Bespoked - a celebration of handmade bicycles & those who make them
Maruya Cycles - Japan - All photos courtesy of Maruya Cycles
How do you like to approach the blank piece of paper with a bicycle? Any back story on this frame in particular?
More than 90% of bikes produced by Murayama (NJS Builder - Nihon Jitensha Shinkokai or the Japanese Keirin Association) use the KEIRIN (track race) frames. In most cases, the racer brings in their currently used frame, bike, and geometry table. We then create the bike based on the existing model’s dimensions. However, since some racers favour specific tactics such as precedence, pursuit, etc. according to the leg strength of the racer, we determine the geometry and tube suitable for the rider’s strategy.
If necessary, we will digitize the characteristics of the currently used frame to create a new one. A racer may request a frame in response to the feeling that arises from slight differences in the positioning of the steering wheel and saddle.
In that case, we will decide by CAD the precise magnitude of the changes necessary for the racers. In addition, we may receive consultation in fields that cannot be quantified, such as living environment and psychological comfort. These work processes take time, but it is important for professional bicycle racing.
Any technical details you would like to highlight? Any design challenges making this frame?
Racers place great importance on the dimensional accuracy of the frame, especially the front center where error due to heat effect is concentrated. Since the frame always shrinks due to the heat of brazing, it does not fit the dimensions set in the jig. Minimizing this error is a very important task.
There are also differences depending on silver wax, brass wax, and the order of brazing. It is not possible to create a highly accurate frame with only experience and intuition. Therefore, predicting the error that occurs in advance, setting based on it, and past data are also very important.
By doing that adjustment work, the final error after brazing can be minimized.
This also minimizes residual stress. The frame is delicate enough to change with the hand temperature. Therefore, it is not easy to braze the frame at a temperature close to 1000 degrees and fabricate it with an accuracy of 1 mm or less. It is a serious challenge for the builder.
Tube set choice, any specifics for this frame?
KEIRIN frames can only use materials that have been submitted to the JKA (formerly NJS) as specified and certified.
COLUMBUS · REYNOLDS · DEDACCIAI etc. can also be used after being certified, unless the main tube is 0.5 mm or smaller in size or a material other than steel is used.
We chose KAISEI 's high performance heat treatment tube KAISEI - ULTIMA - R, which is now widely used in KEIRIN, as the main tube.
COLUMBUS - MAX was chosen for the front fork. It is exactly the same as the KEIRIN frame itself. KAISEI is the only tube maker in Japan.
Paint/design/look, any thoughts on this generally and with this frame?
There are many bicycles of attractive design in UK and other European countries.
Therefore, Maruya made its design using traditional Japanese aesthetics known as the 'Universal Elegance from Japan' design concept. It matches other historical designs from around the world, whether they be from London town, fashionable Paris, or the old capital Kyoto. It is finished in a design that makes you feel its elegance. Painting also uses Japanese traditional crafts like 'lacquered (urushi）painting', 'Makie', etc. as its motifs. 'Lacquer（urushi)' has long been a valued as the most beautiful paint in Japan. However, because it uses sap, it is slightly discolored with light, and because it is easily scratched, we used a highly durable urethane paint that reproduces the color of lacquer (urushi). Since it is difficult to reproduce the color of lacquer (urushi) with urethane paint, we were supervised by an old urushi factory, Yamakyu of Sabae (Fukui prefecture). These colors, including gold, are traditional Japanese colors that differ slightly from European colors.
Tell us a little about bicycle culture in Japan
The bicycle came to Japan in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
It was said that gun craftworkers who were unemployed because the world had become peaceful watched foreigners in overseas residential areas riding bicycles and concluded that there was a commonality between the gun barrel and the bicycle tube.
Later, the mass-produced Japanese bicycle manufacturer boasting the world's leading production volume in the 1960s and 1970s declined in competitiveness due to the appreciation of the yen since the 1980s. Many Japanese manufacturers could not produce bicycles in Japan. Domestic production volume drastically declined.
Meanwhile, the production of handmade bicycles persisted in Japan. The reason for this was KEIRIN. KEIRIN is managed and operated by JKA (Japanese Keirin Association - former NJS), an organization under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Bicycles are only to be produced by studios approved by this agency.
Handmade Japanese bicycles typified by KEIRIN are able to maintain and succeed in high technology under the protection of government agencies.
Recently, carbon bikes have become mainstream as sports bikes, though steel bicycles also have been reviewed or their ride comfort and beautiful form. Originally, these steel bikes were for enthusiasts, but recently there has been the influence of BESPOKED, NAHBS, L'Eroica, and in Japan a new fan group has been born.
And a little of your history
Maruya cycles founder, Takashi Iijima, was born in Tokyo in 1958. After graduating from Keio University in 1982, he was mainly engaged in international business. From 2013 to 2015 he studied at Tokyo Cycle Design College. He established Maruya Cycles Co., Ltd. in 2014.
The predecessor of Maruya Cycles Co., Ltd. was Maruya Kimono shop, which had existed since the Edo period (Early 19th century) in Mito Ibaragi Prefecture. It was closed after being damaged during the Mito air raid in August 1945, and the shop name was revived after 70 years in 2014. The emblem of Maruya represents nine stars, the crest of Maruya (Iijima) family.