I never thought I’d write this: Portland has lost another bike business to Arkansas.
Last week I reported that UK-based Rapha Racing LLC opted to leave Portland for Bentonville. The move was primarily fueled by the fact that Rapha is owned by WalMart heirs who are based there. But a company spokesperson also said Bentonville’s plethora of mountain bike trails helped seal the deal ahead of a launch of Rapha’s first-ever MTB apparel line.
Now comes news that stalwart north Portland shop Revolver Bikes has closed. And guess what? The owner says Arkansas’ burgeoning bike scene made the decision easier.
I first heard rumors of Revolver’s demise last weekend. I confirmed the news when I rolled by a few days ago and saw everything packed up. I hoped it was just a move.
Revolver opened in 2005 when owner Mark Pickett and his family decided to move into the Arbor Lodge neighborhood a few blocks away. Set in an old, brick commercial storefront across from the North Interstate and Rosa Parks Way MAX light rail stop and a new New Seasons Market store, Pickett found a niche as a solid, service-oriented bike shop that found customers in the Piedmont, Arbor Lodge, Kenton, Humboldt, and Overlook neighborhoods.
“Cycling is going crazy here. Mountain biking in Arkansas is bananas.”
— Mark Pickett, Revolver Bikes owner
Pickett is a mountain biker at heart and was personally involved in Portland’s many efforts to establish more off-road cycling access in Forest Park. When he was still working at the shop our chats often turned to commiserating about the latest setbacks to our dreams of riding mountain bikes without driving an hour to a trail.
I heard from Pickett this morning after reaching out to him in hopes of clearing the air as news about the shop’s closure spread online in the past few days. He confirmed that he and his family moved back home to Fayetteville (25 miles south of Rapha and WalMart headquarters in Bentonville) in August 2018 to be closer to extended family. Pickett’s longtime employee Eric Swain was running the shop for the past 18 months. When buyout plans fell through, they decided it was time to close the shop for good. Swain plans to stay in the local bike industry while Revolver’s other employee will move onto something else.
Pickett now works for Phat Tire Bike Shop in Fayetteville, a Trek-branded store with nine successful storefronts in the area. “They are killing it,” Pickett gushed this morning. “Cycling is going crazy here. Mountain biking in Arkansas is bananas.” Pickett says since he left Fayetteville in 2002 “cycling infrastructure has exploded with support from the Walton Foundation.”
“There are paved trail systems in most of the towns in the region and over 150 miles of new singletrack in the area,” Pickett continued. “They had the Red Bull Pump Track World Championships here in 2018 and they are hosting ‘cross worlds in 2022. The communities recognize the tourist benefit cycling brings to the table and folks are getting on bikes.”
Pickett added that the move has been bittersweet because he misses his friends and customers in Portland.
Revolver is the second bike shop in north Portland to close this year after Norther Cycles on North Albina called it quits. That leaves the entire northern quadrant west of I-5 serviced by four shops: Golden Pliers (Skidmore & Interstate), Killer Queen Cyclery (Lombard & Mobile), Kenton Cycle Repair (Denver & Kilpatrick) and Block Bikes (Ivanhoe & Burlington).
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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