Friday, July 11, 2008
I was surprised to find that I've ridden nearly 1000 miles on the Kuwahara this year and hadn't posted about it. Consider that situation rectified (rectified him? damn near killed him!). I picked this bike up for a fair price on eBay last fall with the intent of making it into a rock solid commuter. When I got the frame it included a Sugino crankset, Suntour AR front and rear derailleurs, a Kuwahara brand headset, a no name black quill stem and no name drop bars. Oh yeah, and a seatpost.
There's not much info out there on the web about Kuwahara bikes. The biggest claim to fame for the brand is that all the bikes used in the movie E.T. were Kuwaharas. They were a pretty big player in the BMX market in the 80s, but there's not much info out there about their adult bikes. From what I've read Kuwahara was a Japanese company who built frames both under their own name and for many others. Some of the brands they built for were Schwinn, Takara, Puch, Concord, Apollo, Azuki, Nishiki, Centurion and possibly Diamond Back. There seems to be a lot of Kuwahara tandems on the secondary market.
Some of the models of adult bikes were the Caravan, Supertour, Gran Sport and Gran Tour. The script lettering showing the model on this bike is all but illegible. According to a stamp on the frame, this bike was built in 1984. There's nothing on the frame to indicate what type of tubing it's made of, but the interweb says it's most likely something by Ishiwata.
I pulled the stem and bars off and replaced them with a Nashbar 1" quill to threadless adaptor and a cheapie Nashbar 10cm stem. I then bought a set of Albatross bars from Rivendell to make this a more upright commuter/townie setup. I was in Erik's bike shop one Sunday afternoon buying a new cone for my Premis' rear axle and got to talking to the guy about brakes. I picked up a set of Tektro brakes while I was there, and rounded out the cockpit with a set of black leather grips with red trim courtesy of Hiawatha.
I removed the original Suntour downtube shifters and added a set of barcons that I bought at Hiawatha. Mark actually pulled them out of the bars on a bike he was building up, as they were out of stock at the time. What service! I had an old Suntour downtube stop in the parts bin. I also picked up all new cables and housing at Hiawatha.
I found a pretty good deal on a rear wheel on craigslist, a Sun CR-18 rim laced to a Sora hub. I retrued the wheel and added an 8 speed SRAM cassette from Nashbar. For the front wheel I'm currently running the front from an older set of Campanolo wheels I bought at the bike swap a few years ago. At some point I plan to get a better wheelset, but these are getting the job done for now. Because this bike originally had 27" tires/rims and I switched to 700c I needed to get longer reach brakes. I found a pair of used brakes via the iBob list that are working out just dandy. At some point I plan to replace the pads with Kool-Stop Salmon pads, but no rush on that either. I'm currently running Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, which give the bike a great ride.
I added a set of Planet Bike Cascadia fenders I found via craigslist. If you ask me, the silver of these fenders looks great with the silver and black paint scheme.
I splurged and bought a new Brooks B66 from Hiawatha, with the nifty springs. They're squeaky when I go over bumps, so at some point I'll probably grease up the contact points. You can see my Brooks un-approved rain cover tucked under the saddle, an old Byerly's bag.
As you can tell, I sort of threw this thing together with a wish and a prayer. I've blended Shimano, SRAM and Suntour components in the drivetrain. And the only issue I've run into is that the rear Suntour AR derailleur doesn't have enough reach to get into the lowest or highest gear on the 8 speed cassette. I'll upgrade this at some time, but so far it hasn't been a huge issue. I'm sure if I tried to switch to indexed shifting I would run into trouble. But friction is treating me just fine. I'm incredibly pleased with how everything meshed together and I'm loving the overall ride of the bike. Now I just need to figure out some racks so I can stop hauling my messenger bag on my back.