Bikes, Japan

Chromoly from Osaka

For me, vintage bikes have a touch of elegance and sturdiness that I miss in most modern bikes. Beyond their stylistic appeal, they are perfectly good for everyday use too. Bike engineering has not seen that many ground-breaking technical advances since they left factory almost three decades ago.

Granted, modern bike frames made of advanced materials such as aluminum or carbon are lighter than their forerunners built of chromoly steel tubes. However, are a few kg really relevant, considering the rider who will dwarf the bike’s weight anyway?

There is a lively scene of vintage bike collectors exchanging information and selling bikes through online forums and marketplaces. Directory pages like mtb-kataloge.de, the Retrobike Archives, or VeloBase.com offer access to historic bike catalogs of many of the most collectible brands. For some manufacturers, even dedicated web sites exist, like for Fuji, Panasonic, and many more.

Panasonic Bicycles

For most people, the Panasonic brand is linked to consumer electronics and home appliances of all sorts. Still, the company’s first bestseller ever was a battery-powered bicycle lamp. That was in 1923, just a couple of years after its founder Konosuke Matsushita had finished an apprenticeship at a bike shop.

Matshushita’s passion for bicycles never cooled off, even after his venture went into a direction completely unrelated to the bike business. Still, until today Panasonic operates a custom order system for road bikes and a production of tires and tubes under the Panaracer brand.