You think your racing bike is cool? Bet you haven’t got a custom-made one yet. It will set you back the price of a 1994 Honda Civic, but we do believe in tailoring. Everything cool is made-to-measure, these days.
Does this sound kinky? The customer is perched on a jig, a sort of bike without wheels. Mike Barry measures his customer’s inseam, legs and thighs, upper and forearms, torso, feet and hands. But this is just another day at the office for Barry. Besides, serious cyclists have shaved their own arms and legs for over 15 years, so where’s the shock in a little gentlemanly measuring?
After hand-crafting his award-winning, Mariposa bicycles for more than 30 years, Barry can pretty much eyeball his clients’ needs once they mount the saddle. They start at around $5000, but even for that money the attention to your inseam is strictly professional.
These are the bikes that the Canadian artist Greg Curnoe painted obsessively. So they’re works of art in more than one sense.
“Getting the correct thigh-length is very important because that determines the angle of the frame,” stresses Barry. Measurements done, Barry hand-builds a bike to your preferences. You test the finished product for a month and return for final adjustments to handlebars, standleg, fenders, saddle position and more. “The most important part of the bike position, above everything else, is the saddle position. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $500 or $5,000 bike. If the position is wrong then it’s no good.”
There’s no new-age carbon, titanium or aluminum here; Barry swears by the all-steel Parisian-inspired design. It makes repairs and modifications possible, unlike most of the newer materials. An all-steel bike also offers a “very resilient ride.”