Archive for the ‘Jitensha Studio’ tag
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.
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.”
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.
[Full disclosure: I own one of Hiroshi”s production Ebisu 650B models]
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.