrofiets will cease production at the end of the month. It’s been super fun making cargo bikes for countless families and business alike. We’ve had a great run and wanted to finish on a strong note. 

For now, we will finish fulfilling existing orders; selling any additional inventory on hand and then, that’s all folks.

If you need to contact us, through the end of the month, please email info@metrofiets.com

Thanks for such an amazing journey. We couldn’t have done it without you. 

Team Metrofiets

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Metrofiets launched in 2007 just as the Dutch and cargo bike invasion was heating up in Portland. At that time the company was Ross in the sales and marketing role and his partner Jamie Nichols did the building (Nichols has since moved on). Together, the duo built an excellent product that was very well-respected.

Metrofiets distinguished itself by making custom rigs for businesses; most famously Hopworks Urban Brewery. The “Hopworksfiets” that debuted in 2009 featured a hardwood bar, beer taps, and plenty of room for kegs. It became an iconic bike that seemed to show up everywhere fun on bikes was happening. The Hopworksfiets was such a success that it allowed Metrofiets to start a beer bike rental service in 2011.

While mobile businesses were their specialty, Metrofiets were also renowned for their mix of utility and performance. Their “Suppenküche” (German for “soup kitchen”) came in at just 58 pounds and the customer who bought it (a restauranteur from Los Angeles) gave it a maiden voyage on the 200-mile Seattle-to-Portland ride. Charlie Wicker of Portland-based Trailhead Coffee Roasters once road his Metrofiets coffee bike on the entire, 7-day Cycle Oregon ride.

Pedal Powered Talk Show host Boaz Frankel in a promotional image.
(Photo: Metrofiets)

Behind Ross’ marketing talents, the company had a knack for interesting projects. Their Pedal Powered Talk Show was a novel twist on the genre. With host Boaz Frankel behind the mic and Ross behind the handlebars, the show survived for five seasons and landed guests ranging from Grimm TV show star Sasha Roiz, band Blitzen Trapper, and actor Daniel Baldwin. For one of their last shows, the crew managed to get the talk show bike to the top of the Space Needle in Seattle.

Another way Ross helped redefine what cargo bikes could do was by supplying bikes for the Fresh Hop Century. This ride (co-hosted by Base Camp Brewing) took a crew of bakfiets pilots from Portland to the Willamette Valley in search of hops that would be used to brew beer in Portland. I joined them for the 2016 edition and watched with a smile as Ross himself lined up his Metrofiets cargo bike at the end of a conveyor belt at a hop farm before pedaling the bounty back to Portland where it was loaded directly into a brewing vat. Now that was fresh!

Last year Ross moved his production facility into a shop on North Page Street that is shared with Breadwinner Cycles.

Ross says it’s bittersweet to be saying goodbye to the brand and business he has nurtured for over a decade; but he also knows the time is right to call it quits.

It was very good run and we’re proud to have shared such great memories with a quality local business.

Congrats Phil! I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of you in the bike biz.

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

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14 Comments
  • Scott Mizée May 20, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    Congrats on a great run Phil! We will miss seeing your new bikes come off the production line!

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  • Jeff May 20, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Well, damn. I guess I should have pulled the trigger on buying one when I had the chance. Good luck with the next chapter.

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  • John Lascurettes May 20, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Well, damn. I met Phil briefly once in Wiltshire(?) Park with one of his bikes before BP even broke the story of his new biz. It was the first time I had tried out a cargo bike as he let me take it for a spin. I’ve wanted a cargo bike ever since but haven’t had a real justifiable reason to get one. Now, I work somewhere that allows dogs in the office and it would be perfect to transport my pooch on a daily basis and have the cargo capacity for other trips too. Ironic that he’s closing now that I’m considering shopping around for one. Best of luck in the next gig, Phil.

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  • Zaphod May 21, 2018 at 8:15 am

    So long, and thanks for all the bikes.

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  • bikeninja May 21, 2018 at 9:06 am

    This is Sad, we will surely need the skills and experience of local builders like this when happy motoring collapses in on itself in the future.

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  • Doug May 21, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I was hoping for more “why” in this post – as in, Why is production ceasing? B/c it’s no longer profitable? B/c liability became an issue? If these are such nice bikes, why not sell the biz to someone else who can make them? They are super cool bikes. Thanks.

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    • RMHampel May 22, 2018 at 9:05 am

      Agreed. This story reads more like an extended PR piece, as opposed to journalism. Jonathan, you forgot the “why” of the five Ws of journalism.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 22, 2018 at 12:29 pm

        If I cared to follow all the tenets of “real journalism” (and I don’t) bikeportland would not exist.

        Thanks for the feedback. I’ll consider asking Ross more questions for a follow-up story.

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  • Bill Stites May 21, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Always sad to see a Portland framebuilder – especially with a cargo emphasis – shut its doors. Phil and Jamie did a great job over the years, and were quite successful – 10 years is an amazing run. Jamie is a true artist, and Phil was solid on the business side.

    Indeed, all good things come to an end but I thank them for their important contributions toward bringing large, wacky cargo bikes to mainstream culture!

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  • Michael Piña May 21, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Sorry to see Phil hang up the cleats, but good for him on his next adventure.
    Don’t forget CETMA Cargo down in Eugene. Quality cargo bike, all handmade by one guy. https://cetmacargo.com/products/cargo-bikes

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  • Todd Boulanger May 21, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Phillip, sorry to see Metrofiets go, but thanks for improving the local bike freight biz. I remember how much I smiled when I saw your commercial products for the first time, like the Trailhead and Hopsworks beverage service bikes.

    As one of the Portland region’s original bakfeits owners…I know how hard it was to source freight bikes (CAT and Workscycles etc.) directly long distance …in the days before Clever Cycles and Metrofiets.

    Good luck on your next chapter!

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  • Evan May 21, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    Thank you Phil and Jamie! I love my Metrofiets and every time I ride it brings a smile to my face. Good luck on your next adventure!

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  • Why? May 23, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    “If I cared to follow all the tenets of “real journalism” (and I don’t) bikeportland would not exist.”

    Why?

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  • Phil Ross May 24, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    Re: Quiting while at the top of your game.

    It’s curious to me that so many more folks don’t do it. And just as many folks have a hard time wrapping their head around it. Sure, every business has it’s issues but usually the decision to close is not something that is within ones control. It feels super liberating close the doors in a dignified manner on what was an amazing, challenging and rewarding business. Yes, it is somewhat sad but in a really sweet way.

    FIN

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