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The death of the Asian lugged import bicycle

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The death of the Asian lugged import bicycle

Old 04-15-24, 03:51 PM
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Grant Petersen has been quoted as saying that the main reason Bridgestone USA closed up shop was because changes in the yen/dollar conversion rate made it unprofitable for the main company in Japan to export bikes to the US. He ought to know. And now that I've mentioned GP, this thread should grow to 10 pages.

Also, it sounds to me like Taiwan bike manufacturers did to Japan what Japanese bike manufacturers (and car makers, and steel companies, and other manufacturers) did to the US and Europe starting in the mid-1960s: begin with the low-end market, take advantage of labor costs to make 'em cheaper to build up market share, build up expertise and capacity, and be prepared to pounce into mid- and higher-end markets when economic conditions put the then-current big guy on the block at a disadvantage. It's a tale that has been repeated a number of times going back to at least the Industrial Revolution, in a lot more industries than just bikes, and involving a lot more countries than the US, Japan, Taiwan, and the EU countries.
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Old 04-15-24, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
- Centurion wasnt Japanese, it was American and was just a brand owned by WSI….
So to actually answer you- '93-94 is the last I can think of for mass produced Japanese lugged bikes. '93 Schwinn Paramount PDG and '94 Bridgestone RB series.
So if Centurion isn’t Japanese, then neither is the Schwinn.
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Old 04-15-24, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
So if Centurion isn’t Japanese, then neither is the Schwinn.
Yeah, Schwinn isn't Japanese.
Its kinda sorta an historic American brand.
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Old 04-15-24, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Writenride
In 2009, I got my Panasonic demountable Touring Bike from Yellow Jersey (Arlington, WI). The bike was made with Tange Prestige tubing. Here’s an old photo of it.
What is a 'demountable' bike?
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Old 04-15-24, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
Yeah, Schwinn isn't Japanese.
It’s kinda sorta an historic American brand.
”The” Schwinn PDG, which you identify as Japanese.
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Old 04-15-24, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
”The” Schwinn PDG, which you identify as Japanese.
it appears you are trying to pick a fight, but I am unsure what you are trying to argue over. If you want to spell it out for me, be my guest.
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Old 04-15-24, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
it appears you are trying to pick a fight, but I am unsure what you are trying to argue over. If you want to spell it out for me, be my guest.
Both Schwinn and Centurion (or WSI if you want to be persnickety) imported Japanese bikes.
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Old 04-15-24, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Both Schwinn and Centurion (or WSI if you want to be persnickety) imported Japanese bikes.
Ah, I think I see the argument you are trying to pick now.


I specified that Centurion was not a Japanese brand because many people think it was, and also because it seemed to me like the OP was asking about Japanese brands specifically in his first post.
I then mentioned Schwinn because I was listing various info for when any production lugged frames were still produced.
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Old 04-15-24, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
- Centurion wasnt Japanese, it was American and was just a brand owned by WSI. It was the sister company to Diamondback and dealt in paved bikes. It went away in 90/91 because WSI dropped it in favor of using Diamondback for all bikes.
- Taiwan was where lower end frames were built in the early and mid-80s. As the late-80s hit, higher level models moved from Japan to Taiwan due to straight cost as well as exchange rate challenges.
- Lugged frames for the US market were still built in Japan by major brands(mass production) into at least '93, but they were sometimes models that were aluminum, titanium, or CF. I have seen '93 Miyata and Fuji models that were made in Japan..
- During this general time, Panasonic left the US market in '89, Miyata left in '93, and Bridgestone left in '94. So when actual Japanese brands leave and the contract brands have mostly/completely moved to Taiwan, the result is not many mass produced lugged frames from Japan.
- The bulk of MTB production seems to have moved to Taiwan before the bulk of Road production. And with TIG gaining popularity in the early 90s, this also reduced the number of Japanese built lugged frames.
- Panasonic built some PDG Paramount road bikes for Schwinn in the early 90s that were lugged using OS Tange tubing. Those ended in '93, I believe.



So to actually answer you- '93-94 is the last I can think of for mass produced Japanese lugged bikes. '93 Schwinn Paramount PDG and '94 Bridgestone RB series.
Centurions were all brazed in Japan. Pedantic much? The thread is clearly a discussion about where stuff is made, not who owns the company. You going to clarify the ownership of Specialized for us next?
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Old 04-15-24, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Centurions were all brazed in Japan. Pedantic much? The thread is clearly a discussion about where stuff is made, not who owns the company. You going to clarify the ownership of Specialized for us next?
As already clarified, I want being pedantic because it seemed you were initially asking specifically about Japanese brands.
I offered up a bunch of info that is actually related to your initial post and the discussion, which is better than like 80% of responses so far. Maybe focus on that.
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Old 04-15-24, 08:10 PM
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Dang, reading some of the "remarks" here made go check to make sure I was on the usually calm and civil C&V forum. Thought I had accidently strayed to one of the others.
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Old 04-15-24, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
What is a 'demountable' bike?
It is somehow related to Google.
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Old 04-15-24, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak
Dang, reading some of the "remarks" here made go check to make sure I was on the usually calm and civil C&V forum. Thought I had accidently strayed to one of the others.
General might be the section where you most frequently see thread death spirals involving two or more indefatigable posters flailing purses, but C&V isn't far behind. For relaxing, collegial threads, I like browsing the Clydesdale and Athena section.
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Old 04-15-24, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak
Dang, reading some of the "remarks" here made go check to make sure I was on the usually calm and civil C&V forum. Thought I had accidently strayed to one of the others.
Sorry, that particular poster follows me around trolling. I just don't have patience for it anymore.

This should be a nice thread about when different models made it into the US. Just information, no need to correct anyone.
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Old 04-15-24, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
But Giant sold lugged frames like the Perigee in the '90s.
But they were Taiwan and not Japan by 1992, there was a lugged bike above it that might have still been but the 1992 Perigee I bought with my hard earned lawn mowing dollars wasn't Japanese that I can recall. Still a good bike for getting going. From running across other examples, the previous years all had a clearly different head badge logo, while the rest of the decals were the same style, might have been a result of the switch.
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Old 04-15-24, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth
But they were Taiwan and not Japan by 1992, there was a lugged bike above it that might have still been but the 1992 Perigee I bought with my hard earned lawn mowing dollars wasn't Japanese that I can recall. Still a good bike for getting going. From running across other examples, the previous years all had a clearly different head badge logo, while the rest of the decals were the same style, might have been a result of the switch.
As far as I know, Giant - the Taiwanese company - has never made a bicycle in Japan.

This is a thread about Asian lugged bicycles imported to the US.
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Old 04-15-24, 09:18 PM
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One of my biggest regrets from the two years I spent living in Japan was that I didn’t purchase a custom spec made per order Bridgestone (would have been branded as “Anchor”) or Panasonic lugged touring bike. I still remember the shop displays that mostly appeared to showcase the custom colors and graphics that could include your name. IIRC the price for a matching frame and fork was less than $400 USD in 2004.

Edit: The Anchor (Bridgestone) option may not have been lugged, my memory isn’t good enough and my Japanese is too poor to effectively google it, besides the shop that sold those was further away and I only went there a few times. The Panasonic options however were most certainly lugged, the shop that sold those was the one I frequented all of the time.

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Old 04-15-24, 09:23 PM
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There are multiple books and papers written about what happened in Japan in 1989. It's no surprise that a small market like "lugged bicycle frames" started to go away during that period, especially with newer technologies and cheaper building processes starting to emerge. Japan was never a huge player in that field in the first place as they did not have the heritage, master frame-makers nor make anything superior to their competition (like they were doing with cars and motorcycles throughout the 70's and 80's).
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Old 04-15-24, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by tkm
There are multiple books and papers written about what happened in Japan in 1989. It's no surprise that a small market like "lugged bicycle frames" started to go away during that period, especially with newer technologies and cheaper building processes starting to emerge. Japan was never a huge player in that field in the first place as they did not have the heritage, master frame-makers nor make anything superior to their competition (like they were doing with cars and motorcycles throughout the 70's and 80's).
Yup. So do you know when Japanese and then Taiwanese lugged frames disappeared entirely from the US market?
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Old 04-15-24, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Sorry, that particular poster follows me around trolling. I just don't have patience for it anymore.

This should be a nice thread about when different models made it into the US. Just information, no need to correct anyone.
Bro, I clarified something that is a common misconception and added a bunch of examples of when brands left the US market, to help further the discussion.
It ends up the clarification wasn't necessary and that's cool. It wasn't a big deal to begin with- it was simply one observation within a post that had a dozen observations.
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Old 04-15-24, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
General might be the section where you most frequently see thread death spirals involving two or more indefatigable posters flailing purses, but C&V isn't far behind. For relaxing, collegial threads, I like browsing the Clydesdale and Athena section.
...or teh P+R. There's a real sense of fellowship and camaraderie in there.
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Old 04-15-24, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Yup. So do you know when Japanese and then Taiwanese lugged frames disappeared entirely from the US market?
I doubt you're going to ever find a definitive and specific date. But you can bet that 1989 was the beginning of the end for the small-ish bicycle market that Japan was exporting in the first place (and Japan was exporting A LOT of goods...which was another factor that some in the USA did not like). Just too many factors going against them during that time period. Again...there is so much to digest during that era that finding the "why" is going to be much easier than finding the "when".

I'm not sure why you're that concerned with the "when" though. The "why" is vastly more interesting and makes timelines pretty easy to extrapolate out. If anything, I give Japanese bicycle manufacturers credit for being smart enough to see what was going on and peek into the future and know that a certain way would not be sustainable (I don't like it, but I get it). Even a lot of US bike manufacturers only held out for so much longer. When was the last time Trek actually made a lugged bicycle? Now they're in financial trouble for making "too much"...and none of what they made "too much" of appeals to the C&V in me.
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Old 04-16-24, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by tkm
I doubt you're going to ever find a definitive and specific date. But you can bet that 1989 was the beginning of the end for the small-ish bicycle market that Japan was exporting in the first place (and Japan was exporting A LOT of goods...which was another factor that some in the USA did not like). Just too many factors going against them during that time period. Again...there is so much to digest during that era that finding the "why" is going to be much easier than finding the "when".

I'm not sure why you're that concerned with the "when" though. The "why" is vastly more interesting and makes timelines pretty easy to extrapolate out. If anything, I give Japanese bicycle manufacturers credit for being smart enough to see what was going on and peek into the future and know that a certain way would not be sustainable (I don't like it, but I get it). Even a lot of US bike manufacturers only held out for so much longer. When was the last time Trek actually made a lugged bicycle? Now they're in financial trouble for making "too much"...and none of what they made "too much" of appeals to the C&V in me.
Trek last made a lugged bike in '93 with the 520 touring, and a regular road bike in '92 with the 400.

And that's what the thread is about. You are welcome to start a why thread. I started this thread because I am genuinely curious what might have slipped through for a few years more that no one is thinking about.

This thread is also about Taiwan, and that story doesn't have as many whys.
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Old 04-16-24, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Nwvlvtnr
One of my biggest regrets from the two years I spent living in Japan was that I didn’t purchase a custom spec made per order Bridgestone (would have been branded as “Anchor”) or Panasonic lugged touring bike. I still remember the shop displays that mostly appeared to showcase the custom colors and graphics that could include your name. IIRC the price for a matching frame and fork was less than $400 USD in 2004.

Edit: The Anchor (Bridgestone) option may not have been lugged, my memory isn’t good enough and my Japanese is too poor to effectively google it, besides the shop that sold those was further away and I only went there a few times. The Panasonic options however were most certainly lugged, the shop that sold those was the one I frequented all of the time.
Anchor is the domestic brand Bridgestone uses for their road & track bikes. Anchor NJS track bikes are lugged. For over 20 years they made the RNC-7 steel road bike, discontinuing production two years ago. The RNC-7 uses special proprietary tubing that looks similar to lugs but is not (the "lugs" are extruded directly from the frame tubing). Early RNC-7s have lugged bottom brackets and biplane fork crowns, while later models had a simple TIG'ed bottom bracket and a less fancy fork crown design. There was a lower-end model, the RNC-3, which is entirely TIG'ed.
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Old 04-16-24, 11:26 AM
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Back in the early 80's one of my engineering friends asked me why bicycle companies didn't tig weld their frames. I said that as far as I knew (which in reality was nothing), it couldn't be done cause they would break at the welded joints. I thought if they could do it, it would already be done. I think the Japanese company KHS made tig welded tandems (in the 80's?) but of course that was probably with heavier wall tubing.

Eventually I learned how to tig weld as well as braze. It is so much faster with less cleanup! I love lugs and that is what I teach my framebuilding students to use but they take time to shape and ream and blacksmith to the frame design. And they cost. As does the filler material - particularly if it is silver.
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