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A visit to two framebuilders in Portland, Oregon

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A visit to two framebuilders in Portland, Oregon

Old 04-23-18, 10:53 AM
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A visit to two framebuilders in Portland, Oregon

St. Etienne was the center of the bicycle universe in the early part of last century. Framebuilders, part makers, wheel builders, you name it, if you needed it, one could just walk the streets of this French city and find it being manufactured.

Here in Portlandia we have an embarassement of riches when it comes to bicycle shops, bike friendly cities, and more framebuilders than you can shake a stick at. Three major framebuilding material suppliers are located here: Henry James, which makes exquisite cast lugs, and still has a bit of True Temper tubing left in inventory. Torch and File is the place to get Reynolds tubing, as well as production worthy framebuilding tools. Framebuilder Supply is the relatively new kid in town, but is quickly becoming the go-to place for brazed bits, flux, filler rod, and now all of Kirk Pacenti's line from lugs.com, as well as a local supplier of Columbus tubing - and they deliver locally by bicycle.

United Bicycle Insitute has dozens of framebuilding courses offered during the year from their North Portland "campus". They have some full time instructors, and each of the classes typically has a local guest framebuilder in to help teach the class and dish out real world expertise.

@aggiegrads (Steve) is having a full blow gravel bike built by Page Street Cycles, a combination of Chirs Igleheart and Joseph Ahearne, both heavy hitters in the framebuilding world. This seems to be a common theme recently, two framebuilders making like minded bikes in "custom batch" mode. This splits the costs of space, and gets more utilization of the capital equipment (lathes, mills, etc.) I work with Steve, last Friday he took me down on a long lunch break to check out the progress on his frame.

Page Street Cycles is a Willie Wonka-like shop of cycling "stuff". There's a lot going on here, I'll just show some pictures rather than describe it.






BTW, in the background is Mitch Pryor, visiting his old mentor on a working vacation. His MAP rando bikes are top shelf for the long distance, low trail gang. He's helping to catch up on custom rack production for some recent builds. I've purchased some of his rear dropouts for some recent frame upgrades.

Steve is also having a bike built for his son. I think he gave him the choice of a used car or a new bike for his birthday. The kid's being raised right, he chose the new bike. Here Steve is checking progress. Just a bit more labor, and it's done.


Almost directly across the street is Breadwinner Cycles, the brainchild of Ira Ryan and Tony Periera, another pair of well known builders. Tony was the guest framebuilder when I took the UBI course. Steve tells me that parts move back and forth between the two businesses constantly - if one is overloaded with work, the other can help out with overflow. Some smaller framebuilders in town don't have real machine tools, they can miter tubes as an outsource service. Norther Cycles (another pair of framebuilders), for example, has started sending over chain stays for mitering and slotting, which is a labor intensive process unless you have the proper tooling and jigs.

Breadwinner keeps their shop in meticulous order. Also note that they rent out a small portion to Metrofiets, a local builder of modern cargo bikes.





Beer, bikes, and coffee blend together in Oregon. Velocult is a famous local bike shop with all three. Breadwinner recently opened a cafe that has a window into the work area, so you can sip a latte and watch your frame being produced.

It's a great place to be, and the right time to be here if you're into bicycles, especially those built in the time-honored, classic fashion.
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Old 04-23-18, 11:07 AM
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Thanks for the window into the bike biz while I sip my coffee all the way across the country!
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Old 04-23-18, 12:33 PM
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Ooooh. Thanks for this one Gugie. I can smell a road trip coming!

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Old 04-23-18, 01:22 PM
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Very nice. Portland is lucky to have such a culture.

Even in supposedly bike-crazy Madison there are no framebuilders. A few have had a presence here for little blips of time in the past but nothing lasting.

I'm in the beginning stages of opening a small workshop with a partner. We'll be prototyping parts first (cages, stems, etc), maybe move to frames eventually. Keeping our day jobs, though 🙄
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Old 04-23-18, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
Very nice. Portland is lucky to have such a culture.

Even in supposedly bike-crazy Madison there are no framebuilders. A few have had a presence here for little blips of time in the past but nothing lasting.

I'm in the beginning stages of opening a small workshop with a partner. We'll be prototyping parts first (cages, stems, etc), maybe move to frames eventually. Keeping our day jobs, though 🙄
Sounds great, keep us posted!
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Old 04-23-18, 03:31 PM
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As I have said before, Merz, Newlands and DiNucci. We have been an epicenter for a very long time.
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Old 04-23-18, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
As I have said before, Merz, Newlands and DiNucci. We have been an epicenter for a very long time.
Yep, and now the suppliers have followed as well. Not to mention Chris King and others.
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Old 04-23-18, 06:21 PM
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Looks like fun.

Might be fun to stop and see the operation at Vanilla/Speedvagen as well.

I really like the Urban Racer model and with a tweak to the racks, I could see owning one here in the Twin Cities.
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Old 04-23-18, 07:04 PM
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@gugie thanks for sharing the cool photos. I grew up in PDX (long before it was a bike mecca) and visit my friends in the Hollywood district often so I go to Velocult every chance I get, if I lived in Portland I don't know if I would ever leave that place all the stuff you mentioned and live music.

From a visit last month
Velocult by Ryan Surface, on Flickr

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Old 04-24-18, 03:47 AM
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My bike was fabricated by Zen Bicycle Fabrication, do you know what happened with that team when the shop closed?
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Old 04-24-18, 05:13 AM
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Definitely have to add a field trip to my next visit to Portland (our middle son and his family live there).
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Old 04-24-18, 05:17 AM
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Meanwhile I have to drive an hour and a half to get my Italian thread B.B. chased.
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Old 04-24-18, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ryansu View Post
@gugie thanks for sharing the cool photos. I grew up in PDX (long before it was a bike mecca) and visit my friends in the Hollywood district often so I go to Velocult every chance I get, if I lived in Portland I don't know if I would ever leave that place all the stuff you mentioned and live music.

From a visit last month
Velocult by Ryan Surface, on Flickr
A definite stop for a C&V enthusiast.
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Old 04-24-18, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs View Post
Meanwhile I have to drive an hour and a half to get my Italian thread B.B. chased.
Time to become self-sufficient.

Counting the bikes you have in your sig, it'd be paid for by now!
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Old 04-24-18, 06:39 PM
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You've got to be right, I have been meaning to take the tour for awhile, need to get to it.

Originally Posted by gomango View Post
Looks like fun.

Might be fun to stop and see the operation at Vanilla/Speedvagen as well.

I really like the Urban Racer model and with a tweak to the racks, I could see owning one here in the Twin Cities.
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Old 04-24-18, 06:46 PM
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So when did you grow up here? I grew up here too and in my view, we have been a mecca/epicenter since at least the early 70's for me and I know bike business was strong well before that. Gov. Tom McCall was given a Paramount in the 60's I believe for some big bike-centric project or program.

We have a rich racing history as well, Alpenrose Veoldrome built for 1964 Olymipic trials and much more.

Also as I said earlier in this thread, Merz, Newlands and DiNucci set the frame building bar pretty high fairly early on as well.

Originally Posted by ryansu View Post
@gugie thanks for sharing the cool photos. I grew up in PDX (long before it was a bike mecca) and visit my friends in the Hollywood district often so I go to Velocult every chance I get, if I lived in Portland I don't know if I would ever leave that place all the stuff you mentioned and live music.

From a visit last month
Velocult by Ryan Surface, on Flickr

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Old 04-24-18, 09:55 PM
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Gugie you should drive north sometime and come to Tumwater, Wa. and visit Bill Stevenson. Bring him a cup of coffee (Latte) and listen to the stories he can tell about the bike industry and check out the bikes he's building, repairing, and out on display. I think you'd find your time well spent.
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Old 04-25-18, 12:17 PM
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You make me feel even more embarrassingly spoiled for the decade I lived in that neighborhood (by 8th & Tillamook). Now I live in the 'burbs & it's a fair ride to my old haunts, my favorite dives & coffee shops...

Btw, the UBI is yer go-to for Kaisei tubing, iirc.

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Old 04-25-18, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
So when did you grow up here? I grew up here too and in my view, we have been a mecca/epicenter since at least the early 70's for me and I know bike business was strong well before that. Gov. Tom McCall was given a Paramount in the 60's I believe for some big bike-centric project or program.

We have a rich racing history as well, Alpenrose Veoldrome built for 1964 Olymipic trials and much more.

Also as I said earlier in this thread, Merz, Newlands and DiNucci set the frame building bar pretty high fairly early on as well.


I was in PDX From 73 to 83, grade school through HS and then part time while in College through 86. I was in the burbs and not an avid cyclist so my bike awareness isn't what it is now. I agree that the velodrome has a long history, but I was more referring to the explosion of frame builders, parts builders and bike infrastructure in the last 30+ years. As a Seattleite I find Portland to be way ahead of the curve for cyclists by comparison. I used to take the train (with my bike) to visit my folks and I could go from downtown near the Amtrak station to close to Clackamas high school (Original location on Webster rd) with light rail or bike path/lane the entire way except for about 100 feet. I also have done a few Sunday Parkways rides in the Rose city and wish there was something as cool in Seattle. (Sunday lake Washington Blvd for bikes only in the summer is nice but not the same)

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Old 04-25-18, 02:34 PM
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Ti Cycles set up in the woods west of Portland, short of Cornelius pass road... It is just off US 30..
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Old 04-25-18, 04:00 PM
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I was just there the other day, Dave is a great guy, runs a great program.

Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Ti Cycles set up in the woods west of Portland, short of Cornelius pass road... It is just off US 30..
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Old 04-25-18, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Ti Cycles set up in the woods west of Portland, short of Cornelius pass road... It is just off US 30..
They are also Black Magic Paint. They painted my green Superior. Pricey and worth it.
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Old 04-25-18, 07:47 PM
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Did anyone mention Chris King?

also Portland EDIT I see @gugie mentioned them way up the thread, that is a place I need to visit
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Old 04-25-18, 10:47 PM
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You are absolutely right, I firmly believe all this was set up back in the early 70's when Merz and Newlands started to really get after it in earnest with DiNucci's help and a host of others, Neil Cernitz, David Feldman and many others. Bruce Gordon came to Eugene for 10 years as well and add to the mix so much of this was in the works for a long time with a lot of momentum laying the groundwork for all that we have now.

Originally Posted by ryansu View Post
I was in PDX From 73 to 83, grade school through HS and then part time while in College through 86. I was in the burbs and not an avid cyclist so my bike awareness isn't what it is now. I agree that the velodrome has a long history, but I was more referring to the explosion of frame builders, parts builders and bike infrastructure in the last 30+ years. As a Seattleite I find Portland to be way ahead of the curve for cyclists by comparison. I used to take the train (with my bike) to visit my folks and I could go from downtown near the Amtrak station to close to Clackamas high school (Original location on Webster rd) with light rail or bike path/lane the entire way except for about 100 feet. I also have done a few Sunday Parkways rides in the Rose city and wish there was something as cool in Seattle. (Sunday lake Washington Blvd for bikes only in the summer is nice but not the same)
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Old 04-26-18, 02:16 AM
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Dave Feldman repaired the derailleur hanger on my Lemond; Dave Levy (Ti Cycles) did all the frame mods on my Panasonic. Wonderful people; I liked listening to Feldman's stories about the early days, back when he was still a Bridgestone area rep.

Originally Posted by gomango View Post
Looks like fun. Might be fun to stop and see the operation at Vanilla/Speedvagen as well.

Greg Morris landed there after Milholland closed its doors; he made a huge dent in Sacha's notorious 5-year wait list.

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