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The Story Behind Cascade Moto Classics

Pictured on the left is the Burnham Business Park in Tigard, OR. That is where our story begins… Out of one of the small spaces there, the Cascade Moto founders Janice and Kelly McCarthy partnered with their neighbor, Tom Ruttan, to sell old Triumph parts and accessories. The old Triumph parts business belonged to Tom and Cascade had the accessory business. It started out as a hobby business with all employees working full time jobs elsewhere. Kelly was a paramedic, Janice worked at Portland State University, and Tom was in high tech. With Kelly’s schedule of 24 hours on and 48 hours off, he would work the shop by himself whenever he was available. Janice and Tom would work the shop on Saturdays. They did not have regular hours. With the strong encouragement of some of our customers, we took on the Moto Guzzi franchise as there were no dealers in Oregon at the time. We registered with the State as Moto Italia while Tom’s old Triumph business was called Cascade Classic Cycles. Unfortunately, they did not think to ask the city if it was acceptable to sell motorcycles out of the business park and found out the hard way about zoning laws. Moto Italia immediately had to move the Moto Guzzi Franchise and the McCarthy’s chose their house while keeping the business park location for the rest of the business. It sounds crazy, but they were allowed to sell motorcycles from a residential home in the county, but not in a business park!

Moto Italia and Cascade Classic Cycles in 1992

Inside the First Location Triumph Store

The McCarthy’s found a two-bedroom house for sale that was currently being used as a drywall business. It was zoned correctly so they moved Moto Italia to the new location. Tom, needing more family time, sold the McCarthy’s his old Triumph parts’ business and they merged the names to become Cascade Moto. The McCarthy’s were told that most start-up businesses fail because the owners try to make a living off the business at the beginning. They were determined that would not happen so they kept our day jobs and tried to make do. There was so little business at first that it hardly mattered. They did have to hire a mechanic to work on the Moto Guzzis and the old Triumphs though. Janice eventually had to quit her job at Portland State so she could be at the business full time. In 1994, Triumph was looking to return to the United States and was setting up dealers. Many Triumph customers encouraged the McCarthy’s to apply for the new Triumph franchise. Though intimidated by the application process (Moto Guzzi had only required the purchase of two motorcycles to be a dealer), we filled out all the paperwork. The deadline to apply was looming so they overnighted the paperwork to meet the deadline and honestly did not hold out much hope to be selected. Through the grapevine they heard several of the bigger dealerships wanted the franchise as well; at the time Cascade Moto was just a small Mom and Pop operation.

After receiving the paperwork, Triumph called and told the McCarthy’s that because all the applications had arrived before theirs, the only way Triumph could squeeze in a visit was to come at 7 AM; all the other times during their visit were scheduled. We said that was fine. Their meeting with the CEO of Triumph America, Michael Lock, and Tom Hicks, who was to be the area manager, seemed to go well. However, they were on their way to visit the larger dealers in the area. Two days later Janice and Kelly received a phone call that Cascade Moto had been chosen to carry the flag! As the motorcycles started to arrive, they quickly realized it was going to be difficult operating out of a two bedroom house. At night they would have to cram all the motorcycles in the two-car garage and roll them out each morning. As the Triumph line increased, it became even more apparent a larger space was needed. The search for another new shop building began and luckily there was an empty building for rent in Beaverton that had been a Harley-Davidson® store.

Cascade Moto’s Two-Bedroom House/Showroom

The Garage (Service Department) Behind the House

The Cascade Moto Team

In September of 2001, with the help of our amazing customers, Cascade moved their entire operation into the ex-Harley Shop. Their space was now more than three times as large as our combined space at our old shop and the rent was equally increased. The McCarthy’s worried that they would never be able to fill all the space. And then, one week after moving in, 9/11 took place. They were in shock as they watched the destruction. At that time, the economy took a huge hit, people were losing their jobs as well as their investments, and subsequently Cascade Moto’s business plummeted. The McCarthy’s met with the new landlords and told them they would not be able to complete the lease. Luckily, the landlords, Fred and Larry Trachi, said we are all in this decline together and agreed to accept a smaller rent until the economy improved. Cascade continued to sell Moto Guzzis and Triumphs until 2013 until they decided to become a single line dealer just selling Triumphs. Cascade Moto continued to grow and in 2009 they received an award for being “top dealer since 1994”, for the United States. They have consistently been in the top ten in sales for the US.

Nearby in Eugene Oregon in 2004, local riders Madelyn and Scott Russell decided to turn their passion for BMW Motorcycles into a career and opened BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon in Eugene. The motorcycle community responded in fantastic fashion with over 400 attending the grand opening celebration in over 100 degree heat. From that day forward, the whirlwind of business and success seen in the Eugene store put into motion BMW’s review of dealerships in Oregon.

Shortly thereafter, BMW announced that they wanted to put another motorcycle dealership on the westside of the Portland metro area. Knowing that a good portion of their business was traveling over a hundred miles to visit the Eugene store, Madelyn and Scott considered the notion of a second location. Through encouragement from many BMW customers in the Portland area, the Russells put in a proposal to BMW for a westside location in the fall of 2006. As with Eugene, BMW approved their proposal in short order and by April of 2007, BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon, Tigard opened its doors and has since built an amazing shop and community around the BMW Brand.

Flash forward to 2021, the McCarthy’s decided it was time for them to retire and at the same time the owners of the local BMW dealerhsips, Scott and Madelyn Russell decided to sell BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon and European Motorcycle of Western Oregon as well. Vance Harrison, the owner of Harrison Eurosports in Utah and fellow BMW and Triumph rider, saw they opportunity to grow his favorite brands in a new location and decided to take a chance and purchased all 3 dealerships with the new idea to join them into one unified shop! Join us for the journey as we continue to grow the legacy left by these amazing companies today as Cascade Moto.

Cascade Moto BMW in Tigard

Cascade Moto Triumph in Beaverton

Cascade Moto is conveniently located near the areas of Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Vancouver, WA.

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