Roll down Lagoon Avenue on Swan Island in Portland’s Industrial valley, past the Daimler Factory to the end of the road, and the towering cranes reach toward the hazy skies over Vigor Industries behind chain link fences and security gates.
First thought is obvious: This just might be a little bit too far off the beaten path, even for stout Northwest cyclists in search of the unique.
But as you roll down the road past the Vigor parking lot, you see a connection you wouldn’t imagine. Bicycles. Everywhere. Hundreds of them.
Once through the security gate, it becomes obvious. This place is huge. And what better way to have workers in hard hats get around the massive complex than bicycles? They are everywhere. Every way shape and form.
Parked in groups of 20-30, bicycles outside the huge factory work bays with door openings large enough to roll in, well, a ship, catch your eye. The bicycles distract me enough that I realize I’ve rolled past a huge “10” painted on the side of the building, so I pull a U-turn.
Decked out in his Vigor Industries hard hat, in soiled heavy-duty gray work pants and hearty jacket as if he walked off the set of Flashdance, a worker waves me down.
“You’re looking for BUILDING 10,” he said, pointing farther down the road. “This is Building 4, Bin 10.”
I smile and wave, and head down to building 10. Inside the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show slowly emerges from an empty factory floor. Show director Aaron McBride tells me this show is the fourth in a series of Art Shows in the venue.Ahearne Cycles headbadge, the signature of builder Joseph Ahearne of Portland.
It all fits together. The raw and gritty atmosphere of the shipyard reflects the simple beginnings of bike building that eventually gives way to true art.Joseph Ahearne’s handiwork. Our fellow Eugene bicycle builder, Co-Motion. Bike Friday’s Super Pro felt right at home, and was a big hit with anyone who enjoys giggling at ridiculously light bicycles. Littleford Bicycles combines some woodworking with stylish metal works on its sweet rear rack. Yes, it even locks closed. Metrofiets Cargo Bikes are a collaboration between James Nichols and Phillip Ross. Speaking of wood, Renovo Hardwood Bicycles can aptly be described as a true showstopper. More Renovo. So imagine going all out on the wood theme. Bike plus helmet. Hold on, don’t forget your wooden rims from Sacro Bosco Bicycle Works.
The Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show is presented by the Oregon Bicycle Construction Association, so while a lot of these guys are homegrown frame builders, what they dress their bikes up with are quality components from some of the world’s best.
And some of the best begin right in Oregon, with Portland’s Chris King.Portland’s Chris King would do a show all on its own … To paraphrase Homer Simpson, Ahhhh, Headsets … And, of course, our 20th Anniversary New World Tourist that celebrates the best of Made in USA bike components has a Chris King headset.
The 20th Anniversary New World Tourist also has nifty brakes, and shifters, from Paul Components. The wheels that grab attention on the Super Pro? Made right here in Eugene by Rolf Prima.
Suffice to say, there was plenty of bike stuff everywhere to catch your eye, and make for a fun weekend all about bikes.Arakawa Hanging Systems donated the manpower to launch a couple of bikes into the heavens, and we jumped at the opportunity. The Bike Friday Aerospoke Llama brought a few folks back around for a second lap to ask about the wheels. Vendetta Cycleswith an award-winning finish.