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Dumpster bike's revenge

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Dumpster bike's revenge

Old 04-28-07, 05:20 AM
  #1  
sekaijin
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Dumpster bike's revenge


If living well is the best revenge, I hope this bike is happy.

Last summer I rescued this 1977 Sekai 5000 Superlite from death by dumpster. (story here)

I spent the winter restoring it, and doing a little research too.


================================================


Sekai was a small bike brand of the 70s and 80s, founded in Seattle by the one of the Tamura brothers, of the same family that owned several Seattle bike stores including Velo Bike Shop, which is still open.

“Sekai” means “the world,” “society,” or “the universe.”

The 5000 Superlite was Sekai’s top of the line racer. It seems to be quite rare (I haven’t come across another anywhere), probably because 1) it was hand-built in Japan at a rate of only 6 per month; and 2) the extremely thin tubing made it lightweight but very damage-prone.


The tubing is Tange Professional 0.6 x 0.3. It’s so thin, it squishes between your fingers and dents easily. Mine has various dings and a replacement rear dropout due to a crash or workstand clamp damage. I suppose it would be worth a lot if it weren’t so battered.



Gary Fisher tested the Sekai 5000 for Bicycling! magazine's February 1977 issue. He gave it a grudgingly favorable review (p.1, p.2, p.3), despite being put off by the thin tubing:

"After the tube-pressing demonstration I was afraid to let it all hang out. But I found good design has eliminated most of the problems inherent in this light a frame. The tight rear triangle [16 inch chainstay] and heavier down tube [0.8 x 0.5] have minimized bottom bracket flex, and the bike gives good response when the rider is thrashing away in large gears. The shallow head angle [72 degrees] eliminates that uneasy feeling at high speeds.... While I wouldn't recommend this frame to anyone but the most super-careful, weight-conscious cyclist, I certainly liked it."




Sekai sold the 5000 Superlite to dealers as a frameset only, so there is no official original build. This bike remains almost completely in “time capsule” condition as originally built at Yellow Jersey in Madison, Wisconsin. I replaced the saddle, tires, bar tape, brake pads, toeclip straps, and some cables and housings. I also rebuilt the crankset with period-correct TA chainrings (going from 49/40/28 to 52/38).



I also added this period-correct TA bottle cage (thanks Iowegian and intron!).



The Tange Levin headset was advertised as a component you "can't distinguish from Campy at 2 feet." Seems like everybody felt they had to sell against Campy.



Weyless marketed these cartridge-bearing hubs as "over 3 1/2 ounces lighter” than Campy in a 2-page photo spread ad campaign. They are laced to Fiamme Ergal yellow label tubular rims.



The seatpost and pedals are also Weyless.



The pedals look like Suntour Superbes but are apparently an earlier Bill Shook design that inspired the Suntour Superbe. They have Afa Christophe chromed toe clips.



This TA Cyclotouriste 52 tooth outer chainring is size-stamped on both sides. On the outer side, the size stamp is superimposed on the TA brand stamp. I like to think of this goof as a rare curiosity, like the famous postage stamp with the airplane flying upside down.


================================================


Thank you to Iowegian and intron (again) for answering my iso/wtb postings, and sending me the vintage bottle cage and clamps. Also to Don Gillies for the Sekai catalog flyer; to Steve Kurt for the Bicycling! article; and to many BikeForums members for restoration and wrenching advice.
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Old 04-28-07, 07:36 AM
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Very nice. I've heard of Sekais but never kne much about them. Great paint work.


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Old 04-28-07, 07:51 AM
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Those weyless pedals will last you a very very long time, or until a slotted cleat wears the cage to nothing.

Beautiful bike. Now you just need a set of Weyless rollers to ride it on in winter!
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Old 04-28-07, 07:57 AM
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Wow! Thanks for posting this and sharing the photos and your knowledge. What kind of brakes are those" Are they black?
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Old 04-28-07, 08:21 AM
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Beautiful work, sekaijin (worldly person? hajimemash ite). If there's any happier bike out there I'd be surprised.
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Old 04-28-07, 10:30 AM
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That is a beautifully restored machine. Inspiring.
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Old 04-28-07, 10:49 AM
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Very nice! One man's trash is another man's treasure.
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Old 04-29-07, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by GCRyder
Wow! Thanks for posting this and sharing the photos and your knowledge. What kind of brakes are those" Are they black?
The brakes are Universal Super 68s, anodized brown. I don't know if they were always brown or started out black (does anodizing fade?).

Originally Posted by riverguardian
Beautiful work, sekaijin (worldly person? hajimemash ite). If there's any happier bike out there I'd be surprised.
hajimemasheete ... I don't actually speak Japanese, but when I looked up Sekai, I liked the meaning for a screen name.

Last edited by sekaijin; 04-29-07 at 06:07 AM.
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Old 04-29-07, 10:31 AM
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[QUOTE=sekaijin]The brakes are Universal Super 68s, anodized brown. I don't know if they were always brown or started out black (does anodizing fade?).


Very stylin' bike, love that Weyless stuff, so cutting-edge. Yes, black annodizing does fade (it's the dyes that fade, they're not light-proof) usually will go gray or purplish, but sometimes brown.
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Old 04-29-07, 11:43 AM
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You can seriously squish the tubes with your fingers? Crazy. I've had some nice dumpster bikes in my day, but nothing like that! Great job with the resto.
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Old 04-30-07, 03:06 PM
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Also, a big thank you to Sigurdd50 for the vintage Nitto stem! Thanks Mark!
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Old 04-30-07, 04:56 PM
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That is one very nice bike. Well done for restoring it so beautifully.
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Old 04-30-07, 10:35 PM
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Those pedals are amazing, as is the rest of the bike.
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Old 02-10-15, 04:58 AM
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Nice bike. I almost bought one of those frames years ago new.
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Old 02-10-15, 07:49 AM
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wondering why I didn't recognize and f the names...
It isa beautiful bike, though
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Old 02-10-15, 07:50 AM
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I worked on a lot of Sekai bikes BITD, but I don't think I saw anything better than a mid-range bike. In fact, we might have sold them, don't remember. I'm sure I never saw a high-end version. This one is really nice

Originally Posted by Snordalisk View Post
Beautiful bike. Now you just need a set of Weyless rollers to ride it on in winter!
My Weyless rollers are still going strong.
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Old 02-10-15, 07:55 AM
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Goes to show that even damaged rare bikes are worth restoring! Great job!
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Old 02-10-15, 08:53 AM
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Zombie thread alert! Nice bike, though!
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