I came across a Craigslist ad out of a town called Lena that turns out to be nearly 15 miles east of Galena, Il. There was two bikes for sale that look fairly clean and well kept. One was a blue Schwinn World that I was not able to get a photo of and the second was this Kuwahara Duke:
I already had a buyer for the Schwinn rebuilt as a single speed but couldnt pass up on getting the Kuwahara. I had arranged to meet the gentlemen who was selling both bikes on a Friday evening with my two good friends. Our plan was to stop in Lena, which was right off RT 20, purchase the bikes, then goof around in Galena afterwards.
We left a little later than usual so I didnt arrive in Lena until about 9:45-10:00pm. The gentlemen was still up, patiently enjoying the weather outside with his wife while they waited for my arrival. When I arrived and inspected the bikes I noticed how pristine the condition of the two were. He was not the original owner but another rebuilder who loves working on and rebuilding bicycles as a hobby. He had both bikes set up as 12 speeds with a mixed componentry but every corner of each bike had been polished. He was nice enough to show me a few of his other projects and his own collecton of bikes, ranging from cruisers to modern road bikes. Very nice guy.
I didnt want to keep my friends waiting to so quickly paid the man and then we were off to Galena which was a treat. If any of you ever have the opportunity to check that town out, do so. Very pretty town that rests alongside a steep hill giving it a sort of Appalachian feel.
Anyway, when I arrived home I quickly began work on the Schwinn, converting it to single speed for a young guy out of Berwyn. The Kuwahara on the other hand, I decided to take my time grouping select components with the intent of converting it to a single speed/fixed gear.
I went to visit Yojimbo‘s for one reason or another and had some extra spending cash so I happen to ask him if he has any midrange drop bars. He did, and pulled out a shinny Nitto B115 pair that was light as a feather and nearly as cheap as one too. I quickly bought that, a new 48tooth chainring, a 16tooth Shimano freewheel, and some shinny new pedal cages all for the Kuwahara rebuild. Here’s how she turned out:
I wanted to theme the bike, using only Japanese components and was really eying some Suzue hubs online but I really didnt have the money to spend on hubs, at least for a Kuwahara. So, I compromised and took my dad up on a suggestion to use a Formula flip flop rear we had, paired with the defective front wheel from my Tommaso last year and had George use the hub from the defective wheel and the provided Formula and lace the two with stainless steel spokes to Matrix rims. George ended up not having 32hole Matrix rims so he used his last pair of 32hole double walled Sun M14A rims.
I had a ripped old Jagaur saddle that I wanted reupholstered with a 70s brown leather and bought a pair of Mocha Wall Kenda’s from Nashbar, I believe. Bought some blue cloth wrap that actually didnt apply as nicely as I thought, a Forte lever from Performance, a tange Bottom bracket we had in our collection, a Sram chain and lastly a 15tooth cog we had in laying around. The bike dressed up very nicely.
When my dad removed the original BB caps the shell was so clean, you’d think it was brand new. Same goes for the rest of the bike…absolutely pristine.
I had never heard of Kuwahara until I saw this one and decided to do a bit of research on them. Apparently they were from the early 1900’s making road bikes within Japan. They had a production hiatus during WW2 and shortly after recommenced production for Japan. Several years afterwards they distributed their bikes to the US and Canada. Apparently once the 80’s came around they dropped their road bike production and produced BMX bikes. One fun fact I found was that one of the BMX bikes used in the movie ET during the BMX bike chase towards the end was a Kuwaraha BMX:
(yes this is the shitty reedit sans guns)
Not sure why I needed to link you to childhood nostalgia but enjoy it either way.
Anyway, I really love how this rebuild turned out. Ive gotten a chance to enjoy the bike until it sells but I am in no rush to get rid of it. It rides so smooth and I love the aesthetics. Definitely turned out exactly how I wanted it to.