Portland Business Finds Niche Building Book Bikes

Icicle Tricycle’s book bike has found a solid place in the line-up next to the company’s ice cream and coffee trikes. (All photos courtesy Icicle Tricycles)

Books and bikes are powerful tools that have helped improve people’s lives for ages. A local company combines them in way that makes the sum greater than its parts.

The “Book Bike” from Icicle Tricycles has become a staple in libraries across North America. First offered in 2008, these human-powered bookmobiles have become a hot seller for the company headquartered in Portland. Owner Ryan Hashagen says there are hundreds of them in use and the pandemic has boosted demand even higher.

For some customers, the trikes double as promotional tools and mobile units that can take books outdoors. Others use them exclusively for street-based book sharing services. And they’re not just for libraries. Icicle Tricycles has sold book bikes to bookstores, nonprofits and museums.

One of Hashagen’s favorite customers was the Canada-based, First Nation nonprofit Yukon Literacy Council. They use a book bike to reach people in remote villages. “They put one of our trikes in the back of a pickup and pedal it into villages to restock reading shelves in community centers and schools,” Hashagen shared.

Hashagen has been pedaling, building, and selling trikes for 22 years. He runs two locations in Portland; one in Old Town and one in the Central Eastside (Icicle Tricycle also has a location in Victoria, BC). Many of you might know him as a dedicated transportation activist who has taken leadership roles with Better Block PDX and as a member of the Central Eastside Industrial Council transportation advisory committee.

Icicle Tricycles has refined the design each year and Hashagen says the 2021 model is “Our best design yet.” Each trike is built to the customer’s specs and custom graphics are a popular option. The company prints the vinyl wraps and builds the wooden boxes in their workshop where the bikes are designed, assembled, and shipped.

The latest version comes complete with a built-in chalkboard, a front shelf to use as a laptop workstation and/or payment center, and of course tons of book storage space. There are shelves inside the cargo box and on the side door that swings open. The bikes come with a 7-speed drivetrain and my personal favorite option: An umbrella holster. Depending on the configuration, each bike can carry around 150-300 books. If you’re worried about the weight, they have an electric-assist option available.

Prices range from $2,500 to $3,500 for a turn-key book bike (add $1,200 for the e-assist). Follow the company on Twitter at @IcicleTricycles or at IceTrikes.com.

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A Kids About Book Series Makes Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite List

Though I love the phenomenon that is Oprah Winfrey, I am not religious about following up with her latest book club reads or favorite things list. Yet it caught my eye when I saw an article that mentioned how a Portland, Or based company had landed on her favorite things list this year. So of course I had to see what had intrigued Oprah enough to talk about it.

What I found hit my heart. The Portland based company that made Oprah’s list is called “A Kid’s Book About.” A Kid’s Book About is a publishing company, founded by author Jelani Memory, whose mission is to “help kids and their grown ups have honest conversations by making books about challenging, empowering, and important topics told by diverse authors who know that topic first hand.” It all started when Memory, described on the A Kid’s Book About website as a black father with a blended family, wanted to find a way to talk with his kids about the topic of racism in an honest and connective way. Though he initially wrote A Kid’s Book About Racism for his kids only, one copy multiplied to thousands as more people who were also struggling to have that talk wanted a copy as well.

Currently there are over 20 topics that A Kid’s Book About has tackled. Some of these topics include: belonging, death, optimism, anxiety, feminism, shame, bullying, gratitude, money , failure, and many more. I have to say, it is so easy to see why this would be on a favorites list. Conversations with our kids can be hard, so having resources, written by real people who have experienced the topic is not only valuable,  but also provides a sense of support and community. Reading more about this business was such an honor because I was able to learn more about someone in my community who is creating an impact by creating a solution for something he didn’t even realize other people wanted. If you get a chance, check out and shop the A Kid’s Book About website by clicking here.

What topics would you like to see a kid’s book about?

Happy Non-Profit Day!

Get-Involved-Banner-Photo-01Non-profits have a special place in my heart. I’ve been affiliated with a number of them for over 10 years. I would like to honor one in particular today though. I started off interning with SMART Reading (formerly Start Making a Reader Today) in college and continued the relationship long after I graduated. I am currently a contractor for them, helping with their marketing materials. I truly believe in SMART Reading’s vision, to help children with their reading skills, therefore helping them in other aspects of their lives. The excerpt below is taken from SMARTReading.org.

One child at a time. One volunteer at a time. One book at a time.

At SMART Reading, we hold to one simple truth: Reading matters. It’s an early gateway skill that paves the pathway for future success. Without it, kids are simply less likely to graduate high school, find employment, or successfully avoid other hardships like poverty, homelessness, hunger, and injustice.

Since 1992, SMART Reading has been pairing adult volunteers with children to provide reading support and books to keep. SMART Reading volunteers read one-on-one with students weekly during the school year, modeling a love of reading and building children’s reading skills and self-confidence in a positive, child-guided environment.

Our Vision

An Oregon where all children can realize their full potential through reading.

Our Mission

To spark joy and opportunity through the magic of a shared book.

If you can volunteer your time or are in the position to donate, please do. Follow this link to do so: SMART Reading.