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Shopping in the USA - 1980 Specialized Allez

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Shopping in the USA - 1980 Specialized Allez

Old 02-09-08, 09:16 AM
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Shopping in the USA - 1980 Specialized Allez

Some may have read about the seller of a Woodrup I bought in the UK who had no idea how to pack a bicycle for shipping - https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...hlight=woodrup ...well, at the other end of the spectrum is the seller of this Specialized. I bought it on eBay for my friend Yuko and had it delivered to a friend in San Francisco where we have just been for a week's holiday. The bike arrived beautifully packed in a Trek box, coincidentally as I had bought a Trek frame on eBay and had that delivered to the same friend's address. We picked up both and brought them back to Japan with us.

Artmo suggested finding someone flying BA London to Tokyo who could bring the Woodrup as luggage and that got me to thinking - we flew United Airlines to SF and I phoned them. They said I should turn the handlebars sideways and take off the pedals and any other sharp parts and that a box was helpful but not essential. Well hey! We had a box. I got another box from Bike Connection in Palo Alto for the frame and home we flew. No problem at all. Thank you Artmo!

Now, to the Specialized Allez. I've shot some pics and uploaded them to Flikr at:
https://flickr.com/photos/22983673@N0...7603878648831/

This bike is a gem. It's got a few chips and scratches but no dents or dings and it rides dead straight. It's small, though, at 49cm c-to-t. I bought it for her as her regular bike, a 1990 De Rosa, is too big for her at 54cm. It took a bit of persuading to get her interested in the Allez. but now she's seen it in the metal she's been won over by its charm. Alas, the Allez might be a little small for her. We're beginning to think a 51cm would be ideal. She can still ride it with the seat up high.

Anyway, the Allez comes with:
3TTT Super Competition 38cm Handlebar
Nitto Technomic 100mm Stem
Specialized Headset
SR Laprade Seatpost
Ideale, type 80 Record Saddle
Campagnolo Record Calipers/Brake levers - as far as I can tell
Campagnolo NR Shifters - as far as I can tell
Campagnolo Grand Sport Fr. Derailleur
Campagnolo NR Rear Derailleur
Campagnolo NR 165mm Cranks & Chainrings 47/42
Shimano BB
Maeda 6-Speed Freewheel.
Miche Competition Hubs.
Rigida Front rim
Araya Rear rim

The brake callipers and rear derailleur look unused although the front calliper has lost its original front nut. The front tyre is cracked but the back is fine. All in all, $550 (including shipping to SF) well spent!

We took the Allez to Mr Sugiyama, our local bike shop man - he went over it all:
Cleaning and greasing the hubs and brake callipers (their grease was stale and unmoving)
Adjusting the brakes to centre them
Shortening the brake and gear cables
'Feeding' the front tyre around the rim to get the valve perpendicular to the rim instead of leaning at 45deg
Adjusting front and rear derailleurs
Cutting 2" off the stem and finding a shorter bolt to lower the handlebars
Vaseline'd the underside and sides of the top side of the Ideale saddle

This was accompanied by the odd comment about how the bike evidently hadn't been ridden for several years and at the end he charged her 7000 yen, around $65. As always, watching Mr S work was highly educational... from now on, Yuko will do her own maintenance.

There's a rumour going around here and elsewhere that the early Specialized Allez was made by 3Rensho. One of my students happens to be the Tokyo area sales rep for Specialized Japan - his job is to sell to bike shops. I asked him about the 3Rensho connection and he asked an old Specialized-hand at the office who reckons there's no truth in the rumour. He reckons the Allez was made by one of 3 factories in Japan - Miyata, Touyou or Shin Nomura.

So there you have it.
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Old 02-09-08, 01:14 PM
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Very nice, Miyata did manufacture some models for Specialized and if this is one, it will be easy to tell from the serial number.
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Old 02-09-08, 05:02 PM
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I don't know what the truth is, but I wouldn't be so sure about discounting the Allez/3Rensho connection without a bit more struggle (we're very attached to it). Your student's contact at the Specialized office may be correct about your 1980 Allez, and most of the production run, but here's what the interwebs have to say:

"Specialized doesn't "build" anything. They, like Sears, look for vendors and lately it seems based mostly on price. Allez were originally built by I think Tano and Co., or at least a similar midsize bike company in Japan. The 1984~1988 models were designed and built by Yoshi Konno of Cyclone Ltd (3Rensho). At the time, the 3Rensho Athlete model was the same frame right down to the red paint except for the seatstay caps and a few other small details. Interestingly Allez was a house brand of the Holdsworthy Company, London, who did not pursue an American trademark so Specialized just took the name."

Maybe somebody from down in Mountain View who really knows could chime in and settle the controversy (if it is one) once-and-for-all.
I'll withhold judgement for now...but "vaseline" on an Ideale saddle? Now THAT'S going to stir up some controversy!
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Old 02-09-08, 05:11 PM
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I use top-grade bear fat on mine; make's it go faster.

All of the early Allez' were excellent riding bicycles, no matter which manufacturer made 'em. I'd like to know for sure if the story is true or not, though. I seem to remember a story that the Rensho bikes were built with longer point lugs than the other manufacturers'.
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Old 02-09-08, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by luker
I use top-grade bear fat on mine; make's it go faster.

All of the early Allez' were excellent riding bicycles, no matter which manufacturer made 'em. I'd like to know for sure if the story is true or not, though. I seem to remember a story that the Rensho bikes were built with longer point lugs than the other manufacturers'.
And to add to the above: This bike surely looks like the 3Rensho built version to me. One more thing, if you do a google search on Jim Merz and Allez and 3Rensho, you'll find proof from the Specialized project manager himself that both 3Renso and D. Tesch built the earlier Allez frames before they were factory sourced (In an interview he did, If I remember correctly).

Dann
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Old 02-09-08, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar
Very nice, Miyata did manufacture some models for Specialized and if this is one, it will be easy to tell from the serial number.
I've looked all over the frame for a serial number but all I can find is the number 48 stamped into the underside of the BB, which I believe is the frame size, and EO in a little lozenge and MEDALIST, both embossed.

I've checked the drop outs (which I've realised are chromed Campy) with the wheel out, all around the BB, all around the head tube and all around the seat tube. Nothing. It seems not to have one.
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Old 02-09-08, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1
I don't know what the truth is, but I wouldn't be so sure about discounting the Allez/3Rensho connection without a bit more struggle (we're very attached to it). Your student's contact at the Specialized office may be correct about your 1980 Allez, and most of the production run, but here's what the interwebs have to say:
I am persuaded! Did a bit of research and came up with the photo below on this site:
https://tinyurl.com/2vum8e
It shows Yoshi Konno holding the fork crown from Yuko's Allez. Not a shadow of a doubt! It's the same crown. Elsewhere on the site are various pictures of Yuko's bike but with 3Rensho written instead of the S for Specialized, like on the seat stay tops. Well, I never! Thanks unworthy1
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Old 02-09-08, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1
I'll withhold judgement for now...but "vaseline" on an Ideale saddle? Now THAT'S going to stir up some controversy!
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Old 02-09-08, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by dannyg1
And to add to the above: This bike surely looks like the 3Rensho built version to me. One more thing, if you do a google search on Jim Merz and Allez and 3Rensho, you'll find proof from the Specialized project manager himself that both 3Renso and D. Tesch built the earlier Allez frames before they were factory sourced (In an interview he did, If I remember correctly).

Dann
It does me, too, now. I did a Google search, however, and came up with nothing on the Specialized connection.
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Old 02-09-08, 10:48 PM
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3Rensho did indeed build some Allezes (Allezs? what's the plural?). The fork crown should be the tipoff.
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Old 02-10-08, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by jim-bob
3Rensho did indeed build some Allezes (Allezs? what's the plural?). The fork crown should be the tipoff.
Now, here's the thing... following unworthy1's comments I'd become convinced that Yuko's Allez was indeed made by 3Rensho. What did it for me was seeing a picture of Yoshi Konno holding a fork crown that looked identical to the one on this Allez here. Also, looking at photos of 3Renshos on the same site I was struck by how they seemed to be just the same as this Allez.

However, I went to see my bike shop man today to have him mend a puncture and true the same wheel and I went on Yuko's Allez, just to see what it felt like - I raised the saddle really high and it's a very nice ride indeed. Anyway, I asked Mr Sugiyama whether he thought the Allez was made by 3Rensho. He is sure it isn't. Then it gets interesting.

According to my informant, in Japan Konno of 3Rensho was famous for copying other people's design's and passing them off as his own. He reckons that the similarity of some 3Rensho's to the Specialized Allez is because Konno copied the design.

In the end, all I can say is that the Allez is a very nice bike.
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Old 02-10-08, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by jim-bob
3Rensho did indeed build some Allezes (Allezs? what's the plural?). The fork crown should be the tipoff.
Take the easy route: '3Rensho did indeed build some Allez frames.'

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Old 02-10-08, 09:29 PM
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I think that the rule would be like a word that ends in s. An apostrophe following: allez'.

I don't think that Sinyard was sophisticated enough in the early 80's to design, or have designed, a bike that would be worthy of Konno copying. He was just starting out, and while he was an accomplished cyclist, I doubt he could tell, at that time, why a particular bike rode better than another. I'd think it more likely that he brought a good frame to Konno and said "Copy this..."
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Old 02-11-08, 08:49 AM
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I don't think there's much if any doubt that 3Rensho built some of the Allez frames. The offset crown is a good clue. I think the idea that Yoshi would have copied the Allez is kind of silly. It's not like Specialized was the Rene Herse of racing bikes. If Jim Merz was working at Specialized at the time and says Kono built some of those frames, I see no reason to doubt him without some very strong evidence to the contrary. Perhaps someone should contact Makino and ask him - surely he would know?
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Old 02-11-08, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special
I don't think there's much if any doubt that 3Rensho built some of the Allez frames. The offset crown is a good clue. I think the idea that Yoshi would have copied the Allez is kind of silly. It's not like Specialized was the Rene Herse of racing bikes. If Jim Merz was working at Specialized at the time and says Kono built some of those frames, I see no reason to doubt him without some very strong evidence to the contrary. Perhaps someone should contact Makino and ask him - surely he would know?
I don't know one way or the other but a couple of things. What I understood is that Konno was known to copy things and present them as his own ideas and that he could have copied the offset crown from somewhere, not that he copied it from the Allez.

The other thing is this claim that Jim Merz says that Konno built some of the Allez frames. You are the second person to mention this but I can't find any other reference to this claim. I would love to read where he says this.

FWIW, and I said this earlier in this thread, I was struck by the similarity to the Allez in my sitting room of one of the Konno 3Rensho bikes on the site:
https://www.classicrendezvous.com/Jap...o/3Ren_cat.htm
Not just the fork crown but also the long tangs on the seat tube lug. So on the face of it, it seems likely to me that Konno/3Rensho did make this Allez but I don't know. I would like it to be true as it makes a neat story but I haven't found anyone here in Tokyo who thinks they did, only people who seem sure they didn't.

If you have a contact for Makino I'd be willing to call him and ask him.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:05 AM
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I wonder if this is something that the nice folks at Yellow Jersey could shed light on, as they were the main importer of 3Renshos to the US, they may have knowledge of another US-based business dealing in 3Rensho products. FWIW, I had always understood that the offset fork crown was Mr. Konno's own innovation and not a copy of somebody else's design that he passed off...but since "nothing is new under the (rising) sun" I can easily imagine that somebody has a picture of some French bike from the '20s that had one, or something like that.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1
FWIW, I had always understood that the offset fork crown was Mr. Konno's own innovation and not a copy of somebody else's design that he passed off...but since "nothing is new under the (rising) sun" I can easily imagine that somebody has a picture of some French bike from the '20s that had one, or something like that.
This is quite correct, as the offset fork crown actually predates the invention of the bicycle entirely. At some time following the reign of Charlemagne in what is present-day France, crowns used for coronation (as opposed to "everyday wear") were designed with two central crossing arched pieces of metal (typically gold, of course), known as the "fork." This was traditionally surmounted by an orb, and usually was topped by a cross, symbolizing the king's (or queen's) rule of the earth/kingdom by divine right. Early on in the development of this design, it became common to offset the fork to unevenly distribute the considerable weight of orb and cross to one side, making it easier for the sovereign to move his/her left (at that time) arm to freely bestow the traditional coronation blessings (the right arm - as the sword hand - typically remaining immobile as a sign of the king or queen's peaceful intentions toward both loyal subjects and the foreign representatives in attendance).
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Old 02-11-08, 12:20 PM
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Just to prove the veracity of the claim, I'll be the tortured soul who'll spend a few hours looking for this; unhappily, I might add. BTW, in reference to the frame Mr. Sinyard would've had Konno reproduce, most definately would've been a Merz. The first piece of the puzzle here:

rchive-URL: https://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10207.1201.eml
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 17:09:10 -0700
From: "joel metz, ifbma/sfbma" <magpie(AT)messengers.org>
Subject: Re: [CR]Allez on Ebay--24"

ill add my bit to jim merz' verdict, just cause...

every single 3rensho allez ive ever seen has been a
much richer almost candy apple red - this looks like a
pretty basic red to me... this color looks almost identical
to the red on my old 1985? specialized rockhopper...

cant see the lugs, which are the dead giveaway - the
3rensho-built allez has these nice long points that
are really elegant in their simplicity.

theyre sweet frames - i have a couple friends who either
have or have had them, and theyre well worth grabbing
if you spot one... they turn up at swaps every so often...

-joel

>https://cgi.aol.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI...tem=1845306553
>
>Looks like this could be one of those from the 3Rensho era based on the
>sticker and the parts. Jim Merz, can you tell us about those early-to-mid
>80s Allez frames? I'd like to find one of these in my size. Lou Deeter,
>Orlando FL
>
>

Originally Posted by Dawes-man
I don't know one way or the other but a couple of things. What I understood is that Konno was known to copy things and present them as his own ideas and that he could have copied the offset crown from somewhere, not that he copied it from the Allez.

The other thing is this claim that Jim Merz says that Konno built some of the Allez frames. You are the second person to mention this but I can't find any other reference to this claim. I would love to read where he says this.

FWIW, and I said this earlier in this thread, I was struck by the similarity to the Allez in my sitting room of one of the Konno 3Rensho bikes on the site:
https://www.classicrendezvous.com/Jap...o/3Ren_cat.htm
Not just the fork crown but also the long tangs on the seat tube lug. So on the face of it, it seems likely to me that Konno/3Rensho did make this Allez but I don't know. I would like it to be true as it makes a neat story but I haven't found anyone here in Tokyo who thinks they did, only people who seem sure they didn't.

If you have a contact for Makino I'd be willing to call him and ask him.
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Old 02-11-08, 12:29 PM
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Here we go. Definitive proof from a man that worked at Specialized:

Archive-URL: https://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10601.1315.eml
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2006 07:31:36 -0500
From: D Zeitel <zeitel(AT)gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [BOB] Specialized Aero

Jim Merz took over road frame design at Specialized in 1983.

On 1/14/06, Kogswell Cycles <kogswellcycles(AT)gmail.com> wrote:
>
> What Mark said.
>
> Tim Neenan.
>
> Framebuilder now chef and yes a frame designer at Specialized.
>
> He's interviewed in the current issue of Bike Magazine in an article
> about the most influential mountain bikes of all time. (For the
> record, the first Stumpjumpers came with Magura brake levers).
>
> And yes that aero frame is from Konno-san. Hiroshi has a good
> eye. Sinyard and Konno collaborated on some Allezes.
>
> Matthew (Specialized, class of '83)
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Old 02-11-08, 12:40 PM
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And from Mr. Merz himself:

Archive-URL: https://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10207.1198.eml
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 18:27:36 -0400
From: "Roy H. Drinkwater" <roydrink(AT)mac.com>
Subject: [CR]Was Allez on Ebay - Now: 3Rensho's Yoshi Kono

Jim Merz wrote:
>This bike is not a Yoshi Kono 3Rensho frame. It is a cheaper frame I
>think made by Miyata. Not positive on this, but I am sure not 3Rensho.
>
>Specialized Allez frames were made by Yoshi Kono's shop starting from
>about 1981 or so. This is when I started working at Specialized. These
>Allez were only sold as a frame, and were red. The only exception to
>this is a few bikes with Shimano AX parts were brought in. There were
>also track frames. These were very nice frames, made by hand. Shimano
>dropouts, fork crown with offset, chrome dropout faces.
>
>I hear Yoshi Kono has been in a very bad auto accident several years
>ago, I think he is a quadriplegic.

The Yellow Jersey has information, see:
<https://www.yellowjersey.org/konno.html>
<https://www.yellowjersey.org/3rmt.html>

Roy H. Drinkwater
Lititz, PA
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Old 02-11-08, 12:44 PM
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Reference original article:

Archive-URL: https://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10207.1195.eml
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 14:59:37 -0700
From: "Jim Merz" <jimmerz(AT)qwest.net>
Subject: FW: [CR]Allez on Ebay--24"

This bike is not a Yoshi Kono 3Rensho frame. It is a cheaper frame I
think made by Miyata. Not positive on this, but I am sure not 3Rensho.

Specialized Allez frames were made by Yoshi Kono's shop starting from
about 1981 or so. This is when I started working at Specialized. These
Allez were only sold as a frame, and were red. The only exception to
this is a few bikes with Shimano AX parts were brought in. There were
also track frames. These were very nice frames, made by hand. Shimano
dropouts, fork crown with offset, chrome dropout faces.

I hear Yoshi Kono has been in a very bad auto accident several years
ago, I think he is a quadriplegic.

Another detail, the later (1986?) top model Allez luged frames were made
by Dave Tesch in San Marco. These used Tange Prestige tubing.
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Old 02-11-08, 12:46 PM
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And finally case closed. Mr. Merz references his title at Specialized:

Archive-URL: https://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10207.1578.eml
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 21:40:33 -0700
From: "Jim Merz" <jimmerz(AT)qwest.net>
Subject: FW: [CR]Who raised the bar?

I was around bikes before and after the bike boom in the early '70's and
have some observations about the development of high quality frames.
Before the boom there were few mainstream sources of good road racing
bikes in the USA. There were exceptions, like Spence Wolf and Gene
Portusi (spelling?), but most local bike shops did not have Campagnolo
equipped bikes on the floor to buy. Paramonts were around, but were
expensive and seemed somehow un-hip to me. My first good bikes were
Raleighs. They were OK but I could see that some details were done just
to save money. I have always been around people that could make things,
so I was not intimidated by the thought of building better frames. My
motivation to build frames was not being satisfied with what I could
buy. This was right when the boom started, 1971 or so. All of a sudden
dealers could sell any kind of "ten speed" and could never get enough.
When I was building my first frames I got to fix a pile of Raleigh
frames that were replaced under warranty. The NW rep had so many frames
with the head lugs coming off that Raleigh could not supply
replacements. These frames were from the entire line, even Pros. He said
that the workers were paid on a piece basis, so they just brazed around
the edge of the lugs! So I got to see many shortcomings on production
frames. During this period the dollar was getting weak and the price for
a good bike was going up very rapidly. This allowed the small custom
builders (including me) to have a niche.

In my case the desire to build the highest quality frames came from
idealism. Of course making money is required as I had to eat and pay the
rent. I think competition forced quality higher also. In Portland Mark
Dinucci was building Strawberries and Bruce Gordon was in Eugene. We
were all friends but worked hard to outdo one another.

I tried to increase production with hired help, but it is hard to get
people to have the same vision. There was never enough money to offer
good pay. I did have Mark Dinucci work for me for a year or so. But a
true craftsman will leave to do his own thing after awhile. I never made
much money building frames. But I met many great people and learned a
lot. This knowledge led to me getting a job as chief designer at
Specialized. I tried to make bikes and parts that worked for real riders
but offered good value.

Jim Merz
Bainbridge Is. WA
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Old 02-11-08, 01:56 PM
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what do you mean by "offset fork crown"? looks to me like a pretty standard Cinelli semi-sloping fork crown.
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Old 02-11-08, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by rufus
what do you mean by "offset fork crown"? looks to me like a pretty standard Cinelli semi-sloping fork crown.
The center of the crown is forward of the center of the head tube.
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Old 02-11-08, 02:38 PM
  #25  
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After looking over the available 3Rensho frames on Yellow Jersey, it occurred to me that there's something very wrong with the stories you're getting out of the people in Japan. Yoshi Konno is a legendary builder the world over, he's most certainly not famous for 'copying' anyone and anyone who might imply such a thing is being disingenuous at the very least. I certainly would doubt anything they'ld have to say at all, after hearing that.
Danny
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