I grew up in the country driving cars. I was taught to drive on some strange vehicles. The first one was a 70s Renault standard with the gear shift on the steering wheel, a sort of four on the tree. The second was a 1970 VW truck with flat-bed sides. The steering wheel was massive and it was a major upper body workout just to turn your basic corner. I guess my parent’s thinking was “If the kid can learn to drive these things, he can drive anything.”
The first two cars I owned were VWs. A bug and that 1970 truck. My last car was a BMW 325. A truck is useful when you live in the country, just as a BMW is useful when you have to commute a long way. But I’m over all that; now I live in cities and I ride bikes.
There are a lot of advantages to this, not the least of which is that I don’t have to deal with the gas situation, and everything that entails. But what it really boils down to is that bikes are simple, elegant and fun.
Most of the bikes I see riding around town are pretty boring, but there are a lot of nice rides out there. Here are the bikes that were out front of the Depot Cycle & Recycle in the outskirts of Tokyo when I stopped by in Nov 2006.
I found the frame used in a little shop in south Osaka. It’s a training frame for track riding made by a little mark called Miyuki that’s now out of business, but used to be based in of Tokyo. I’ve only seen one other Miyuki’s on the road, but they sometimes pop up on the Japanese auction sites. This one is marked with the serial number 130 on the bottom bracket, giving a clear indication of how rare these frames are. It’s got Nitto 35cm bars and stem. A Dura-ace crank and chain ring and a bunch of other random stuff on it.
Here it is in the winter of 2013. It’s got Crank Brothers Candy pedals and a brake, since breaks are now the law in Tokyo.
In the summer of 2016 I put on white tires and went back to toe straps for convenience.
In the summer of 2019, this bike was stolen in the Kagurazaka neighborhood of Tokyo, so if anyone sees a Miyuki frame marked 130, please let me know.
This was my project build for my first winter in Osaka. Here’s what it’s made of: custom refurbished Nagasawa track frame, Phil Wood purple high-flange hubs, Araya silver track rims, the rare Nitto “reversable type” stem with straight Nitto bars, a Campagnolo aero seatpost and a San Marco saddle. I bought the frame from Nagasawa himself who lives and works in the suburbs of Osaka.
Here it is in 2013. The set-up is pretty much the same.
This one has a lot of rare stuff on it. I think the frame is a Lejeune; I’m not sure how old. Colnago straight chrome fork, 60s Campagnolo headset, Cinelli stem and track drops (actually, I’m not sure of the make of the bars; they curve up slightly on both sides of the stem so that there isn’t a straight cm on them), Campagnolo seat post, Ideale saddle, Sugino 75 BB (French threads), Campagnolo Pista cranks (151 BCD), skiptooth Campagnolo chain ring (24) and cog (9), Diamond 3/16" skiptooth chain, Campagnolo Record low-flange hubs (36H) laced to Fir EA 61. This bike is now living in Bandita‘s restaurant, in Vancouver.
This is the first bike I built. I put it together at Our Community Bikes in Vancouver with the help of the good people there. It’s built on an Iverson frame from the early 70s (#F5K05820). It was all cheap and used parts, but it rode well. I gave it to a friend in Osaka when I moved to Tokyo.
I built this bike for my sister. It was her first fixie. She pimped it out a lot nicer after I gave it to her, but sadly it was distroyed by a car. The frame is from a mid 80s Bianchi Rekord 842 (2C09315). The bike was in bad shape when I got it. It had been neglected and abused. The fork was ruined and it had been ridden on a broken rear axle. Nevertheless, I was still able to use a lot of the original parts.