Good morning and welcome to the next installment of the PDW Good Neighbor Series. This time we gathered with Mitch Pryor of MAP Bicycles, yet another neighbor of ours along the N. Williams Ave "Bicycle Corridor" as it's affectionately known 'round these parts. We talked, we laughed, we did cartwheels, all the while sharing a frank discussion on what it takes to build some of the purtiest brazed steel bikes out there.
KM: First of all, is M.A.P. your initials? What is your middle name if so? Isn't that a girl's name?
MP: Mitchell Allen Pryor
KM: I need to know what is that track from your stop lapse video? It’s upbeat, enchanting and the Shazam app on my phone can’t seem to find it. Instead it returns this song, which is also pretty good.
[A typical afternoon in the shop with Mitch. from Joseph Ahearne on Vimeo.]
MP: Shop-mate, Joseph Ahearne, made the video. He had the tripod pointed at everything for a while, and the music is by Martin Dosh. [ed: http://doshfamily.com] His music builds great momentum, great for someone easily distracted like myself.
KM: Where are you from originally?
MP: (gasp) California, bay area
KM: How long in Portland?
MP: 8 years
KM: How’d you get into the bike biz?
MP: I swept up daily and broke down boxes all summer at my LBS when I was 13 and earned my first serious bike, a Specialized Rockhopper Comp. I've been messing with bikes in someway ever since.
KM: Snorkel or S.C.U.B.A.?
KM: Braze or weld?
KM: When and where did you learn to build like that? (Accusatory tone implied--only kidding. Your frames are beautiful.)
MP: It's got nothing to do with bikes, really. I mean, I think bicycles have tremendous potential for beauty and for me that beauty is in the details and execution, but this can be true of anything one is passionate about.
KM: Who is Doug Fattic? How did you come to work under him?
MP: That link kind of hits the nail on the head. I sought him out to teach me how to build and paint. I've never worked with him long-term, but he's been someone who has introduced me to a lot of new skills. The real learning happens later, on your own, but he literally has a lifetime of experience and is someone I've learned a lot from.
KM: He-Man or G.I. Joe?
KM: File or hacksaw?
KM: Can you tell me more about the batch process project you have going now? Semi custom? Fully standard? What is the deal (with airplane peanuts)?
MP: Fully custom, batch produced in house, many options to make it your own as long as you don't ask too many stupid questions. Seriously, I try to be accommodating and make the process as straight forward as possible. It's a lot of bike to build. I make certain components, the racks, stems, lights. It's very much the core of my business and I look forward to it every year.
KM: I hear you’re quite demanding of your painters. Care to comment?
MP: They should do better.
KM: Oh, snap. I think being meticulous is a good thing. I feel like it’s overlooked in the mass-production bike world. Can you enlighten how being diligent and detail oriented in your professional life has ruined parts of your personal life? We love gory details. Not really.
MP: I don't know that I agree with all that. Portland's manufactures are no more diligent and detail-oriented than a lot of mass-manufacturers, we have a different manufacturing challenge and have to attend to different details. We all make mistakes. I believe it boils down to the individual's or company's commitment to their product and craft and this is a very individual thing. As a custom builder if I don't get the details right, what do I have to offer?
KM: Well put. That's a good insight. Hypothetical question: Say your shop suddenly caught fire (no that’s not a threat) If needed, could you carry Joseph Ahearne out of the burning building fireman style? Think a Backdraft-esque scene…
MP: I'd probably throw him on my Ahearne cycle truck.
KM: True dat. We'd probably do the same.
KM: Karate or Kung Fu?
MP: Kung Fu
KM: Long johns or union suit?
MP: Union suit
KM: Why randonneuring? Or Rando-ing, if you will.
MP: The ultimate expression of a bicycles simplicity, beauty, and practicality.
KM: Dpow! Says he’s never seen you without a cycling cap? Are you like a never nude, but for bike hats?
MP: Naw, it's my work hat. Keeps sparks and flux out of my hair is all.
KM: Lastly, in a throw down drag out last man standing hot dog eating competition between your shop/building mates (Signal, Ahearne, Corsa Concepts, or Metropolis) who could eat the most wieners?
MP: Metropolis for sure.