This Lil’ Honey was new in 2012, but is ready for a new owner now. (Photos: Madi Carlson)
Six years ago I scored a free 12-inch kids bike from my neighborhood mom group. It was the start of a journey — not just of riding, but of figuring out how and where to get bikes that work and that fit my constantly growing boys. [Read more…]
Isla Rowntree at her Portland facility in June 2017. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
“Shops are typically run by conservative, not that young — and dare I say male — shop owners in the industry. That would be the profile who just thought I was mad. So I wouldn’t have persuaded them to buy anything from me.” — Isla Rowntree on why she decided to sell customer-direct
You’ve probably seen them: Young kids zipping around on great-looking (usually red) bikes with the Islabikes name on the downtube. Isla Rowntree is the woman behind this business. She founded the company in 2005 in the picturesque town of Ludlow in the United Kingdom, about 155 miles northwest of London. In 2013 Islabikes came to North America and planted their headquarters in Portland’s Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood.
Last summer Rowntree paid a visit to her bustling U.S. outpost and I met up with her for a chat. We sat in the upper floor of their warehouse and showroom on SE 7th Avenue and she shared a brief history of children’s bikes, her passion for making good ones, the challenges she faced as a start-up, and how Islabikes almost never ended up in Portland.
The Q & A is below, edited slightly for clarity (for full effect, read her words in a proper British accent)…
I was intrigued to learn you started a children’s bike company, but that children weren’t your inspiration?
“No. It wasn’t through my own children. I’ve been in the bike industry pretty much all my working life. I started in a bike shop when I was still in school and experienced my own personal challenges with fit and ergonomics because I’m fairly physically small. I came up with some solutions for those challenges and tinkered about with them throughout my twenties. Then, 11 or 12 years ago, I got to an age when my friends — and my sister in particular — had started families. They were all asking me what bikes to get for their kids. And that really drew my attention to the details of children’s bikes as they were available at the time. I was expecting to make a recommendation, do a bit of research and say, “OK get this one for your child.” But they were all so awful.
Pressure on Vista Outdoor Inc. has ramped up in the past week.
Last Friday we reported that several local bike shops decided to stop selling products from CamelBak, Bell Sports, Giro, Blackburn, Raskullz and CoPilot following revelations that their parent company — Vista Outdoor Inc. — has close ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and also owns brands that sell gun products and ammunition.
“We will no longer purchase products from companies owned by Vista Outdoors. We will be donating proceeds from the remaining inventory we have of Giro helmets to Everytown for Gun Safety.” — Leah Benson, Gladys Bikes
Revelations this week that several major bicycle brands are owned by Vista Outdoor — one of America’s largest sellers of assault weapon ammunition and accessories, and a staunch supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA) — has sent shockwaves through the Portland bike scene.
We’ve heard from several readers who now plan to boycott products from Bell Sports, Giro, Blackburn Design, CamelBak, Raskullz, and Copilot. But for bike shop owners who sell helmets, racks, packs and child seats, the issue is much more complicated. Some say they’ll boycott the brands until ties to the NRA are severed, others say they’ll steer clear of them in the future, and one was in such a moral quandary, they asked to remain anonymous.
Immediately after our story posted we heard from several Portland shops who said they’ll boycott all Vista Outdoor brands.
Clever Cycles, who doesn’t currently sell any Vista Outdoor products, wrote on Twitter that it’s, “Terrible to hear that a company pedaling child seats and safety equipment is also supporting an industry of terror,” and, “We are proud to not carry any products that @VistaOutdoorInc distributes.” Go By Bike owner Kiel Johnson shared that, “We won’t sell those brands either!” Mel Birgé who owns Recumbent PDX says, “I would never knowingly sell products from a weapons manufacturer. We didn’t sell Bell, Giro or Blackburn and now we won’t start.” [Read more…]
We’re very happy to report that that is no longer the case!
George Wilson, a former retiree who we’ve featured in the past for his bicycle advocacy in the Mt. Hood area, is opening Mt. Hood Bicycle this month in the Hoodland Shopping Center in Welches. Wilson is partnering with Kevin McCarthy on what will be a full service shop that will cater to locals and visitors alike. Both Wilson and McCarthy are certified bicycle mechanics and have decades of cycling experience between them.
We contacted Wilson via email today after reading about the shop in the Mountain Times. He said they’ll have a soft opening January 16th and are planning a grand opening in March. [Read more…]
Customers sit at the bar of Breadwinner Cafe with the framebuilding workshop visible through a big window. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
The story behind the new Breadwinner Cafe is Portland at its best.
The two guys behind it — Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan — started over a decade ago as bicycle builders toiling in their garages on frames bearing their own names (Pereira Cycles and Ira Ryan Cycles respectively). Then in 2013 they joined forces to form Breadwinner Cycles. That brand and business has matured nicely over the years; but the duo was still cramped for space. Last spring they leased a building on North Williams Avenue and Page Street and have been working all year to renovate the space.
Today they took a huge step forward with the opening of Breadwinner Cafe, which is directly adjacent to the workshop where they build the 10 different models they currently offer. Tony and Ira have gone from framebuilders to community builders.
Oregon’s infamous $15 bicycle excise tax goes into effect in just 20 days.
On January 1st, bicycle retailers across the state will have to be registered with the Department of Revenue (DOR) and have systems in place to collect and record the fee. To help make sure shops are ready, DOR has sent notices in the mail and has set up a website with more information.
We’ve been in touch with many Portland-based bike shops to hear how they’re feeling about it. So far we’ve heard a range of opinions. Some shop owners disagree with the tax in principle and/or have concerns about how it will impact their business, while others don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal.
As for the tax itself, the first order of business from the State’s perspective is to educate retailers. In a letter (PDF) sent to shops on December 4th, the DOR laid out the basics of the tax and offered answers to several frequently asked questions. [Read more…]