Last week something very rare happened. A Portland bike shop, Fat Tire Farm on NW Thurman (just a few clicks from Forest Park), hosted an industry night where anyone who worked in a local bike-related business was welcome to show up and hang out. There was amazing free food (thanks Tamale Boy!), free drinks, a big raffle, and lots of solid folks to talk with. In my 18 or so years following this scene, I can’t remember a shop doing something like that. Like any industry, there are sometimes beefs among bike shops and there’s never been an intentional effort to build any type of community or coalition at that scale. It was a promising event and hopefully another shop or local bike company grabs the torch and keeps it burning.
That is all to say that, despite some wild ups-and-downs, Portland’s bike industry is very healthy as everyone shakes off the throes of the pandemic. And just maybe, the shared experience of going through that and tackling other challenges (like bike shop burglaries), is drawing people closer. Yes that’s partly just my eternal optimism speaking, but I also have a few good bits of industry news that have been piling up in my inbox.
So it’s time for a roundup!
Retrogression moves to larger space
Fixie fans rejoice! Retrogression has moved to a bigger space. The shop that specializes in fixed gear and track bikes has left behind their old space on SE 11th just north of Division Street for larger digs at 1530 SE 7th Ave. Co-owner Angie Beaulieu moved the operation from San Diego to Portland in 2019. Retrogression has established a huge following not just in Portland but well beyond thanks to their big e-commerce presence. The shop is known for their hard-to-find, high quality frames, parts, and accessories. “Unlike other ‘specialty’ retailers in the bike industry, we don’t hop from trend to trend. We have always focused 100% on track bikes & fixed gear and will always continue to do so,” Beaulieu writes on their website.
The new shop is much larger and will feature a wider selection of parts and more breathing room for the community to browse and hang. The new shop opens this coming Tuesday, May 23rd and there’s a big re-opening party planned for Saturday, May 27th. (Join a ride led by Portland fixed-gear brand Destroy Bikes to the party from Mt. Tabor.)
North St. Bags moves to north Portland
You know it’s a good sign for your business when you’re forced to move to a larger space every few years. That’s been the case for North St. Bags as they just settled into yet another new spot on North Flint Avenue. This mighty little brand launched at our BikeCraft event in 2009 (we’re so proud!) has moved at least three times that we can remember. They just moved from a spot on inner southeast Clinton street to the Hawthorne District back in 2018.
Now in a part of town that matches their name, the North St. crew will be right on one of the busiest bike streets in the city. The new space opened April 18th and allows them to spread out all their fabric, sewing machines and other tools, while still having space for a big showroom. And that’s a good idea because North St. is always coming out with cool new stuff! The company is best known for their Woodward combo pannier/backpack, but their line has grown a lot over the years. They’ve recently launched a nifty set of “micro-panniers” for adventure riding and I’ve been using their new Vancouver Daypack, which is a simple and small — but very useful and high quality — addition to my obscene collection of packs and bags (yes, I have a problem).
Swing by the new North St. Bags at 2134 N Flint.
Chris King launches new carbon wheels
The vaunted, Portland-based Chris King Precision Components has once again pushed the boundaries of performance and quality with the introduction of what they call, “the world’s first fusion fiber road wheel.” The new ARD44 wheels ($2,895) were created for people who do not mess around. Here’s more from the company website:
“The ARD44 is designed for serious cyclists who want all-out speed on flats, climbs and through corners. It’s an aero wheel that shines across a wide range of terrain, from smooth pavement to rough gravel roads. Built to surpass even the most rigorous industry standards, the ARD44 Wheelset is built around King’s industry-leading R45D hub and an aero-profiled, 44mm deep FusionFiber® rim. The combination delivers unparalleled power transfer, speed, and stability. ”
And because it’s King — a company that puts as much R&D into reducing its ecological footprint as they do to their products — they also boast that unlike traditional carbon fiber, FusionFiber® is recyclable and is easier to shape which leaves less waste in the manufacturing process. Combine these wheels with King’s legendary hubs and you’ve got something very special (and something that comes with a lifetime warranty).
Shop break-ins making headlines
One thing that might be making local bike shops come out of their shells a bit more and be more willing to build relationships with other shops is all the burglaries that have been happening. Sort of like bonding over shared trauma. Fat Tire Farm and River City Bicycles have been in the news lately after repeated problems with thieves crashing and slashing into their stores. On a similar note, I’ve heard a rumor that the Trek Bicycle Portland downtown store (1001 SW 10th) might be moving soon to what they feel is a safer part of town. That would be a big move since there’s been a bike shop at that location since at least the 1980s (first as Cycle Craft, then Bike Gallery)! Stay tuned for more on that one.
Got an industry tip? Pass it onto me via email@example.com or text via 503-706-8804. Thanks!