20150226

Something A Bit Different

My love for Takhions and Soviet era bikes extends far and wide, and always will, but that doesn't mean that I don't share a passion for other bikes as well.  There's another type of bicycle that I don't think I've ever represented on here, though it more than deserves it.  And, surprisingly, I'm not talking about Italian steel, though I do genuinely appreciate the ornate beauty and craftsmanship that goes along with it.  

Nope, I'm referring to the sparkling paint jobs, the tight clearances, and the history associated with NJS bikes.

What's so special about an NJS frame?  How is it any different from any steel track frame?  For some, the appeal of recently made steel frames in a variety of sizes that can be found used on a slightly less daunting price tag is the biggest draw.  Others argue that the ride quality is second to none, on the track or on the street.  And there's also the people that just appreciate the look and craftsmanship of them, which is enough to convince them to give it a go.  Sure, a few also care about that NJS stamp and take pride in having a bike built with full NJS components, but most of the builds I've seen sacrifice at least one or two things to keep them from truly being full NJS.  

A brand new NJS frame costs quite a bit of money, but many of these frames are used for a season or two and then retired, which has led to a bit of a surplus.  At some point, a few sellers in Japan figured out that there was a demand for these used frames over here, much to the joy of collectors, velodrome riders, and enthusiasts alike.  

A few months back I found myself more and more drawn to the idea of building up an NJS frame for the track.  Really, the last thing that I need is another bicycle, but that's never stopped me before, and well...I have a lot of bike projects, and the reason that these stay in the "project" state for so long is that finding adequate parts for something like a Takhion is no easy task.  Of course, I could also build myself a steel track frame, but I already have another frame that I plan to build for me in the works, as well as a few orders that I need to fill first.  And the idea of getting a pre-loved NJS frame and being able to easily find all of the parts needed to build it up was appealing - I haven't built up a bike in over a year, and have been itching to do so.  

Then of course I started looking at what frames were out there, and for me that's like going into a pet store and looking at puppies.  Bright, sparkly Makinos, sleek and elegant Nagasawas, flashy Panasonics and Bridgestones - these frames are all downright beautiful.  And I began to see more brands that I hadn't heard of before: Stratos, Presto, Eimei, Kiyo, Giro, and Iribe.  

There were hundreds, with frames coming and going every day, but one caught my eye.  And no matter how much I kept looking around, week after week I would always come back to the same frame.  The size was spot on, the price was unbelievable, and it was a brand that was catching my eye more and more as I dug deeper into the world of NJS: Iribe.  

There was a strange series of events that happened, and for a moment I set aside all plans to build or buy anything else.  But just as quickly as things changed for the worse, they changed for the better, and when they did I decided to bite the bullet and buy this little frame that I had eyed for so long.  

Really loving the logo work on this one.  
I actually ended up having really bad timing with this frame - I few hours after I bought it, I was on an online fixed gear forum and someone had posted a photo from the auction gallery for it saying that they were excited about the new frame they were going to get.  Oops :/.  I felt really terrible, but I ended up contacting that person and promised that I would make it up to them.  

The full album is here because Blogger now gets angry if I include photos taken in portrait and not landscape, but I'll include some highlights in this entry as well.  This was raced on for a season, so it has some "beausage" but is still in excellent shape.  




I'm working on finding out more about the history of its frame so I can do it justice with the build, and though it certainly won't be full NJS it will be pretty close.  It will be velodrome bike - no street riding for this one, or at least very minimal.  

A note here - while many of these frames are fine aside from some chipped paint and a small dent in the top tube where the handlebars swung around (referred to by some as the "NJS-special"), there are a few that come through questionable condition.  You have to know what you're looking for and be careful - only buy from known sellers, make sure there are plenty of photos of the frame that highlight any issues, and avoid rust.  Also keep in mind that many desirable names might seem like a good deal, but that Nagasawa might not be in as great condition as a lower priced, lesser known brand.  Many frames also have 110mm rear spacing, which is something to take into consideration.  

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