[Classicrendezvous] Re: Speaking of Japanese collectors

Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 12:44:53 -0700
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
From: Monkeyman <monkey37@bluemarble.net>
Subject: [Classicrendezvous] Re: Speaking of Japanese collectors

Sorry I've jumped on this a little late but my Email has been down for the last 4 days. Anyway, I've built up many bikes for Japanese tourists on vacation while in the states and they have a tendency to go two ways.

First are the parents of a 14 y.o. kids, or a middle aged business men, looking for a MTB. These folks have no problems dropping $8000 on a bike from an American builder with all American or European parts. The bike may not fit very well, but after talking to the buyers riding isn't the issue. To these people it's a piece of art, something for showing like a really expensive snowglobe or tee-shirt. Something that says, "I went to the US and all I got was this multi-colored 20lb. mountian bike." In the mid-90's my brother taught english in Japan, when he got over there he found out that at the Jr.High he taught at had a MTB club each Saturday. I quickly put together a bike for him that was parts from my bins, many were the much lusted after American and Euro parts that functioned worse than their Japanese counterparts. During the next year and a half he sold the almost dead standard Rock Shox Mag 21 for @$700 USD, next was the rasta Paul's rear deraileur which fetched @$600 USD, away went the Campy Euclid wheelset, Klein carbon-fiber bars, and all the Control Tech small parts for other large sums of cash. People would even pay to remove the stickers from his frame. During these rides he also noted that most kids rode the basic "huffy" style bikes but many others had the above described "American" bikes, very few people had a middle quality bike. This is one type of the Japanese collector.

The other collector is similar to the ones described in other posts. They are looking for that "perfect" bike. I don't know about the French bike thing, but 5 years ago a custom built American bike with Campy SR, with all the Ti spindles and axles, would fetch $2000+ without a blink of the eye. If it had Hi-E, Assos, or Weyless anything add another 25%, and these bikes were 7 out of 10. If it was a nice Italian maybe 25% less but still way above "fair market value." One of my close friends back in Eugene, Oregon is a Japanese grad student/bike nut named Ken and he and I have talked on this subject at length. Ken subscribes to a Japanese bike magazine that, I think, is called "Cyclesport" (if you can find this mag it's one of the best I've ever seen)--not the same thing as the Euro edition. Just by looking at it you can see that the "special bike of the month" has changed from racers to tourists. I think these people who bought the Paramount 10 years ago are buying the Herse today. When Ken goes to visit his parents in Tokyo he tries to take a few "trinkets" with him for friends and trade value and he says where 6 years ago you could take a DEAN Ti stem today you need to take old Mavic hubsets or Campy Rally deraileurs.

These two collectors are very similar, though their bike choice is different. It's the desire to own the one, or two, perfect bike(s). Add that to the Japanese desire and recognition for quality and historically being collectors of fewer things of higher quality than Americans. This makes it difficult to view these "inflated" prices through American eyes. Americans have so much "stuff" that it makes it difficult to understand the "less = more" theory of the Japanese. As an example I could sell the 6 bikes I have on the back porch right now and buy my wife and I each a wonderful Herse or Singer, but as an American I see 6 bikes of different uses as better though only one gets ridden very often. I don't think one mindset is better than the other, but I'd like to try the one bike style someday, because it seemed fine when I was a kid.

enjoy, Brandon"monkeyman"Ives

Brandon and Mitzi's-- "Wurld uv Wunder" http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~capybara/

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nobody can do everything, but if everybody did something everything would get done.
      -Gil Scott Heron- !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!