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So what do you think about this "Silk" bike ?

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So what do you think about this "Silk" bike ?

Old 02-09-11, 12:42 PM
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auchencrow
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So what do you think about this "Silk" bike ?

I just picked up this 24-1/2" Silk road bike.

I don't know much about it.
The frame seems to me to be a cut above (way above); no damage; and in pretty good (restorable) cosmetic shape,

Except for the Araya 700c sprint wheels and Sansin hubs, the components seem to be more or less mid-level: Sugino GT triple crank, Suntour LaPree 6-speed, SR stem and bars, DiaCompe brakes.

Anything you can tell me would be appreciated ...
- I am not sure what to do with it at this point in time, though it does fit me.

Year?
What level is LaPree?
Any guess at a model name?
It seems to be too racy for a Tourer - So do you suppose the components are substitutes? If so what do you think would have been on it?
Possible resale Value?

Katakura Silk






Lower cup rusted and needs replacement.
"S" decal/headbadge:








Slight blush of rust on frame - But I think it's nothing a quick dip in the OA and a thorough wax-job couldn't handle.



GT triple, Lapree DR



The generic Cromo frame but it is very light and "high quality" for sure.

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Old 02-09-11, 04:39 PM
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La Pree was mid grade Suntour.

The one LePree that is pretty desirable is the three jockey wheel RD. People like them for the novelty, if for no other reason. But yours is not that model. Seat post, bars, brake calipers, crankset, and stem all look average. So the bike looks pretty much mid grade to me, with a big plus for chrome. Typical XL frame negative. The obscure brand is also a negative (buyers respond best to brands they have heard of such as Peugeot, Trek, Bianchi). Other brands that are just as good just don't get the same response.

Once fully refurbished, because of the chrome, might be able to get $300 out of it, maybe even $350. Note, I am putting a very large premium on the chrome. If it was a regular painted bike, built to the same specs, around here it would bring $175, $200 tops. Depends how well it cleans up. These prices assumes typical Auchen rehab and presentation (very clean, well done).

Last edited by wrk101; 02-09-11 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 02-09-11, 04:53 PM
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I found this on the Old Ten Speed Gallery:

Katakura Silk was a Japanese bicycle manufacturer in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The company, once Japan’s largest manufacturer of Silk, began producing bicycles at a factory near Yokota that had produced aircraft parts during the war. The Japanese road cycling team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics rode Katakura Silk. The brand was also well respected in Japanese Keirin racing.

This particular machine was manufactured at the height of the 70’s Bike Boom. A former factory employee told me this model was called the “PX” and made primarily for the U.S. market. Many were sold at the PX stores on U.S. military bases. Frame geometry is similar to sportif/randonneur type bicycles popular at the time.
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Old 02-09-11, 05:06 PM
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Personally, I love the looks of that bike, but it is a smidge too tall for me. Not that you are selling it!

Seriously, I looked on velobase.com and found that the Lepree grouppo was listed in the "Sport and Recreation" category. That means it was probably a mid-range component group. I love Suntour components and even their low end stuff is very good in my book. I'm guessing early to mid 80's vintage on the bike.

Love that chrome. I would probably put a Tange headset on it, you can get them fairly cheap.
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Old 02-09-11, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101

La Pree was mid grade Suntour.... post, bars, brake calipers, crankset, and stem all look average...

....The obscure brand is also a negative ....

.... fully refurbished, ... $300 out of it, maybe even $350.....very clean, well done...
Hi Bill -
To be honest I think the components are out of place on this frame - The weight and DO's certainly belies any mid-grade bike I have seen.
I don't think there could be a more obscure brand than this. In fact, I Googled all over the place before stumbling on a thread that touched on a (different) Silk road bike in the possession of one of our own C&V brethren. (I'll follow that up with a PM later).

At $300 I would be doing well, I guess. Even though I think it's a very exceptional frame, the obscurity factor here is admittedly HUGE!
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Old 02-09-11, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TugaDude
I found this on the Old Ten Speed Gallery:

Katakura Silk was a Japanese bicycle manufacturer in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. The company, once Japans largest manufacturer of Silk, began producing bicycles at a factory near Yokota that had produced aircraft parts during the war. The Japanese road cycling team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics rode Katakura Silk. The brand was also well respected in Japanese Keirin racing.

This particular machine was manufactured at the height of the 70s Bike Boom. A former factory employee told me this model was called the PX and made primarily for the U.S. market. Many were sold at the PX stores on U.S. military bases. Frame geometry is similar to sportif/randonneur type bicycles popular at the time.
TugaDude - Thank you for the history ! despite all my searching I never did locate this input.

It would not be surprising if it was a PX purchase (like my one Peugeot UE8M) -(seems that there were a lot of service people from around here).

Also thanks for the compliment on the bike - I think Tange would be the way to go for that rusty headset too.
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Old 02-10-11, 12:57 AM
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auchencrow,

The chrome moly sticker says around 1982 to me. It's my size and I would very much appreciate first shout on buying it. I'll tell you why...

I know the man who in all likelihood built that frame, Katakura Silk master-frame-builder, Kiichi Sugiyama. He was also in the Japanese Olympic cycling team in 1968 & 1972. Until recently he ran my LBS and taught me an awful lot about bicycle mechanics. The wheels on all but one of my 9 machines were built by him. Here's a frame he built for himself while working for Katakura:


Circa 1974 Katakura Silk by Dawes-man, on Flickr

... and details of another:

[IMG]
Circa 1978 Sugiyama Frame by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]
Circa 1978 Sugiyama Forks by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

I recommend anyone to click on the pictures and look at the other photos of his frames...

Katakura Silk is a well-remembered frame maker that started making frames in the late 50s, I think. Originally a silk maker, they made their first small-engined motorcycles in 1954. In the 50s all the post office delivery bikes were little yellow 'Katakura Pets' They started making bicycle frames in the early 60s and many of the Japanese cycling team in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were on Katakura Silks. By the 70s about 90% of all bicycles on any Keirin race board were theirs. They went out of the bicycle making business in the early-80s but they still exist as a silk manufacturer.

I've just phoned Mr Sugiyama and described your machine to him. He says it's a PX model from around 1979 and that he definitely made it. He says they are excellent frames and were made to the same standard as their order-made frames. The Katakura Silk factory was not far from the Yokota air base and all their large size frames were made for US servicemen there.

I have long wanted a Japanese frame, particularly a Silk due to my relationship with Mr Sugiyama. Unfortunately, it's impossible to find a frame here my size as they were all, like yours, sold to American servicemen who took them home with them. Please... please... please!

Value? Let's discuss that by PM.

Last edited by Dawes-man; 02-10-11 at 01:40 AM.
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Old 02-10-11, 12:59 PM
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Katakura Silk bicycles show up pretty often on Yahoo Japan auctions. it wouldn't be cheap to have one shipped to the USA, but it's a good resource if you really want one.
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Old 02-10-11, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Catnap
Katakura Silk bicycles show up pretty often on Yahoo Japan auctions. it wouldn't be cheap to have one shipped to the USA, but it's a good resource if you really want one.
They pop up sometimes but they're all small frame, I think the biggest I've seen is 56cm. The one I bought for a friend was 53cm. Being in Japan the shipping was about $50 but most sellers won't ship abroad anyway.
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Old 02-11-11, 09:28 AM
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Katakura produced the Silk brand in everything from entry level, right on up to custom frames. I don't see anything special here, outside the chrome finish. Tubeset label mentions CrMo but not butting, so it's almost certainly plain gauge, which would be lower mid-range, assuming it is 1979. Serial number will tell us the exact year.
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Old 02-11-11, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Dawes-man
They pop up sometimes but they're all small frame, I think the biggest I've seen is 56cm. The one I bought for a friend was 53cm. Being in Japan the shipping was about $50 but most sellers won't ship abroad anyway.
I use Rinkya proxy service for all my Yahoo Japan bidding and shipping. Make sure to email them for a shipping quote before bidding on a bike. They are pricey to use, but Yahoo Japan is often the only source for stuff like this. I've been building up a groupset of super rare Sugino 75 road stuff via Rinkya / YJ auctions.
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Old 02-12-11, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar
Katakura produced the Silk brand in everything from entry level, right on up to custom frames. I don't see anything special here, outside the chrome finish. Tubeset label mentions CrMo but not butting, so it's almost certainly plain gauge, which would be lower mid-range, assuming it is 1979. Serial number will tell us the exact year.
I've just talked to Mr Sugiyama, the maker of this frame At the time, around 1979, Japanese frames were only really made for the Japanese market. Katakura produced larger frames for US Service personnel, due mainly to the proximity of the factory to Yokota air base. The only Japanese double-butted tubing available was for Japanese sized frames, the biggest size being 55 or 56 cm. Over that, the only tubing they made was 'single-butted', as Mr S calls it.

The difference between regular and custom frames at Katakura Silk was that the former was made on an assembly line while the latter was each made entirely by one person, a 'master frame maker', in the case of this frame, Mr Sugiyama. There's nothing entry-level about it.

I suppose the question is, 'Would you prefer to have a hand-made frame in single-butted tubing or an assembly-line frame in double-butted?' Might be a good subject for a thread of its own...

Last edited by Dawes-man; 02-12-11 at 05:13 AM.
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Old 02-13-11, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Dawes-man
...At the time, around 1979, Japanese frames were only really made for the Japanese market.... The only Japanese double-butted tubing available was for Japanese sized frames, the biggest size being 55 or 56 cm. Over that, the only tubing they made was 'single-butted', ...
That's really interesting. It means:

1. We were being deceived about the 23" and 25" versions of all those top of the line, boom era, Japanese manufactured bicycles like the Fuji Finest and Newest, Nishiki Professional and Road Compe, Miyata MX-P and MX-R, Kabuki Diamond Road and Diamond Touring, Sekine SHX and SHT, Panasonic Professional and Touring Deluxe, Sekai 4000 and 5000, Centurion Professional, etc. Or were they all made from imported tubing?

2. The Japanese were incredibly slow to respond to the market. Most of these brands entered the US market in the very early in decade, circa 1971-1973, yet by the end of the decade, they had still not pressured Tange and Ishiwata into offering double butted CrMo tubesets for larger frames?

3. Katakura had a very poor marketing staff. Even if the tubing was only single butted it still would have allowed them to mention "butted" on the tubing decal. Marketers do not pass up opportunities like that.

Originally Posted by Dawes-man
...The difference between regular and custom frames at Katakura Silk was that the former was made on an assembly line while the latter was each made entirely by one person, a 'master frame maker', in the case of this frame, Mr Sugiyama. There's nothing entry-level about it...
I never said it was entry level, only that there was nothing special about it. If it was made by a "master frame master", he built it to mid-range workmanship standards.
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Old 02-13-11, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar
I never said it was entry level, only that there was nothing special about it. If it was made by a "master frame master", he built it to mid-range workmanship standards.
Indeed, you didn't. That was my mistake. You said 'lower mid-range'.

I shall put the rest of what you said to Mr Sugiyama and see what he says. I'm keen to know.
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Old 02-13-11, 10:37 AM
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T-Mar - IMHO, the frame is better than any mid-range workmanship standard I've ever seen, so I think maybe you meant to say that it was built using mid-range "materials", not "workmanship". (That's why I bought it to begin with.)

I agree that Katakura's marketing sucked.
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Old 02-13-11, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by auchencrow
T-Mar - IMHO, the frame is better than any mid-range workmanship standard I've ever seen, so I think maybe you meant to say that it was built using mid-range "materials", not "workmanship". (That's why I bought it to begin with.)

I agree that Katakura's marketing sucked.
No, I did mean mid-range workmanship. The work is clean but nothing special, in my opinion. Based on I can see, it's typical of a good, mass produced Japanese bicycle of the era, like a Miyata. In other words, it's well built but there wasn't a lost of time (and money) spent on the finer details of frame building and finishing.
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Old 02-13-11, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar
No, I did mean mid-range workmanship. The work is clean but nothing special, in my opinion. Based on I can see, it's typical of a good, mass produced Japanese bicycle of the era, like a Miyata. In other words, it's well built but there wasn't a lost of time (and money) spent on the finer details of frame building and finishing.
Based on what I can see, the workmanship is better than my '83 Miyata 610 or my '83 Nishiki International.
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Old 02-14-11, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar
That's really interesting. It means:

1. We were being deceived about the 23" and 25" versions of all those top of the line, boom era, Japanese manufactured bicycles like the Fuji Finest and Newest, Nishiki Professional and Road Compe, Miyata MX-P and MX-R, Kabuki Diamond Road and Diamond Touring, Sekine SHX and SHT, Panasonic Professional and Touring Deluxe, Sekai 4000 and 5000, Centurion Professional, etc. Or were they all made from imported tubing?

2. The Japanese were incredibly slow to respond to the market. Most of these brands entered the US market in the very early in decade, circa 1971-1973, yet by the end of the decade, they had still not pressured Tange and Ishiwata into offering double butted CrMo tubesets for larger frames?

3. Katakura had a very poor marketing staff. Even if the tubing was only single butted it still would have allowed them to mention "butted" on the tubing decal. Marketers do not pass up opportunities like that.
I've just spoken to Mr Sugiyama on the phone about the tubing used but first off, a couple of disclaimers.

You have to realise that my conversations with him about this are in Japanese and while my conversational Japanese is very good a lot of this is technical and uses terms unfamiliar to me.

There is also the problem of the Japanese dating system being based on the year since the emperor of that time became emperor. Mr Sugiyama thinks in the Japanese system and when I first spoke to him and asked him if the frame was made in the early 80s he ummed and ahhed and said he thought it was earlier than then. I said, 'Maybe 1979?' and he said it was about then. Talking to him just now he said he thought the frame dated from around Showa 50 or a bit later, Showa 50 being 1975.

He says that when they were asked to make frames by US servicemen they were asked to make them with double-butted Unno tubing. I imagine you probably know this maker but it's the first time i've ever heard of them. At the time 100% of Keirin frames were made with it. The tubing was called Day2Day, or D2D2 or something. However, they didn't make tubing long enough.

Mr Sugiyama also repeated that at the time of this frame the longest db tubing available in Japan from Tange and Ishiwata was 600mm, so they decided to go with single butted, which was available. He also said that shortly after he made this frame the tube makers did start making longer tubing.

On the matter of long db tubing and its non-availability he tried to explain to me about bars inside the tubing and something about oil seals but I'm afraid it was completely beyond me.

When I next meet Mr Sugiyama I will talk to him about this again. It's much easier to understand him face to face. He also draws pictures for me when I don't get what he means.
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Old 02-15-11, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by auchencrow
I just picked up this 24-1/2" Silk road bike.


Anything you can tell me would be appreciated ...
- I am not sure what to do with it at this point in time, though it does fit me.
wow there is a lot of knowledgeable people on these forums. my only response would be to ride it!
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Old 10-01-11, 12:42 PM
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So how do we identify the year of production with the serial number? I recently acquired one and it's beautiful.
here's the thread where it was finally identified.
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ication-issues
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Old 10-01-11, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Berylbite
So how do we identify the year of production with the serial number? I recently acquired one and it's beautiful.
here's the thread where it was finally identified.
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ication-issues
Better to ignore the serial number and just look up the codes on the components that came with it. On your bike: stem, seat post, crankset, derailleurs, and brake calipers should all have codes on them. On complete bikes, freewheel, brake levers, shift levers, wheel hubs, and so on are also often have date codes.


Just pulled my out. The fork is marked Ishiwata 5 I. I am guessing that is September 1985. The components I got with the frameset were all early to mid 1985, so that makes sense. I'll try to remember to post the serial number later.

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Old 05-18-18, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101
La Pree was mid grade Suntour.

The one LePree that is pretty desirable is the three jockey wheel RD. People like them for the novelty, if for no other reason. But yours is not that model. Seat post, bars, brake calipers, crankset, and stem all look average. So the bike looks pretty much mid grade to me, with a big plus for chrome. Typical XL frame negative. The obscure brand is also a negative (buyers respond best to brands they have heard of such as Peugeot, Trek, Bianchi). Other brands that are just as good just don't get the same response.

Once fully refurbished, because of the chrome, might be able to get $300 out of it, maybe even $350. Note, I am putting a very large premium on the chrome. If it was a regular painted bike, built to the same specs, around here it would bring $175, $200 tops. Depends how well it cleans up. These prices assumes typical Auchen rehab and presentation (very clean, well done).
i would put a bigger sum than that. (at least in the states.)
There have only been about 8 sold on the internet since 2001. Not to mention nothing since 2014. Three from an import company. (Frames came in at 799$-1300$). Ill say that again. Frame only.

Not much is to be found for the company either. They labeled their bikes in Showa years. First two numbers on crankset stamp. They made most their popularity after outfitting the entire 1964 Japanese Olympic team. They made their fame making Keirin race frames.

Not it just a novelty item. Definitely developing a cult following and in the right setting could be worth more than a couple hundred bucks.

Hopefuly you ride it frequently!!!

If if you have any questions about the history feel free to pm me.
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Old 05-19-18, 02:29 PM
  #23  
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There's a good chance that based on size and the time frame this bike was made that the down tube is single butted and the top tube is double butted. Based on some of the Japanese built bikes that I have seen taken apart and used for tall or odd bike projects this wasn't uncommon. But it is hard to tell since like a lot of late 70's and early 80's Japanese bikes the tubing specs and decals are kinda vague and varied depending on size and production run.
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Old 05-19-18, 05:41 PM
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I wasn't even a member of this forum when this was first posted. But - YAY! I love me some fine Japanese steel. Be good. Have fun. Love, love love.
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