‘Braking Cycles’ works to set at-risk youth on better paths


Braking Cycles Coffee and Bike Repair located at SE 33rd Ave and Powell Blvd

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A southeast Portland coffee and bike repair shop that helps neglected teenagers find their way in life is reopening Friday morning.

Braking Cycles Coffee and Bike Repair is located at Southeast 33rd Avenue and Powell Boulevard. While serving up espresso and repairing bikes, the shop is also putting young people on a better path. 

Some of the kids they serve, ages 14-21, have been in dozens of foster homes. Some have incarcerated parents, some have just been left to fend for themselves. But at Braking Cycles, they’re learning job skills and learning — more importantly — to love themselves. 

For many of the homeless and at-risk teenagers who arrive here, it is the first point of contact in their lives where they are cared for and are cared about. The reasons they are homeless or at risk are myriad. What unites them at Braking Cycles Coffee and bike repair is the desire to heal themselves and learn job skills.

“We get them ready to work,” Executive Director Rhona Mahl said. “We believe that a strong work ethic is absolutely crucial and we want to steer kids away from government dependence and towards those systems to self-sufficiency.” 

While they are here as baristas learning retail skills and how to repair bikes, they are climbing a lifeline to a productive life — some kids here haven’t had adults to instill those traits before. 

There are 148,000 pennies embedded in the floor at Braking Cycles.  Those pennies symbolize the teens here and counter the general perception that the pennies are valueless. 

“It’s a message to the community of what value is and what beauty is,” Mahl explain. “And that it’s oftentimes overlooked and stepped over.”

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