46-year-old South Tabor resident Kevin Schmidt has been a licensed Physical Therapist for over 20 years. When he stopped a driving a car in 2005 and began to ride his bike into work everyday, neck pain got him down. He didn’t know anything about bike fit, so his first stop was a local bike shop. When changes to his bike didn’t help, his frustration grew.
“Then I had my lightbulb moment,” he recalled during an interview with BikePortland Tuesday (watch it below). “I asked the guy at the shop what the heck was wrong with my neck, and he said, ‘How the hell should I know, I’m not a Physical Therapist’.” Schmidt realized his PT training didn’t include anything about bike fitting or cycling, so he learned everything he could. Then in 2012 he opened PedalPT, a bike-specific physical therapy office on the cycling thoroughfare of Southeast Clinton and 25th, and never looked back. “A lot of people laughed at us initially, but here we are, 12 years later, we’re crushing it and it’s been great.”
Now Schmidt is about to embark on another new journey. Early next month he’ll receive the first batch of a new product he’s spent six years developing: the Portland Bike Stand, a trainer he says is the highest-quality on the market.
At PedalPT, Schmidt and his staff put most clients on a trainer — one of those things that clamps into your rear axle and allows you to sit on your bike and pedal. Inspiration for the Portland Bike Stand came when trainers they were using would break, not be able to handle heavier riders, and could not fit the diverse range of bicycles that rolled down SE Clinton St. and into the office.
The trainers used at PedalPT didn’t fit full-suspension bikes, e-bikes, tall bikes and other freak bikes, and could only handle about 200 pounds of weight. Schmidt says they’d break about three high-end trainers a year.
A chance conversation with a client who just happened to be a bike builder with fabrication skills, led to the first prototypes. When word got out, other bike fitters wanted one. Schmidt knew he was onto something. Then he got a fateful phone call in December 2022.
“One of the largest outdoor retailers in the U.S. contacted me. They noticed our trainer and wanted to put one in every one of their stores for their bike fitters,” Schmidt recalled. It was an exciting proposition, but when they asked for 180 units, Schmidt knew his current fabricator (a garage-based hobbyist), couldn’t handle it.
Another chance meeting at the MADE Bicycle Show in Portland back in October connected Schmidt with folks from Onyx, a bicycle hub manufacturer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One thing led to another and Onyx took over fabrication for the Portland Bike Stand. It was the break Schmidt needed to finally launch the product for real.
Now he’s got 20 of the “St Johns Bridge green” units (Schmidt loves the bridge and had his personal bike painted that color) on the way to Portland in the next few weeks and he’s giddy with excitement.
If you’re wondering why he’ll open worldwide sales with just 20 units, it might be because retail price is $2,499. That’s a lot more than existing, wheel-on trainers ($400) or the smart trainers popular with riders who use online training software like Zwift ($600-$800). The higher price reflects its U.S. manufacturing, medical-grade quality, and all the parts (like the custom lathed brass clamps that attach to your axle) are fully serviceable and replaceable. In the near future, customers will also be able to order custom colors and finishes.
“What I’m really trying to tap into is; we’ve got custom bikes, beautiful, boutique bikes, but no one’s ever tried to go after this boutique-y high-quality, made in the USA bike trainer market.” “This is a tool, not a toy,” Schmidt continued. “The one I’ve got here at the office I’ve used for the past six years and have done over 6,000 bike fits on and it still looks brand new. It’s just bulletproof.”