Tokyo Cycle Parts Show

Tokyo Cycle Parts Show

The first Tokyo Cycle Parts show was held last week. This trade show is open only to the bicycle industry, which allowed focused inquiry into products, and provided a good glimpse at what is happening in Japanese cycling.
For me, it also provided a great opportunity to see acquaintances, such as Mr. Yoshikawa, the president of Nitto, and his son.
Mr. Imi, the owner of Ostrich, was there, too. We discussed a few new product ideas, even though I usually visit the companies directly to discuss new projects with fewer distractions.
Among the interesting new products were Ostrich’s bike stands. They raise the rear derailleur off the ground when the bike is disassembled for Rinko. The larger collapsible stand (bottom) has been available for a while, but the minimalist single-sided ones (in two lengths) are new. You can see a bike with the single-sided stand on the table in the photo of the Ostrich booth.
Speaking of new products, Nitto showed their first carbon handlebars. Made in Japan, they are made to Nitto’s exacting quality standards. The track version (above) is painted Nitto blue. Sharp eyes will notice the width: just 380 mm. Japanese track racers prefer narrow bars, so they can exploit small gaps when they make their winning moves.
As impressive as these bars are, I don’t think a carbon fiber version of the Compass Randonneur handlebars is in our future plans.
Another product is unlikely to make it into the Compass program: Nitto is making a seatpost-mounted Di2 battery system for Shimano.
MKS showed their pedals, including the beautiful top-of-the-line ones that Compass sells.
I finally got to see their new SPD pedal. More than a year ago, I’d seen drawings, then photos of prototypes. I am not so keen on the aesthetics, but the function is neat. The front retention mechanism is split, so you need to open only one side to release your foot, yet the shoe is held securely when you pedal. A Rinko version also will be available. And of course, the bearings are better than any other SPD pedal…
Honjo had only a small table to show their lovely fenders. I think that is because they are plenty busy these days.
From fenders to tires: Even in the mainstream, 650B no longer is purely for mountain bikes, and more companies offer road-oriented tread patterns. Vittoria’s new “Revolution” is 50 mm wide and looked promising at first. But the weight of 810 grams shows that there is a lot of rubber, and the description lists it as an “urban” tire. When will Vittoria finally offer their high-end racing tires in more sensible widths?
IRC’s new 650B x 54 mm tire felt more promising when I pressed it between my fingers. No specs were available. We’ll try to get a test sample soon. Perhaps it’s a sign that the Enduro Allroad Bike idea is catching on.
Soyo offers hand-made tubular tires that look very nice, but they are available only in narrow widths. And they carry a price tag of more than $ 200 for the best ones. Still, it’s nice to see that true handmade tires are still produced in Japan.
At the other end of the spectrum, airless tires are alive and well. And they are as scary as ever!
More encouraging: In Japan, you still can buy lugged production bikes with downtube shift levers and hammered fenders for less than $ 2000.
Of course, carbon is big in the mainstream, and Scott had their own candy made to celebrate their claim that they are “carbon experts”.
Contrasting with the carbon were the leather goods from a Japanese company. Their extra-thin handlebar tape looked interesting.
When I started cycling seriously, Hoshi spokes were considered the best. Nice to see that they are still around, offering a wide variety of spokes, including the bladed ones that they pioneered long before they became fashionable.
Another Japanese specialty are rain covers for child seats. It’s common to carry two children on your bike in any weather. This maker used cute inflatable figures to demonstrate their covers.
Among the many things at the Minoura stand was this neat camera mount, which uses your bike to stabilize your camera. Lionel Brans had a similar mount on his custom bike when he rode from Paris to Saigon in 1947. As long as you don’t need your bike in the photo, it’s a neat idea.
And then you have true oddballs, like these stickers to dress up your bike. Do you prefer your fenders with a houndstooth or a plaid pattern?
The sun was setting when I finally left the exhibit. As I walked by the pagoda of the temple in Asakusa, I was reminded how Japan has a long tradition of making beautiful things. The best Japanese bicycle makers are rooted in that tradition, and that is why we enjoy working with them so much.

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Comments (32)

  • shiggy

    Good stuff. I love trade shows no matter what is on display.
    Maxxis also has a 27.5×2.00 diamond tread tubeless tire.

    January 24, 2016 at 9:01 am
  • Steve Palincsar

    RE: the MKS Rinko SPD pedal – that’s very, very interesting. It’s not only Rinko where you have to remove pedals for travel, and screwing in pedal threads when you’re in a hurry is fraught with peril. But if you’ve already committed to SPD adding another similar but incompatible cleat system doesn’t make sense. As for the aesthetics, kind of hard to say viewed from just that one angle. They might grow on you with familarity.

    January 24, 2016 at 9:03 am
  • shiggy

    There is also the Schwalbe Big One 60-584

    January 24, 2016 at 9:20 am
    • SmoothestRollingBike

      …but 60-584 has SnakeSkin casing and weighs 520g. Much more interesting is 60-622 with LiteSkin casing, 127 tpi which weighs 440 g. It could be really supple.

      January 25, 2016 at 1:37 pm
  • Josh

    At this point, 38cm bars for track are the norm, or even a bit wide. Consider that hulking he-man Chris Hoy, at 6’1″ and 200 lbs. was riding 26cm wide handlebars in his Olympic and world championship wins.

    January 24, 2016 at 2:31 pm
  • Eli

    Will you sell the MKS SPD pedals?

    January 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm
  • Ben

    That battery pack seatpost may be of limited use to riders like me, and probably not worthwhile for Compass to sell, but it does remind me of something I think would be extremely useful: a seatpost with a built in dyno-powered tail light, for those of us who like the idea of the Compass tail light, but whose frames are too small to use them. I considered trying to modify an existing seatpost to mount the Compass tail light, then run the wires down the seat tube the same way as the standard light. In the end I don’t have to the tools or work space to pull it off, but it would be really cool if someone could make something like that. I’ve believe Bilenky Cycle Works made something similar for a bike show a few years back.

    January 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I see the appeal, and assembly could be relatively easy with plug-in connectors… (You want to be able to remove the seatpost!) We’ll think about it.

      January 24, 2016 at 6:11 pm
      • John Oswald

        I’d get one for the back of the tandem if you made it available.

        January 25, 2016 at 5:47 pm
  • Marco

    Carbon parts and electronic shifting? No thanks! 🙂
    Most of the rest is interesting, especially the new IRC tires, look very promising!

    January 25, 2016 at 3:45 am
  • ts

    who sells the lugged bike? have you got a link?

    January 25, 2016 at 4:02 am
  • katzenfinch

    Did you notice any products from SunXCD?

    January 25, 2016 at 5:14 am
  • Chuck Davis

    Will the MKS “SPD” pedal require a dedicated cleat like/as their MM Cube or will it actually be SPD compatible beyond the just the drilling pattern

    January 25, 2016 at 8:20 am
  • Lovely Bicycle!

    Did you by chance bring back samples of that lovely handlebar tape?

    January 25, 2016 at 11:28 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We are working on getting some. Especially riders with smaller hands often prefer thinner bar tape. Even I am used to cloth tape, and find many other tapes too thick for my liking.

      January 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm
  • VincentB

    Considering Vittoria, I ride the Voyager Hyper tires in 32 and 35mm on my two bikes, and I really like them as they are supple, fast and puncture resistent as well.

    January 25, 2016 at 11:38 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I am glad the Vittoria Hyper works well for you. However, the tires shown weigh 810 g, or almost twice as much as a Compass Extralight in the same size. That is a lot of extra rubber that must stiffen the tire.

      January 25, 2016 at 3:54 pm
      • Jonathan

        The tyre shown is nothing like a Hyper. The Hyper weighs 440gm in a 700×38, and 350gm in a 700×32.
        A simple web search brings this up:
        I’ve used this tyre in the past and can confirm it is excellent.

        January 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm
      • Cameron Murphy

        I too am running a set of Vittoria Voyager Hypers in 700c x 35mm. I don’t have a ton of experience with 700c tires, but they have been quite fast, and at 395g per tire, certainly aren’t heavy pigs. (The 38mm Schwalbe Marathons they replaced certainly were.) From what I’ve heard, your Jon Bon or Barlow Pass tires are certainly lighter, and probably better riding. But, for the price, the Voyager Hypers seem to be a pretty good value.

        January 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm
  • Conrad

    Its nice to see that nice looking polished aluminum parts are alive and well in Japan. I am starting to hoard my old (and very nice looking) derailleurs. Thank god Nitto is around to make the other parts.

    January 25, 2016 at 12:47 pm
  • SmoothestRollingBike

    Are there Gokiso Hubs? They are also made in Japan and they use very interesting technology.

    January 25, 2016 at 1:40 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      They weren’t at the show, but we are in touch with them to do a story… Very, very interesting, very, very high specification and an even higher price!

      January 25, 2016 at 3:55 pm
  • Charles Nighbor

    OK Jan you just can’t state, ”More encouraging: In Japan, you still can buy lugged production bikes with downtube shift levers and hammered fenders for less than $ 2000.” and not provide more details and where to get one

    January 25, 2016 at 1:56 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      There are several makers who offer bikes like that. I am sure most bike shops in Japan can order one for you. I don’t think there is a U.S. distributor for any of them.

      January 25, 2016 at 3:56 pm
      • Kirt

        You might consider contacting Jitensha bikes in Berkeley, CA who have Japanese builders make standard and custom frames under the ‘Ebisu’ name.

        January 26, 2016 at 4:47 pm
  • Michael

    What is that plug that is threaded into that Crystal fellow-looking seat post? Never seen that before.

    January 25, 2016 at 8:23 pm
  • donald compton

    I wish Nitto would make a zero offset seat post. I love their stuff, but on my Riv Roadeo with it’s 72deg seat tube, I need to use a Thomson Zero setback

    January 25, 2016 at 10:05 pm

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