Monthly Archives: April 2012


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.



I have a few keywords that my Craigslist app pulls up for me (Trek, Reynolds, Raleigh, etc) and I am usually pretty good at checking them. Paid off this time! I found a Raleigh Alyeska frame being sold in Crystal Lake. It was set up as a single speed with mysterious no name Deep Vs and what I think are formula hubs.

I met up with the seller who was trying to liquidate some of his possessions before a move to California. I was really glad I got the frame, even though I knew it was too tall for me.

I loved having the opportunity to rebuild the bike as a touring specific bike, the reason it was manufactured in the firs place. Even though the brands of the componentry used isnt original to the Alyeska, I still tried my best to appropriately rebuild the bike.

I have such an affinity for Raleigh touring frames, especially from the 80’s. I am still searching for one my size but it seems like the world is against me. I did manage to find a Raleigh Olympian but the frame is bent.

Anyway, I did splurge on the build and went out and bought Brooks B17 Saddle from Smart Bike Parts in Logan Square for a great price. I did buy some silver Velo fenders as well but the screws included didnt fit the frame so I just decided to return it all together. I would have had to ask for much more money for the bike had I kept the fenders so I went without them.

The background graffiti moral is on the south wall of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Club on Washington & Sacremento. Ive passed it a couple times and always thought it would make a nice background for bike photographs. This year Id like to be more creative on where I take some of these photos but I need a fancier camera, I suppose.

Good Morning!

This was a interesting project. Jaime, a friend of mine, contacted me about rebuilding a bike for herself. She was impressed with some of the work we have done in the past and was really excited to have a rebuild of her own. After getting Jaime’s specifications set, I had two frames that she could choose from. A red hybrid/road Univega frame and a maroon Spaulding Blade. The bike was to be rebuilt to be trail friendly so thats why we initially thought of the Univega seen below:

After showing her the frame she was less than thrilled. After probing a bit, I understood that she wanted a frame with more of a traditional geometry. The Spaulding would have been the next option but I quickly remembered we had a frame that had recently been powdercoated at J&J Powdercoating in Zion, Il. The frame was initially brought there to be powdercoated copper for a project that was cancelled. After explaining what the color of the frame would look like, Jaime was on board and the next step was to make the trip up to Zion to retrieve the frame. When we finally did, we realized that the color was not copper at all, but actually a very mute brown almost resembling woman’s makeup foundation:

We were a bit confused because we were expecting a metallic copper color but I guess my father told the powdercoater to “get it as close to copper as possible”…which is not copper at all. If we wanted an actual copper color it would have cost us extra but it would have been copper, not that. The actual job was extremely well done though, but it just wasnt copper. There really was no flaws aside from the simple misunderstanding, on our end. We contacted the powdercoater who understood the issue and offered to shoot the frame black for $30, which we have yet been able to jump on.

I went ahead and showed Jaime the frame and she obviously didnt like it, which was understandable. She was expecting copper, like me, and that frame obviously wasnt. I felt bad for psyching her up for a freshly powdercoated frame and not being able to provide one, so I bought a World Sport that was in her size that was in dire need attention. Here it is:

Conveniently enough, I saw an ad on Craigslist for a couple of powdercoaters out of Crystal Lake who were willing to do bicycle frames. I spoke with Chris, one of the owners there and got to know a bit more about their operation. It worked out well because rather than driving an hour to Zion I was able to head up to Crystal Lake and more importantly, Jaime could come along and select a color. Jaime, her boyfriend Ryan, and I met up at Contagious Customs where met Chris & Chris, the owners. Jaime was able to select a color which was great and saved me from selecting the wrong color option. We left the frame there and it was ready a few days after.

By that time, we had all the components for her bike gathered and it was just a matter of assembling the bike. I made the trip out and was very impressed with the finished product:

You cant really tell but there is quite a bit of sparkle action going on and this color looks stunning under the sun.

When we finally brought the frame home and as I was hand tightening the bottom bracket cup, I noticed the cups werent staying in place. I soon realized that the threading was painted over. There was quite a bit of overspray. I was upset because I wanted to get the build situated and to Jaime but had to deal with this issue. It undoubtedly happened because the area wasnt masked properly, allowing paint to leak in. The brown World we had powdercoated at J&J did not have that problem. I had to take the frame to The Bicycle Garage, a LBS and had the oversprayed area re-threaded. After that, the cups were secure and the we wrapped the bike up quickly. Here she is:

The bike looks wonderful put together. It definitely puts a smile on your face.

We used another one of Pancho’s cool reupholstered saddles, matching cork wrap, and a mix of Japanese components. The gears shift like water and the bike rides elegantly.

Jaime was extremely pleased when I brought her and Ryan the bike. Im just glad she got something she really wanted and didnt have to settle with the Univega or something she was just content with.

This build really got me excited for more powdercoated/custom builds this year. Great build to kick start spring.