Interview: Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira of Breadwinner Cycles
We recently covered Breadwinner’s unveiling at NAHBS and found out they are building semi-custom TIG welded steel frames in six different formats. Last Friday night I caught up with Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira at the Breadwinner launch party. Velo Cult in Portland hosted the event, an evening of beers, bikes and their owners that lasted late into the evening. While there were plenty of fine examples of their new bike line, most impressive was the display of well-ridden Ira Ryan and Pereira bikes for everyone to see. This was a brilliant idea, to have old customers and friends bikes on display, most of whom rode their custom bikes over that evening to celebrate the success and craftsmanship of these builders.
Breadwinner’s website is a great resource for bike photos, so I wanted to snap a few decent close-ups of the details. I also managed to ask them a few questions for this little interview.
More photos and an interview after the break.
Bikerumor: I’m here for the beer, but go ahead, tell me about yourself.
Ira: Born in the heartland to a couple of organic hippies, I used bikes as a way to escape, explore and soon to race road bikes with way too much handlebar drop. Bikes are in my blood. I love seeing photos of people in India carrying 10 pigs as much as I love seeing Andre Thcmil bunny hop a roundabout in the Paris-Roubaix. I am as much of a romantic with the bicycle as I understand the classical appeal of the machine and it’s construction. I want to be the old man with a beard and down tube shifters who can remember racing with toe straps.
Tony: My real cycling passion is for mountain biking. I call Connecticut home, since it’s where I started mountain biking in the mid 80s. There are lots of killer technical trails near my parent’s house in a little town called Simsbury, which explains my love for riding rooty, rocky singletrack. After graduating from UConn in ’91 I moved to Salt Lake City to ski and ride. I lived there off and (mostly) on until moving to Portland in 2005. The trails in Utah are a lot different, but no less fun than those back in CT, and the trails in Oregon bring me back home again. The first bike I built back in 2003 was a single speed 29er and I’ve been riding SS 29ers ever since. I love the simplicity of SS and the smooth rolling sure-footedness of big wheels. My favorite rides are
all day singletrack shred sessions with my friends. The longer the better.
Bikerumor: You unveiled Breadwinner at the 2013 NAHBS a couple months back. What’s been going on since?
Ira: NAHBS was 5 weeks ago but who’s counting. Starting a new business has been a lot of work but it is worth it to be able to make bikes for more people. We have been hustling to find a space, build our first batch of bikes and still take care of our personal customers. Oh yeah, we are trying to ride once a week too. Remember, that’s why we love bikes right?
Tony: It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. We have been blown away by the very positive attention that Breadwinner has received. We believed we were on to something when we started to put this together and it has been really exciting to get so much great feedback and encouragement from everyone. We’ve sold a bunch of bikes and are lining up to do a bunch more. Since the show we’ve also been able to ride the show bikes a bunch and they are really perfect. Thing is, they aren’t really new designs, just refinements of what we’ve been doing for years, so they work really well right out of the gate.
Bikerumor: What’s your favorite aspect of this collaboration?
Ira: Seeing problems and being able to bounce ideas off of another person is a huge benefit not to mention having another set of hands to build is great. Tony and I complement each other’s style well and we have a common goal to raise the bar for ourselves and the bikes we make. We both want Portland to continue to grow as a city for bicycle businesses and be able to sustain the people who work there.
Tony: We’ve learned a lot from each other. Our styles and approaches are close enough to complement each other well, but different enough to push us to make each part of running a business and building bikes even better. We’re taking the best of what we both bring to the shop and improving every aspect to make the bikes and the business more and more refined. Breadwinner is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Bikerumor: I’ve already noticed some carry-over innovations; Tony’s integrated u-lock from his award winning Pereira line really stands out. Might we see more signature details like this?
Ira: Ah, the lock. It is a nice feature but not for everyone. The bicycle has been around for a long-ass time and there are still ways to evolve the design but we are cautious to just adopt details that haven’t been proven. The goal for Breadwinner is to make bikes to fit how most people use them on a daily basis and to make them well. A lot of our signature details might be subtle but they are there for a reason and integrated into the function of the bike. In the next year, we will be making a disc version of our Holeshot cross bike and also developing a 27.5″ mountain bike design but otherwise we will stick to what we do best, making bikes for people to use every day.
Tony: We have worked on a few signature touches to separate the Breadwinner bikes from our other bikes, such as the stainless head tube rings and Breadwinner-only dropouts. There are subtle touches like the way we finish stay ends that carry over. The real carry over is in the tried and true steering and fit geometry that we’ve developed over the years. We plan to offer a line of racks, bags, lights, tools and other accessories in the future that will also support the Breadwinner mission to build beautiful, high quality bicycles for people who love to ride every day.
Bikerumor: Breadwinner aims to be a semi-custom brand built by several pairs of hands allowing for larger production numbers. Exactly how custom will these bikes get before you need to order a Pereira or Ira Ryan setup?
Ira: The idea is to offer the custom bike fit with a short build time. The time line is what we were unable to provide for our personal customers and to be honest the Breadwinner models are 95% what we offer for features and options on our personal lines. If a customer wants full racks, lights and all the bells a whistles, then we are still able to offer those through Ira Ryan or Pereira Cycles but the geometry and spec are based on our 14 years of combined time building and our 30+ years as bike nerds.
Tony: Like Ira said, the six Breadwinner models are what we build most of the time. For me, the Pereira Cycles will carry on for people that really want something extra special. My Roaring 29er cruiser-style mountain bike is a great example. I build about one of those a year and have a lot of fun doing so, but it’s just not the kind of bike that fits into the Breadwinner line.
Bikerumor: Do you foresee other big names moving into Breadwinner anytime soon?
Ira: Big names? Like Trek or Specialized? Yeah, we’ll be making some offers for those companies in the next couple years. JK. We will be growing and hiring some folks but it will be from a select pool of people in our community. Growing smart and keeping things adaptable is important to us in the first couple years.
Tony: What he said.
- So there you have it. Breadwinner will offer a high quality, TIG welded, thought-out and innovative framesets in almost every flavor at a relatively great price. Their years of knowledge and success, as apparent by the size of a crowd these guys drew out, are whats behind the name. Big thanks Ira and Tony, and to Velo Cult for having an ideal bike shop-bar-venue!
Head over to Breadwinner’s website for additional bike photos, pricing and ordering details.