While we’re working on our winter drop, our friends at Circles just stocked some special edition JP-only Radavist pocket tees. There’s a great little post at the Circles Blog showing the process at Daisey Print Works. Check out the colors and designs at Circles’ Web Shop.
Shige is in town for the Sim Works pop-up at the Cub House. Normally, he works at Circles, the bike shop that created Sim Works in Japan. His job is to work in the “custom lab” at the shop, where various frame builders display their creations and the Circles customers can choose components and frames to make their dream bike. Remember our Shop Visit? Circles is a beautiful shop!
After the Chris King Swarm event, Shige made his way slowly down to Los Angeles, where we rode bikes and I shot his Sklar Monster Cross, which as the name implies, fits a massive 2.2″ 27.5 tire. The rest of the build is quite balleur, so excuse the excessive bling, but when you’re in the business of selling custom bikes for Circles, your bike has to look this good!
File this as one of those, no, I have no idea if you can buy these caps, but the story is great, product post. Head over to Circles’ blog to read a rough translation from Google about their visit to Montana to see our friends at Fairends.
These jerseys Team Dream designed to commemorate Circles Japan’s 10th anniversary came out great! Getting your hands on one might be a bit of a challenge, but we can all dream, right?
Japan. An incredibly diverse country, filled with a rich history, which up until the modernization of the automobile, relied heavily on the bicycle. In fact, from the 1930’s through the 1960’s the bicycle was the most prized possession in Japanese households. Naturally with modernization comes new technology and with new technology came more affordable cars, designed specifically for the Japanese consumers. Soon, the attention of the Japanese people shifted towards the automobile. Alas, the bicycle may have taken a blow in terms of popularity, but it’s hardly fallen off the map. Almost every household still relies on a bicycle. With fuel taxes double what we have in the USA and pricey annual inspection bills, many families still run errands on bicycles. In Nagoya, the wealthiest city in Japan, made possible by Toyota being located there, the bicycle can still be found on the streets and sidewalks in mass numbers.
After three weeks on the road in Japan, I’m finally heading back to Los Angeles and just in time for summer. I wanted to thank everyone that made this trip so memorable and to the Circles family for making it possible. I’ll miss this place and its people, but will be back for sure!
Expect regularly-scheduled posts to commence this week, thanks for your patience… ;-)
Bicycles. They’re only as great as their owners, and custom bikes, being as special as they are, still follow this rule. I’m sure every framebuilder has completed a project like this at some point. Specific, yet versatile, made for multi-surfaces and designed for a short in stature, big in personality owner.
Rick Hunter of Hunter Cycles takes on projects like this frequently. Or at least it appears that way. I don’t know what it is about some of Rick’s bikes, but they seem to be an exercise in problem solving, while delivering upon their specific use with confidence. A master of the touring bike, custom racks and creative designs, Rick’s finished products are some of the most unique in the industry.
Chari means bike in Japanese.
Rie’s “Super Coffee Bike Tourer” came to be when she decided to tour Europe, after her friend Mortimer from Keirin Berlin urged her to do so. Rie decided she wanted to attend various bike events, make new friends and pour coffee from her bike, something she had been doing since 2010 at her job while working for Circles and Sim Works in Nagoya from a singlespeed city bike. This trip however, would require something more capable, so she contacted Hunter Cycles and began to plan for her trip.
She started her journey on July 15, 2013 at Keirin Berlin and finished on October 28, 2013 for her birthday in Portugal at Cabo de São Vicente, aka “the end of the world”, the Southwesternmost point of European Continent. A bike’s use doesn’t die once its job has been completed though. For the past few years, Rie has tackled singletrack in Santa Cruz and various other bike tours, including our recent trip to Mount Fuji and Izu Oshima.
My job surrounds me with Beautiful Bicycles, of all shapes and sizes, sometimes desensitizing me to just how insane they can be, yet I can’t get over how rad this bike is… See more from Rie’s trip or her bike at her blog and be sure to check out her Instagram for more photos from her life of bikes!
Oftentimes during trips like this, you just go with the flow and don’t ask questions. When the team at Circles began planning our bicycle tour around Mount Fuji, the only things I asked were what kind of roads we’d be riding and what to expect in terms of weather. This would answer every other question in terms of my gear and bicycle selection. We already got the run down on how this trip was faring on yesterday’s post, so I’ll spare you the re-introduction here but what I will say is, sometimes rides like this present a pleasant surprise when you’d least expect it…
Visiting countries like Japan, you’re always drawn to hyper-modern cities like Tokyo, or classic, traditional places like Kyoto. While I’ve spent a lot of time here, I’d never spent much time in the countryside, much less the wilderness. I’ve always used a bicycle to explore an urban area. When Circles brought handful of US framebuilders and myself over to Nagoya for the Gourmet Century Asuke, they asked us to bring our own bikes. Not just to display at the Personal Bike Show, but to embark on a week-long bicycle tour with. This influenced what everyone brought greatly and ultimately, was a true test of each builder’s philosophy on touring.
Nagoya, it’s been real! Thank you for your warm hospitality, your wasabi, your sake and your wonderful, smiling faces. Circles, Sim Works, Pine Fields Market and Early Birds have been fantastic but sadly, we must leave. I’m off to Kyoto, Kobe, Naoshima and Tokyo this week for some tourism but stay tuned, our story has only just begun!
Mike DeSalvo makes absolutely beautiful steel and titanium frames, with some of the best welds in the business. In fact, his construction is so wonderful that he teaches tig-welding at UBI. While Mike’s frames are gorgeous in terms of construction, he’s admittedly not the most creative in terms of paint designs. His job is to focus on the frame’s engineering, leaving the designs up to the owners. Truthfully, I’d never seen a DeSalvo painted until coming to Japan and seeing the Circles customer’s personal rigs. Titanium is great and all, but sometimes paint really makes the frame pop!
When it comes to pop, if I were to ask you who designs the most outrageous paint jobs for bicycles, you might answer “John Slawta of Landshark.” John’s a living legend and his paint designs have long burned the retinas of their owners and anyone who has feasted their eyes upon these bikes. John and Mike began talking and decided to make six frames with insane paint jobs. This is the first, for Circles Japan and if you’re wondering what the inspiration was, Mike told John to be “very aggressive…” See John’s full design below, which features street art and pop culture references from Warhol, Keith Haring and Banksy, with a balls to the wall spin. If you’re in Nagoya, make sure you swing by Circles to check it out in person!
Japan is wonderful. In the cities like Nagoya, cars zip through intersections, merge with traffic, mamacharis cruise the sidewalks, baskets rattling with groceries and pedestrians swarm cross walks. Yet if you drive or ride a bicycle outside its network of infrastructure for 40km, you’re in the mountains. Many ranging around the 3,500′ height and all covered in a dense forest. These mystical beasts lie in slumber awaiting the rainy season to drench their loamy forest floors and fill their rivers.
The rainy season is at the end of June, so very few people want to throw events this month, at the risk of it being rained out, yet that didn’t stop Shinya and the Circles team from organizing the Chris King Gourmet Century. Now, if you’ve never heard of a Gourmet Century, the format is simple. Chris King works with local bike shops to plan a route in a select city, then they fly out Chris DiMinno, their lead chef to plan food stops along the way, with the event culminating in a feast after the ride. In some cases, like Japan, Chris was able to count on the talented caterers from Nagoya, who’d drive out to Asuke the day prior to prepare food.
I’ve documented a lot of bicycles in my day and I’ll be honest here when I say, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen something as clever or unique as this bike.
At first glance, this Dobbat’s commuter looks like you’re run of the mill 1x road bike. Then you notice the flat, stand-off headbadge, which leads your eyes to the asymmetric brake routing in the top tube, which you then notice is actually quite confusing in terms of construction. Stepping back from that detail, you begin to notice the light support rack simply dies into the fork blades and it takes a moment to find the set screws.
Details like this are NAHBS-level in terms of concept and execution, yet Takayoshi has never been to NAHBS and he doesn’t spend time on the internet looking at other bikes. In fact, when we asked him what inspired these details, he said “it just popped into my head.”
If Japan keeps rolling out bikes like this, my shutter finger is going to get tired!
With the Gourmet Century Japan being hosted by Circles, the team at this great bike shop in Nagoya wanted to do something special for their visitors. The Personal Bike Show was a way to introduce the community in Nagoya to various framebuilders and individuals, all of which have found their way to town for the ride… Many of which were visiting Japan for the first time.
The format was simple. Each guest would display their bike they brought for the Gourmet Century, alongside two local builders. After finger foods by Chris DiMinno and plenty of booze, each personality took to the stage to answer a few questions, provided by the Circles team. Things like “what was the scariest moment on the bike?” and “What do you think of Curtis Inglis?”
The evening culminated with Shinya from Circles and Chris King expanding on their opinions about why cycling is so important to a community’s health and growth. It was one of those evenings that left you excited to be a part of a global community of cyclists.
Over the next few days, I’ll be featuring some of the frames that were displayed, along with other scenes from Nagoya and beyond! If you’re going to the Gourmet Century this weekend, I’ll see ya there!
Dobbat’s is one of the local Japanese builders who displayed their handywork at the Circles Japan Personal Bike Show. While this small builder might not be known in the Western world, he’s been building bicycle frames since the late 80’s and man, let me tell you, his experience shows. This Succeed fillet road has some of the cleanest lines I’ve seen. Everything just lines up elegantly and nothing feels forced. Not even that fastback seat stay cluster, with its top cut precisely along the seat stay line. While the seat cluster initially caught my eye, it was the stem that really made me appreciate his work. It’s like a delicate flower petal embracing the bar like some wild orchid. I couldn’t get enough of it!
Check out more DIY framebuilding goodness at the Dobbat’s blog and wait til you see his other bike!
I’m in Nagoya, Japan visiting Circles, a local bike shop and quintessential bicycle mecca. I’ll dive into that more in the near future, but for now, I wanted to feature this unique bike…
California framebuilders have found a home at Circles. In turn, lot of the family, friends and community surrounding the shop have found California framebuilders. DeSalvo, Sycip, Retrotec, Hunter and Black Cat frames hang from the rafters and line the bike racks outside the shop. One of which being Keita’s Black Cat disc road. Keita runs Early Birds, the breakfast cafe attached to Circles and it was the first bike of the day that really caught my eye due to its loud, reptilian-inspired paint job.
There’s something very Weedian-inspired about this frame with its hand-painted scales and color blocking. Todd paints each frame he builds with unique patterns and designs, leaving the owner more than enough inspiration to decide how to kit their bikes out. With this paint job, Keita upped the ante with a painted Sim Works stem and green King bits.
As I said, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of Circles coverage… so stay tuned!
Next week I’m taking off for Japan, to tag along with the Sim Works and Circles crew on various rides, including a bikepacking trip around Mt Fuji and the Gourmet Century! There’s much more to come, but for now check out details for the Circles Personal Bike Show happening this Wednesday below.