Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mariposa Cycles - Reborn

I once had the pleasure to meet Mike Barry, the founder of Mariposa Bicycles. He was as knowledgeable and pleasant a person one could hope to talk with about bicycles, and his shop in Toronto was a good source for certain hard-to-find parts, such as spare bits and pieces from T.A. Specialites of France. Barry's Mariposa Bicycles, built in Toronto by Mike and his builder Tom Hinton, were beautifully built and tastefully appointed -- but also relatively rare here in the U.S. Soon after I met Mike, at a Classic Rendezvous "Cirque du Cyclisme," he retired in 2007. It was understandable, but still a loss.
Some lucky owner is going to put a lot of miles on this lovely
camping bike. (from  Mariposa)

Last year, Mariposa Bicycles, as well as the Bicycle Specialties business, were revived by Mike's son, Michael Barry Jr., who had recently retired from professional bike racing. Some readers might recall that Michael Jr. rode with such teams as the U.S. Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Team Sky, and others. Even head builder Tom Hinton returned to pick up frame building duties again.

Mariposa bicycles are still built with traditional methods and materials, like steel tubes, and lovely lugs. Randonneur, City, Road, Cyclocross, and Track styles are all available, with custom options as well. Mariposa also custom-builds some of the fittings and accessories for their bicycles as well, such as racks, decaleurs, and bottle cages. The finished bikes, especially those with custom appointments, are gorgeous. Check out the gallery on their website for some beautiful machines.
This Campagnolo-equipped sage green and oxblood randonneur
looks fast, comfortable, and versatile. (from Mariposa)

Prices are in line with many American custom-built steel bikes, but it's worth noting that, for American customers, Mariposa bikes should be particularly attractive right now, as the exchange rates are currently around $1.25 Canadian for $1.00 U.S. In other words, that $500 deposit on a new Mariposa would be around $400 U.S. Granted, the bikes still are not cheap by any definition, but they do offer another terrific option for persons wanting something custom-built and distinctive.

After looking at those overpriced carbon-fiber monstrosities calling themselves "exclusive" because of their "limited numbers" and their insane price tags in my last post, it's refreshing to see something truly unique and beautiful, and less than one-third the price.


  1. I have seen two Mariposas up close. Not surprisingly, both were gorgeous and beloved by their owners. One was ridden across North America twice.

  2. You don't need to post this one on your blog, Brooks, but an interesting aside, and a potentially interesting article you might write, concerns Greg Curnoe, a Canadian artist involved with Mariposa. I have a poster of one of his paintings framed, of his Mariposa time trial bike from the seventies. Curnoe was killed by a truck while riding another of his Mariposas in Canada. Jocelyn Lovell, Canadian racer of note, was similarly hit by a truck and paralyzed. Maybe you already know all of this.

    I am surprised your blog hasn't been referenced more often on the BIkeforums Classic and Vintage pages. I only lurk there. Keep up the good work. Your blog is one of my favorites.

    1. Actually, I have seen some of Curnoe's work. You're right - it will have to be here on the blog soon. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Super nice, but in my opinion fabricating a bike with a quill stem and threaded headset is unforgivable. I have a really nice older LeMond that would still be my race steed if it were not for the damn quill stem. I need a 130mm extension and even a strong/ugly steel stem felt flimsy - many of these were recalled. If you want to keep the bike slim, a 1" threadless setup is fine, an is an opportunity to fabricate a nice custom stem.

    I also don't get these builds with classic parts, like the TA cranks, but especially the older ergolevers. Why market that setup when the end user is going to have to feed it vintage replacement parts? Do they take the 10s G springs? I already have enough anxiety about the future availability of Campagnolo 10 speed spare parts. You have a new generation of retrogrouches now - IE, we stopped the upgrade game when Campagnolo went full Spinal Tap with 11 crazyness.

    I'd love to see someone make their own components for these vintage builds, and offer spares. Design some simple friction shifters and derailleurs based on extrusions with a few milling operations. We need to say goodbye to post-war French metallurgy.

    Sean Gordon

  4. I was so happy to hear the business was revived. I am the proud owner of a Mariposa touring bike I took bought in fall of 2002 and took delivery on June 2003. Since then I've ridden it over 1000s of kilometers and it is still a joy to ride after all these years.