Business News Roundup: North St. Bags, Portland Design Works, Gracie’s Wrench

When most people think of Portland’s bike industry they think of bike shops. But those are only a small part of the local bicycle industrial complex. Here are some updates from just a few of the many bike businesses based in Portland…

North St. Bags

Latest from North St. Bags.

We’ve been big supporters of North St. since the very beginning. When founder Curtis Williams showed up at our BikeCraft event in 2009, it was clear he had the right mix of ambition and passion to make his business fly. These days North St.’s panniers are so ubiquitous they’ve become a signature Portland accessory.

Earlier this month the company launched a new line of upcycled bags with a neat origin story. North St.’s new Upcycled Collection is made from tents and banners used at major endurance events. Using fabric and materials donated by event organizer Life Time and component maker SRAM, they’ve added four new products to their lineup: a hip pack, daypack, grocery pannier and a “micro” pannier. North St. says the new bags will save over half a ton of waste from the landfill this year. And like all North St. products, they’re made right here in Portland! (Learn more about North St. Bags in our archives.)

Portland Design Works

Loot Bag (L) and BYOB Light

Another local company I’ve loved watching grow since its founder Erik Olson moved to Portland to set up shop in 2008 is Portland Design Works. PDW has set itself apart in the crowded bike accessory market by coming up with a consistent string of hits. Their Portland-inspired product designs are backed up by an attractive mix of quality, value, form and function — and I’d say this even if they weren’t a BikePortland advertiser!

Somehow the bright minds at PDW always come up with new twists on products that make me think, “Woah, that’s an awesome idea!” Cases in point are their two newest products: the Loot Bag ($95) and the BYOB Light ($79.99). The Loot Bag is made to fit two of the most popular front cargo racks from Wald (if you know, you know) and it comes with all the design details you’d want. The BYOB Light is ingenious in that it’s in between a typical battery-powered headlight and a fully-wired generator light. It can mount to your fork for that rechargeable light look, and it comes with a integrated USB cord you can plug into any powerbank. (Learn more about PDW in our archives.)

Gracie’s Wrench

(Photo: Gracie’s Wrench)

The only constant in our local bike industry is change. As some companies grow, others go. That’s sadly the case with Gracie’s Wrench, the bike education business started by Portlander Tori Bortman in 2007. Tori’s welcoming approach to riding and maintenance lessons helped hundreds of people become more confident around bikes (including me!). She also filled a major need in our community by teaching adults how to ride a bike. She also shared her secrets in the Optimize Your Ride column she wrote for us back in 2011.

Now Tori is moving on. In an email last week she told her fans she’ll close up shop at the end of this year.

“Gracie’s Wrench has had the impact on my own life and the community beyond what I could have imagined when I started,” Tori wrote. “At least three of my students have opened their own bicycle shops, many more have been empowered to take cycling adventures of a lifetime, I’ve had the opportunity to get my first book published to help beginner riders, and there are now hundreds of more new riders on two wheels that I’ve had the honor and pure joy of teaching to ride bicycles for the first time.”

Join us in wishing Tori luck in her new endeavor — nursing school at OHSU!

Got local bike business news to share? Drop us a line and we’ll include it in an upcoming roundup.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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1 year ago

I feel like there’s something missing….
= )

1 year ago

The latest news on lube….it’s likely the most underrated component on the bicycle. Old news, but worth repeating – we are your local chain lube company, Portland, so if you believe in supporting local small businesses, while keeping your drive train quiet and happy, stop by one of the many local shops who carry Dumonde Tech products and ask for us by name!

1 year ago
Reply to  Maria

If anyone else just did what you did I’d roll my eyes so hard. But I am fortunate and can hear you give that pitch in your voice and then likely laugh when you’re done. Ha!

1 year ago
Reply to  PTB

Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to put out an eye-roller. I am genuinely sold on the lube I am the sales rep for…! Sorry for the weird ad!