Example: Framebuilders:Norman Taylor

To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
From: Richard Risemberg <rickrise@earthlink.net>
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2007 07:19:37 -0700
Subject: [CR]Japan

Why all the worry about classic bikes and parts going to Japan? Unless it was one you as an individual was trying to bid on, and in that case it wouldn't matter who outbid you, would it? No one worries about a bike going to North Dakota.... I see links posted here all the time to listings on Italian eBay; do the Italians worry about bikes being sucked out of their country to the US?

The Japanese love bikes; they love bikes more than Americans do; almost every last one of them rides almost every day. ( http:// bicyclefixation.com/pe_japan.html ) Mommas with two kids and groceries on a bike, bank presidents with briefcase in one hand. Bikes are as central as rice, nearly, to life there. True, most of those bikes are inexpensive utility bikes, but, just as there are special, revered rice varieties for special dishes, there are special, revered bike varieties there. And the most revered seems to be the French camping bike, along with French bikes in general. And even the day-to-day bikes are in the French spirit, with fenders, racks, generators, wide tires (590 instead of 584 in this case), etc.

They are meticulous, obsessive restorers and careful keepers. And their modern reproductions of older French bike varieties are wonderful. It may be the best fate possible for an old French bike to end up in the hands of a Japanese collector. These are guys who will keep goldfish alive for 300 years, passing them down through generations of family!

If there's a true heir to the spirit of Rene Herse, it's probably Toei in Japan:


This particular frame is welded (like a modern Gilles Berthoud), but Toei does excellent lugwork too.

Now, from what I hear, it may be that a lot of the parts bought by Japanese end up on these keeper-of-the-flame machines, but I think that's all right. That's what keeps the flame burning.

I've been in Japan, I love Japan, and I love the way the Japanese love bikes. It doesn't bother me when they snag something on eBay-- something that after all we ourselves snagged from its country of origin earlier. And I'd order up a Toei from Hiroshi Iimura in a minute if I had the cash. (Keeping it out of the hands of some equally bike-loving Japanese if I did so, and without a qualm.)

Rick "likes the Japanese as long as they're not out conquering Asia" Risemberg -- Richard Risemberg http://www.bicyclefixation.com http://www.newcolonist.com http://www.rickrise.com