Portland Bike Shop Expands to Bethel to Capitalize on Growing Bike Scene

A Portland store that rents and sells bikes, skis and accessories is expanding to Bethel to take advantage of the Oxford County town’s growing sporting vibe.

“We’re making good progress,” said Chris Carleton, owner of Allspeed Cyclery & Snow.

The opening is scheduled for June 18.

Carleton’s company, Muscle City Investments LLC, purchased a former gas station at 38 West Bethel Road from CN Brown Co. for an undisclosed price.

Courtesy/Allspeed Cyclery & Snow

Allspeed Cyclery & Snow of Portland expands to Bethel with the purchase and renovation of a former gas station.

The transaction was arranged on behalf of the seller by Derek Miller and Nick Lucas of Boulos Co. and on behalf of the buyer by Luke Malone, Joe Malone and Jennifer Small of Malone Commercial Brokers.

“We’ve been working with Allspeed for a long time,” said Luke Malone, who took over on the buy side of the deal. “He came to us with the property he wanted.”

Muscle City Investments leases the property to Allspeed.

Renovations are underway to convert the space into a retail storefront. This includes installing a new roof and gutting the interior to open it up.

Financing for the purchase and renovations was provided by Gorham Savings Bank.

Avid cyclist

Carleton grew up in the south of Paris, about 25 miles south of Bethel, and spent a lot of time biking and running in the Oxford Hills. He would get his mountain bike gear from the Allspeed store in Portland.

Finishing college in the late 2000s, he went to work for Allspeed, which was founded in 1990 by Portland mountain biker Gary Buch.

Buch was responsible for many early mountain bike trails in the area and was also the first to lead weekly group mountain bike rides, according to the store’s website. Buch was also an avid telemark skier and was in the ski touring scene decades before it hit the mainstream.

Buch owned and operated Allspeed until the fall of 2009 when he sold it to Carleton and Mike Davies.

Courtesy/Allspeed Cyclery & Snow

Chris Carleton is a lifelong cyclist whose third bike and ski shop will be in Bethel.

Under Carleton and Davies’ tenure, Allspeed continued to operate at 127 Marginal Way in Portland. In 2017, they opened a seasonal outlet in the Carrabassett Valley at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center.

The Marginal Way operation has 3,000 square feet of space and offers bike and ski sales, rentals, service and repairs, and apparel. The branch also hosts events such as a series of Tuesday night rides.

On the ski side, Allspeed specifically serves the ski touring market.

“It’s a niche and something we’re known for,” Carleton said.

The backcountry is made up of people who don’t necessarily want to use a chairlift to go skiing.

“They’re going to areas that maybe don’t even have a chair lift. They make their own way up the mountain,” he said.

The practice requires specific equipment that mimics cross-country skis. For example, skis have scales on the bottom that provide better grip on snow.

Ski touring increased in the first year of the pandemic because ski resorts were closed, he said.

Modest price

In Bethel, he originally wanted to rent.

“I looked in that area for a while,” he said. “Then I found this place. It was a modest price and I made a low bid and didn’t think much of it. The sellers came back and said they were interested in selling. We took it from there.

Advantages of the location include proximity to several trail systems, including those at Pine Hill and the nearby Bethel Community Forest.

screenshot Courtesy/Allspeed Cyclery & Snow

Interior renovations are underway for the new Bethel location, with a grand opening scheduled for June 18.

“Anytime you can have a bike shop next to a trail system, that’s a good thing,” he said.

Carleton regularly frequented Bethel over the years and saw it as an opportunity for the business.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in cycling infrastructure there – lots of new trails and also lots of new cyclists,” he said. “So that seems like the right market for us to expand into. I grew up about half an hour away, so I’m excited to come full circle.