On Saturday, Portland bike builder Ira Ryan hosted an “Open Shop” event. Ryan, a former bike messenger who grew up in Iowa, billed the event as a chance to, “visit and see where I work, see some new bikes I have been working on, or just talk about bike stuff.”
Ira works in the basement of Weirs Cyclery in St. Johns. By the time I arrived Saturday night, the place was like a speak-easy in the roaring ’20s — packed to the gills with people sipping drinks and having a great time. In the crowd were a mix of Ira’s friends and fans, racers, industry types and fellow builders (Tony Pereira and Jordan Hufnagel to name two). It was great to see such a healthy turnout.
Ira started up his business just over three years ago and things seem to be going well for him. I asked if the economic doldrums have put a pinch on things and he said he feels good about the upcoming year. (Ira echoed what I’ve heard from several other builders. He won’t know about the health of business until spring/summer when people start thinking about bikes again — or not.) Besides his building skills, one thing Ira thinks has helped him is his association with high-end apparel company Rapha and their Rapha Continental campaign (see Ira’s bio page here).
In a few weeks, Ira will pack up and head to Indianapolis for the fifth annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
Check out the slideshow below for a look inside Ira’s shop…