James Nichols remembers the day when his friend Phillip Ross visited him at his shop and showed him a picture of a cargo bike that was made overseas.
Thinking it would be too expensive to ship the cargo bike to Portland, they concluded they could just make their own.
“When we made the first bike, we weren’t thinking about starting a company,” Nichols said. “We were just making a cool bike. The demand presented itself after we created the first cargo bike.”
And when other bike enthusiasts saw what an amazing bike they had created, word got out and requests were made.
In 2007, Nichols and Ross started Metrofiets Cargo Bikes in Portland. The cargo bikes are a combination of “old world styling, new world construction, classic fabrication techniques and our own personal sweat.” With its sleigh box to carry a passenger or items, the bike can carry up to 400 pounds of rider and cargo, while allowing plenty of room for the rider’s knees and shins to pedal the bike.
Nichols and Ross became friends when they were teenagers, having met at the Portland Holiday Market when they began discussing their mutual love of bicycles. “There is a feeling of freedom that I get when I ride a bike that hasn’t gone away since the time I was a kid,” Nichols said.
The cargo bike is for the person who wants a slower pace in life, whether it is taking the kids to school with them sitting in the sleigh bed or picking up groceries for dinner.
“One thing people have told me is they like having their kids in front of them so they can see them and talk with them when riding the bike,” Nichols said. “My company is about having fun. I like seeing the smiles on people’s face when they get their bikes or when I see them riding them.”
All the work on the cargo bikes, which cost $4,000, is done locally, with the goal in mind to create a bike that lasts. Nichols jokes once he sells a bike he doesn’t want to hear back from the customer, unless it is to purchase another bike.
“We believe our bikes are a testament to quality,” he said. “It’s important for me to create a product correctly the first time.”
He also takes pride in the fact he is creating a product made in America.
“I consider myself a patriot and I am proud of creating a product that brings jobs to my community and it adds to transportation choices that are good for our future and our environment. We have built a community around this company.”