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Japanese Titanium road bikes... who built them?

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Japanese Titanium road bikes... who built them?

Old 05-30-14, 12:33 PM
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ZeRinger
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Japanese Titanium road bikes... who built them?

The arrival of this Panasonic Titanium sparked my interest into discovering the origins of the frame itself.



What I find most curious is that for several years I have heard/read rumors that Sumitomo had actually built the Titanium frames for Panasonic. While plausible, it does seem a bit strange to me that a company with as much frame building experience would decide to entirely outsource the production of their Ti frames. Panasonic still offers Ti frames as well.
I can certainly see them sourcing the Ti tubing from Sumitomo since they were experts in Titanium but letting them build them entirely? Hmmm... then again, Fuji Ti frames were apparently Sumitomo built as well and Fuji is certainly a well accomplished frame builder.

Anyhow, I've been analyzing many beautiful pictures of Sumitomo Ti bikes and others such as the Fuji Ti frames which you can easily tell were rebranded Sumitomo frames. When I try to compare them with the Panasonic Ti frame there are too many changes for me to say definitively that it was Sumitomo built. Anyone else out there that is better versed in Titanium frames of the 80's that might be able to shed some light on the subject? I'm going to try to touch base with some of my old Panasonic contacts and see if they happen to have any idea as well.
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Old 05-30-14, 12:42 PM
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I have Ti fever real hard lately. This is awesome.
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Old 05-30-14, 04:10 PM
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(Koga) Miyata. Road and mountain. Lugged construction with aluminum lugs.
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Old 05-30-14, 05:16 PM
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Zaphod - hold out for a Merlin.
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Old 06-01-14, 09:03 PM
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Stumbled across the old 1991 Bicycling Magazine Buyer's Guide issue today and spotted this lovely Fuji. Much to my amazement it was listed as having a $4200 list price back in 1991. Holy smokes!



They were also supposedly built in the USA at this point? Anyone know who was building them for Fuji?
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Old 06-02-14, 04:33 AM
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One of the guys at the LBS has one, he upgraded it to Campagnolo 10 speed group. He Still has all the original parts. I've tried to buy it on several occasions, but he won't part with it can't blame him. It's my size too !!
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Old 06-22-14, 06:31 PM
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It looks like Sumitomo workmanship. Perhaps Panasonic supplied their own design to be built by Sumitomo?
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Old 06-22-14, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ZeRinger View Post
Much to my amazement it was listed as having a $4200 list price back in 1991. Holy smokes!
What is the problem with $4200 list price?

A high end IBM (yes, there was a company called IBM back then!) PC or Apple machine was around $4200 or had the same list price as the titanium Fuji bike. Those computers are WORTHLESS now, but you probably can get around $1K for the titanium Fuji if it is in nice condition.
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Old 06-22-14, 07:15 PM
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4,200 for that seems utterly insane to me in comparison to the Merlins of their day. I've seen and ridden both...and I can't imagine picking one of the Fujis over a Merlin (or even a Litespeed of the era). Yes - the forks are ti and that's pretty cool. The ad above says these were Sandvik - which were considerably cheaper than Merlin (rightly so).
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Old 06-22-14, 08:06 PM
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I'll try to dig up pictures but,

I had a frame from a company called TIG. They specialize in wheelchairs and other titanium products, but apparently did some bikes for the japanese national cycling team at some point.
My frame had a 1'' headtube, excellent welds, flared tubes in places for more welding surface.
I really regret letting that bike go.
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Old 06-23-14, 09:42 AM
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I don't know who made them, but I want one!
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Old 06-23-14, 10:12 AM
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Some more info here. The similarities between the frames on that page and mine are strong enough that I'm fairly confident that Sumitomo made the Panasonic titanium bikes.
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Old 06-23-14, 11:40 AM
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Given the Massive size of the Panasonic Corporation why would you think they would be unable to equip a couple builders , in house,

with the Tooling to Tig Weld a few Ti Frames together , to sell under their Brand?
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