[This is the first article in a series on Portland’s local bike builders.]
Tony Pereira has only been in Portland one year, but he’s having no trouble fitting in.
“I had no idea how crazy the bike culture was here. Now, it is actually one of the main reasons we might decide to stay here for good.”
Pereira, whose name means “pear tree” in Portuguese, came to Portland from Salt Lake City, Utah so his girlfriend could pursue a Master’s Degree in nonfiction writing at Portland State. Once she has her degree, they’ll have to decide between Stumptown or Salt Lake.
When I visited his shop a few weeks ago, he was getting ready to fly back to Utah for what has become an annual tradition; racing in the 24 Hours of Moab.
Pereira sponsored two teams in the event and had many of his bikes in race, but the main reason he looked forward to going was to hang out with old friends.
“At this point, I’ve built bikes for all my friends back home and now I’m starting to get orders from my website. So far, I’ve only got a few bikes rolling around Portland, but I hope to change that.”
While most builders start their careers as apprentices or by going through one of several certification programs (like those offered by the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland), Pereira is self-taught.
“Before moving to Portland and building full-time I was basically a mechanic with a torch…I made bikes for all my buddies. See that work bench over there? I stand in front of that for 90% of my day. I still do most of the work by hand. To build a frame all you need is a vice, some files, and a lot of time…but it would be nice to have a mitering machine.”
On pace to build just thirty frames this year, Pereira hopes to make closer to 50 next year. But without a few key pieces of equipment it will be hard to increase output.
Lack of expensive industrial machines is a common problem for small builders and has caused Pereira, encouraged by interest shown to local builders by the Portland Development Commission (PDC), to think of a solution.
He’s a proponent of a local framebuilders collective. Inspired by a cooperative winemaking facility based in Oregon, Pereira thinks a similar cooperative effort could benefit Portland’s stable of independent bicycle craftsmen.
“For an up-and-coming builder, it can be a struggle to take your business to the next level. With shared space and combined resources we’d have less overhead and a better chance to succeed.”
The idea is backed by a few other builders in town and will be considered in ongoing efforts of a new bike industry task force that is just getting off the ground.
Machine-assisted or not, Pereira has developed a solid reputation for his fillet-brazed, 29-inch, singlespeed mountain bikes including my favorite, The BlingleSpeed.
He also has a penchant for “porteur” bikes (named after Parisian couriers), city bikes, and has built several cyclocross bikes. One of his current orders is for a long-tail cargo bike that will accept an Xtracycle kit.
Photo by Tony Pereira, full gallery here]
With his first year as a full-time builder in the books, 2007 looks to be full of exciting changes for Tony Pereira. He’s currently looking for new shop space and with the way word is spreading about his bikes, he’ll need all the space he can get.
Browse the rest of the photos from Tony’s shop in my Pereira Cycles photo gallery.