He was worried about bike share’s impact on his business. Now he profits from it

Posted on May 23rd, 2019 at 1:42 pm.

Evan Ross, owner of Cycle Portland bike shop, tours, and rentals on SW 2nd Avenue.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Evan Ross is a serial cycling entrepreneur who understands the local bike scene and how to create a viable business around it. That intuition served him well when the idea of cheap bike rentals available in seconds from a mobile app was first pondered in Portland.

“I started my business to get more people riding bikes. Biketown works toward that same goal, so it’s hard for me to be a hater.”
— Evan Ross, Cycle Portland

Ross founded his bike shop and tour business in 2008. That’s right around the time the City of Portland’s efforts to start a bike share program were heating up. Lucky for Ross he had a bit of time before any bike share system would hit the ground. Portland infamously stalled on the program several times before finally launching Biketown in 2016.

From the get-go, Ross knew it would impact his business. “I was scared; but I saw it coming and I had time to adapt my fleet,” he said during a chat with him outside his retail showroom on SW 2nd Avenue in Old Town yesterday. I’ve known Ross for years and can recall being a bit surprised when he didn’t share my enthusiasm for bike share. A dedicated bike advocate and former member of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, Ross wasn’t as excited about the idea as other advocates I knew.

“I knew my rental numbers would go down. That was always the threat with Biketown,” he shared.

And Ross was right. His revenue did go down. But he didn’t let that stop him from turning it into a positive.

Advertisement

(Photo: BiketownTours.com)

Earlier this week, Ross announced an official partnership with the City of Portland to lead “Biketown Tours”. “Using public bikeshare you’ll cruise the waterfront bike path, discover Portland’s past and present, and ease into city riding with our experienced guides in America’s bike capital,” reads the copy on his new BiketownTours.com website.

For Ross, the third time was indeed the charm. The tours come after two previous attempts to work with Biketown fizzled out. He first hoped to get the maintenance contract for the fleet, then he tried to position his shop as the official helmet and map supplier for Biketown users. Neither of those came to fruition, but Ross maintained a working relationship with bike share program staff. And he remained optimistic.

I asked Ross how he went from seeing Biketown as a threat, to embracing it as a partner. “I realized bike share companies are really good at supplying bikes, but not in curating routes and building a connection to the local community,” he said. “Then I had this epiphany when I realized I spend a lot of time maintaining my fleet, and if I can outsource the maintenance of the bikes, but still provide the tour, it would be a bit advantage to me. I’d save wear-and-tear on my bikes — and not have to store, fix, or buy them in the first place.”

And there were also philosophical reasons for the partnership. “I started my business to get more people riding bikes,” Ross said. “Biketown works toward that same goal, so it’s hard for me to be a hater.”

Biketown (which is operated by Motivate, Inc., a Lyft company) loves the tours because Cycle Portland’s guide staff acts as a concierge to their system. The guides helps riders with rental checkout (including how to push the buttons on the keypad so they respond), offer tips and advice on how to stay comfortable on the bike (saddle adjustment is key), and they educate new riders about safety and rules of the road.

The $20 tours last about an hour and depart from the plaza in front of Voodoo Donuts on SW 3rd Avenue and Burnside. Riders get a $5 discount on their Biketown rental when they sign up. Learn more at BiketownTours.com.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

New shop in southeast caters to fixed gear fans

Posted on May 17th, 2019 at 12:04 pm.

Retrogression’s home page.

Portland has a new bike shop whose owners hope to be a part of the local fixed-gear and track riding scene.

Retrogression (2315 SE 11th Ave, just north of Division) is owned and operated by Dave Gattinella and Angie Beaulieu. Fixed-gear riders themselves, Gattinella and Beaulieu couldn’t find track-related parts and gear at local bike shops, so they started sourcing their own.

Retrogression started as an online-only shop in 2009 and opened a brick-and-mortar location in Massachusetts shortly thereafter (they are both from New England). They moved the business to San Diego a few years later; but quickly outgrew their space and went on the hunt to find a new location that would offer them a combination of warehouse (for the online business) and retail shop. [Read more…]

Southeast Division bike shop ‘A Better Cycle’ will close next month

Posted on April 15th, 2019 at 11:20 am.

(Photo: A Better Cycle)

A neighborhood bike shop in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood will close its doors next month after over a decade in business. Owners of A Better Cycle announced their decision last week.
[Read more…]

Thieves steal seven bikes from Block Bikes in St. Johns

Posted on March 13th, 2019 at 12:14 pm.

Block Bikes owner Ben Helgren is on the lookout for seven bikes after being hit by thieves on Sunday night (3/10).

In a post on his Facebook page, Helgren said the theft happened after the shop celebrated its sixth anniversary over the weekend. “As a small local business, our margins aren’t as big as some of the other shops and this certainly makes a dent right as the season is starting,” he wrote.

The thieves grabbed seven, yet-to-be assembled Marin bikes from the shop’s storage trailer. Here are the models and sizes: Marin Muirwoods size XXL in Red/Gold/Green fade; Fairfax SC1 sizes XL and L in Black; Marin Four Corners sizes M and XL in Black; Marin Stinson ST7 size Med in Light Blue/tan.

Keep in mind the bikes hadn’t been built up yet, so it’s hard to know exactly how they’ll look when built — and it’s possible they might be resold as-is or for parts.
[Read more…]

Rock Creek Cyclery is a new hub for bike lovers in Hillsboro

Posted on February 27th, 2019 at 1:00 pm.

Martín Acosta inside the new space.
(Photos: Naomi Fast)

Naomi Fast is our Washington County correspondent.

Not everyone believes in the oft-quoted movie mantra, “If you build it, they will come.” But out in Hillsboro, the adage holds true — and not just for Hillsboro Hops baseball.

Less than two years after I wrote about a new separated bikeway that parallels Cornelius Pass Road between Cornell and Highway 26, a new bike shop has moved in less than a mile away: Rock Creek Cyclery.
[Read more…]

Bike shop news roundup: New shop, new owners, and more break-ins

Posted on January 2nd, 2019 at 1:23 pm.

Tom Martin is the new ower of TomCat Bikes on SE Milwaukie in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

They say the only constant is change; and that’s certainly true for Portland bike shops.

In 2018 we saw several high-profile closures with 21st Avenue Bicycles, Velo Cult and all three Performance Bicycle locations closing their doors.

But the news wasn’t all bad: A new shop opened on Mt. Hood and Golden Pliers, that opened in June on North Skidmore at Interstate, has quickly become a favorite of many.

We’re sure to see more evolution in the local bike shop scene this year. Before we get too behind on this beat, I wanted to share a few news updates that have been accumulating in my notebook…
[Read more…]

Bankruptcy leads to closure of all three Performance Bicycle stores in Portland region

Posted on December 7th, 2018 at 1:03 pm.

Signs are up at the Beaverton store.
(Photo: Andy Kutansky)

Some people hoped a bankruptcy filing last month by the parent company of the Performance Bicycle might not result in the closure of all stores across the country.

But today the list is out and the news isn’t good: Advanced Sports Enterprises says it will close all 102 of its stores in the United States. That includes locations in Portland (Mall 205, 9988 SE Washington St.), Tualatin (7690 Montgomery Rd.) and Beaverton (3850 SW Hall Blvd.). The closure leaves Portland with just one bike shop (Outer Rim Bicycles) east of I-205.[Read more…]

Local retailers respond to Trump’s 25% tariff on electric bikes

Posted on August 9th, 2018 at 10:24 am.

E-bikes, like this one crusing on the Eastbank Esplanade, have become very popular in Portland. A new tariff could chill the market.
(Photo: Will Vanlue for BikePortland)

“Our forecasts predict that a 25% tariff will cause a 65-75% drop in sales as consumers postpone their purchases until sanity returns to our trade policies.”
— Wake Gregg, The eBike Store

In their ongoing effort to achieve more “fair and balanced” trade conditions with China, the Trump Administration has finalized a list of $16 billion worth of products that will be hit with a 25 percent tariff that will go into effect August 23rd.

Among those products are electric bicycles and e-bike motors. Bikes imported from China previously had no tariff. The tariff on motors will be 29 percent as the new tariff will be added to the existing one 4 percent. People for Bikes, a national bike industry advocacy group, fought the move, but has so far been unsuccessful.

This is bad news for the e-bike market. As we shared last week, sales of the pedal-assisted bikes have been a major bright spot for bike companies and retail shop owners. Here in Portland, we have a thriving e-bike scene and shop owners report brisk sales. There’s been a sense that — after years of challenges due to an educational and cultural bottleneck — the U.S. market for e-bikes had finally matured. And like many bike trends, Portland is at the tip of the spear.

Here are reactions to the new tariffs from three local shop owners:
[Read more…]

Velo Cult to host big used bike sale and a final goodbye from local framebuilders

Posted on August 7th, 2018 at 3:21 pm.

(Image: Velo Cult on Instagram)

You didn’t think Velo Cult would go quietly, did you?

The legendary shop, tavern, and community event space sadly announced the closure of its brick-and-mortar retail operations last month.

If you missed the farewell party and still need one last fix of the bike-loving vibes this place was famous for, there are two events you should put on your calendar right now: A used bike sale this Friday through Sunday and a big bike show on August 18th.
[Read more…]

Velo Cult will close retail shop to focus solely on e-commerce

Posted on July 25th, 2018 at 7:26 pm.

Velo Cult was a central meeting place for bike lovers of all types.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

Velo Cult owner Sky Boyer in February 2018.

Velo Cult — a bike shop, bar and community gathering and event space in the Hollywood Neighborhood — will throw one final party this Saturday. Owner Sky Boyer has decided to close the brick-and-mortar space to focus his efforts online.

Boyer moved his business from San Diego to Portland in 2012 and quickly became a major cog in the local bike scene. Velo Cult has hosted all types of events and meetings and the shop changed the bike retail landscape locally and nationally. In 2013, Outside Magazine named Velo Cult one of the top 10 bike shops in America.

In the end, it appears the complexities of running a brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce business, mixed with requirements for running a bar in a 10,000 square-foot space, proved too big of a challenge.
[Read more…]