Tony Pereira: Inspiring the Next Generation

Tony Pereira United Bicycle Institute

Tony Pereira CyclesFrame building is often described as an art, but it is also a craft. Perhaps most importantly, though, frame building is an engineering discipline. Tony Pereira not only understands this, but he also embraces it in his building endeavors. He’s one of the Portland, Oregon-based frame builders featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle. 

Pereira and his fellow frame-building friend, Ira Ryan, have similar philosophies when it comes to bikes and riding. They both love to build practical bikes, useful machinery to be ridden daily to and from work whatever the weather, and Portland has plenty of weather. Many of Pereira’s bikes feature racks and fenders and a sensible place to stow a U-lock. He also offers neat accessories such as machined aluminum fender mounted taillights.

The symbiosis between Pereira and Ryan has led to the creation of Breadwinner Cycles in 2013, a joint venture offering a range of TIG welded custom steel bikes built by hand in Portland with the best US-made components. Both of the signature builders will continue to build under their own names however, but Breadwinner will offer something a little less expensive, produced a little more quickly (in eight weeks to be exact). Their five-year plan includes establishing a factory, hiring welders, and making 1,000 bikes per year.

Tony Pereira United Bicycle InstituteBut Pereira’s passion for the craft and for the engineering is perhaps most visible in a classroom. He’s a popular lecturer at the world-famous United Bicycle Institute also located in Portland. Founded more than 30 years ago, with the aim of making learning about bicycles fun, students come to soak up valuable two-wheeled knowledge, either to further their careers within the industry or simply to gain a better understanding of what they’re riding. Many graduates have gone on to become successful bicycle builders, mechanics, and bike shop owners.

Pereira lectures in the frame-building department on the theory and practice of brazing steel. He wants to pass his experience on to fellow lovers of the sport, the craft, and of the bicycling industry as a whole.

Tony Pereira United Bicycle InstituteSince no prior knowledge or experience is needed to take the class, Pereira starts with the basics such as the correct use of a saw, which can make a huge difference to the way that tubes fit together before they are assembled, by keeping gaps to a minimum. He then gives them advice on cutting the metal to size, using a file (the right file), and insists that only when you’re completely happy with the dry joint should you light up a torch.

Once he’s finished his demonstration like that of fixing a dropout into a piece of chainstay, he takes questions and lets the students get to work at their own benches. With Pereira’s teaching skills and building expertise, his students, with practice, are on their way to producing their own high-quality road or mountain bike frames as promised to them in the course syllabus.

This brief portrait of Pereira Cycles was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle TEB_96dpi_400pw_strThe Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

In chapters featuring some of cycling’s greatest craftspeople, The Elite Bicycle offers up a conversation with the men and women who make the most coveted bicycles. Lavish, oversize photographs and personal interviews invite readers into their workshops to show the melding of old-world craftsmanship with space-age materials in fascinating studios and factories that fabricate superb machines.

The Elite Bicycle is both an homage to the bicycle maker and a collector’s piece in its own right, celebrating the stories behind the greatest bicycles and components in the world.