Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Ira Ryan sees opportunity at builder's show

Posted by on February 23rd, 2007 at 10:22 am

[This is the first in a series of four interviews with local bike builders who are exhibiting at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show next weekend (March 2-4) in San Jose, California.]

Framebuilder's party

[Ira Ryan]

For up-and-coming bike builder Ira Ryan, this will be his first time as an exhibitor.

Ira is a former bicycle messenger and sometimes ultra-endurance mountain bike racer who builds bikes out of a shop in the basement of Weir’s Cyclery in the north Portland neighborhood of St. Johns.

With his business just getting off the ground, this trip is an especially big step. It will be the first time people outside of Portland are introduced to him and his work.

Below is a sneak peek at his just completed “Project Cupcake” show bike, followed by a brief interview.

[Ira’s gorgeous pink and cream-colored “Project Cupcake” will
definitely get some attention at NAHBS.]
Photo: Ira Ryan

What do you hope to get out of your trip to San Jose?

Cory's Ira Ryan

[Ira’s signature head badge.]

“The bike culture is super rich here in Portland, but I feel like no one outside of this city knows who I am or what I do. The internet is great, but I see the show as an amplifier to a larger audience.

I don’t have any expectations of walking out of there with 10 orders…but in the long term I think a show like this is good for my business.”

What are your plans for your booth?

“I want my space to represent who I am as a builder, rider and person. It will have a lot of Portland touches…I am not about the bling booth, I want it to be approachable and comfortable.”

What are you personally looking forward to at the show?

“I want to meet the people behind the scenes, get to know the 30-plus year builders and check out the creativity that everyone brings to the table. I feel like the building community isn’t about competition but rather improving the collective handbuilt bicycle industry. We all inspire each other to create something beautiful and functional.”

Ira, thanks for taking time to share some thoughts with us and best of luck at the show!

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  • Dabby February 23, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    In case you do not know, Ira Ryan is in my opinion, and in many others also, considered the King Of Iowa.
    Not only did he win the Race across Iowa in under 24 hours, he also won the first messenger race from San Fransisco to Portland, unsupported.

    Long live the King Of Iowa!!!

    Now, I can’t afford to buy a bike, but will you rebuild my Zefal hpx3 pump for me?

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  • Magnum February 23, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Will there be cupcakes?

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  • Dabby February 23, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Ok, Magnum, we know you like snacks…
    and any mention of a cupcake sends you into a sugar frenzy.
    Go to Starbucks and get yourself a Top Pot donut.
    Coffee Crap. Donut Good.

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  • Magnum February 23, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    I thougt that when I asked if there would be cupcakes that it went without saying that those cupcakes would be free. Thus you can see the problem with your solution, Dabby.

    Oh yeah, congratulations Ira.

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  • […] Everyone’s gearing up for the National Handmade Bicycle Show next weekend, and Bike Portland is running an interview with their local builder Ira Ryan. The price of being cool enough to own one of his frames is about $1200.  Check out his track frames—solid stuff (even if the Anarchy sign is a bit much). By Rocky Thompson […]

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  • Tom February 23, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Have Fun Ira!! The cupcake looks great, very sweet!

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  • Kent Peterson February 24, 2007 at 6:49 am

    Ira is a hell of a nice guy and certainly deserves the King of Iowa title. He was also the first messenger to cross the finish line of the Raid Californie-Orgegon but some old rando dude from Issaquah slept less on that trip and got to the finish line before him. Just setting the record straight.

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  • JeremyS February 24, 2007 at 9:30 am

    I subscribe to Ira’s blog, and everything that Ira builds is just gorgeous. I should sell my car and order 3 bikes from Ira and a Big Dummy Stokemonkey….

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  • Wild Cherry February 24, 2007 at 10:00 am


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  • Tankagnolo Bob February 24, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Ira rules. I thank him for helping me complete a rebuild of my 1975 Tankagnolo mountain bike. He helped me deal with the complexities of Schwinn Varsity mild steel frame material. The rebuild rides as smooth and streight as a Schwinn Varsity with now 26×2.25 tires can.

    Thanks Again Ira and best-o-luck at the show – Tankognolo Bob

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  • Dabby February 24, 2007 at 11:46 am

    The RAID was a Messenger race.
    Generally, unless it is announced ahead of time that it is not the case, the first messenger is the winner. Schemantics is all that is really…
    And I believe Sharky, my old high school buddy, was second…
    Just my observation….

    How come Ira hasn’t begged me to let him rebuild my pump yet?
    I am going to Magnum’s for some snacks now…

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  • joel February 24, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    dabby. *i* orgainzed the raid, and kent won. ira was second. messenger schmessenger. first one across the line wins it, unless the rules say messenger wins only, and they didnt:


    of course, *anyone* that finished that craziness deserves accolades, but dont cut kent out. and sharky came in 4th, behind lindsay gauld, a 50+ year old canadian ex-olympic track rider who rocked 700 miles on a broken collarbone. credit where credits due.

    someday ill get around to doing another one of those events. people had way too much fun abusing themselves.


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  • Dabby February 25, 2007 at 3:10 am

    Joel, I was not cuttting anyone out……

    I wish I had been in town to ride it then…..

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  • Michelle March 2, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Ira has also graciously donated a custom frame to benefit the BTA at the Alice Awards & Auction next weekend. And I think he’ll be there to tell you all about it if you’re interested!

    Thanks Ira!


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