Japanese Edition: The All-Road Bike RevolutionJan Heine
Natsuko and I just received the Japanese edition of our book The All-Road Bike Revolution. It’s quite moving to see this project come to fruition, with so much passion from everybody involved. Translating a technical book is a major undertaking: Not only are there more than 50,000 words, but the text needs to be translated with great accuracy. It’s one thing to translate a picture-and-story book like The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles… Translating a chapter about how pneumatic trail works is a different matter altogether.
When the Japanese distributor for Rene Herse Cycles, Koh Kitazawa of Alternative Bicycles, told us that he felt this book was so important that he wanted to figure out a way to publish it in Japanese, we were honored. We’ve learned so much from Japanese builders like H. Hirose and the craftsmen at Toei. Visits to the shops of Cherubim, Makino, Iribe, Level and others have inspired us, and discussions with the builders have contributed to the ideas that are presented in the book.
It sometimes feels like Japanese cycling exists in a parallel universe. Things that we’ve taken years to discover, like the idea that frame stiffness should be tuned to the rider’s power and riding style, have been common knowledge among Japanese builders. Other ideas, like gravel riding, accepted in the West for years, are only now becoming popular in Japan. We feel there is a lot to be learned from an exchange of ideas and experiences. We hope our book will contribute to this dialogue, now that it’ll be available in Japanese.
Koh assembled a team to created the Japanese translation. Things moved with impressive speed. We were happy when Koh and his team told us that they found the book easy to read, and that they had a lot of fun translating it. Our goal with The All-Road Bike Revolution was to make reading about bikes as much fun as riding them. It’s nice to see this come across in the Japanese edition as well. (One thing that’s inspired me about Japanese cyclists is how much joy cycling brings them.)
Translations are never straightforward. English is a poetic language that can say much in relatively few words. Texts almost inevitably grow in length as they are translated. For the German edition, we solved the problem by making the book a little larger, to fit more words on each page. The Japanese team decided to add pages, so the book grew from 256 to 304 pages. They also included footnotes and explanations so readers can immerse themselves in our cycling culture. Japanese readers want to learn about the Cascade Mountains, the Oregon Outback and other places and events mentioned in the text…
The team worked with There There, who designed the English edition, to ensure the feel of the Japanese book remains true to the original. They consulted with Natsuko about many details of the text and layout. Like all Japanese books, it’s beautifully produced. It’s really been moving to hold it in our hands.
Gravel and all-road cycling is relatively new in Japan. As cyclists discover the joys of riding on wide tires, this book will help explain why and how all-road bikes work. It’s our hope that it will help cyclists enjoy their bikes even more—and contribute to many joyous exchanges between our cultures.
For Japanese readers, the new book will available on December 2, 2022, in Japanese bookstores and via the publisher Yamakei (ISBN 9784635242400).