Bikes, Japan

Chromoly from Osaka

Slim tubes and lugged joints give vintage bikes an air of elegance and sturdiness I miss in most modern bikes. Even though bicycles like these are at least 25 years old, they are perfectly good for everyday use. Bike engineering did not go through radical changes since then. The perhaps greatest technical advances were in the field of frame technology and with brake and lighting components.

Modern bike frames made of advanced materials such as aluminum or carbon are a little lighter than their forerunners built of chromoly steel tubes. Well, having said this, how relevant are a few kg more or less, when 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 or Panasonic and many more.

Panasonic Bicycles

For most people, the Panasonic brand is linked to consumer electronics and home appliances. 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 when his venture became a large, multinational business. Until today, Panasonic operates a custom order system for road bikes and a production of high-end bicycle tires under the Panaracer brand.