A RICH HISTORY
In 1968, Mike Barry and John Palmer met on a Toronto training ride. They had both immigrated from Britain and had an intense interest in every thing to do with bikes and cycling.
Soon after they met they were able to purchase the frame building materials from the defunct Flyer handbuilt race bike department of CCM. With this acquisition and the use of a friend’s basement they were in a position to accomplish their mutual ambition of building quality racing bikes.
John and Mike formed a partnership to build Mariposa bicycles in 1969 and the first Mariposa was completed in January 1970. The first test ride of the unpainted track bike was on snow covered roads in central Toronto.
Early Mariposas received keen approval from the riders of the Delhi, Ontario indoor velodrome and Mike and John were spending all their spare time, (they both had full time jobs), filling the demand.
In 1972 Mike decided to quit his job as an instrument engineer and opened a retail bike shop where the Mariposas could be built more efficiently. John, having spent his early life working in his father’s bike shop in England, decided that he would not go down that road again. Within a short time Mike Brown, another racing cyclist, recently immigrated from England, became Mike’s new business partner.
Bicyclesport, the new shop’s name, was on King Street in downtown Toronto and soon profited from the sudden popularity of “ten speeds”. The building of Mariposas was at first limited to the winter months when the retail business was at its slowest. But demand for the hand built bikes reached the point where other frame builders had to be employed. Before long a dedicated frame shop with paint facility was established.
The Bicyclesport-Mariposa race team was established at this time in conjunction with the Queen City Cycling Club. It became one of Canada’s successful teams.
Mike Brown’s decision to leave Canada and return to England in 1985 and Mike Barry’s near fatal bike accident in early 1986 began a black period for Bicyclesport. After a period of struggles, Mike opened Bicycle Specialties where he focused on producing Mariposas and selling specialty components.
Tom Hinton, who had been a customer at Bicyclesport, joined Mike and after a training period soon started building frames.
In 1995, a decision was made to sponsor the Saturn Canada racing team. The team was very successful winning National Championships on their Mariposa and Campagnolo equipped bikes.
In 2001 Bicycle Specialties moved to its present location, an industrial unit in East Toronto. The relocation was made to get away from the regular retail trade and concentrate on their first love, bike building.
Tom and Mike worked together for 16 years until 2007, when Mike retired. He turned his attention to restoring his vast antique bicycle collection, and decided to spend more time with his family in Spain where Michael, his son, had settled as a professional cyclist.
Michael Barry Jr. raced professionally for the most famous teams of his age, including US Postal Service, Discovery Channel, T-Mobile, Columbia – High Road and Team Sky. He competed in the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro d’Italia. In December, 2012, Michael retired from professional racing and he, his wife Dede and Mike Sr., decided to re-launch the Mariposa brand and the Bicycle Specialties business. With much help from friends and the key re-hiring of Tom Hinton, the business was reborn in 2014.
Although decades have passed since Mariposa was built in 1970, the bikes built now use essentially the same construction techniques and are built with the same care. Mariposa has a niche in building world-class steel, lugged frames and is supported by the renewed interest and demand for lugged, steel frames. There will always be cyclists that will appreciate the quality of workmanship and design that goes in to every one of them.
Mike Barry Sr.
Founder of Mariposa Bicycles, Owner of Bicycle Specialties, Mike continued to be involved in the business, building frames and components, as well as refurbishing and restoring antique bicycles until he passed away in December 2018 at the age of 80. Mike had a significant impact on the cycling community through his work with bicycles and his passion for cycling. His fascination with bicycles and everything cycling started at a very early age. He found that the bicycle opened a world of discovery and adventure from his home in South London, England. Mike competed as a top category amateur in England before he emigrated to Canada. His intense interest in cycling and bicycles remained with him following his move to Canada and throughout his life. Mike organized cyclocross, road and touring events and was a founder of the Toronto Randonneurs. He managed and sponsored cycling teams and he also participated in the Raid Pyrenean, L’Eroica and climbed most of the famous cols of France and Italy. His calm demeanour and desire to share his passion with others will be dearly missed in the Mariposa workshop and throughout the cycling community.
Michael Barry Jr.
Co-leads the business. Michael has been building and painting bikes since retiring from professional cycling at the end of 2012. As a cyclist, Michael represented Canada at the Olympic Games (’96, ’04, ’08), Commonwealth Games (’94, ;02) and was a World Tour Cyclist (1998-2012). He rode for the most famous teams of his age, including Team Sky, Columbia – High Road, T-Mobile, Discovery Channel, and the US Postal Service team. He competed in the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro d’Italia. With a deep level of experience in bicycle fit and design, as well as a keen attention to detail and eye for style, Michael has a unique skill in translating a cyclist’s specifications to the bike design.
Co-leads the business. A natural athlete, Dede grew up in Milwaukee, WI and was introduced to cycling as a form of cross training for speedskating as a teenager. Having raced as a National Team Speedskater for three years, she quickly found success on the bike, winning the 1989 Junior World Championship road race. That was the beginning of a 16 year cycling career. A Silver medalist from the 2004 Athens Olympics and multiple medalist of World, National and Pan-American competitions, she was a member of the United States National and Olympic Cycling Teams as well as the Saturn and T-Mobile professional cycling teams. In addition to her many successes in professional cycling, she is an international MBA. Her creativity and focus allows others to depend on her lead. Although she no longer competes as a cyclist, she is an active athlete, regularly out running, cycling and skiing the many trails in Toronto.
Peter’s passion for cycling began as a child on a BMX bike cruising the Toronto streets and skate parks. When mountain bikes gained popularity, he embraced this aspect of the sport with touring and off road racing. From MTB he moved the road and cyclocross, where he has competed for years in both local and international events. Career highlights include medaling at the National Criterium Championship, three-time Ontario Cyclocross Champion, Ontario Criterium Champion (on a Mariposa bicycle), two-time Paris-to-Ancaster winner and in 2005, represented Canada at the World Cyclocross Championship in Germany. Peter continues to be an avid cyclist, enjoying the Don Valley Trails, commuting daily year-round and competing in local events. Currently, his undying passion for bikes fuels his creativity and technical precision as a talented painter and craftsman.
PARTNERS / ADVISORS
Bill is an avid cyclist, vintage car and motorbike enthusiast. He provides Bicycle Specialties Ltd. business operations and legal advice.
Walter’s passion for bicycles shines through his daily commute and his work. He is a portrait, fashion, and lifestyle photographer, who has generously provided support to Mariposa and Bicycle Specialties for many years. Walter’s exquisite photographs are also featured in A Life With Bicycles.