i'm now used to the situation whereby portland's bicycle artists either pop up in unexpectedly residential areas, or more frequently in premises that encompass a number of dissimilar but co-existent businesses. far removed from the corporate boardrooms of the industry giants, many are ensconced in almost claustrophobic workshops midst substantial and less than state of the art machinery. such is the economic reality for many even in a bicycle friendly city like portland; not so much that such artistry does not command a living wage, but in order to do so the workplace must be carefully sought out in locations other than downtown.
tony pereira is just one such artist, who works slightly off the beaten track in portland's east side. perhaps less favoured with the mythologised lengthy waiting lists of one or two of his peers, tony builds bicycles that are as individual as he is, even though the commissions arrive from folks with widely differing requirements as to what their new bicycle will be used for and how that should be accomplished. in the case of pereira cycles, the skill does not stop abruptly at the brazing and filleting of the tubes themselves: there is some beautiful lateral thinking going on here, such as a mudguard stay solution in evidence on a beautiful green mixte frame with mechanical disc brakes. and the almost sculptural, and simple mechanically operated front gear mech, actuated by hand via a curved lever behind the seat-tube of a sparkly green tourer. once more proof, if further proof were needed, that art truly lies in the details.
tony taught himself to build bicycle frames, starting with 29er mountain bikes (a relatively recently adopted standard using 700c rims); pereira holds an interest in the sculptural qualities of fabricating bicycle frames; sculpture dropped me like a hot potato at the end of my first year at art college, and i confess that while i can appreciate the artistry of the trade, sadly the parallels had never dawned on me prior to meeting tony pereira.
tony builds around 30 frames of all varieties per year, in a long narrow workshop with hanging space on the far wall for finished bikes. pereira frames are submitted to sacha white's paint shop in portland, a facility that provides exemplary coverage, if the samples i was privileged to witness are anything to go by.
tony pereira is a quiet, intelligent man with a neat line in sideburns and a disarmingly affable manner, but he's not only someone who builds bicycle frames, but one who goes out and gets his knees dirty by riding them in epic fashion. in less than two weeks he will jet off to the hinterlands to join daniel wakefield pasley, jeremy dunn and others in riding several of the rapha continental rides currently taking place in the midwest; a testament to his physical well-being: the continental are all nice guys, but they'll ride the legs off you and smile while doing so.
with the location of next year's north american handbuilt show now decided as being in virginia, tony is unsure as to his participation: despite feeling the after effects of not attending this year's in indianapolis, taking time out to prepare, ship to, and attend this prestigious annual event, has to be offset against the cost of doing so. and with the internet on his doorstep (well, just inside the door actually) the opportunity to bring his bikes and skills to a worldwide audience have more than one outlet. these are happy times, when many countries, cities and towns are making a real effort to become green and transport friendly, and a solo builder in portland can provide such effective solutions to those who demand, or see the need for, bikes that tick all the practicality boxes at the same time as marking those allied to the needs of the aesthete.
britain and america are oft compared as two countries divided by a common language, and it seems that we may also be leveraging that divide when it comes to bicycles. few of us in the uk, it seems, would approach the need to have a custom bicycle made, other than with bendy bars and skinny wheels, but it is more than possible to ride an alternative to the motor car that also exudes style, ingenuity and practicality in one attractive package. tony periera is the very man who can provide you with just such a combination at a price that merits serious consideration.
go on, drop the guy an e-mail to discuss the possibilities - you know you want to.
tony periera can be contacted via his website at pereiracycles.com and assures me he would be more than happy to accept orders from across the pond. many thanks to chris distefano for brokering the introduction.
posted on thursday 14 may 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................