BEND, Ore. – August 29th, 2016 – With a motto like “Ride upright, not uptight” and a vision to “make the world a better place, one bicycle at a time,” it’s no wonder J. Livingston Bikes are making a name for themselves. From his shop in Bend’s Makers District, Eric Power talks to EDCO about the brand’s beautifully repurposed commuter bikes.
EDCO: What’s the story behind J. Livingston Bikes?
The company is named for my good friend John Livingston. John was the first person I met during my first visit to Bend in 2002. After we moved to Bend, John and I became great friends, and while our love of cycling was our bond, our choice of bikes was very different. John’s bikes were a mishmash of parts he’d acquired from who knows where. Mine were expensive racing bikes. One day on a cruise around town, John challenged me to explain what made my fancy bike any better than the bike he’d cobbled together from a 1980s steel mountain-bike frame. As I attempted to formulate my argument, I realized I had no case. And so, what started as a friendly argument ended with an idea for a new bike brand.
Fast forward to today and we’ve built over 1,000 J. Livingston Bikes from our shop, Bend Velo. We’ve stayed true to our roots and continue to repurpose old steel bikes into stylish, comfortable, affordable, commuter town bikes.
John Livingston and Eric Power
EDCO: Tell us more about the mission of J. Livingston.
EP: J. Livingston has a social mission to get more people out of their cars and onto bikes. By creating practical bikes for real world use, we can solve some of our country’s issues—health issues, parking, congestion, and environmental issues.
EDCO: Why Bend?
EP: We chose Bend to live and then we found a way to make a living. Not the other way around. We saw a need for a commuter-style bike shop here and opened Bend Velo in 2009. We’re all about practical cycling, not racing, which is different than most of the shops in town.
EDCO: What is your background?
EP: I was a junior bike racer for many years. Then, when I went to college, I got a degree in accounting and business management, followed by a Master’s in sports management. So, I guess J. Livingston is the intersection of my passion and my education.
EDCO: What local resources have helped your business?
EP: We use locally sourced parts and labor as much as possible – we powder coat our bikes locally, manufacture parts and decals here and use a local welder (who’s now in-house). We’re all about helping other businesses. We’ve created an ecosystem.
Bend is also great for networking and we’ve done a lot of that, too. Several local businesses have our bikes on display in their stores, including Backporch Coffee, North Soles and Cascade Cottons.
EDCO: Where do you see J. Livingston in 3-5 years?
EP: We’ve seen a steady increase in sales year over year (about 7-10% every year). But, we mainly sell our bikes to locals and just a small number go to tourists from places like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Phoenix. There’s definitely a market for what we do, so we’re going to explore pop-up stores or sprinter vans in those larger metros.
We’d also like to expand our corporate bike program. I don’t think many people know that we build custom, logoed, branded bikes for businesses. We’ve done them for the U.S. Forest Service, OSU-Cascades, Commute Options, and Wall Street Suites, to name a few. As Bend gets busier, more businesses will want to find ways for their employees to commute on bikes.
For more information about J. Livingston Bikes, visit www.jlivingstonbikes.com.