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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 04-14-24, 09:51 AM
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The death of the Asian lugged import bicycle

The Centurion/Diamondback thread had me thinking about the actual timeline of the lugged production bicycle imported from Japan and Taiwan. I started working in shops in 1990, and Centurion had just gone away. Over the next two years it seemed like every Japanese lugged frame disappeared, either replaced by a Taiwanese equivalent, the end of the brand in the US or a move to a different sort of construction. And that the only Japanese US import became the pricey Bridgestones by maybe '93 or so. Giant and Specialized kept going with lugs with Taiwan bikes, but those petered out after not very long.

How long did basic production Japanese lugged bikes last? Seemed like Panasonic, Miyata and others disappeared - maybe Fuji kept going for longer? When did the Taiwan lugged bikes like the Giant Perigee dry up? Which brands and models were last?
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Old 04-14-24, 10:10 AM
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My Miyata, and Univega have lasted 45 years, my Nishiki 48 years.
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Old 04-14-24, 10:58 AM
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I don't read Japanese, but this looks promising. Still in business, at least.
https://cycle.panasonic.com/products/pos/
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Old 04-14-24, 12:04 PM
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In 2009 Fuji introduced the retro designed Connoisseur. It was a lugged steel frame. After a couple years they switched it to a tig welded frame.
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Old 04-14-24, 01:39 PM
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Old 04-14-24, 02:01 PM
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Nice modern lugged high end japanese steel frames are complicated to import and buy because often in small sizes and often priced expensively.I have wanted badly a 3 rensho or a Cherubim but I couldn't justify myself shelling out 1500$-2500$ just for the frame. Would I had the money I would have bought it. I know a german friend who rides a Panasonic DX 5000 that he had imported many years ago, it is the best bike he has ever ridden , he upgraded with dura ace 9000 and zipp wheels.
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Old 04-14-24, 03:14 PM
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When did Bianchi stop the Japanese production bikes and move to Taiwan. That might be a clue to it.
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Old 04-14-24, 03:35 PM
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Based on many of the responses, I'm talking about large production bike imports, not small shops like 3Rensho, and when they largely petered out. At any given moment someone can re-import whatever, but I was really just asking about common product lines, not one-offs.

And we're not talking about how long a bike lasts.
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Old 04-14-24, 03:41 PM
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Around the late 1980s when the Taiwanese manufacturers like Giant figured out how to program a robot to TIG weld a frame. Then they could crank out frames faster that were straight and consistent, time after time. That, plus changes in the dollar to yen ratio, meant that the Japanese lug framed bikes had a tough time competing in the market. The average consumer didn't really care what kind of joints their bike had, they just wanted the best band for their buck.
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Old 04-14-24, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Pompiere
Around the late 1980s when the Taiwanese manufacturers like Giant figured out how to program a robot to TIG weld a frame. Then they could crank out frames faster that were straight and consistent, time after time. That, plus changes in the dollar to yen ratio, meant that the Japanese lug framed bikes had a tough time competing in the market. The average consumer didn't really care what kind of joints their bike had, they just wanted the best band for their buck.
But Giant sold lugged frames like the Perigee in the '90s.
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Old 04-14-24, 04:15 PM
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This is an interesting question, the book Japanese Steel has some answers and timelines but I don't have it on hand to look and share what it says. I'm interested enough to research this some more during the week and if I find anything compelling I'll post back in the thread.

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Old 04-14-24, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by chain_whipped
That's not a lugged frame.
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Old 04-14-24, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
But Giant sold lugged frames like the Perigee in the '90s.
They had to offer *something* for the retrogrouch market.
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Old 04-14-24, 05:21 PM
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Looking around, Specialized had lugged Allez bikes until at least 94 - which I'm sure were Taiwanese made.

Giant went to '96 with the lugged Perigee.

The '96 Fuji Team was welded.
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Old 04-14-24, 05:59 PM
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Hummmm... Let me see... Japanese made ChroMo bicycle or a New Style Carbon bicycle.
Wonder which one will last longer?



Well in my area finding an old Japanese ChroMo bike thats in good condition is expensive. Few years ago they were easy to get but now not so much...
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Old 04-14-24, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
Hummmm... Let me see... Japanese made ChroMo bicycle or a New Style Carbon bicycle.
Wonder which one will last longer?



Well in my area finding an old Japanese ChroMo bike thats in good condition is expensive. Few years ago they were easy to get but now not so much...
Can't be bothered to read the OP, eh?
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Old 04-15-24, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. 66
My Miyata, and Univega have lasted 45 years, my Nishiki 48 years.
My 1971 Nishiki Semi-Pro frame failed at the 20 year, 40K mile mark, when the seat tube socket broke away from the remainder of the bottom bracket shell. Too many hill climbs, many out-of-saddle, I guess.
My 1973 Peugeot UO-8 frame failed at about the 30 year mark, when the drive side chainstay cracked between the chainring and tire clearance dimples.
My first 1960 Capo (a Modell Campagnolo) frame failed at the front of the downtube, just behind the butting, at the 25-year mark, but I won't count this one because the frame had been bent back and re-straightened, giving me a few more years.
I bought my 1988 Schwinn mountain bike (see signature) from a San Diego firefighter for whom Schwinn had replaced the frame under warranty after about 2-3 years of use. I have had no problems whatsoever during the ensuing 25-30 years, but I am lighter and less strong than he is.
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Old 04-15-24, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by John E
My 1971 Nishiki Semi-Pro frame failed at the 20 year, 40K mile mark, when the seat tube socket broke away from the remainder of the bottom bracket shell. Too many hill climbs, many out-of-saddle, I guess.
My 1973 Peugeot UO-8 frame failed at about the 30 year mark, when the drive side chainstay cracked between the chainring and tire clearance dimples.
My first 1960 Capo (a Modell Campagnolo) frame failed at the front of the downtube, just behind the butting, at the 25-year mark, but I won't count this one because the frame had been bent back and re-straightened, giving me a few more years.
I bought my 1988 Schwinn mountain bike (see signature) from a San Diego firefighter for whom Schwinn had replaced the frame under warranty after about 2-3 years of use. I have had no problems whatsoever during the ensuing 25-30 years, but I am lighter and less strong than he is.
Originally Posted by Kontact
And we're not talking about how long a bike lasts.
...
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Old 04-15-24, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Based on many of the responses, I'm talking about large production bike imports, not small shops like 3Rensho, and when they largely petered out. At any given moment someone can re-import whatever, but I was really just asking about common product lines, not one-offs.

And we're not talking about how long a bike lasts.
I guess they, Japan, imported frames, but they exported a lot more.
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Old 04-15-24, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc
When did Bianchi stop the Japanese production bikes and move to Taiwan. That might be a clue to it.
I believe the last were made in 1991.
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Old 04-15-24, 08:30 AM
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The Japan built main stream production bikes pretty much came to an end 93 when Japans labor and import regulations changed. The major makers started the shift to Tawain and tig welded around 87 with MTBs and were pretty much out of Japan lugged stuff including road bikes by 91 or so.
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Old 04-15-24, 09:06 AM
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I just gifted to a relative a nice lugged Bianchi Boardwalk hybrid I seldom rode anymore. Serial number indicated 1991 manufacture and 1992 sales year judging by the components. It was a nice Tange Superset 2 frame set made in Taiwan. One of the early good quality hybrids soon to change to tig welding it seems. Lots of changes at that time. My Miyata 1000LT from 1989 is on the later timeframe for a made in Japan frame vs Taiwan.
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Old 04-15-24, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
The Centurion/Diamondback thread had me thinking about the actual timeline of the lugged production bicycle imported from Japan and Taiwan. I started working in shops in 1990, and Centurion had just gone away. Over the next two years it seemed like every Japanese lugged frame disappeared, either replaced by a Taiwanese equivalent, the end of the brand in the US or a move to a different sort of construction. And that the only Japanese US import became the pricey Bridgestones by maybe '93 or so. Giant and Specialized kept going with lugs with Taiwan bikes, but those petered out after not very long.

How long did basic production Japanese lugged bikes last? Seemed like Panasonic, Miyata and others disappeared - maybe Fuji kept going for longer? When did the Taiwan lugged bikes like the Giant Perigee dry up? Which brands and models were last?
- 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.
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Old 04-15-24, 03:22 PM
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I was also going to mention 1993 Schwinn Paramount - but forgot there was also a limited 1994 Schwinn Paramount lineup

however - Waterford made some 1993 models and possibly some / all 1994 models (?)

note: the 1991 mountain bike frames were TIG welded
(and possibly some of the 1992 models - low-end to mid )

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Old 04-15-24, 03:29 PM
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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.


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