21 January 2017

Japan Handmade Bike Show - Beauty - Part 1

There were a lot of beautiful bikes at the show ... as well as some not so beautiful ones.  I thought the ugliest (least beautiful?) were those that mixed and matched too much -- some classic style elements, but disk brakes -- or ones that had jarring paint schemes (too much bright green).

1. Equilibrium Cycle Works.  Hats off to Vlad, the Latvian framebuilder in Tokyo, for a set of show bikes that are just gorgeous. They are CLEAN, PURE machines, yet interesting, each different. And the design is impeccable, each one something it is difficult to stop looking at.  Wow.
Powder blue beauty from Equilibrium Cycle Works of Tokyo
Even the seat, the post and handlebars are painted the powder blue
A pure racing machine -- with a bold, beautiful color scheme and GS Astuto wheels!

Add The unique seat stays on this one require a lot of extra effort.
But the result is a one-of-a-kind beauty. Glowing bronzed paint!
Vlad told me that he is always trying to push himself outside his "comfort zone" to learn new techniques and improve old ones.  It shows!  No wonder he has so many customers who buy more than one bike from him!
Really nice, exposed fillet brazing
My pictures of Vlad's bikes do not really do them justice, so go check out his website and instagram.
2. Cherubim.  The leading Japanese builder of the 21st century, heir to the Sanrensho legacy, Konno-san has always impressed and won the big prizes at NAHBS. He showed more beauty here. And they have a beautiful pamphlet ... now sitting on my coffee table.

Their signature fire-house red paint and yellow markings - my favorite Cherubim color scheme.
Seat post not adjustable ... then again, when you order custom, you can get it just right.

The Cherubim R-2 classic lugged racing bike was worth a few photos.

Cherubim -- Carrying on a long tradition.
3. Macchi Cycles. This builder, Maki Ueda, is located in Shiga Prefecture on Lake Biwa, just east of Kyoto. His frames each had style, and nice mix of exposed polished stainless and nice post-modern paint color schemes. He had pamphlets for a rental cycle service in Maibara (Shinkansen stop on SE side of Lake Biwa) which rents for riding around Lake Biwa. The service which offers, among other rental cycles, some built with Macchi frames.

4.  Ogre.  Beauty and the beast. This is a titanium frame welder located in Northern Kyoto - near the Japan sea. The frame on display was titanium and carbon mix. Not for everyone, but I thought it "worked".

Nice stem faceplate. Nice Ogre bars and badge.
5. Yanagi.  The Nishi Tokyo-based builder at Yanagi Cycle, Iizumi-san, was tall and VERY thin. Is this guy literally starving while trying to start making a living building bicycle frames? I guess he would not be the only one. Anyway, his workmanship looked very nice, and the paint job was one-of-a-kind.  Also, he was advertising JPY 185,000 (around $1500) for a True Temper OX Platinum road frame (of course, add options and the price goes up and up ...).  This and other pricing seemed well within reach of a bicycle lover who is trying to decide between a unique, work of art and a factory carbon frame.  (OX Platinum is one of the advanced steel frame tubesets that allows the same weight as a titanium bike in a steel frame).
The rider on fire ... ?
Lots of disk brakes and fatter-than-road wheels among the younger builders

6. Level Cycles. This workshop (Matsuda) is near the Arakawa. They had some very nice looking bikes. 

7. Bixxis Cycle. The only foreign builder I saw represented (not there in the flesh, at least not Saturday morning) was Bixxis Cycle, from Seregno, Italy.  (Vlad/Equilibrium is Japanese for these purposes.) Why would someone in Japan buy a Bixxis instead of one of the great locally built ones on display? Well, the builder is named De Rosa.  Ring any bells?  Yes, he is Doriano De Rosa, son of Ugo De Rosa, who built one of the leading bicycle brands in the world--the bikes on which countless championships were won.  Of course, they have won awards at NAHBS too.

Italian style ... though Swedish colors
In 2015, I rode through Seregno on my way from Milan to and from the cycling museum at Ghisallo ... if I had realized Bixxis was so close I would have at least made sure to try and stop by.

Anyway, enough of beauty. And now for some things different.

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