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East Portland metal fabricator/bike builder launches ‘Lewd Bikes’

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The other day while riding home up N. Mississippi just off of Interstate Ave, something caught my eye near the new Green Garage bike shop. A banner for “Lewd Bikes” and what looked like a party going on inside. I was already late getting home, but I had to see what was going on. I’m glad I did because I ended up meeting Chris Lewis, the man behind Portland’s newest bike company, Lewd Bikes.

Lewis, 33, is a veteran metal fabricator with 15 years of experience. When he got laid off from his former job doing high-end Tig pipe welding, he decided to start a metal fabrication business. After doing custom jobs for a while, he decided to focus on a single product: “When thinking about who we are and what we know and where we live, it didn’t really take us long to decide on bicycles.”

He made his first bike one year ago. Since then, he’s made 18 bikes for family and friends and yesterday’s party was meant as his big public debut. Like many builders, making bikes for family and friends is the first step. Now Lewis says he’s ready to start taking orders and he’s excited to branch out into the Portland market.

It struck me that Lewis is much different than the other custom builders in town. For one thing he’s the only builder in outer east Portland. His shop (in his garage) is near NE 162nd and Glisan (right at the border of Gresham). Lewd Bikes is also a family business. Lewis’ stepson, who happens to be a UBI certified mechanic, helps him around the shop and his wife takes care of the billing and business paperwork. (The name Lewd is a mashup of Lewis and the first letter of his stepson’s name, Devin.)

Another difference about Lewis’ bikes? They’re a lower price point than you might expect. At the party last night he was happy to point out that he offers a made-to-order, handmade steel frame for $650. A complete bike, Lewd’s “Nor’Westerner’ commute/touring bike, can be built up for $1,700.

Lewis has made a wide range of bikes including: a BMX bike (he’ll have one ridden by a pro in the Dew Action Tour); a race-ready road bike; a 26-inch, flat bar urban fixed gear; a 20-inch wheeled full-suspension downhill bike, and more. When asked what he’ll focus on as his marquee model, Lewis said, without hesitation, the Nor’Westerner. It’s a highly functional and versatile bike that looks tailor-made for Portland. You can bike to work in it, do long rides, or put racks on it and tackle a multi-day trip.

With his fabrication and welding experince, Lewis says he can produce a higher volume of frames than other small builders. He also has plans to make his own hubs, stem, bars, and other parts. Current wait time for a custom order is under one month.

Check out a few more shots from the party (and please excuse the poor quality, I took them with my phone and was in a hurry):

Got a little one who likes to go fast down hills?

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A work in progress touring bike with his trademark stainless steel seat-stay bridge…

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I know some guys who could have a lot of fun doing some urban riding on this thing…

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A Nor’Westerner in pink…

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Chris makes his own custom stainless dropouts…

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I like how he integrates a fender mount into the seat-stay bridge…

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One last shot of a Nor’Westerner (sorry it’s not drive-side)….
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Watch for Lewd Bikes around town, and let’s give Chris and his family a nice warm welcome to the Portland bike industry.



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Posted on April 3rd, 2012 at 10:21 am. Filed under
Business, Front Page, News and tagged with , .

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