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Anybody Ever Hear of a Japanese Brand "Semas?"

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Anybody Ever Hear of a Japanese Brand "Semas?"

Old 11-01-20, 07:49 PM
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Anybody Ever Hear of a Japanese Brand "Semas?"

I spotted an interesting bike on ebay, an evidently Japanese brand I've never heard of. It's decaled SEMAS, and the only thing I found with a quick web search is a Tokyo-/Kanto-based cycling club/team, and a few links to bikes based in Malaysia. So maybe Semas was a Japanese brand that got some traction in east Asia back in the day? Some/zero connection to the team? It's not ringing any bells with me, and I haven't had a chance to dig out one of my Japanese magazines to scan the backpages adverts.

I did a c&v forum search, came up blank. T-mar? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

To my eye this is a very cleanly-done frame, not at all uncommon from other higher-end frames sourced by brand-holders from smaller Japanese builders. I suppose it could also be a very clean build from a bigger mfr, like Miyata/Panasonic, though it feels more like a smaller-shop build. I'd think it could have been from Cherubim, but the stay ends on this one are French-style "fish-mouth," where the Cherubim ends were often Motobecane-style slanted cuts. I think there were likely many more capable small Japanese builders in the '70s-'80s than I'm aware of who could build to this level, even in a production frame. It's in my size wheelhouse, but I'm not in the market, have no connection to seller, yadda x3. And far be it for me to criticize others, but I really wish the seller showed us more of the frame details than the components---we know what ders/cranks/bars look like:
https://www.ebay.com/itm//303739014169
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Old 11-02-20, 05:39 AM
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In fairness the seller did provide a detailed description of the bike.

Originally Posted by pcb View Post
And far be it for me to criticize others, but I really wish the seller showed us more of the frame details than the components---we know what ders/cranks/bars look like:
https://www.ebay.com/itm//303739014169
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Old 11-02-20, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by eom View Post
In fairness the seller did provide a detailed description of the bike.
I don't go on ebay at all.. and I always have a hard time finding the descriptions... BUT I get it; SARCASM!!! Seriously it took a while, since I was sure there was a lengthy description! how foolish of me.
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Old 11-02-20, 12:40 PM
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Heh-heh, they forgot my favorite: "Condition is used."

Look at how clean the seat lug cluster is. The binder ears look very clearly and cleanly brazed on, doesn't look like a cast lug. The lugs themselves don't look very thinned, which, combined with the plain and evidently brand-nobody's-ever-heard-of decals, and the mid-level parts, makes it feel like a very nice small-volume production frame.

Originally Posted by eom View Post
In fairness the seller did provide a detailed description of the bike.
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Old 11-02-20, 05:06 PM
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Semas is a brand name used by Seo Cycle, a retailer that continues to have quite a few stores in what we might loosely call the very greater Tokyo area. Seo started in 1956; here you can see (unfortunately tiny) photos from its history, including


Seo Cycle Shokai, 1985

from 1985. I think that in the back it says "Best of best mood cycle". We can see that the name of the company was slightly different back then from what it is now. Bike Forum's rules don't let me use Japanese script (or they didn't the last time I tried), so I'll say that the "se" and "o" of Seo were written like the first character (the one preceding the three-stroke character) that's commonest for the surname Segawa and the first of the characters for Onomichi. Shōkai means "company" or similar; it's the last two characters of Yokota Shōkai.

PS I wrote capital-S small-eo a couple of times above; each time the software here has converted this to all-caps S,E,O and glossed this as "search engine optimization". That was not my doing. Grr! (Jumps up and down, kicks table leg, screams in pain.)

Last edited by microcord; 11-02-20 at 05:10 PM. Reason: I'm annoyed!
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Old 11-04-20, 06:05 AM
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Here's a restoration job on an older Semas. And the brand lives on: not just as the name of a bike team/club (which, yes, is related to Seo), but as a bike brand.
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Old 11-05-20, 08:57 AM
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I'm not familiar with this brand, so thank-you to member microcord for the information. While it's a clean build, I don't think it's a higher end frame. Outside of the fancier stay end finishing, I'm seeing only good, mid-range workmanship standards and features (i.e no reinforcing tangs on bridges, no front derailleur hanger and a mid-range BB shell generally used on non-mitred tubes). Also, the fork blade end treatment does not match stays, suggesting an off-the-shelf fork from Tange or Ishiwata and not frame builder manufacture. The workmanship is definitely lower level than the older bicycle linked in the previous post, which is even has embossed stay caps. Components on the Ebay frame are mixed but suggest very late 1980s, which is not out of context with the frame features. I'm thinking a Tange #1 or #2 , or possibly Ishiwata 019 or 022 tubeset. Knowing the S/N may provide a clue to the source. If member pcb is really curious, he could try requesting it from the seller.
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Old 11-05-20, 09:20 PM
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It's a very pretty bike. And, considering new bike prices, it's probably reasonable to ask $450 for it. Personally, I would offer about $300 and see what happens. Be good. Have fun.
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Old 11-06-20, 07:11 PM
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Thanks so much for finding that! I did think the name was somehow familiar---Seo Cycle was a customer of mine in Japan. I remember seeing "Semas" now in their ads. They definitely branched out into a ton of locations. Always a problem with dealers like that, it's hard to maintain sales territories when they have locations everywhere, and with big operations like Seo-san, a few stores are large-ish (for Japan), but many are tiny and can be poorly merchandised. I think we only had contracts with a couple/few locations, they probably transferred inventory when they needed to.

Can't recall at all how their corporate name might have appeared on our contracts, but they were definitely using katakana for the full "seosaikuru" name on store signage and in ads the whole time I dealt with them.

Thanks again for solving that mystery!

Originally Posted by microcord View Post
Semas is a brand name used by Seo Cycle, a retailer that continues to have quite a few stores in what we might loosely call the very greater Tokyo area. Seo started in 1956; here you can see (unfortunately tiny) photos from its history, including


Seo Cycle Shokai, 1985

from 1985. I think that in the back it says "Best of best mood cycle". We can see that the name of the company was slightly different back then from what it is now. Bike Forum's rules don't let me use Japanese script (or they didn't the last time I tried), so I'll say that the "se" and "o" of Seo were written like the first character (the one preceding the three-stroke character) that's commonest for the surname Segawa and the first of the characters for Onomichi. Shōkai means "company" or similar; it's the last two characters of Yokota Shōkai.

PS I wrote capital-S small-eo a couple of times above; each time the software here has converted this to all-caps S,E,O and glossed this as "search engine optimization". That was not my doing. Grr! (Jumps up and down, kicks table leg, screams in pain.)
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Old 11-06-20, 08:05 PM
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Very keen eyes on those details, thanks. And the linked blue beauty in the previous post is definitely a step up.

I was mostly thinking of it in terms of a production frame, and what level of detail/execution I'd expect to see, at what point, in a mfr's/brand's line. With my main frame of reference (no joke/pun intended there...) coming from selling new Fuji, Panasonic, Matsuri, Puch and AD bikes in the early '80s, selling against the other brands in our market then, plus a lot of repair work on other brands during those years. Fuji definitely had the cleanest and most consistent framebuilding amongst those brands, especially at the higher end.

To put the ebay Semas in a Fuji context, there was more time/effort spent on the Semas seat cluster and rear stays/drops than on a Fuji America or Finest, which were $650+ bikes in '83-'84, and were essentially just one step below the highest-end Newest/Professional. The Semas kinda feels like something that was made in much smaller batches. So I find it kind of intriguing, but not enough to want to take a shot at buying it and adopting it.

And it is weird that Seo-san would spec a later-'80s frame without those nicer details indicative of a nicer frame. Reinforcing tangs and a nicer bb shell would be more in tune with the rest of the frame. They could have been spec'ing to a price point, saving some yen on a cheaper bb shell and off-the-shelf fork.

That later-'80s dating makes this feel very much more like a domestic market bike to me than an export model. Japanese brands/builders just weren't competitive with Taiwan-built product by then, and this doesn't look like an early Taiwan-built frame to me. Feels like a bike someone in the US military bought while stationed at Yokota AFB, then took home.

Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
I'm not familiar with this brand, so thank-you to member microcord for the information. While it's a clean build, I don't think it's a higher end frame. Outside of the fancier stay end finishing, I'm seeing only good, mid-range workmanship standards and features (i.e no reinforcing tangs on bridges, no front derailleur hanger and a mid-range BB shell generally used on non-mitred tubes). Also, the fork blade end treatment does not match stays, suggesting an off-the-shelf fork from Tange or Ishiwata and not frame builder manufacture. The workmanship is definitely lower level than the older bicycle linked in the previous post, which is even has embossed stay caps. Components on the Ebay frame are mixed but suggest very late 1980s, which is not out of context with the frame features. I'm thinking a Tange #1 or #2 , or possibly Ishiwata 019 or 022 tubeset. Knowing the S/N may provide a clue to the source. If member pcb is really curious, he could try requesting it from the seller.
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