Faces From The Neighborhood

Upcycles: Neighborhood Bike Shop with Heart

Kai Drutzel, who owns and operates Upcycles with his business partner Mark Hoskins, is turning his passion into a livelihood.  Upcycles is all about the love of bikes and riding, and the love for the community where it sits. The shop offers bicycle repairs and service at an affordable price, and sells and builds custom commuter, cruising and touring bikes. Upcycles has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  A place where everyone is welcome and where everyone knows your name.  It is a small bike shop with a big heart.

It’s About The Ride:  But heart doesn’t replace quality at Upcycles.  In fact, they’re intertwined. When you first meet Kai, you know he loves bicycles and loves riding. His passion is to tour on his bike, enjoying the quiet back roads of the countryside.  He tried racing, but that style wasn’t for him. He’s toured alone and has led bicycle touring trips.

Synchronicity:  Kai is also a bicycle mechanic, with the skill to keep the machines he loves running smoothly and for a long time.  He’ll repair just about any bike, as long as it makes sense to keep it running.  Upcycles stocks solid, quality bikes with reasonable pricing.   It doesn’t strike me that Upcycles is trying to sell you a fancy bike you don’t need, but wants to get you on the bike that is right for you. They believe in a synchronicity between bike and rider.

The Right Bike:  I asked him about a new touring/commuter combo bike for me.  He pulled out his catalog and quickly assessed the frame and type of bike that would work well for me. Once the correct frame is identified, Kai assembles the bike and adds the standard or custom components. Upcycles also has an arrangement with another shop to professionally fit your bike, so you have a comfortable ride. I will be back to see Kai when it’s time for the next bike (hopefully sooner than later).

Beginnings:  Kai reports Upcycles started on a shoe string.  But starting from scratch was something Kai learned at an early age. His family arrived in the United States from Poland when Kai was just 10, just one year before the wall came down. His family lived in San Francisco and Portland, Maine for awhile. They finally ended up in Gold Beach, Oregon.

Prior to starting Upcycles, Kai was a chef at Breitenbush Hot Springs.  While there, he started working on bikes in the wood shop at the facility.  It seemed a natural fit, and Kai and his business partner Mark soon started thinking about opening a bike shop in town.

The Garage:  Upcycles began as a repair service in Kai’s basement, but they soon needed more space.  In love with the area on NE Dekum in Woodlawn, Kai started looking for some commercial space.  He spotted a metal working shop on the corner, and contacted the landlord to see if he could rent space there for Upcycles.  Upcycles ended up leasing the garage space next to the shop.  The services expanded to selling accessories and bikes.

Growing Upcycles:  Since starting the shop, Kai has seen the neighborhood change and grow. The bike shop has grown too and needs more space again. From the simple beginnings of a bike repair service in a basement, Upcycles will soon move from the garage to the original larger space in the metal working shop Kai first discovered. Kai wants to use the extra space to teach classes and workshops, and have a place for customers to just hang out.

Ultimately, Kai would like to spend less time working on bikes, and more time leading bike tours. He is starting a new company, Cascadia Bike Tours, to do just that. His vision is to guide people on self-supported bicycle tours. Stay tuned for an upcoming story on his next adventure.

Upcycles is located at 911 NE Dekum Street in Portland.  You can also find them on the web at Upcyclespdx.com.

Lisa Ratzlaff

Lisa Ratzlaff is a web designer who loves telling the amazing stories of interesting people and businesses in Portland, Oregon. Her web design business is Share Your Story Media, where she builds powerful websites for small service-based businesses that help them succeed online.