The Friday Cyclotouriste

a geo-photoblog chronicling my "excursions velo"

Archive for the ‘Jitensha Studio’ tag

On the Road……Jitensha Studio, Berkeley CA

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Jitensha Studio projects a humble store front, yet inside Hiroshi Iimura — a modern bicycle constructeur — creates some of the most beautiful, functional, and harmoniously integrated bicycles I’ve ever seen.

A constructeur (as opposed to a framebuilder) assumes a holistic approach to bicycle creation. The constructeur integrates lighting, fenders, racks, and pannier bags; and, simultaneously, balances the bicycle’s intended use with its frame geometry, tire size, clearances, and a myriad of other choices, e.g., stem length, handlebar width, chain ring sizes, saddle and peddle type, etc., etc.

The most famous constructeurs of the 20th century were Rene Herse and Alex Singer, both from France. Hiroshi Iimura reflects this tradition.

I love this quote from Hiroshi published in a 2006 New York Times profile: “If a customer wants a component that is not to my taste, I refuse…I have to satisfy my own tastes first.”

Jitensha Studios, Berkeley, CA

Unfortunately, Hiroshi’s shop was closed the afternoon I was in Berkeley so I missed the chance to say hello. Although, I suspect he gets tired of people dropping by to say hello since he always seems to have a bicycle project or three in the works.

Jitensha Studio, Berkeley, CA

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[Full disclosure: I own one of Hiroshi”s production Ebisu 650B models]

Written by fridaycyclotouriste

July 12th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Gear Gallery……The Indomitable Ebisu

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Long overdue, here is the official introduction to the companion to my Guerciotti.  Heavily influenced by the designed of French cyclotouring machines of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, I commissioned this 59cm bike from Jitensha Studio in Berkeley.

I told Hiroshi, the proprietor, I wanted a versatile bike for light touring and brevets; I wanted the option of carrying 10-20 lbs. upfront on low-riding front racks; and, I wanted the frame based around the 650B wheel size (and 38mm tire width).

The build included both new and vintage parts including a SON front generator hub powering the headlight, integrated front and rear racks (including detachable low-rider pannier racks) and Honjo fenders, Brooks Team Pro TI saddle, Simplex retrofriction downtube shifters, TA cyclotouriste cranks, and Shimano Ultegra derailers. A Berthoud decaleur is used with the front handlebar bag, which was custom ordered from the Guu-Watanabe in Tokyo. I believe I was their first customer from outside Japan (more on that story here).

Now that I’ve been riding the bike for some time there are inevitably small tweaks I would consider: slightly more geometric trail so it handles better unloaded thereby making it more of an all-around bike (this would require a new fork), indexed shifters (to go with the 8-speed Shimano cassette) or a 6-speed freewheel (to go with the current Simplex shifters), and maybe some slight changes to the gear ratios (currently 47×34 front and 13-27 rear). I’m also eagerly awaiting a true 38mm wide tire from Grand Bois as a replacement for the Panaracer Col de la Via which actually measure 2mm less than 38mm.

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Written by fridaycyclotouriste

July 23rd, 2009 at 8:20 pm