Editor’s Note: This post is courtesy of Travel Oregon.
Venture to the top of a summit in Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains, and the views and diversity of terrain are jaw dropping. In one direction spy high desert country. Look the other way and you’ll see past Hells Canyon and into the neighboring state. In between working ranches dot a landscape first accessed by the Oregon Trail.
It’s that Old West heritage combined with a hint of rugged remoteness that Ira Ryan of Breadwinner Cycles used as design inspiration for his latest two-wheeled creation. Ryan was one of seven builders tasked with making a bike for Travel Oregon’s 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders scavenger hunt. To celebrate the 7 Wonders of Oregon, each builder created a bike inspired by the state’s most amazing places to ride, including the Wallowas. This summer, those bikes are being hidden at their Wonders for anyone to find, own, and ride.
“We designed this bike to be a long-distance-go-anywhere sort of explorer machine,” explained Ryan, who’s based in Portland and specializes in custom TIG-welded steel bicycles that incorporate the latest technology and modern geometry. “In the Wallowas you find fire roads, high-elevation forests, rolling grasslands, jeep roads. It’s a huge landscape. The only limitation to a bike like this is where you can pedal. So this is like the pack horse of the bike world. It gets you up the steep pitches, down the trail. It’s a rugged, faithful companion.”
Ryan calls that faithful companion an “all-terrain bike” with ample cargo-carrying capacity. The frame is a fully rigid 29er that’s outfitted with dual-purpose 2.5-inch tires that are equally at home on pavement or dirt. The fork can accommodate fenders and racks to attach bags filled with gear for bikepacking. Same goes for the rear of the frame, where the chainstays have been lengthened to keep cargo away from the rider’s heels.
Disc brakes ensure ample stopping power no matter the terrain — or weather conditions. The reliable Shimano drivetrain means crisp and precise shifting will always be the norm. The saddle is a leather Brooks model with the sort of intricate carved designs a custom bike should have. Handlebar grips are leather to match. The paint is olive green with black accents and some mountain-inspired graphics. It all conspires to emphasize the bike’s Old West lineage with a touch of cowboy culture.
“Thinking about the experience of riding in the Wallowas, and then turning that into a bike was a unique task,” said Ryan, who has over 22 years of bike building experience and once worked as a bike messenger. “I asked myself, what’s going to make this bike serve its purpose for that part of the state? It’s an adventurous, go-anywhere bike that reflects how most people ride in the Wallowas, across big stretches of valleys and then on the surrounding rugged terrain. This is a well-built, well-designed bike, and it showcases what a hand-built bike can be.”