PORTLAND, Ore. (BRAIN) — Since it opened in 2010, Splendid Cycles has become one of the largest cargo bike retailers in the country, and the biggest U.S. distributor for Danish cargo brand Bullitt by Harry vs Larry.
When Splendid Cycles first opened, no other store was catering to the cargo market in Portland. "It's a niche market, and what we deal in is high-end," said Joel Grover, owner of Splendid Cycles. "Which makes it an even smaller niche, so the first year was lean, but after awhile, business started picking up."
Splendid Cycles outgrew its original 1,150 square-foot store, having added three additional full-time staff members, including Grover's wife Barb, and ramped up its wholesale business over the past three years.
But last December, Grover gained some breathing room by moving Splendid Cycles to an industrial building in southeast Portland. Just a stone's throw from a bike path, the 3,000 square-foot warehouse space includes a retail area, sizable storage and two garage bays with roll-up doors — which come in handy since around 75 percent of Splendid's inventory is sold wholesale to retailers and shipped out of the city.
The Grovers worked at the Bike Gallery in Portland starting in the late '80s, and left in 2009. "We wanted to do something on our own, and have always loved cargo bikes," said Grover. "We had sold a few here and there at Bike Gallery, but big shops can't always put enough focus on niches, so I knew if I wanted to do the bikes justice, I'd have to step it up and do the niche well."
Splendid specializes in custom cargo builds, including electric conversions utilizing the BionX system. Grover said that to build a cargo bike to a custom spec', a high level of experience and knowledge is a must. "Sometimes things with a particular build just won't seem to work at first," he said. "Especially with electric conversions. So we often have to make adaptations so things will work — which is why we also have machine shop capabilities in our workshop."
When he first opened the shop, Grover anticipated the demand for electric cargo bikes would be much higher than it has been. "I figured that many businesses would use them for delivery, and thought that might end up being about half of my business," he said. "But it's only about 10 percent right now."
"That market will only continue to grow, though, as families and businesses start looking at e-bikes as car replacements," he added. "E-systems are magical because they transform a cargo bike into an everyday rig that's all about mobility. You can haul two kids, a bag of groceries and yourself home at the end of the day — and yeah, once the initial investment is made, it's essentially cost-free."
Besides bikes from Bullitt, Splendid also carries Xtracycle, Metrofiets and Surly, as well as a number of cargo accessories, child carriers and trailers. Cargo bike rentals are also available.