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Subscriber Post: The value of BikePortland as a research tool

Posted by on October 10th, 2018 at 10:24 am

Did you know the Hub Building on N Williams used to be a bicycle-making factory?
(Photos: Tom Howe)

This post was submitted by BikePortland subscriber Tom Howe.

Everyone who regularly visits BikePortland knows its value as a source for bicycle-related news in the Portland area. I can’t count the number of things I never would have heard about if not for visiting this site a few times a week. But something that’s easy to overlook is the value of BikePortland as a research tool for bike news that has taken place in the past.

Jonathan has been at this for over 13 years now, so learning about or reviewing anything that has happened since 2005 is as easy as typing a search into the box under the magnifying glass at the top of any page on the site*.

This value was really driven home to me recently when I came to the site looking for some historical information. Not only did I find what I was looking for, but I learned a lot more about a past bike controversy a dozen years ago that I only remembered a little about. I started my search with the word “Kinesis” as I had recently acquired a new bike frame from the Taiwanese company and I remembered these frames were once built right here in Portland. So all I really wanted to know was where that assembly facility was located, but once down the rabbit hole, I learned a lot more.

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The old Kinesis bicycle frame plant on NW Nicolai.

The search of BikePortland revealed that the Kinesis facility was in an industrial building just below Montgomery Park on NW Nicolai Street. But Kinesis was parent company of another facility on N Williams Avenue where bikes under a different brand name were also being built. This was Mountain Cycle, makers of a popular cyclocross model named Stumptown, and this is where the controversy emerged.

The Stumptown had been on the market for a couple years when global bike giant Specialized Bicycle Components learned about it and sued, feeling the name was too close to their own Stumpjumper model. The lawsuit may have been the catalyst that caused Kinesis to sell Mountain Cycle to another Taiwanese bike manufacturer, closing the N Williams facility in 2006. A while later Kinesis left Portland entirely and closed the NW Nicolai facility. BikePortland published a number of articles on the Stumptown/Stumpjumper controversy. To find them, simply search for “kinesis” and read everything published in the 2006 timeframe.

So after learning all this, I decided to ride by both of the old Kinesis facilities to see what happened to them. The plant at 2690 NW Nicolai Street is now Tubular Solutions, Inc., a company specializing in metal tube fabrication and bending. The plant at 3808 N Williams Avenue was a surprise, as it is now the Hub Building, a multifunction dining, shopping, and event space. I’ve been there a number of times without ever realizing its Mountain Cycle past. The building maintains a bicycle connection, being home to Sugar Wheel Works and Sweetpea Bicycles.

And that brings this article full circle, as another search on BikePortland reveals that Sugar Wheel Works once changed their name to avert a potential lawsuit over trademarks, also involving Specialized, but this time over their “Epic” line of bikes.

This is one of the reasons I’m a BikePortland subscriber. The history of our city maintained on these pages is an invaluable resource for our community.

— Tom Howe

*(NOTE: Thanks for sharing this Tom! I love the archives too and we’re working to make them even easier to access. Another tip: Simply add “BikePortland” to any Google search and you’ll find all the posts you need. When in doubt, contact me directly and I’ll help you find what you’re looking for. — Jonathan)

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

7 Comments
  • bikeninja October 10, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Two large scale bike factories within the city limits. Old Portland was certainly a Grand and Wonderous place.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • 9watts October 10, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for highlighting the research/search pleasures lurking beneath the surface. I’m curious to know how you search using the magnifying glass. After an update some years back I couldn’t get it to work, and so switched to using Google to search the archives here.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • BLinny October 10, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Agreed, BikePortland is THE source of info for me. When I wanted to know if folks have been talking about insurance issues with e-bikes I went immediately to a BP search. Between the posts and the comments I know I will get the skinny.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Matt S. October 10, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Good piece of investigative journalism. Informative!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • David Hampsten October 10, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    I use BikePortland as a testing facility for advocacy techniques and infrastructure experiments, to see which techniques/experiments have worked or not worked long-term. Yeah, you get lots of stuff designed and even funded, but what survives budget cuts and bureaucratic disinterest and actually gets built? Does the infrastructure (or program) work as intended? Are the comments from the well-informed bike community positive or negative? How about later comments, after folks get used to it? A few years later?

    If it works in Portland, it might work in Greensboro. If it doesn’t work in Portland, then I doubt it will ever work in Greensboro. Or Peoria.

    I also find the comments from most people very informative, even when I or most people disagree with them or Jon edits/deletes their comments. Our community here is made up of very passive people, so it’s a real pleasure receiving the wisdom of informed and pro-active cyclists who test facilities, who feel passionate about their feelings and emotions and are willing to express themselves on a blog rather than engage in road-rage.

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  • Tom Howe October 10, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Gladys Bikes is another business that got its start in the Hub Building, and the shop happens to be having their 5th anniversary party on October 12 from 6pm to 9pm. But don’t go looking for them on N Williams Avenue – the shop has since moved to larger digs at 2905 NE Alberta Street. Here’s the first BikePortland article on Gladys:

    https://bikeportland.org/2013/10/04/new-bike-shop-on-williams-ave-caters-to-women-94969

    And the day after that party, Chris King Precision Components is having their open house which promises to be a big event with 18 custom frame builders also participating. If you are riding to Chris King by the most likely route, you’ll ride right past the old Kinesis plant on NW Nicolai Street pictured in this article. And coincidentally the rails-to-cycle-track Jonathan talks about in the article right after this one passes directly across the street from the Kinesis plant.

    So riding West on NW Nicolai, look to the South as you approach NW 27th Avenue to see where Kinesis was. Then continue on Nicolai turning North on NW 29th to head to Chris King. After a quarter mile on 29th turn East to find Chris King at 2801 NW Nela Street. The open house runs from noon to 4pm on October 13.

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