Downtime with Erik Olson, Portland Design Works founder

Erik Olsen of Portland Design Works

The bike accessories purveyor talks about Yvon Chouinard, driving in Taiwan and his cycling infrastructure wish list.

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What I’m Reading

I generally stick to novels when reading recreationally. On the strength of a friend’s recommendation I’ve been working through some Ian Banks sci-fi books. They’re a good combination of page turning plot and social commentary. However my most fun read of the summer so far has been Drew Magary’s The Hike.

What I’m Watching

Better Call Saul, Fargo and Silicon Valley. I’m really excited to check out the new Twin Peaks.


Must Have Gadget

The iPhone for sure.

Latest download…

The Biketown app. My mom was in town, and Biketown was a great way to get around and have the freedom to ditch the bikes and jump on the MAX when we wanted to head home.

No place like…

I love living right where I am in Portland, but New York is probably my favorite place to visit. The city just has great energy and so many things to do no matter what time of year you’re there.

Family traditions

My wife and I have a Friday night tradition of pizza, movie and dogs…which as you can guess is hanging out with our two dogs while eating pizza and watching a movie.

Notable vacation

Four of us borrowed a car from a friend in Taiwan and did a weeklong loop of the island. We saw everything from the bright lights of Taipei to remote hot springs outside of Taroko Gorge. The driving part was terrifying.

When I’m not working

Aside from the obvious one, cycling, ice hockey is my favorite hobby. I’m on 2-3 recreational teams at any given time and try to participate in a couple of tournaments each year.


Business role model

Yvon Chouinard. I admire how he has been able to balance what is best for his employees and the environment with growing a successful business.

Why I love my job

When I hear positive feedback from people about the products we create. It’s very rewarding.

What I’m riding

My latest rig is a Surly Straggler with a custom Portland Design Works paint job courtesy of Ruckus Composites. It’s mainly my every day commuter bike, but I did recently get it out on a 70 mile meander through Willamette Valley wine country.

Go-to cycling accessory

The Takeout Basket is probably the most useful piece of gear on my bike. I use it for everything from a place to quickly shove my jacket to beer runs.

Wish list: Portland cycling infrastructure

More mountain bike trails we can ride to! Gateway Green is a great start, but I hope the city keeps exploring ways to get more official trails built. I’m all for more off street bike and pedestrian paths as well.