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High-end Japanese frame makers...

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High-end Japanese frame makers...

Old 12-30-18, 04:49 PM
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High-end Japanese frame makers...

Any vintage makes to discuss? Bonus points for pics.
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Old 12-30-18, 07:09 PM
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Well, these were hand done at Tsunoda...
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Old 12-30-18, 08:14 PM
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Where's that killer boutique frame restoration featured here this past year? Made by the son, not the father.

The powder blue one with internal cable routing, pantographed bits etc...EBU, Hirose?
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Old 12-30-18, 08:42 PM
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Do a google image search: "3Rensho bikeforums."
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Old 12-30-18, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Fahrenheit531 View Post
Do a google image search: "3Rensho bikeforums."
That's the only make? I've heard of 3Rensho. There have to be more.
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Old 12-30-18, 08:55 PM
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Not the one I was looking for but there's Ebisu
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Old 12-30-18, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
That's the only make? I've heard of 3Rensho. There have to be more.
Responses coming in slowly, figured I'd help out with the name I knew.
I too am curious to see what else is out there.
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Old 12-30-18, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post


Well, these were hand done at Tsunoda...

Beautiful. As was this:






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Old 12-30-18, 09:44 PM
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And this. Not sure if Tsunoda, but nearly identical to the Lotus in many ways. 1979 Centurion Semi Pro
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Old 12-30-18, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
Where's that killer boutique frame restoration featured here this past year? Made by the son, not the father.

The powder blue one with internal cable routing, pantographed bits etc...EBU, Hirose?
Erba/Hagiwara:
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...aint-shop.html

A few others of note; Nagasawa, Zunow, Toei, Alps, Ebisu...

I'm sure @Dawes-man and @pcb could contribute a great deal to this thread.

Brent (who has been idly looking for a Nagasawa-built bike in the 60-62cm range for many years now)
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Old 12-30-18, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
Thanks!!
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Old 12-30-18, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
And this. Not sure if Tsunoda, but nearly identical to the Lotus in many ways. 1979 Centurion Semi Pro
Not Tsunoda, but Miki. (Centurion Semi Pro, Pro Tour, some Super Elites, Some of the Specialized Allez, Sequoias, Expeditions, The Sekai 4000 and 5000, some high end Shogun and KHS models.)

Here is my 1976 Centurion Semi Pro I repost at every opportunity:
Finished 2 by c79murphy, on Flickr
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Old 12-30-18, 11:31 PM
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This is a good thread to read through:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...anese-c-v.html
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Old 12-31-18, 12:41 AM
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I suppose we'd need to clarify/define terms/categories, and all that fun stuff. I'd start off with only frames actually built in Japan, kinda Duh!, but I know some Japanese dealers, with their own small brands, but they're building frames in Taiwan/China.

I guess it makes sense to include high-end bikes from non-Japanese brands, if built in Japan. WCC/Nishiki, WSI/Centurion, Specialized, Rivendell and maybe some others have spec'd some nice frames in Japan. Gets a bit complex since the Japanese source could change from model to model, season to season. You'd have to include some smaller brands like DIN/Echelon, importing two models made by Cherubim in the late '70s. In some ways it's a whole 'nother ball o' wax.

The big Japanese mfrs all made/make high-end frames, but they also made/offered full product lines, from entry-level & up. I think that's a category, but a small one:

Big Mfrs:
Araya (they sold high-end frames, not sure if they made in-house or subcontracted)
Bridgestone
Fuji
Miyata
Panasonic

Then you have mid-sized mfrs, maybe known more for their high-end product, but also made entry-level frames. Not sure how many fit here:
Katakura Silk (known for the all-chrome bikes brought home by many tall American GIs, but they had 10-12 builders and built inexpensive frames, too)
Anybody else?

Then maybe smaller shops, but with several builders, building mainly high-end frames, but also maybe doing some contract building for others?
Cherubim (3-4 builders, no longer doing much contract building, but built for Specialized and Fuji back in the day, and the DIN/Echelons)
Midori (hardly heard of, but I had some Japanese dealers who worked for Midori before they went under)
Miki (long out of business)
SanRensho (Konno had a few builders, I think, built the early Spec'l Allez and Sequoia)
Toyo (rarely see Toyo-branded frames, built for Specialized [40th Anniv Allez], Ritchey, Rivendell)
Tsunoda (I don't have a clear picture how big/small they were)
Likely more?

Then true one-/two-builder shops, and there are/were tons of these.

I buy the "Road Bike All Catalog 20xx" every couple of years, published by Ei Publishing in Tokyo. Lists just about every road/tri bike carried in Japan by every domestic/import maker. It includes a "Japanese Hand made Bicycle" section, with 21 builders for 2017. This should be a pretty complete list of viable builders currently building in Japan. I've heard of a bunch of them, don't know anything about some of them. I'm assuming that, like here in the US, there may be some younger builders in the market now. There is a Tokyo College of Cycle Design, opened in 2012, offering 2-/3-yr courses in bicycle design/production/sales. Cherubim/Konno teaches the framebuilding courses there, and they've been churning out potential framebuilders for 4yrs+ now. So there's probably a bunch of young'ns picking up torches now.

Builders in the 2017 All Catalog who I know, and/or who've been around for decades:
Akamatsu (Akamatsu-san was the hub specialist at Suntour, manged the WTB/Grease Guard hub disaster. Really nice guy, don't know if he's hand-building his own frames, or having someone else build them.)
Amanda (has been around for decades)
Cherubim (see above)
Ektar Proton (been around for decades)
Dobbat's (been around for a while)
Gan Well Pro (in Kyoto, had several builders and wider line in '85)
Level (been around)
Makino (was SanRensho/Konno's apprentice/builder, took over SanRensho after Konno died, eventually renamed business after himself)
Nakagawa (Osaka builder, often confused with Nagasawa)
Nagasawa (oddly, missing from the All Catalog 2017 list)
Ogre (young guys outside Kyoto, met them at NAHBS/Denver, showed a very weird grillwork frame)
Ravanello (been around)
Royal Norton (mainly touring/rando frames?)
Samson
Silk Cycles (don't think there's any connection with Katakura Silk?)
Vigore (Kansai/Osaka?)
Vivalo (Kansai/Osaka, I think)
Watanabe (from Kyushu, lovely frames)

In the All Catalog list, but I never heard of 'em:
Abukuma
Corner Bikes
Emme Akka
Equilibrium
Dontzer
Kualis Cycles
Macchi Cycles
Montson
Quark
Schmitt
Shin
Stratos
Sunrise Cycles

There's some names I know, don't know current status, and some that are long gone.
Everest
Midori (see above)
SanRensho (see above)

Between NAHBS, Japan visits and bikes in-house, I have craploads of related pix on flickr. I'm getting sleepy, so I'll just post a few here. Check through my albums for more. Be aware that a lot of my builds are resto-mods, so you're mainly checking out the frame details.

Cherubim Sportif/'16


Cherubim Steel Master/'12 Show Bike


Cherubim/Shinichi Konno:


Nagasawa-san in workshop, and drinking, 2016:



Nagasawa Special Keirin/'14:


Nakagawa Special Road/'94: Nakagawa-san's personal bike, on loan...


Echelon Odyssey (green) and Spectra (blue), by Cherubim/'80. The Spectra is mis-decaled as a Cherubim:



Level @ NAHBS/2014:
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Old 12-31-18, 12:51 AM
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Toei has already been mentioned, not listed in the All Catalog, and I forgot to include them.

Alps is another name I remember, from Cycle Sport and Bicycle Club magazine ads. I think they were mainly touring/rando, at least that's what I remember seeing in their ads.

There was a small touring/rando builder in Kyoto, kinda mid-town, I visited a couple of times. Maybe starting with an "E"? Not Everest, they're in Tokyo. Ei---something?

I forgot to include Zunow in the now-gone category.

Wikipedia has a pretty long list of Japanese brands/makers, including many mentioned here.
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Old 12-31-18, 01:14 AM
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Here is my Zunow that I am in the process of rebuilding with a cheap respray, to protect the frame.
As I got it...

IMG_20180912_103646053_HDR by Bwilli88, on Flickr
Respray with a partial build with the old wheelset.




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Old 12-31-18, 05:00 AM
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I've not much to add, just two small points:
  1. My Schwinn Volare is Panasonic-built. I think this might have been Schwinn's first foray into outsourcing framebuilding to Japan.
  2. I enjoy C.S. Hirose's YouTube channel. He posts pretty frequently.
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Old 12-31-18, 08:06 AM
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Old 12-31-18, 12:21 PM
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Here's my Sannow, another brand which I'd like to know more about:
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Old 12-31-18, 12:44 PM
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^great insight, PCB

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Old 12-31-18, 12:46 PM
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Old 12-31-18, 12:59 PM
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So here are five I would include. The first was my entry-drug bike to Vintage Bikes and has led me to the other four. A manufactured in 1981 and sold in model year 1982 Nishiki Professional, Japanese frame with all Campagnolo gruppo.



For more information about this bike and pictures of the bike and its details you can look up the post: Nishiki Professional with Campagnolo Nuvo Record Gruppo
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Old 12-31-18, 01:07 PM
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As I said this was my gateway bike which brought me back to the days of being poor and riding a Schwinn Varsity, all of these bikes were out of touch creations, kind of like the local stereo shop and the mystical "Third Room" of unobtainium stereo gear, except now years later I could now invite myself into that mystical room and more surprising bring something home. Which led to the father to the bike above, and which I would never have noticed in cruzing eBay but for the unique to me striping on the seat tube of the 82 Professional which matched this 1972 Katakura-Silk/Nishiki Professional:



For more information about this bike and pictures of the bike and its details you can look up the post: Restoration Done-72 Katakura-Silk/Nishiki-Professional
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Old 12-31-18, 01:19 PM
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Next is a Grail Bike, though I've seen posts for Grail Bikes in this forum I never thought such a thing would come my way, especially for a $25.00 frame and fork, bit more has been spent since in the restoration of the "H. Hagiwara" - Erba:



As you will see from the prior posts on this bike I have had a bit of a problem in naming this bike, is it "erba" or "Erba"? And who is/was "H. Hagiwara"? I recommend the following posts for the pictures of the found condition, philosophy behind the restoration, back ground research and continuing mystery surrounding this bike, which from all I have found to-date is a one of. Restoration is on-going, I have sourced four final components, one you see in the picture above and will in the next week or so post a completion posting with the reasons behind the changes.
Additional posts:
1. Restoration: H. Hagiwara "Erba" getting ready for the paint/decals
2. "H. Hagiwara" Erba-back from paint shop
3. H. Hagiwara-"erba", the restoration is done
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Old 12-31-18, 01:21 PM
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@pcb 's list is pretty exhaustive.

I will contribute a couple of tidbits:

-Shin Fab (Shin Hattori) is a pretty popular one man builder who has been building bikes for the Japanese brand Simworks under the "Doppo" line. Simworks is most known for their lines of components, tires, and accessories made on contract by Nitto, Panaracer, and some American companies. Oscar Camarena (Simple Bike Co, Portland OR) has also built Doppo frames for Simworks.

-Kualis was started by Yoshi Nishikawa, a former welder at Seven Cycles who started Kualis in Massachusetts and eventually moved it to Japan.

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