Saturday, December 1, 2007

Letter from Mike Barry

Dear Friends and Customers,

I am writing this letter to you with very mixed emotions. It is with great regret that I have to tell you that Bicycle Specialties will close and that there will be no more Mariposa bikes built after the end of this year as I have decided to retire.

For the past year we have been trying to find the right person to carry on the business and although there were several people interested, it has not been possible to find a satisfactory solution.

I am looking forward to spending more time with my family, riding the many mountain passes that I still dream of riding, and pursuing my hobby of restoring my personal antique bike collection. With my son and his family now living full time in Europe, my wife, Clare and I hope to spend more time there.

I have been very fortunate to pursue my passion of working with bikes. I have loved designing Mariposas and working with customers to create a bike that best suits their needs. The first Mariposa was built in 1969 and over the last 38 years we have made many great friends and had some wonderful times. Many of the bikes we built thirty years ago are still in use today—which was always the goal: to build bikes that were more than just bikes but something people might cherish forever. One of the very first is still thundering around the boards of the Forest City Velodrome in London, Ontario. (I wonder how many of the modern carbon bikes will still be going in thirty years time.)

It is a great pity that the production cannot carry on as we have a long waiting list. I find it very upsetting to disappoint those that have placed their confidence in us. Demand for the randonneur type of bike that we have become most known for is now at an all time high in North America.

I shall still be very much involved in the sport and pastime. As many of you will know I have quite a large collection of classic and vintage bikes and components. I hope that I shall now have time to work on and enjoy them. In the past the customer’s bikes always took preference and I now have enough ‘project’ bikes to keep me going for the rest of my days. I intend to put photos and details on this web site. Through the site I also hope to share some of my knowledge of bicycles and cycling. I hope also to create a virtual museum of my vintage bike and derailleur collection.

To all the customers, friends and acquaintances that we have met over the past thirty-eight years, thank you. I am honoured to know you and in many cases, to have introduced you to this wonderful sport and pastime. I hope I will be able to meet you out there on the bike.

Thank you for your trust in us over the years

Sincerely,
Mike Barry

9 comments:

pbh said...

Mike B.,
Congratulations to you as you move to this next phase in life. Sounds wonderful. Thanks for always being a gentleman and for my beautiful Mariposa. I hope to get a ride in with you one day.
Paul in Detroit.

Anonymous said...

Speechless. I am saddened by the loss of the classiest of bike shops. The passion and romance of the idea of cycling was many times greater than the act itself. Mike Barry and Bicycle specialties helped create that romance. Ride your bikes Mike, Ride your Bikes.
J e f f

Nathaniel said...

wow, sad to see the shop close. Thank you very much for the parts you have supplied to me over the past couple of years. I will remember everytime I ride my Gitane's.

Thanks
Nathaniel

Peter Leiss said...

Mike all the best in your retirement. We will all miss you and the fine work you have done. I know I will have the pleasure of riding with you in the future, discussing the state of cycling while the miles roll under our wheels.

Your contribution to cycling in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and around the world is incalculable.

CU soon Peter

Brian S. said...

It's with mixed emotions that I write this.

I've dealt with Mike, for so many years going back to the early 70's. And now I find it hard to believe that he's finally closed his doors on what I think was the finest bike shop I've ever been in.

When I said I had mixed emotions it was just that. I'm sad to see that he's closed up shop but happy, that he can finally just ride his bike and enjoy his hobby. And I might add that I never met a person that loved bikes like Mike.

So, all that's left to say now is, Good Luck Mike.

Anonymous said...

I came back to bikes after 30 years.

I recalled having a book called, I believe, Canadian Biking--or something to that effect. In that book, set out as exemplars of great bicycles, were a Cinelli, another bike--builder forgotten, and a Mariposa. As a kid in Hamilton, Ontario, I was surprised to find a bike maker of such note close to home.

Remembering that book, I Googled "Mariposa" one day about four years ago and found this site and the stories of Mike Barry, his son and daughter-in-law. I also found an interesting and temperate design middle-ground where classic melded with the best innovations--all without hype.

My contact with Mike Barry was a single 30 minute visit while in Toronto. As others have remarked, he quietly impressed with knowledge, judgement, and passion. Our quick review of the restored bikes in the shop and his thoughtful take on the Berto theory of derailleurs revealed a highly literate designer.

My Mariposa purchases consisted of only a B.17 and four rolls of tape. I and likely many others who have visited this site, however, have been the lucky recipients of the knowledge and craft earned through a life-time of work by Mike Barry.

Thanks Mike.

Anonymous said...

All of us who have been your customers thank you, Mike, for being Mr. Bicycling in Toronto since, well, before I moved here to attend school in 1972. The most cherished "thing" that I own (aside from my wedding ring) is my gorgeous green Mariposa with its eclectic collection of parts that you have tracked down to keep the bike suiting my needs into the 21st century. Bikes built to last are like living organisms that adapt and transform themselves as they age. (And yes, some of that transformation is lower gears! But higher passes, too.)
And my Jeunet Cyclotouriste from 1975 is still doing yeoman service after much transmogrification in your frame shop.
There'll not be another one like you in my lifetime, Mike.
Lug on!

Best wishes from Sue and me,
Les MacMillan

Anonymous said...

Mr Mike Barry,

Way back in my high-school days, I used to work for you at BicycleSport downtown Toronto.

The range of interesting people that I had a chance to meet, admire & befriend was a wonderful way for a young man back then to have seen, while immersed in the culture & lifestyle of cycling.

From the middle aged gent who came in with a fully chromed & decked out "pee-wee herman" style bike, streamers and all...

To the ultrasport athletes that continually changed & tweeked things to shave off the seconds & do so with style & grace...

To the average families that came to get setup properly by people that cared...

To the occasional celebrity that came by to pickup a bike for their loved ones...

My fondest memory is remembering how little Mike Barry, walked into the bike shop often and the loving tenderness that you greeted him on bended knee, gazing into his face with full attention asking him about his day. He was maybe all of 10 years old.

There was also that custom Mariposa that you had custom built to his small size.

This sort of fatherly love, gentleness and care, something that stood out in my mind. Refreshing. Endearing. Exemplary.

Lucky kid, I thought. Not everyone grows up with such care & attention from a father figure.

I went on with my life, university, work... the years passed.

One afternoon, while in a Tim Hortons a few years ago, I saw a "Tim Hortons supports the Canadian National Cycling Team" picture on the wall & glanced at the names... to see "Michael Barry".

That little boy, had become a young man... at the top of his game & prime of his life.

I thought to myself, "wow, that little guy ... he did it".

Mr. Barry, I wish you all the best in your life's 'golden years' & may you continue to build many warm memories with your family, friends and your bikes.

You're a gentleman.

Your ex-employee and a fellow father (of 3: 8, 4, 2).

- Royce Ng

Anonymous said...

Hello Mike.

Very interest your 1951 cinelli.
I want it very much.I can pay $6000 ore more.

Sorry rude question..