From e-bikes to recumbents, Portland’s niche bike shops find success

Coventry Cycle Works-1

Coventry Cycles has found a comfortable
niche with recumbents.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

With (at least) 69 bike shops in Portland — that’s one for every two square miles, in case you’re keeping track — we’re often asked how they can all survive. The bike shop business isn’t easy; but one way to stand out in the crowd and be successful is to find a niche (or create a new one) and then develop it into a healthy market. Several Portland bike shop owners have done precisely that. And they’ve done it well.

Powered by high-touch marketing and nurtured by Portland’s seemingly bottomless love of interesting bikes, a handful of small-scale entrepreneurs have taken big risks on bike shops that fit both their personal passions and market niches that bigger companies either couldn’t serve or didn’t even know existed.

Here’s a quick take on each of three specialized Portland bike shops whose bets are paying off.

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Event: 2011 Human Power Challenge (5/28/11)

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Event Name: 2011 Human Power Challenge
Event Start Date: 28 May 2011
Start Time: 8:00:00 AM
Web Site: http://www.ohpv.org/HPC/index.html
Event Description: Oregon Human Powered Vehicles Presents: The 12th Annual Human Power Challenge (HPC)

The event will be held on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 & 29, 2011 at Portland International Raceway (PIR) in Portland, Oregon. This unique event has a large variety of racing formats. Rider skills and strengths will be challenged as they compete in any or all of the following:

• Individual Time Trial
• 1/8 Mile Drag Race
• Auto Cross Speed & Agility Course
• 200 Meter All Out Speed Test
• Mass Start Road Race
• Short Track Curvy Road Race

Pre-registration is encouraged – costs start at $45 for the weekend – add’l costs for add’l bikes or classes per rider. See the link for registration info. Racing is held rain or shine, both Saturday and Sunday.

The Human Power Challenge is happily more than just a race filled weekend – it has culminated into being one of the most festive social gatherings for the recumbent and HPV clan. We do like to spend lots of time chatting, while gazing at the variety of vehicles present, while telling outrageous tales. HPV racing is not the only activity featured at the Human Power Challenge. In conjunction with our event, the Electrathon America folks hold an annual race that features small electric powered aerodynamic vehicles that demonstrate the skills and talents of high school and adult pioneers of alternative transportation. These vehicles are designed to optimize electric power, capturing engineering skills that must procure an end result of both endurance and speed. This event is exciting and inspirational, “at the flick of a switch.”

Come and experience a degree of camaraderie and racing that few events have attained, or hope to. Admission is free for spectators, so come cheer your favorite racers to victory. We invite you to come and get “bent” with us, to be a part of the HUMAN POWER CHALLENGE!

More details concerning any of the exciting HPC events and general race information are available at the OHPV website http://ohpv.org/HPC/index.html then follow the links to the appropriate area of interest. Any persons or teams interested in participating in this exciting event can receive further information by sending an email to pirhumanpower[at]comcast[dot]net.

Portland-based TerraCycle acquires Windwrap Fairings

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

TerraCycle Inc., a locally based designer, manufacturer, and retailer of specialty recumbent parts and accessories has acquired Windwrap Fairings.

Windwrap makes fairings (a.k.a. windscreens) out of Lexan plastic and is a well-known brand in the recumbent world. Mark Mueller, founder of the company that makes Windwrap Fairings, started the business in 1998 and has always maintained his day job as a transportation engineer for CalTrans. In a press release about the deal, Mueller said:

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