Bicycle deliveries are in Ryan Hashagen’s genes: A great-uncle delivered groceries by bicycle in Salem, back in the Great Depression. Later, his father pedaled around the same town delivering copies of the now-defunct Oregon Journal.
The world’s moved on, though. Nowadays, goods are usually transported by four wheels, if not more. That leaves Hashagen, 38, on a mission to turn back time. As the chief impresario of Icicle Tricycles, the Portland-based business that’s quietly cornered the North American market on building decked-out delivery trikes for mom-and-pop start-ups, libraries, and big brand names alike, he’s making some serious inroads.
Hashagen’s origin story starts in Canada’s Yukon territory, where he was traveling one summer and, in a backyard, found an abandoned old ice cream trike that had been made obsolete by the Good Humor fleet and its ilk. Hashagen excavated it, biked down the street to buy some ice cream to resell, and soon found himself with a trail of kids in his wake, “chasing me all the way down the street past the hockey rink.”
Back in his native Bellingham, Washington, he expanded to flower deliveries by trike, until a member of the roller derby team he had been coaching set him up with a wholesale account. A steady stream of inquiries followed: “Hey, where can I get a trike like yours?”
So, when the flower and ice cream business was slow, and especially after a move to Portland in 2007, Hashagen and his crew—now about 14 employees strong with three trike-building shops in Portland, including headquarters in Old Town (pictured)—started taking orders. At first, the requests were mostly for ice cream trikes, but they soon expanded to more multipurpose, easy-to-ride trikes that can be used to give out samples and sell merch at farmers markets and other events. They’ve built trikes for Columbia Sportswear, Umpqua Bank, Haribo Gummies, and the Super Bowl. They’ve built a book trike for libraries in rural Oregon and cold-brew coffee trikes for start-ups in Georgia.
His ultimate goal? To transform our streets into more public spaces, and to use commerce to promote engagement and interaction.
“The initial passion was about trying to find ways to make public spaces more interactive,” Hashagen says. “We’re using commerce and engagement as a subtle form of activism, to make our streets more than just thoroughfares.”