Currently I am in Tokyo and I've spend a bit of my free time last Tuesday for a visit at TOEI. I am still stunned. This is now the pinnacle of my cycling world. Dale, you should try to get a TOEI for your Cirque! TOEI has no shop but is a tiny one room workshop in the suburbs of Tokyo where the finest bicycles in the world are built. They even don't have a showroom, just two old (completely dusted) TOEIs one Randonneuse and one Camping model are hanging at the wall (JOS light protected by a velvet cover). When I was there were three people working. A very friendly guy whith shaven head who looked a bit like a buddhist monk speaks english and showed me around. They build bikes in the Rene Herse and Singer style but finish and workmanship is definitely better, and their bikes have also subtle refinements. Unlike Alex Singer they don't have vintage french parts, so the customer has to provide them if he wants a classical equipped bike, and most do. What you can get from them is a frame with fenders, perfectly built racks, Singer or Herse style stems and small parts like the Herse-style cable hangers. A naked frame costs around 200.000-250.000 Yen, a custom made front rack 12.000, fenders 60.000. Fancy chromed lugs and lug lining are available but rather unusual, most frames have plain paint. They create their french style lugs by welding a piece of tube to a common looking lug with normal tungs and then cutting out the french outline and filing them. There were two 50th anniversary frames finished with the famous "cable-less" lightning system. Amazing, the steerer tube of the fork has an isolated copper collar and inside the frame at the center of the down tube is a contact pin which is pressed against the copper. Everything is build perfectly and clean although no part of this internal system is seen at the finished bike. There was also an original 1950s Rene Herse frame for restauration Probably not the worst address for this kind of work. I also noticed, that Jan's "Golden age..." book was lying on top of the crammed "office" desk. I bought the new TOEI book (8000 Y, mainly bw pics)and two of the Herse cable hangers (5800 Yen), which are by far the finest made bicycle parts I have ever touched. Like jewellery. I also got a current issue of the "New Cyling" magazine, which focuses on this kind of bikes. Too bad I can't read a single word, but you see that it is not a collectors but a riders magazine. This issue deals with maintanaince and touring issues for example how to deal with broken aluminium(!) frames of Ideale saddles. All in all an unforgettable visit. I think I have to start saving money again....
BTW: I (of course) forgot my camera, so no pics, sorry.