New bike rental service opens in Cascade Locks

(Photos: Bike the Gorge)

In a wonderful sign of bike-oriented economic development in the Columbia River Gorge, a new bike shop has opened its doors in Cascade Locks.

Bike the Gorge offers electric bike rentals and its owner is taking full advantage of progress by the Oregon Department of Transportation on the Historic Highway State Trail to encourage customers to explore the area. In a Ride Guide on the shop’s website you’ll find routes that boast of carfree paths through tall trees and up-close views of waterfalls.

This is just the start of a boom in bike-related businesses that is likely to spring up as ODOT gets even closer to completing the 73-mile Historic Highway State Trail — a generational project that will reconnect a low-car and carfree alternate to Highway 84 between Troutdale and The Dalles.

Bike the Gorge has a fleet of Lectric XP 3.0 e-bikes available to explore the trail. They are Class 2 e-bikes with a throttle, large tires, and an upright riding position. If you want to try them out this month, there’s a 20% rental discount if you use promo code APRIL20.

The co-owner of Bike the Gorge, Ben DeJarnette is a friend and BikePortland subscriber. I asked him a few questions about his new business:

Who are you and what inspired you to launch this business?

Ben DeJarnette

I grew up in sprawling suburban Virginia where bike lanes and public transit didn’t exist and you had to drive everywhere, so Portland has always been a gleaming city on the hill to me (even if a little bit of the shine has worn off).

I lived carfree for my first few months here and rode almost everywhere, but I experienced a lot of the challenges you wrote about last week — I was sideswiped by a car in Old Town, my beloved Lotus bike was stolen, and eventually I moved further east and found myself dodging a lot more potholes. 

The real game-changer for me was when Biketown switched to an electric fleet. I was coaching cross country at Fernhill Park (NE 37th and Ainsworth) at the time and found that riding an e-bike there from Montavilla was faster, cheaper, and more fun than driving — and I didn’t have to worry about theft. 

The business idea actually came to me a few years later on my honeymoon in Scotland, where my wife and I rented e-bikes and rode on a carfree path along Loch Lomond. It was an incredible experience that got me thinking about how cool it would be to do something similar on the state trail around Cascade Locks — and that was the beginning of the journey that led to Bike the Gorge. 

Why are you betting on bikes in the Gorge?

The Gorge is a rare place where the biking experience is getting dramatically better (thanks to major infrastructure investments and the availability of e-bikes) at the same time that the driving experience is getting dramatically worse (due to traffic delays, bridge tolls, permit systems, and parking fees.) 

As more people learn that there’s a safe, accessible alternative to driving in the Gorge that’s also really fun, I think we’ll see interest in biking take off — and eventually even more businesses (and hopefully infrastructure) will pop to support it. 

Any thoughts on impact the Historic Highway State Trail will have/has on your business and economic development in the Gorge in general?

The State Trail has the opportunity to be a world-class tourism destination that lifts all boats in the Gorge, from Troutdale to Cascade Locks to the Dalles. But we need to get it across the finish line! 

I hope that helping more people experience the existing trail will create advocates who can push for those final pieces, including replacing the Eagle Creek staircase with a ramp and completing the critical trail segment from Mitchell Point to Hood River. 

Good luck Ben! And keep this shop in mind if you want to explore deeper into the Gorge.

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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