At Different Spokes, we know that cycling is for every body. To that end, our team of professionals is dedicating to using every tool in our kit to increase your mobility, freedom, health and quality of life through cycling. Whatever your mobility goals are, we’re here to help you achieve them. Our promise is to listen, support, and encourage. Our guarantee is excellence, professionalism, and respect.
Behind every great shop, there’s a great team!
Julie Noel: Owner, Different Spokes
Julie is a veteran, a gardener, and a Sagittarius with a decade of bike industry experience. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, visiting breweries, and photographing cool bugs.
Robert Holler: Rose City Recumbent Cycles
Robert was an urban planner before he came to his senses and got into bikes. When he’s not at Rose City Recumbent Cycles or working as the North American distributor for Cruzbike, he enjoys action and sci-fi movies, and writing plays for the Ten Minute Play Festival.
Check out Robert’s shop, Rose City Recumbent Cycles here!
Adam Amundsen & Don Smith: Founders
Adam grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and holds a degree from the University of Washington School of Fishery and Aquatic Sciences. When he graduated, he rewarded himself by purchasing his first new bicycle, a Giant OCR 3 road bike. After that, he was hooked. Adam worked his way up through the bike shop ranks the old-fashioned way, eventually becoming the manager of Portland’s first recumbent-specific bike shop. In 2014, his love of adaptive bikes led him to found Different Spokes. Adam and his wife moved to Michigan in 2017, where he now works as a consultant for adaptive sport businesses.
Don is an Arizona native with a degree from Arizona State University. Don discovered his love of bikes while living in Washington DC as a member of the Navy Honor Guard under the Reagan administration. In the early 90’s Don and his wife relocated to Portland, in large part because of the exciting bike culture here. Don has served as Executive Director of Disabled American Veterans (DAV) for nearly 15 years. Portland DAV Chapter 1 is a proud supporter of adaptive recreation programs both locally and nationally. Through his work with DAV, Don continues to help foster the development and self-sustenance of non-profits and other organizations involved in adaptive recreation.
Meet the Owner:
I first learned my way around a mechanic’s bench as an enlisted Marine in the Second Maintenance Battalion of the General Support Maintenance Company stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It was my job to rebuild Humvee engines, and it soon became obvious that it was something I was really good at. When my superiors saw that my builds were achieving 100% success ratings in our engine testing system, I was made into a trainer for new Marines fresh out of occupational training school. The ability to look at a machine, troubleshoot it, rebuild it and then describe what I was doing to another person was incredibly empowering. A spark had been ignited in me, and I continued to pursue that feeling after my USMC contract ended.
In the following years, I relocated to Texas, and served as Motor Pool Foreman in the US Army Reserves while attending college and working as a production lead for a Fortune 500 company. In 2009, I transferred to Portland, OR and instantly fell in love with the bike culture here. As someone who spent the past decade navigating congested Dallas traffic, the option of commuting by bike felt completely liberating. So when a workplace injury forced me to reconsider my career, it seemed natural to follow my passion and pursue a future in the cycling industry.
I completed a professional mechanic and shop operation course at N. Portland’s United Bicycle Institute. Armed with my graduation certificate, a stack of resumes, and some PBOT maps of Portland’s bike paths and bike shops, I hit the streets on my souped-up 2000 Marin Hawk Hill. My first bike job was working in sales, at the now-closed Bike n’ Hike on SE Grand. Through sales, I learned the importance of asking the right questions to find the right products for each individual’s needs. I also learned that walking into a bike shop can be an intimidating experience for a lot of people! I made it my mission to help my customers feel welcomed, listened to, and supported. To this day, I believe a personalized, one-on-one approach is the best method for empowering riders to achieve their individual cycling goals.
It wasn’t until I got a call from Marilyn Hayward that I really found my home in the cycling world. Marilyn was the owner of Coventry Cycle Works, the only recumbent-specific shop, and only woman-owned bike shop in the city at that time. Her shop was one that I’d visited on my Marin when I’d graduated from UBI, and she’d remembered how I wanted to get into mechanics. Were recumbents something I’d be interested in learning? Anybody familiar with the industry knows that recumbents are a whole different ball game from upright cycles. Infinitely more creative and complex, recumbent bikes and trikes allow for modifications, specializations and adaptive uses that simply aren’t possible on an upright bike. Most upright shops won’t even work on recumbents for this reason. So obviously my answer to Marilyn was, “Challenge accepted!”
Wrenching at Coventry opened up a whole new world for me. It was there that I truly realized how the right adaptation to the right bike could change a person’s life for the better. Recumbent bikes, unlike any other machine I’ve worked on, have the ability to give people back their freedom, and to inspire new passions and pursuits. Seeing that empowerment in customers in turn inspired a passion in me. Here was a job where I could really help people. It was at Coventry that I found my calling.
It was also at Coventry that I met Adam and Robert. In the years that followed, we became a tight-knit group, and worked closely together at Marilyn’s shop to make cycling more accessible and approachable for people of all backgrounds and abilities. When Marilyn passed away unexpectedly, a void was left in our community. Robert opened his own retail recumbent shop, Rose City Recumbent Cycles, where I helped part time while managing an upright shop. Adam, responding to the need for a shop dedicated to serving the adaptive sport community, started Different Spokes with his business partner Don. In Adam’s words, recumbents are “the great equalizers” of cycling world. “They can be made to work for the hardest core endurance rider or for somebody who has partial paralysis, prosthetics and balance issues.” As Don put it:
Fifteen years ago there wasn’t much of an adaptive cycling industry. [There] were fledgling efforts here and there but you’d never find a shop devoted solely to adaptive cycling. Today the availability and selection of adaptive cycling products are numerous and much higher in quality. But they are still scattered across the planet and rarely available all in one place…
It became obvious that there was a need for an adaptive cycling-focused shop. This shop should be devoted to gathering the best adaptive offerings from around the globe under one roof with experienced folks to properly help select and fit the bike to the individual rider and their unique requirements.
For the past three years, Adam and Don worked together to create such a shop. In that time, Different Spokes has grown and flourished with every season, as more cyclists and potential cyclists discover the joy and freedoms of adaptive bikes. It was a bittersweet moment when Adam and Don approached Robert and me about continuing on with the work that they started. Adam’s journey is bringing him back east, where family and new enterprises await him. Don will continue to contribute to the world of adaptive sports in his capacity as Executive Director of the Disabled American Veterans Portland Chapter. For my part, adaptive cycling is my joy and my passion, and I consider it a privilege and an honor to be able to build on the legacy that they started. At Different Spokes, we are all a family. And when we work with you, you become a part of that family, too.