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Is this 1985 Kuwahara Japanese road bike collectable?

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Is this 1985 Kuwahara Japanese road bike collectable?

Old 12-11-14, 02:01 PM
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DTSs
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Is this 1985 Kuwahara Japanese road bike collectable?

I acquired an 85 Kuwahara Summit Comp Pro TR a couple of years ago that appeared to have been ridden a few miles before going into storage. After replacing the consumables, riding, enjoying it a lot and doing a bit of research, I concluded that I possessed a very special bike. Consequently, I hung it in my office so as not to damage it and to retain and preserve it.

My interest is how collectable this bike may be now and in the future. I'm asking because I draw a distinction between ridable and collectable. I appreciate and understand the collectability of vintage Italian, French and English road bikes, but Japanese road bikes completely escape me.

I very much appreciate and value your opinions on vintage Japanese road bikes and this Kuwahara specifically. I have no need for dollars and cents responses as I know the value of the bits and do not plan to sell this bike. So, I have two questions:

How collectable is this 85 Kuwahara Summit Comp Pro TR?

How collectable are Japanese road bikes in general?

This 85 Kuwahara appears all original, except for what I changed; bar tape, rim tape, tubes and tires. The frame appears to be high quality, but it's equipped with mid range components.

Araya 700c Super Hard Anodized Rims laced to Suzue Hubs
Suntour Cyclone Derailleurs
Suntour Friction Shifters
Sugino GP Crank W Sugino Cycloid Elliptical ChainringS
Diacomp GX Brake Calipers and Levers
Jaguar Champion Saddle
MKS Pedals
Nitto Olympiade 115 Handlebars
Nitto Stem
Weight around 23 LBS



More detailed pictures are here

https://picasaweb.google.com/1038333...ummitCompProTR

**********************

Below are some of my history research notes for those of you that do not know about Kuwahara, (credit to kuwahara-bike.com, Sheldon Brown and others).

Kuwahara is best known for its highly regarded BMX line. Kuwahara BMX bikes were featured in Spielberg's E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Bob Haro was doing the stunts.)

Kuwahara also made touring bikes and tandems, not widely distributed in the U.S.

Kuwahara supplied the bikes for the 1988 Canadian Olympic team.

Kuwahara was founded in Osaka, Japan in 1918 by Sentaro Kuwahara. It was a family run business with help from his wife and eight children that made and sold bicycles and bike parts at first in his neighborhood, then growing and expanding more. In 1925 Kuwahara began to export bicycles and parts to Russia, China and Southeast Asia. Kuwahara closed their doors for business temporarily from 1940 till 1945 due to World War II.

In 1947 Kuwahara reopened again for business and Sentaro Kuwahara became the first chairman of the board of directors of the first bicycle wholesale association in Japan. In 1959 the very first and small shipment of bicycles were delivered to the USA. Sadly in 1960 founding company president Sentaro Kuwahara passed away and his Son, Masao Kuwahara took over in his place.

In 1962 Kuwahara sent it's first shipment of APOLLO brand sport (10speed or 12speed road racing) bicycles to Canada. In 1968 Kuwahara started exporting bicycles to the USA as private label bikes for other companies such as Schwinn, Takara, Puch, Concord, Apollo, Azuki and others. Kuwahara had never produced their own Kuwahara brand bike outside of Japan until 1972 when Kuwahara began developing BMX bicycles for the US, Canada, European and Australian markets.

During the middle 1970's the BMX boom had started and Kuwahara was regularly exporting Kuwahara brand BMX's to these countries. In 1979 Takuo Kuwahara became the new (and present) President of Kuwahara. He started up a Factory Kuwahara BMX team each in The US, Canada, Europe and Australia. In 1980 Kuwahara also started developing and exporting Mountain bikes to Canada and Australia.

In 1982 Steven Spielbergs hit movie E.T. featured Kuwahara BMX's and famous riders of those days including Bob Haro. Many famous riders raced for the Factory Kuwahara teams such as Gary Ellis, Clint Miller, Joe Baumert, David Cullinan, Lee Medlin, Leo Green, Matt Harris and Kevin McNealve. Takuo Kuwahara started Kuwahara International in 1988. Kuwahara road race bikes were used by the Canadian Olympic team at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea.

Kuwahara's were also used by Germany, Switzerland, and Finland of the KUWAHARA MTB mountain bike XC team for the world cup. 1991 saw Kuwahara win it's first world championship UCI MTB series in Switzerland. In 1992 due to the escalating Japanese Yen, Kuwahara closed it's Japanese export business in Osaka and shifted that part overseas where it could be more competitive.

Kuwahara International was then moved to Osaka, Japan where many interesting new bicycles were designed and won many awards around the world. In 2001 Universal Studios opened an amusement park in Osaka, Japan and Kuwahara set up a small exhibition for display. With the last remaining KZ frames from the 1980's Kuwahara re-released a reproduction model in the classic E.T colors.

Kuwahara is still active today and very popular in Canada and other European countries.
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Old 12-11-14, 02:19 PM
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It's a nice bike, and it's a rider. It's worth a few hundred give or take. The parts on it are good but nothing super rare.

The paint is in good shape, which is a bonus.
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Old 12-11-14, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by TimmyT View Post
It's a nice bike, and it's a rider. It's worth a few hundred give or take. The parts on it are good but nothing super rare.

The paint is in good shape, which is a bonus.
+ 1.
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Old 12-11-14, 03:09 PM
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It's a super nice bike, and these nicer Kuwaharas are well-built (we see more Kuwahara-branded bikes, and many Kuwahara-made Apollos up here in Vancouver, Canada).

As others have suggested, I wouldn't consider it particularly 'collectible'. Some folks familiar with the brand might certainly seek it out as good bet for a steady rider, but it's unlikely anyone would feel inclined to seek this particular bike out to fill a niche in their collection, to hang on a wall, or to show...

I'd ride it, and ride it plenty. It does look to be in really nice shape, consistent with minimal use...so many miles left!

I appreciate the distillation of Kuwahara's history - I have a 1981 Apollo Imperial, Kuwahara-built, which was originally dressed all in Dura Ace (long before I acquired the frame/fork/hs). Spiffy bike, and I have seen one person locally here trying to sell one 'all original' for a 'collector' price...but he's really dreaming.

There are certainly a range of highly collectible Japanese machines to rival Old World classics, but these are mainly from exclusive builders like 3Rensho or Zunow and others, NJS track bikes from a range of desirable builders, and (for particular collectors) the very top-end offerings of major makers, e.g. Miyata Pro...
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Old 12-11-14, 04:49 PM
  #5  
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Aha! So you're the guy who scored that Kuwahara...
I was looking at it pretty hard when it was listed on CL but just couldn't pull the trigger as it's too small for me. But even the crappy pics and description couldn't hide the fact that it was a decent looking ride. Glad it went to someone who appreciates it. Now get it down and ride it some more!

Originally Posted by DTSs View Post
I acquired an 85 Kuwahara Summit Comp Pro TR a couple of years ago that appeared to have been ridden a few miles before going into storage. After replacing the consumables, riding, enjoying it a lot and doing a bit of research, I concluded that I possessed a very special bike. Consequently, I hung it in my office so as not to damage it and to retain and preserve it.

My interest is how collectable this bike may be now and in the future. I'm asking because I draw a distinction between ridable and collectable. I appreciate and understand the collectability of vintage Italian, French and English road bikes, but Japanese road bikes completely escape me.

I very much appreciate and value your opinions on vintage Japanese road bikes and this Kuwahara specifically. I have no need for dollars and cents responses as I know the value of the bits and do not plan to sell this bike. So, I have two questions:

How collectable is this 85 Kuwahara Summit Comp Pro TR?

How collectable are Japanese road bikes in general?

This 85 Kuwahara appears all original, except for what I changed; bar tape, rim tape, tubes and tires. The frame appears to be high quality, but it's equipped with mid range components.

Araya 700c Super Hard Anodized Rims laced to Suzue Hubs
Suntour Cyclone Derailleurs
Suntour Friction Shifters
Sugino GP Crank W Sugino Cycloid Elliptical ChainringS
Diacomp GX Brake Calipers and Levers
Jaguar Champion Saddle
MKS Pedals
Nitto Olympiade 115 Handlebars
Nitto Stem
Weight around 23 LBS



More detailed pictures are here

https://picasaweb.google.com/1038333...ummitCompProTR

**********************

Below are some of my history research notes for those of you that do not know about Kuwahara, (credit to kuwahara-bike.com, Sheldon Brown and others).

Kuwahara is best known for its highly regarded BMX line. Kuwahara BMX bikes were featured in Spielberg's E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Bob Haro was doing the stunts.)

Kuwahara also made touring bikes and tandems, not widely distributed in the U.S.

Kuwahara supplied the bikes for the 1988 Canadian Olympic team.

Kuwahara was founded in Osaka, Japan in 1918 by Sentaro Kuwahara. It was a family run business with help from his wife and eight children that made and sold bicycles and bike parts at first in his neighborhood, then growing and expanding more. In 1925 Kuwahara began to export bicycles and parts to Russia, China and Southeast Asia. Kuwahara closed their doors for business temporarily from 1940 till 1945 due to World War II.

In 1947 Kuwahara reopened again for business and Sentaro Kuwahara became the first chairman of the board of directors of the first bicycle wholesale association in Japan. In 1959 the very first and small shipment of bicycles were delivered to the USA. Sadly in 1960 founding company president Sentaro Kuwahara passed away and his Son, Masao Kuwahara took over in his place.

In 1962 Kuwahara sent it's first shipment of APOLLO brand sport (10speed or 12speed road racing) bicycles to Canada. In 1968 Kuwahara started exporting bicycles to the USA as private label bikes for other companies such as Schwinn, Takara, Puch, Concord, Apollo, Azuki and others. Kuwahara had never produced their own Kuwahara brand bike outside of Japan until 1972 when Kuwahara began developing BMX bicycles for the US, Canada, European and Australian markets.

During the middle 1970's the BMX boom had started and Kuwahara was regularly exporting Kuwahara brand BMX's to these countries. In 1979 Takuo Kuwahara became the new (and present) President of Kuwahara. He started up a Factory Kuwahara BMX team each in The US, Canada, Europe and Australia. In 1980 Kuwahara also started developing and exporting Mountain bikes to Canada and Australia.

In 1982 Steven Spielbergs hit movie E.T. featured Kuwahara BMX's and famous riders of those days including Bob Haro. Many famous riders raced for the Factory Kuwahara teams such as Gary Ellis, Clint Miller, Joe Baumert, David Cullinan, Lee Medlin, Leo Green, Matt Harris and Kevin McNealve. Takuo Kuwahara started Kuwahara International in 1988. Kuwahara road race bikes were used by the Canadian Olympic team at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea.

Kuwahara's were also used by Germany, Switzerland, and Finland of the KUWAHARA MTB mountain bike XC team for the world cup. 1991 saw Kuwahara win it's first world championship UCI MTB series in Switzerland. In 1992 due to the escalating Japanese Yen, Kuwahara closed it's Japanese export business in Osaka and shifted that part overseas where it could be more competitive.

Kuwahara International was then moved to Osaka, Japan where many interesting new bicycles were designed and won many awards around the world. In 2001 Universal Studios opened an amusement park in Osaka, Japan and Kuwahara set up a small exhibition for display. With the last remaining KZ frames from the 1980's Kuwahara re-released a reproduction model in the classic E.T colors.

Kuwahara is still active today and very popular in Canada and other European countries.
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Old 12-11-14, 05:11 PM
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A bike can be pretty special and still be a rider. Around here the bar for "too nice to ride" is very high - have a look through the "classic rides and rigs" sticky thread and you'll see what I mean.

Nice looking bike; enjoy it, whatever you decide.
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Old 12-11-14, 05:26 PM
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Unfortunately the answers to your two questions are...

Q.1 How collectable is this 85 Kuwahara Summit Comp Pro TR? Not very collectible....

Q.2 How collectable are Japanese road bikes in general? Certain makes and models are collectible. The first that comes to mind is the Miyata 1000 touring bike.
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Old 12-11-14, 06:17 PM
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I agree - it's not particularly collectible, but it's eminently rideable and well outfitted for you to do so, and seems to be in excellent shape. It's worth enjoying for the use it was intended for - as a very good quality mid 1980s bike to ride. It's not the sort of bike I'd hang on the wall - but it would be very well suited to being a daily rider.
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Old 12-11-14, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
The first that comes to mind is the Miyata 1000 touring bike.
What makes the Miyata 1000 touring bike collectable and not just another nice rider?
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Old 12-11-14, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DTSs View Post
What makes the Miyata 1000 touring bike collectable and not just another nice rider?
Many people consider it to be the best production touring ever made.
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Old 12-11-14, 08:20 PM
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Desirability does not necessarily imply collectibility. Quality does not necessitate collectibility either.

The japanese were quite innovative and offered many high quality bikes especially when compared to european and american offerings at the same price point. But imo only the likes of 3rensho and Zunow (and maybe a handful of others) are truly collectible. The kuwahara is a rider and not a wall hanger.
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Old 12-11-14, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by DTSs View Post
What makes the Miyata 1000 touring bike collectable and not just another nice rider?
Mojo!
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Old 12-11-14, 08:47 PM
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Does any one else think band clamp shifters are incongruous with an 85? And I thought the GX brake set was later. Sorry, too lazy to look up catalogues.
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Old 12-11-14, 08:59 PM
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Bikes are meant to be ridden. One exception: Eddy's hour record bike. All others...ride.
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Old 12-11-14, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
Mojo!
So, collectability is about reputation?

What about the rareness of a particular bike making it collectible?

Does the notoriety that makes a Kuwahara ET BMX bike collectable make a Kuwahara road bike collectable?
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Old 12-11-14, 10:12 PM
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Mojo defies reason but is often about the right model of bike at the right time by the right builder. I love 80's Japanese bikes...the quality oozes from the design, execution and work ethos of production bikes from Japan but Kuwahara made huge quantities of bikes and they can't all be valuable because of ET. I'd ride the beegeesus out of your bike far at least a decade or 2. If it fits!
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Old 12-11-14, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by DTSs View Post
...In 1968 Kuwahara started exporting bicycles to the USA as private label bikes for other companies such as Schwinn, Takara, Puch, Concord, Apollo, Azuki and others.
I don't know of any Kuwahara bike labeled as Schwinn, certainly not any within a decade or so of 1968. If you can name such a model, please do so.
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Old 12-12-14, 12:36 AM
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There are a whole lot of factors, some taken individually, others taken together, that can make a bike collectible. Unfortunately your Kuwahara has none of them. It is a competently-built, relatively high-volume production bike, not a splendidly-built, low-volume production bike, not a custom bike. Kuwahara didn't have a reputation for building outstanding bikes, they didn't sponsor any well-known race teams, they weren't very well-distributed in the US, they weren't considered to be in the top tier of Japanese production bikes (like Miyata or Fuji). Their ET/BMX connection doesn't add any value to their road bikes. Nothing they built is considered iconic today (the Miyata 1000 is iconic). Kuwahara is part of what is referred to as the UJB, Universal Japanese Bike. A nice bike, but not a great bike, not a bike that has lots of fans 40yrs later or thrills collectors.

There's not always a lot of logic in this, and simple scarcity doesn't count for much. Often what's collectible is what today's middle-age/+ collector lusted after as a teenager. Lots more '80s-era teenagers lusted after Cinelli, Colnago, DeRosa, Raleigh Pro, Schwinn Paramount, Team/Pro Miyata than those who lusted for Kuwahara.

Originally Posted by DTSs View Post
So, collectability is about reputation?

What about the rareness of a particular bike making it collectible?

Does the notoriety that makes a Kuwahara ET BMX bike collectable make a Kuwahara road bike collectable?
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Old 12-12-14, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by pcb View Post
There's not always a lot of logic in this, and simple scarcity doesn't count for much. Often what's collectible is what today's middle-age/+ collector lusted after as a teenager. Lots more '80s-era teenagers lusted after Cinelli, Colnago, DeRosa, Raleigh Pro, Schwinn Paramount, Team/Pro Miyata than those who lusted for Kuwahara.
You make sense. Collectability and lust go hand in hand. But mojo seems to make the difference. I suppose certain Japanese road bikes like the Fuji Professional Super Record or Miyata Team/Pro have the pedigree that makes them collectable. Certain other Japanese road bikes do not.
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Old 12-12-14, 06:58 AM
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It looks like it was never ridden! Or it was cleaned after each of its nine rides.

The brakes may disappoint, but they may not. Same with the saddle. Other than that, you're going to have fun riding it. It's very handsome.
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Old 01-08-15, 10:21 AM
  #21  
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Let me tell you my story about Japanese bikes: As a high school kid in 1972 I saved my money & bought a brand new Peugeot PX-10 Reynolds 531. Rode it for a few years. In college I rode a 1974 Bottecchia full Campagnolo equipped. Then, in my late 30's I got an 80's something Shogun Ninja. The Shogun was hands down the finest, best built, reliable, highest quality bike out of the three mentioned above.

I've been collecting Japanese bikes ever since. Right now, I've got 3 old Fuji's, 1 Univega, 1 Centurion, & 1 Shogun. All made in the 80's with the exception of my 1972 Fuji Special Road Racer.

In 2015 I see PX-10's & Bottecchias from the 70's going for anywhere from $1500 to $2500. Really? I think I paid something like $250 for my PX-10. It had really crappy components made by Simplex. About three months ago, I bought a dirty old vintage 1984 mid level Shogun from a neighborhood kid for $35. Japanese bikes are easily restored. You can get brand new drive train parts. The threads are standard and interchangeable between manufacturers. My prediction is that someday people will suddenly realize how valuable old Japanese bikes are. (I'll be rich !!! ha ha ha ha ......) Until that day comes, Japanese bike fanatics will have to stand in line behind Italian, English, & French bike fanatics. (Especially Italian bike fanatics.) Oh well. Whatever. it is what it is. Hang onto your Kuwahara. It's a very fine bicycle that deserves a great deal of respect.
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Old 01-08-15, 10:31 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by ramzilla View Post
In 2015 I see PX-10's & Bottecchias from the 70's going for anywhere from $1500 to $2500.
Going for, or asking for? I don't see them going for those prices. A look at completed auctions for PX10s show several going in the $500 to $750 range.

Collectibility does not = quality or scarcity. Its all about "perception". Hence, many Japanese bikes from the 1980s offer tremendous value, as most have very little collector interest. So a buyer can get a lot of bike for a reasonable price.

Want a real laugh? Watch made in Japan Bianchis sell for DOUBLE what other made in Japan bikes sell for that are similar quality.

Last edited by wrk101; 01-08-15 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 01-08-15, 07:05 PM
  #23  
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I picked one of these up a couple months back as well. Unfortunately not quite in as good condition as yours and took a little fixing up. Looked as though the previous owner had tried turning it into a comfort bike of sorts, the poor thing.. it had some hideous mtb handlebars, mega oversized saddle, and ragged pedals slapped on there. But I got it somewhat back together on my thin budget and it has proven to be a great ride! Definitely not much about these bikes out there and would love to learn more about it though.
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Old 01-08-15, 10:15 PM
  #24  
ramzilla
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I admit I have a love - hate relationship with italian bikes. Check this out - (I used to have a bike just like this):

Bottecchia Team Malvor 55 Frame Frameset Columbus SLX | eBay

The Japanese copied these bikes. And, refined them. Made them better.
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Old 01-09-15, 07:05 AM
  #25  
KonAaron Snake 
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Originally Posted by DTSs View Post
So, collectability is about reputation?

What about the rareness of a particular bike making it collectible?

Does the notoriety that makes a Kuwahara ET BMX bike collectable make a Kuwahara road bike collectable?
Collectable means a lot of folks want it, so it has some value. It's also subjective. Some people collect potato chips that look like religious figures.

Generally with bikes collectibility is based on nostalgia (you'll find this is true across most collector markets). What did a 13 year old most want that he couldn't have? Think car posters in a 13 year old's room. The bike that you picked up was a mid-range japanese road bike. It wasn't the top of a product line and it didn't have top of the line parts. That's why it's less collectible than some others. It's less collectible than a Team Miyata for the same reason that a 1981 Corolla is less collectible than a Datsun 280zx.

The Miyata 1000 isn't really a collectible in the way some here mean; I don't think people want them to covet it or to preserve it. Miyata 1000s are desired because they were great touring bikes, as suggested earlier. They ride well and they're reliable. You can usually get a Miyata touring bike for around $600 - which is less than half the price of a modern touring bike that is arguably a lot less well made, and certainly less aesthetically attractive to a group like us.

Obviously production plays a role in this; if there is less of something and a lot of demand, it's worth more. Typically the stuff we remember this way was also top of a product maker's line - meaning it was pricey with a smaller market and there are less of them. Just being rare doesn't make something collectible - it has to have the demand. Lots of smaller builders that most haven't heard of are rare, but less valuable because they're less well known. It's perception and demand, like wrk said. The stuff with the flashiest appeal is highly regarded and incredibly rare. Confente, Rene Herse. Singer.

Why are japanese bikes generally worth less than top end Italians? Most japanese bikes at the higher levels competed with the Europeans on price. They weren't prominent in the grand tours. They were made in higher production numbers and are considered more cookie cutter. I bought a japanese road bike in 1990 to race because it was cheap. At the lower price levels you got a lot more bang for your buck with a japanes bike than with a European. At the top levels that stops being true to most people.

There are japanese bikes with that kind of following...often track bikes. Zunow, 3rensho.

What you'd find is that most of us have a niche. I like more obscure, weird stuff. To me the coolest japanese bike was the aero Lotus - because it was in many ways their first export bike that did more than just ape the European models and parts. It got attention on its own, and was a glorious failure.

As far as Ramzilla's anecedotes - you're really going to be snarky about italian bikes after buying a Bottechia? They are hardly the pinnacle of the italian paradigm.

Last edited by KonAaron Snake; 01-09-15 at 07:30 AM.
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