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  1. #1
    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    good PDX bike shops?

    Hi. Been absent from ye olde BF for a while, partly because, amongst many other things, my fiancee and I are preparing to move to Portland. She lived there for several years prior to moving to Chicago for grad school, and suckered me into visiting for a week in summer '05. I absolutely fell in love with the city and, now that she's finally finished with school, we're moving there at the end of December. We're going to be living around the southern part of the Humboldt neighborhood, just a bit north of the Mississippi district.

    My question: what are some good bike shops in Portland that cater to the largely do-it-yourself mechanic yet provide good, reliable service for the few things I haven't got the necessary tools on hand for? I'm basically asking because I want to avoid going to any shop that doesn't carry a good range of common parts or that's staffed by the kind of jerk-ass mechanics who don't like answering specific questions in depth when asked or having a conversation about multiple solutions to a given problem. If it helps, my favorite shops here in Chicago are Yojimbo's Garage and Boulevard Bikes...any transplants know of anything similar? I asked my fiancee but in her previous stay in Portland, she was of the "drop it off at the shop and let them sort it out" mindset and thus hasn't got much to say on the subject.

  2. #2
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    You should try Citybikes they have 2 stores on Ankeny SE, Community Cycling Center on Alberta NE, Bike Stuff on Belmont SE they rent do it yourself mechanic space, have you looked at bikeportland.org good reading and enjoy the riding in pdx.
    Ciao
    Paolo

  3. #3
    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dabbo
    You should try Citybikes they have 2 stores on Ankeny SE, Community Cycling Center on Alberta NE, Bike Stuff on Belmont SE they rent do it yourself mechanic space, have you looked at bikeportland.org good reading and enjoy the riding in pdx.
    Haven't looked at it yet, no, although doing some searches was to be the next step after the "hey, anyone have any specific anecdotes or thoughts on any shops that might fit this description" phase. Thanks for the recommendation and the link.

  4. #4
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    If you do the fixed/ss thing, Veloshop. They have all the pretty stuff there. Citybikes seems nice for scrounging parts.

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    rivercity has the most stiff but prices are on the high side and I hear serice is really expensive. http://www.rivercitybicycles.com/
    great service and used parts and some new http://www.velocebicycles.com/

  6. #6
    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    Checked out RiverCity during my visit in '05...seemed like they had some great bikes, but were very much a "showroom" type of a store. That's not to say they're a bad shop, mind you, but they seem more like the sort of place I'd want to drop by if I'd come across a remarkably large sum of cash and were looking to get a sweet super-technical weighs-nothing toy. Which, sadly, won't be happening anytime soon.

    VeloShop is the *only* other shop I've been in, oddly enough. Seemed smallish and cool, though considering that I'm not running a one-sprocket rig, I can't see much reason in going there beyond inquiring about, say, a vegan-friendly saddle. If I were to be in the neighborhood and needed some regularly replaced stuff (such as bearings or brake cables), seems like it would be an alright place to stop.


    Everything else will be 100% new to me, and admittedly, I've only been to the above places once each. Hadn't heard of Veloce before. Call me a sucker, but that classic poster art on their site indicates I will have to check them out. Er, well, that and your description.

    Again, thanks for the input and please don't hesitate to tell me where I'm "wrong".

  7. #7
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    I bought my bike at Veloce. It's a little shop with fancy, high end bikes, both new and consignment. Many of his customers are the competitive type. But then there are the Breezers, which is what I bought from him. He also sells a couple of Biria commuter models, all internal hub gear. It's really kind of funny when the 2 very distinct customer bases mingle in the shop. I asked him why he sells Breezers when all his other bikes are so different. He says he thinks they're elegant. What I will say about them is that they're really great to people for whom their bike is their car. If you have to get a repair done, they try to get it done quickly so you're not without your bike very long. I also hear that the owner is a really great bike fitter for those fancy, high end bikes.

    You say you're moving to North Portland? A coworker of mine lives in that neck of the woods, and she really likes Revolver. I haven't checked them out yet.

  8. #8
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    You should check out the Community Cycling Center, they are a great resource for what you describe. here is the website http://www.communitycyclingcenter.org/

    Another great resource in Oregon is the Bicycle Transportation Alliance

    Good luck with your move, I hope you like Oregon!
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  9. #9
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    I'm a big fan of Sellwood Cycle. They don't have space for you to rent, but they are very straight forward and give great service. It's a small shop that sells a few new bikes (Kona's) and a lot of road/cyclocross bikes on consignment. I bought a used road bike from them and ever since they remember my name and bike everytime I go into their shop.

    The owner of the shop is a professional (or maybe semi-professional...) cyclocross racer who is very connected to the local biking scene.

    I also have experience with Veloce Cycles. Dimitry fitted me and did a great job. His store has a good vibe.

    Welcome to Portland! Best cycling city in the U.S. (if you don't mind the rain).

  10. #10
    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    Wow...tons more great info. Thanks once more to all of you for your advice and help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chisolm
    Welcome to Portland! Best cycling city in the U.S. (if you don't mind the rain).
    Indeed. Given all the pros of Portland in general, rain ain't so bad. After six years in Chicago, I'm especially looking forward to *not* dealing with the following any longer:
    -bone-chilling winters
    -salt/cinder/slush mixtures that eat your drivetrain alive
    -pointless road construction projects that are obviously fronts for the city shuffling around money and which make the road even worse when they're "finished"
    -the abundance of locals who seem inexplicably proud of the corruption at city hall and all but worship King Daley
    -the crazy camera plan
    -folks who still like interjecting "Ditka" as an exclamation at random intervals
    -an overwhelming abundance of signs reading "POLISH" and "ITALIAN BEEF"

    Though I must admit, I will honestly miss seeing cops on Segways. But yeah...Portland's just what I need now. I'll be getting in to Portland on December 28th, and moving into my new place w/ a slight hangover on January 1st. I'm starting my year off right.

  11. #11
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatWhichRolls
    Indeed. Given all the pros of Portland in general, rain ain't so bad. After six years in Chicago, I'm especially looking forward to *not* dealing with the following any longer:
    -bone-chilling winters
    -salt/cinder/slush mixtures that eat your drivetrain alive
    -pointless road construction projects that are obviously fronts for the city shuffling around money and which make the road even worse when they're "finished"
    -the abundance of locals who seem inexplicably proud of the corruption at city hall and all but worship King Daley
    -the crazy camera plan
    -folks who still like interjecting "Ditka" as an exclamation at random intervals
    -an overwhelming abundance of signs reading "POLISH" and "ITALIAN BEEF"

    Though I must admit, I will honestly miss seeing cops on Segways. But yeah...Portland's just what I need now. I'll be getting in to Portland on December 28th, and moving into my new place w/ a slight hangover on January 1st. I'm starting my year off right.
    Hm, I can't resist commenting. I grew up in the Detroit area and have lived in Portland for 10 years now.

    - It can get bone-chilling around here at times (especially when cold is mixed with rain), but it's true that it's nothing like Chicago. You'll notice that many people here are actually physically active in poor weather conditions. Don't have a stroke.
    - I do not miss the salt and everything that goes with it. I caution you, though - be careful when there has been snow or an ice storm. No one knows how to drive in it, and they are scary! You will need a pair of these for your first ice storm. They often happen around the time you plan to move here.
    - There is and has been a lot of road construction in the area recently, especially downtown, and even more vitriol spewed about whether or not it is truly necessary. I think this is part of the human condition and you can't escape it no matter where you move.
    - I do not miss the "strong arm/political machine" system of city/local government that is prevalent in the urban Midwest and East. Portland has this old-fashioned commissioner system form of city government where the mayor can't get anything done unless s/he has the cooperation of a certain number of city commissioners. Some love it, others hate it. You'll have to decide for yourself. I believe it is a major factor in cyclists here getting what they want, so I like it. I also believe it helps keep the entrenched corruption to a minimum. Don't ever take a sip of a drink or a bite of meal at the same time a native Portlander complains to you about government/police corruption/brutality unless you like food and drink getting snorted up and out of your nose. Doubly so for anyone who tries to convince you that a "bad neighborhood" exists in Portland.
    - Camera?
    - No Ditka, thank goodness. There is only one professional, major league sports team here. What utter sanity.
    - Thai is to Portland what Polish is to Chicago/Detroit/Milwaukee. That said, there is a guy who has a Polish food cart here. He's acutally an immigrant from Poland and makes his own kielbasa. I have never tasted better pierogi outside my Aunt Jenny's kitchen. 3rd, 4th, 5th generation Polish Americans have turned Polish food into greasy yuck, IMO. When you do experience a craving for such food, visit his cart. Likewise for the Czech food cart downtown run by this really nice couple from Prague. They've got really excellent taste in music, too.

  12. #12
    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    Very interesting notes, to say the least. Here are some point-by-point responses/further questions.

    1) "Cold" for me is when it's like what was here two days ago: mid-teens temperature (F) or lower. Anything above I deal with just fine. I've always had a fair tolerance for cold and actually tend to sweat to an uncomfortable degree under the heavy coats and sweaters that lots of folks seem to wear in what I consider to be fairly mild temperatures. As such the famous Portland rain is something I've thought about dealing with, especially in combination with lower temperatures. Guess I'll need to drop into a sporting goods shop once I'm there and make some inquiries so I don't freeze *or* baste myself to death. But say, what's a cyclist without clipless pedals + shoes do in Portland to at least cut down on the sock soaking during the wet season?

    2) Yaktrax, hm? Sounds useful and seems relatively inexpensive, and they're carried in shops in Portland. I'm sold.

    3) Oh boy...where can I begin? I'll spare any insights about Midwestern politics, social mores, and the like, and just say I'm glad to get away from all of that: commission government sounds refreshing in contrast to the "Daley lording over the 50 aldermen"/"strong mayor" mayor-council way of doing things here - or at least, there seems to be a better chance for the voting public to actually change the direction of the city if it's going to crap. To ask a broad question, how transparent are politics in Portland, and what are good resources of information so as to keep abreast of things?

    Having spent the last two years living six blocks from a housing project, regularly heading to a bike shop right next to Cabrini Green, and the past year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA for a project providing IT services for underfunded health/human services groups in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago, I've got a very specific personal definition of what constitutes a "bad neighborhood". OTOH, I have no problem contextualizing social problems relevant to their environment. From what I've read so far, one of the thing that seems very cool about some of Portland's "bad" neighborhoods is that they seem to have strong community groups that transcend (or at least make a solid effort at it) the usual dividing lines of faith, ethnicity, and so on...something that's sorely lacking here. Are these groups really as active as they seem, or is it a lot of hot air and credit-taking exercises that I shouldn't get too enthusiastic about?

    4) No photos I've taken personally, sadly. I can't even find a good, representative photo that captures the sheer ridiculousness of it all. The one accompanying the otherwise worthless item at http://money.cnn.com/blogs/browser/2...n-segways.html kind of does it, but only if you recognize the part of town: they're only on these things in the nicest parts of downtown, though they've got over 100 of the things now, which makes me *so* glad to know where the tax dollars go. I guess they're maybe a fine deterrent -after all, if you can see an officer several feet above everyone else, you're probably going to think twice about breaking the law- but I can't really see them doing much else unless you want to count "we're great and have such fancy gear" points. As usual, bikes seem much more useful...one of the coolest things I've ever seen here was a Chicago cop on zoom up on Trek and pull over and ticket a motorist for blowing a red light.

    5) Pro-sports aren't bad. Hell, pro-sport groupthink isn't even all that bad, just when it gets carried out of the stadiums and the sports bars and just annoys the living !@#$ out of everyone who hasn't been transformed into an exceptionally dim two-year-old. I'll be damn glad not to have to hear "the Cubbies" come out of the mouths of grown men for a long time.

    6) Is your analogy meant to imply that there's an overwhelming majority of weak Americanized "Thai" food in Portland? If there is, please warn me of where to stay away from now.

    By "Polish", I meant "Polish sausage", or rather, that's what the signs reading "Polish" mean...or are supposed to: what's actually available at such establishments is really just a bigger, fancier kind of hot dog. I will say that I'm lucky enough to be able to say that I have in fact had really good authentic Polish cuisine a few times and absolutely *loved* it. I've gone vegan since, so I haven't had much of it in years, but I still have fond memories of it and am adamant that it was some of the best tasting food I've ever had.
    Last edited by ThatWhichRolls; 12-10-06 at 01:12 AM.

  13. #13
    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    Okay, I forgot the bit about road construction. Yes, it's pretty ubiquitous, fact-of-life stuff, but it's highly variable, and so allow me to give some examples of what I'm griping about. The corner outside of my apartment building, for instance, was dug up, scraped, and resurfaced (yes, all three each instance!)nine times over the course of this summer. Several spots along my regular bike commute route (of only about 5 miles along S Halsted St.) were also given the same multiple-"fixes"-with-no-improvement treatment over two months time, and I was faced with having to carefully maneuver over large, inch-thick unsecured metal plates or bracing myself to drop into 2" deep gaps in the road and I could get back out alright. The gaps were then shoddily filled in and not smoothed over correctly, and thus only a matter of time until they got dug out again.

    There was also the case of a few busy miles along Roosevelt Rd. having had the bike lane striping removed utterly for a whole year, which the city claimed was because of a major detour for the Dan Ryan Expressway construction directed along that way, and most of the motorists seemingly took it as a sign that bikes were somehow no longer allowed along Roosevelt. I'm fine with taking the lane, but it's hell when I've got cars nearly sideswiping me because they can't stand being behind a bike moving at ~20mph and don't know/care about passing safely...

    Is road construction as half-assed as all this in Portland?

  14. #14
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatWhichRolls
    Is road construction as half-assed as all this in Portland?
    It's been pretty bad downtown, and will get worse in the next 2 years. Part of it is related to the fact that government agencies around here are notorious for their poor communication with one another. So you have a bunch of things going on downtown. There is this huge department store renovation that has bus stops and sidewalks closed in a high traffic area. Then there is this huge sewer renovation thing going on run by the Water Bureau. Now we also have new light rail tracks going in which is going to reroute nearly all the buses that go through downtown. I believe this is being overseen by our area transit folks. Given how many times they seem to tear up the same stretches of road, I can only conclude that they barely speak to each other. The communication between city bureaus is bad enough that it gives the people who would like to get rid of our commissioner system compelling ammo. Of course, I am skeptical that it would improve if the system did change, but all the detractors need is a good spin to sway voters with poor critical thinking skills.

  15. #15
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    I think you're going to really like Portland. About the climate - you will finally truly appreciate wool when you move here. I never got it for bitter cold, dry, static-y midwestern winters. High humidity, rainy winters is where wool's at. The nice thing about wool here is that you stay warm even when it's wet. Any of the advice you hear from winter riders in western OR and WA on BF will suit you well. You don't have to pay an arm and a leg to stay warm here this time of year.

    Ok, so you'll have to PM me when you're settled in and I'll meet you and your girlfriend for lunch at a nice Thai place with lots of vegan on the menu. There's a good one downtown...

  16. #16
    drunken ass
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    avoiding the jerkass mechanics is always going to be a hard one, unless you know the mechanic.

    Shops I would reccommend since you're in the humbolt area is North Portland Bike works on Mississippi.
    Veloshop also caters to high end road stuff.
    Bike Central on 1st(nato?) right around the corner from Ash.
    City bikes is good for used stuff.
    Those are the ones I go to.
    the others have screwed up some how and are not in my shopping list any longer... or they're just big shops. I like rivercity, but as you mentioned, showroom. bike gallery isn't bad, i pick up tires/tubes there, that's about it.

  17. #17
    Senior Member
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    Also in North Portland:

    www.revolverbikes.com
    6509 N Interstate Ave| Portland, OR | 503.285.1084 | info@revolverbikes.com
    Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11-7, Saturday 10-6

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    Top three repair bike shop in Portland:
    1- Sellwood Cycle --> I love this place, makes me feel welcome everytime.
    2- Bike Gallery
    3- Community cycling center, NE Alberta

    Bottom three repair shops in Portland:
    1- Fat Tire Farm --> Roadie or MTB, I d never go back there
    2- RiverCity --> Expensive and not welcoming: I usually want to run out once I get in.
    3- That s it.

  19. #19
    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    Thanks once again to everyone for the replies...you folks are awesome.

    The lady and I just got into town a bit over a week ago and are now all moved into our place, have the basic furniture in place, and a net connection. Needless to say, I put our bikes back together in our friends' basement before we even moved into our new abode. Turned out I'd neglected to get my offset brake wrenches returned to me when lending them out some time ago (didn't think about it as my bike's brakes are both 100% allen wrench adjustable) and thus I couldn't properly get my fiancee's fixie's schmancy vintage Campy front brake centered. The friends we were staying with lives just a bit east of us in the King neighborhood, just south of Alberta, so we took it over to the Community Cycling Center.

    The guy who helped us was nice -bit stand-offish at first, though probably because he initially saw me as the overbearing boyfriend type lurking around in the background. I must say I was very pleased to see the bike go into the stand right away and get a pretty thorough check-over, resulting in a slight wheel truing and BB overhaul being recommended. We were fine with the truing (no patience for something so tedious for the first chaotic week of getting settled, you know?), and I said I'd be glad to overhaul the BB myself (we'd been meaning to ditch BB cartridge bearings for the loose-packed real deal anyway). He seemed to catch on that I was just there for support and was trying to avoid doing the whole "controlling" thing and I felt the stand-offishness ebb away. He gave us a fair quote for the labor and estimated that it'd be ready two hours before the shop closed. My fiancee heard back a whole hour and a half prior to the estimated time. Pretty damn good!

    We've also been to North Portland Bike Works since then to pick up new helmets and I've gotta say it's probably going to be our regular for parts and the occasional accessory. Even on foot, it's only about five minutes from us, the staff's very friendly, and it's got the exact small-and-friendly shop vibe that I was looking for --and let's not forget all the community-centric programs and such, that counts for something too. I'll be sure to consider all the other suggestions on a practical basis. Revolver may be next as it's so close, but what for, I'm not sure exactly...

    And beyond all the thanks, let me just say I'm *so incredibly glad* to be in Portland at long last! We were able to ride our bikes for ten minutes the other day and get a week's worth of groceries from the nearest New Seasons, whereas in Chicago, it would've been the same distance over crappier roads in bad traffic and colder weather to a crappy, filthy grocery full of disgusting, rotten over-priced produce and garbage food. There've been all sorts of other great moments, but they wouldn't make sense without the kind of context that goes beyond the intended purposes of BF. Suffice to say, life is not just good, but -dare I say- friggin' awesome!

  20. #20
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    ThatWhichRolls welcome to Portland.
    Now I guess you can change your location in your profile....
    Enjoy
    Ciao
    Paolo

  21. #21
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Is the time for Thai neigh?

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    Palcontent ThatWhichRolls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dabbo
    ThatWhichRolls welcome to Portland.
    Now I guess you can change your location in your profile....
    Yarr, I knew I'd missed *something* critical but couldn't put my finger on it.

  23. #23
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    Ok now lets try South Portland, I live in Canby and work on the East side close to Burnside. What shop do you recommend in my area. I realize Rivercity is pretty expensive. My new Motobecane should be here today and need a shop to put it together for me as well as get some maintenance done on some other bikes. Hoping to find a good shop that I can use for years to come. Anyone have any experience with Bike N Hike in Milwaukie or there is a City Bike close to my work do they do complete builds?
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryA
    Ok now lets try South Portland, I live in Canby and work on the East side close to Burnside. What shop do you recommend in my area. I realize Rivercity is pretty expensive. My new Motobecane should be here today and need a shop to put it together for me as well as get some maintenance done on some other bikes. Hoping to find a good shop that I can use for years to come. Anyone have any experience with Bike N Hike in Milwaukie or there is a City Bike close to my work do they do complete builds?
    I bet you must be impatient to get on the Motobecane... the weather is quite alright to go riding this week to!
    If you are in a hurry, the folks at Bike Gallery will put it together fast. I can t recommend them 100% because they did a fair job on my last tune up.
    Sellwood cycle (S Portland), will do a great great job, but they are likely to take a bit longer.

  25. #25
    Senior Member GaryA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e78990
    I bet you must be impatient to get on the Motobecane... the weather is quite alright to go riding this week to!
    If you are in a hurry, the folks at Bike Gallery will put it together fast. I can t recommend them 100% because they did a fair job on my last tune up.
    Sellwood cycle (S Portland), will do a great great job, but they are likely to take a bit longer.
    Not to impatient on getting it put together actually, I would rather have it put together well and with a decent price then quickly and poorly. I have a mountain bike with road tires that I ride in the bad weather and on my trainer.

    Thanks on the recommendations I will look into Sellwood Cycle. I realize that it isn't necessarily the shop as it is the mechanic but I hope each place has a system of checks and balances to make sure work is done to there satisfaction.
    2007 Motobecane Sprint
    2003 Cannondale Jekyll
    1992 Specialized Allez
    1991 Trek 8700

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