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Mystery Yokota

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Mystery Yokota

Old 01-10-22, 12:04 AM
  #126  
ElGenerale
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
^ This Yokota Ranger has been previously posted. The serial number format does not match Mikki. It can be reverse engineered several different ways, with most pointing towards 1985, which is certainly appropriate for an Asian manufactured ATB with lugs. One of those possibilities is Miyata, however a late 1980s Yokota road test stated that Yokota was a "manufacturer" and 2nd in size only to Bridgestone. Additonal info was requested from the poster in an attempt to confirm the age but they never responded.
Greetings all. That's my '85 Yokota Ranger frameset. The internet is at times a small world, eh? T-Mar, I appreciate the info you were able to provide. Still haven't pulled the fork yet, but will double back with any markings I find.

Cirp, thanks for circling back to this site seeking more information. Appreciate the response you sent my way too.

John, it seems this brand is still partially a mystery, and I for one am appreciative of your contributions here. There's nothing like getting the stories from those who were there.
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Old 01-16-22, 06:48 PM
  #127  
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Hi Cirp, Iím going to say itís most likely a bike made in the early 90's. Yokota Cycle USA's 1st model year was 1989. The Yokota Japanese experiment did start until maybe 1992, so where around then. Any serial numbers found on the fork would be most likely for the fork exclusively.
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Old 01-16-22, 09:35 PM
  #128  
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Hi John, all. Thanks for taking the time to review this thread. I added a few more photos to my Gallery (I'm still a few posts away from being able to add photos here). One shot shows the Shimano-marked dropouts, which I've not seen before (granted, I've only started paying attention to such details - and vintage bikes really, in the past few years). The other shot shows "18 Speeds" - a decal on the drive side chain stay. The last pertinent detail is that the rear end is spaced at 126mm, which aligns with the 18-speed labeling - and the mid-80's make. All that said, I think I recall reading somewhere that Yokota was a big Japanese bike maker prior to YCUSA/1989. Does this sound accurate John, or anyone else? I've only seen one other Yokota Ranger: listed as an '86 on mtbr years ago (different color, but pretty similar looking frame otherwise). I can't share the url for the same reasons, but it's easily searchable.

Thanks again for the wisdom shared here.
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Old 01-17-22, 08:36 AM
  #129  
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Originally Posted by Jharrington View Post
Hi Cirp, I’m going to say it’s most likely a bike made in the early 90's. Yokota Cycle USA's 1st model year was 1989. The Yokota Japanese experiment did start until maybe 1992, so where around then. Any serial numbers found on the fork would be most likely for the fork exclusively.
Yes, the date code found on the fork's steerer tube will be the date of fork manufacture by the fork contractor., in this case likely tange. However, in my experience, the date codes found on forks are typically within a few months of the frame date and are consequently a good method to date the frame, provided it isn't a replacement fork. In this case, it would appear to be OEM.

I find it very hard to place this frameset into the early 1990s, let alone 1989. Unicrown forks started replacing traditional forks on ATBs circa 1986 and were almost globally spec'd by 1989, While TIG took slightly longer to catch on, it was also dominant on ATBs by 1989. A circa 1990 ATB with atraditonal fork crown and lugs would be a real anomaly..
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Old 01-17-22, 09:14 AM
  #130  
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Originally Posted by ElGenerale View Post
Hi John, all. Thanks for taking the time to review this thread. I added a few more photos to my Gallery (I'm still a few posts away from being able to add photos here). One shot shows the Shimano-marked dropouts, which I've not seen before (granted, I've only started paying attention to such details - and vintage bikes really, in the past few years). The other shot shows "18 Speeds" - a decal on the drive side chain stay. The last pertinent detail is that the rear end is spaced at 126mm, which aligns with the 18-speed labeling - and the mid-80's make. All that said, I think I recall reading somewhere that Yokota was a big Japanese bike maker prior to YCUSA/1989. Does this sound accurate John, or anyone else? I've only seen one other Yokota Ranger: listed as an '86 on mtbr years ago (different color, but pretty similar looking frame otherwise). I can't share the url for the same reasons, but it's easily searchable.

Thanks again for the wisdom shared here.
I checked your gallery album and didn't find any new pictures, Regardless an "18 speed" decal would not be consistent with a 1990s ATB. Given the Shimano dropouts, it was likely Shimano equipped. Shimano introduced 21 speed systems for Deore XT-II, Deore DX-II and Mountain LX for the 1989 model year and by the following year all their ATB groups werer 21 speed.

I stll think it is worthwhile to remove the fork to check for a date code on the steerer tube. While the frames and forks were typically manufactured by different companies, the manufacturing dates are still usually within a few months of each other.
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Old 01-17-22, 10:12 AM
  #131  
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
Yes, the date code found on the fork's steerer tube will be the date of fork manufacture by the fork contractor., in this case likely tange. However, in my experience, the date codes found on forks are typically within a few months of the frame date and are consequently a good method to date the frame, provided it isn't a replacement fork. In this case, it would appear to be OEM.

I find it very hard to place this frameset into the early 1990s, let alone 1989. Unicrown forks started replacing traditional forks on ATBs circa 1986 and were almost globally spec'd by 1989, While TIG took slightly longer to catch on, it was also dominant on ATBs by 1989. A circa 1990 ATB with atraditonal fork crown and lugs would be a real anomaly..
Hi T-Mar, you certainly know your stuff. You make a number of great points and I'm not arguing or even trying to disagree with your assessment. That fork crown certainly pre-dates UNI-Crown forks and certainly would indicate something mid eighties.
When I was hired by Yokota Japan, my Boss was Akira Fujimura, I had never heard of Yokota Cycles. He told me they made shopping bicycles. He said itís the kind of bicycle so ubiquitous to Japan where you see thousands of them parked as you sped by on the commuter trains going to the office. He said they never made anything even remotely high end like the bicycles sold in the USA. That was why they wanted to open a subsidiary bicycle company in the USA as the Japanese market wouldnít accept Yokota Japan trying to go up stream in the home market of Japan.
So when I see this model and the Yokota graphic on the down tube. (I'll look at the other photos to see if I can find a better side shot), this graphic looks like what my team created in the USA. We didnít release any bikes until the 1989 season at Interbike in September of 1989.

Hiwever T-Mar is spot on with his analysis. I would also agree that the serial number on the fork would correspond close to the time the frame was made and I agree Tange would be the likely manufacturer of the fork.

So this is indeed a Mystery, T-Mar makes a number of valid points that would place this model Mid-eighties. Minus my personal knowledge of Yoko's history in the USA, Iíd be right there with him. All of those details would indicate a bicycle from the mid-eighties.

Most serial numbers were some sort of date code. Sometimes it was as simple as running the date backwards. Other times there was a location number, batch number as well. Then again other had their own mysterious system that only meant something to themselves internally.

Do we know where the current owner bought this bicycle? As I said it was not a USA model. So I wonder how it came to be on American soil? I wish I knew how to reach Mike Jackson as if it was one of his creations he could answer all our questions. But itís been 35 years maybe more since I've seen him. Anyway question for T-Mar did you work in the bicycle industry? I can really appreciate your in depth knowledge about Japanese bicycles. There arenít many around that remember Japan in its hey day of bicycle manufacturing.
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Old 01-17-22, 11:41 AM
  #132  
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Originally Posted by Jharrington View Post
Do we know where the current owner bought this bicycle? As I said it was not a USA model. So I wonder how it came to be on American soil?
To John's question, I bought the frameset at a co-op in Berkeley, California for the fair price of $50.

T-Mar, I think more photos are visible now (after hitting "save" this time) in my Gallery, including the fork code 5H on the steer tube, and "Japan" at the bottom of the seat tube. After reading John's thorough responses again, I think you're both right. The "Japan" sticker has me rethinking the source, as it looks nothing like any I've seen stateside: no "made in" or "product of", and the lettering is much larger (the J is ~3/4" tall) than the requisite made-in labels on bikes sold here.

So just for kicks I compared the frame angles using AngleFinder app on my phone, and while I don't trust the actual numbers I see, I think the comparison of the HT and ST angles is useful. In this case, the seat tube angle is one degree less than the head tube. I compared that to a few other old frames I have - '83 Univega Alpina Pro (with a noteworthy small label "Made in Japan"), and a '87 KHS Montana Team. Of the three, the Yokota is the only one with a STA<HTA. Huh. Beyond that, the rear-center length is substantial at 18.1", and there's gentle signs of a kickstand being attached at one point. It's made from Tange MTB but it's certainly not a lightweight (somewhat larger but noticeably heavier than the Alpina Pro).

Unfortunately - and perhaps another sign of non-US origin, there's no shop decal on it to say where it was purchased; no residual decal glue either. At this point, considering the geometry, T-Mar's contributions and John's recollections, I'm leaning towards this being one of those ubiquitous Japanese Yokotas that were sold for city use. A fair amount of used bikes end up for sale here by visiting UC Berkeley graduate students who are on their way elsewhere - perhaps the arrival story with this one, but no idea.

Thanks again T-Mar, Cirp and John for all of the input here. These old bikes are neat, but the history is downright fascinating. Time to see if I can find some old Japanese catalogs on line, or perhaps connect with someone who can find one.

[edit] I just heard back from someone on MTBR.com who had an '86. This is the only reference to the earlier Ranger model I can find online (search "Paid Spam Yokota Ranger" to see the original post, as I can't yet share links). He got it second hand from an original owner who had purchased it new with Shimano M700 components in California.

Might be time to call Scooby Doo?

Last edited by ElGenerale; 01-17-22 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 01-17-22, 03:55 PM
  #133  
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Originally Posted by ElGenerale View Post
...T-Mar, I think more photos are visible now (after hitting "save" this time) in my Gallery, including the fork code 5H on the steer tube...
That 5H represents August of a year ending in a 5. Given the fork and frame characteristics, it should be 1985, which fits well with the leading interpretations possibilities for the seial number format. However, that's fairly late in the calendar year and into the gray area where it could very well be a 1986 model. I'll take a look at the new photos later. Right now, there's a couple of feet of snow outside that needs shovelling!
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Old 01-23-22, 08:54 PM
  #134  
Jharrington
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Hi ElGenerale, you truly have a vintage bike. Yes Yokota Japan was the parent company of the US subsidiary Yokota Cycles USA. All the spacing a;d specs are consistent with a 18 speed set up. 126mm rear spacing included. Enjoy the ride and the research!
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