Japanese brands have done a pretty good job of holding on to some of the segments of the parts supplier market.
Shimano makes a lot of stuff outside of Japan, for the obvious reason that it's important for OEM parts makers
to be able to supply frame makers with parts in the most efficient manner, which means having close ties
to China, Taiwan, and the other places making most of the frames these days.
On the other side, it's great to see Nitto, Sugino, Hatta, MKS, HKK, Izumi, etc still around, definitely helped
by the NJS crowd.
Maruishi did actually make their own bicycles at one time. The company started out around 1920's or so . I actually owned a nice Maruishi in the early 80's when I was a student in Japan. At 270 yen to the dollar, the Japanese stuff was great. The company finally went out of business in 2004 over an accounting scandal.
Bridgestone and Panasonic had a real chance in the late 80's but after the bubble burst in the early 90's, firms just had to retrench and cut lines to survive. The high end stuff went and the japanese just focused on importing cheap taiwanese/chinese bikes to the domestic market. (the momma-san chariot)
Cyclelicious » Mamachari blog
The keirin crowd is really associated with gambling in Japan and is just considered seedy. Go to a OTB and you will get the picture in an instant. In the 90's, the younger crowd always lusted over the colnagos and Derosas.
A minute or two into this YouTube you'll see a builders shop that looks like many a VS member shop.
Keirin TV Show 4 (Building an NJS frame) - YouTube
I'm convinced that many a brand name Japanese bike like Panasonic, Anchor, etc are quality lugged frames. Production frames? Ok. But what I can get from them is: Lugs, Round Tubes, Level Top Tube, 59 ST CTT, 57 TT CTC.
To get that here, I have to go custom or get NOS/used E-bay/Craigslist. NJS trickles into Japanese road frames.
Long live classic frames, forks, and bars.
In bottle-fly green.
I had a Miyata 914 steel frame back in the 1980's that I rode everywhere. I put original American Classic hubs/seatpost/water bottle cages on it. Reasonably light but very nice riding bike. Splined triple butted tubing written on the top tube. I still have the water bottle cages somewhere! I see Koga-Miyata show up periodically, and they sponsored a pro team in Europe a while back, yes? So they are likely still around.
Every year the Oahu Century ride gets about 2,000 Japanese Nationals to come over and ride. Sort of like our marathon I guess it is a bucket list/honor to get the 100 mile T shirt. No matter how crappy of shape or how crappy of a bike you have they show up and ride. Bridgestone is marketed as Anchor (heck of a name for a bike) and makes some crackerjack carbon and beautiful steel frames. Koga-Mitata has a good following, as do all the name Keirin makers . Most produce some pretty road bikes. Like others say, the bikes are there but they just don't export much.
I usually work the tech support at an aid station and get to see all the nice bikes parked by our truck. There are some totally sweet ones there. It is sort of like a Japanese flavored NAHBS, It sure is fun looking. Then the later riders are a disaster. Why you would select a 50 lb folding bike with 20 inch wheels to do a century is beyond me, or spend $5K plus on a trip and bring a bike that barely works is just crazy thinking.
One other cool thread drift factoid is the Japanese pack a bike neater than anyone. A lot of the local biker dudes help assemble their bikes at their hotel. Each box is like Christmas. The pedals each wrapped in paper, sometimes in boxes, and taped, every cm of the bike covered with wrapping paper, nothing out of order, corners folded, placed in the box with love. Someone in Japan must make a fortune wrapping bikes for travel. Then they must think we are idiots as we repack them American style, lots of bubble wrap, and stuck in the box. Safe, but not a thing of beauty
siestabikes is on a bumpathon, it seems.
Japan is no longer the land of cheap bicycle fabrication - that honor now belongs to Taiwan and/or China.
Japan had a number of builders/companies which came into their own in the 70's/early 80's. Though there are/were a number of US trade names, the main makers as I can recall included:
Matsushita (Panasonic/National to include a number of Schwinns)
Bridgestone (Kabuki, some Schwinns, and 1986 Trek 300.310's)
Kuwamara (Kuwahara, some Nishiki's, others)
Miyata (Univega, several others)
SR (not the same as Sakae Ringyo)
Many of these, if not all still make bikes for the local market. Azuki, Nishiki, Centurion, Diamondback, some Bianchi's, Shogun, Specialized, Takara all came from the above.
The small/specialty builders (Nagasawa, Zunlow, Toei, and 3Rensho) are still around as well, alothough I think 3Rensho is now gone since Mr. Kono's auto accident.
The US devaluation of the Yen happend around 1986. The Yen wen from about 220Y to the buck to about 130Y in a year (it is not a bit below 100). It killed the margins, and sourcing was shifted to Tiawan in droves (including Shimano). By 1991, about the only bikes comming from Japan were Bridgestones, and they pulled in '94.
The fact is that the Japanese still make some very fine bicycles. If you want one, you are going to have to seek them out, because the dollar/yen thing is too screwed up to import them profitably, and all of the name brands have moved to Tiawan, and now China. Frankly, you can get just as fine a frame from the US these days for the cost of a Japanese frame.
Who Is IOZ?: What's This Day of Rest Shit?Originally Posted by jerk
Or is that you?
But for Shimano's specialty forging stuff I'm pretty damn sure they own the means of production, all the forges and everything. Maybe the building is technically owned by a contractor that employs the grunts, but that's just the cost of doing business (especially in mainland china). For a lot of the high-end stuff it's all still completely in house in Japan.
They ain't SRAM — they're "people who actually make their own shit"