Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira are unique people. Builders, thinkers, and craftsmen, they are ambassadors for the flourishing custom bicycle ‘scene’ of Portland, OR. In a city where there are rumored to be over 30 full time builders – and countless backyard builders – standing apart, and standing apart in the ever growing global business of hand built bicycles, cannot be guaranteed.
But what is guaranteed is that anyone who has a frame from either of these men is very, very happy. So it makes sense with their unique collaboration on the limited ‘Continental’ bicycle, part of the Rapha Bicycle Collection, that the rider who is looking for a year round, all purpose, all day long ride, has found their bicycle in this pairing.
Both being Rapha Continental riders and builders, we sat down with Ira and Tony in 2009 to learn more about their thoughts on riding and building. When the first batch of ‘Continental’ frames return from paint next month we plan to meet up with them again and talk more about how building the bicycle together is working out.
What is epic, or what does it mean to you? What makes that experience?
Epic is a 20-mile ride in the rain with three flats and lots of mud. Sometimes it’s rain, gravel, climbing, or cookies and coffee in the middle of nowhere. Really it’s as much about your state of mind as where you are and what you are doing. The rider makes the experience and the bike is just the ultimate accessory.
I grew-up riding 21-pound steel race machines, bikes you could ride hard and put away wet. After a race, we’d throw them into the back of a truck, not worried about paint or our carbon bars breaking. In the last 20 years it’s seems like bikes and riders both are little less hard. The heroic hard-man mythology, the Euros’ and their spring classics, continue to motivate me, though I think it’s being diluted by plastic bits and flammable parts. I like down-tube shifters, lugged steel and riding without a helmet, but that’s just me. If a carbon bike works for you, grab your 10-speed ride and let’s go suffer some cobbles together.
What inspired you to build? What does the craft mean to you?
Riding a bike up one side of mountain and down the other on a bike that I made with my own two hands—using nothing but simple tools, fire and metal tubes—is my greatest achievement. I love that my craft hasn’t changed much in generations. What I’m doing and the way I’m doing it, is the same way my grandfather, had he made bikes, would have done things. That feels good. It feels solid. I think the best tool in the shop is the builder’s hands. I think relying too heavily on technology to support your design and technique is risky. Quality is elusive, everywhere you look and in so many aspects of our daily lives, and I think independent bicycle frame builders are doing something small to change that.
What inspires you to build? Why it, and not some other job? What’s different about your product and approach? Aesthetics, technique, customer service?
Too many modern bicycles are over-designed. I strive to keep my designs simple and functional. My style is highly influenced by the innovative builders of the mid 20th century. I also find inspiration from other artisans such as watchmakers, furniture makers and luthiers in their pursuit of perfection.
What is a Rapha Continental bike?
The Continental bikes that I built were designed to be comfortable, reasonably lightweight and durable. They are meant to be ridden hard for many miles—much like race bikes, but without sacrificing comfort or durability.
Learn more about their collaboration known as the Continental Bicycle.
Note: The order window for the current offering ends July 1.