24 June, 2008

Bob's New Toei



Bob, who was kind enough to provide us with a post about Toei owner's meeting in Japan, just got a new frame. He sent a few photos of this lovely bike that I had to share. He writes:

I alluded to this bicycle in my report last fall about attending the TOEI Owners Meeting. Here are pictures of my new TOEI 650B bicycle. Chainrings, wheel set, and tires came from Velo Orange. I will add flashlight and handlebar bag soon. I like the ride!
What a nice understated bike this is,

59 comments:

Fun Food Eater said...

nice pic...

:-)

Gunnar Berg said...

God. I love this bike. The color is stunning. Is it pearl, or is that a photo illusion?

Ty said...

Such a pretty bike -- well proportioned and well outfitted.

Pierre said...

I don't like the stem.

johnson said...

yeah i always hate well made steel stems with custom bell mounts. ugly and flimsy. why use one of those when you could use a taiwanese made carbon stem with italian brand sticker on it? i mean, who wants their stem to last more than a season? who wants to spend 200 bucks on something that will last? sounds pretty foolish to me. gimme plastic and flashy graphics any day.

next time justify yourself pierre. saying you dont like something is like saying you dont like a painting. why dont you like it? are you riding something more dope than a handmade brazed stem?

opinions are awesome, if they have substance.

Pierre said...

Many very good Bicycle products come out of Taiwan. I was unaware that some of them claim to be italian made. Carbon fiber is ok , but it tends to snap upon impact. I agree Johnson that 200 dollars is a lot to part for a part that does not tend to break--I have spent as little as 24.95 for a stem ( as stems tend to last by nature of their function)

Justin said...

Wow, "johnson," way to be a giant assbag. Nobody has to justify their opinions to you. Pierre doesn't like the stem, that's fine. Maybe he likes a smoother profile like a Nitto or a cheaper SR.

You don't have to jump down the dude's throat assuming he likes some abominable (in your mind) version of the bicycle just because he might not like one aspect of a bike posted on a blog.

lamplightsg said...

This bike is absolutely perfect in my mind. I draw bicycles as a hobby, and when I drew my ideal bicycle recently, it looked nearly identical to this.

On a side note, does anyone still make a bottle-style generator that runs on the rim like this one? It would be an added bonus if it also happened to look nice, although I don't see that happening in this day and age.

K Matthias said...

Pretty bike! Always fun to see such nice French parts being fitted to new bikes.

Karl

C said...

"who wants to spend 200 bucks on something that will last? sounds pretty foolish to me."

Especially when you can get a stem that is just as strong for 1/4 that price!

People have different tastes in bikes. I know racers who think paying top dollar for old Simplex stuff is the dumbest thing in the world. I think spending $1500 on wheels is pretty dumb. If Pierre doesn't like the stem he doesn't like it and doesn't have to justify it to you or anyone else. That's the beauty of our hobby. It's diverse and people have different tastes. There is no right or wrong when it comes to that.

TomCat said...

I love the stem. Like anything else, it takes a subtle and learned eye to pick up the gracefulness of a fillet joint, and acknowledge the movement of hand that is required to make something so graceful.
Yes, there's plenty of Taiwan TIG welded stems out there, but this is truly not in that league. It's fairly east to distinguish between the 2, at least from 15 feet away or closer.
I don't think jumping down a detractors throat is necessary though. A simple, why? would probably suffice. A diatribe generally does not produce a meaningful dialogue.

So, I'll ask Pierre:
Why? what's the thought or emotional process behind your elegant and hemmingway-esque opinion? Do tell.....

And VO sells those old skool bottle dynamos:
http://www.velo-orange.com/dyandli.html

Gunnar Berg said...

Pierre,
Without meaning to attack your position, you never did really say why you didn't like the stem. I really am curious.

Personally I think it is beautifully executed and fits the spirit of the bike perfectly. I realize that you could buy one cheaper that functions as well, but that could be said of every component on this bike. I don't think either cost or practicality were limiters.

Anonymous said...

Very nice bike! I have a question about bottle generators though. I ran both the bottle style & under the bottom bracket mount style many years ago on my commuter, and was quite frankly happy to see them disappear when good quality rechargable batteries & halogen and later LED lights became available. Is it just the look, or have they substantially improved over the last 20 years? (I hated the extra drag, as well as the fact that they went dark when I stopped) Just a question for the forum!
-Tony

Anonymous said...

I like the stem. However, looking at the chainring, looks like bike probably hasn't ever even been ridden around the block.

Are we building a culture of hangar queens? I love retro, but not as a museum piece behind velvet ropes. The bike would look a lot cooler to me if it looked like it has been ridden (more than once) or might be ridden in the future.

Ian Dickson said...

I don't like the stem, either.

david_nj said...

The acme of restraint and proportion.

Love the internal cable routing.

Ian Dickson said...

Just kidding! Bob, I wonder if you could tell us about the experience of buying this bike. I'd like to order one for my wife, possibly next time we're in Japan. She's fluent (in Japanese, though not in Bike), so that should make the process easier.

Beautiful bicycle. And stem.

Anonymous said...

pretty. how does it ride? Lateraly stiff, yet verticaly compliant?
m burdge

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into a fillet brazed stems, but I will never see the point of them. If you want a lugged stem that's one thing, but fillet brazing recreates the smooth lines of well-finished forged aluminum without the pesky weight savings, reasonable cost, and lack of remorse when you realize you really needed a 110 instead of a 100. I could be convinced of the need for one if a builder wanted to do a fillet stem to match a fillet bike, but other than that they always strike me as proof that just because you can doesn't mean you should. Nice bike overall, though.

fmackay said...

Tony,

Tyre-contact dynamos have the major drawback of slipping when it's wet. Hub dynamos are where it's at these days - if money is no object, the Schmidt is considered the best but Shimano and others make decent ones, from cheap (EUR30) to quite nice (EUR70). Of course, you have to build a new front wheel too. Also, decent dynamo lights these days have capacitors which charge up as you ride to give a few minutes of light when you stop - some of the lights VO sells have this feature. Cheapest prices for hub dynamos are probably at German web-shops, eg rose.de.

lamplightsg said...

tomcat,

I know that VO sells bottle generators; I just ordered one for my commuter. What I wold like to see is a new bottle generator that is beautiful chrome like the one pictured. Also, it seems all the new ones I have seen are designed to run on the tire instead of the rim. This is fine on a bike with burly tires, but I'd rather not have that on a set of fairly light, expensive tires that don't seem to be designed for it. Of course I'd love a Schmidt hub, but they are quite pricey to say the least!

Anonymous said...

Stem fight! grrrr.....

Anonymous said...

enough stem and genrator talk--how about that white wall behind the bike? If this lovely bike was mine, I would have at least ridden it to a nearby park, or neighbour's yard or something, for photos. Small point, though. Nice bike, if the biggest complaint is about a stem
mb

david_nj said...

You know, I've always wondered how the Toeis run the dynamo off the rim. No way it wouldn't slip. It looks better, and saves the tire I suppose, but I doubt very very much if it would work in weather that's even slightly damp.

I for one LOVE the stem. I ordered one a lot like it for my VO randonneuse that's hopefully happening before the turn of the millenium ...

Michael S said...

David,
Are you getting a stem from Johnny? I saw a few at the Cirque, and I immediately started saving my pennies.

fmackay said...

Shiny dynamos. These are nice dynamos (I used to use one) but no better than other tyre-driven ones for slippage. I'd never considered running one off the rim before but it might actually be better in the wet - when the light starts to flicker, lightly applying the brakes should dry the rim off.

AH said...

I too absolutely love those stems. And I too have on on order for my VO frame, should it ever be made.

The shape is actually quite unlike the aluminum stems. There's something very elegant about "up and then back down again" elbow section of the Singer-style fillet brazed stems.

AH said...

Also: I think these stems look best with little quill showing. Yet another reason I've ordered my VO Randonneur "tall"!

Anonymous said...

Hello All,

I am Bob, the owner of this bike.

To the individual who is concerned this is a hangar queen, rest assured it is and will be ridden. These photographs were taken the day after it was picked up. But I clean the chain rings on my bikes on a regular basis such that you cannot tell if my bikes are a week old or a decade old. But hey, that's me.

Ian, I can talk a little about the ordering process. I have known about TOEI since 1983. I visited TOEI in 2004 and have several friends in Japan who are fervent TOEI owners (one has 18 TOEI bikes)so I am quite familiar with the makers and oprocess. I looked at a LOT of images of TOEI bikes and have a wonderful special edition Japanese magazine devoted to TOEI. This bike, and I am the first to admit it, is about a certain TOEI style that I like. This style emulates the Fench randonneur bikes of the 1950s-1960s. It hard to explain but easy to see.

I can tell you that beyond the language challenge there is the challenge as to who will build the bike. TOEI will build up the bike if you supply them with the parts that you must gather. Wrong parts? Language challenge rears its head. I avoided the language barrier when I ordered my TOEI through the only shop in US that imports them and whose owner is Japnese and has worked with TOEI for a very log time. I supplied my parts to that shop. You can forget about ordering a TOEI frame set separately and building it up yourself-they do not sell framesets separately and currently, as far as I know, only work with this one shop. My order included the frame, fork, front rack, internal wiring, and "controversial" stem. All other parts came from me. Hope this helps.

lamplightsg said...

fmackay,

Thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, the Toei bikes with shiny generators probably see very little night riding, so it's a moot point. The generator and internal wiring is there to emulate Herse.

And Toei will sell you a frame directly if you ask them. One of the guys speaks pretty good English. You will need to use fax or telephone, forget email.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

Is that the light blue Toei frame I saw in the window of Jitensha Studio in Berkeley? Nice! I love the internal cable routing, the rear light and the stem. The other parts in the photo also look well-chosen. I built up an Ebisu, so I go in every six months or so to get one of those rubber slap guards. Last time Hiroshi had your frame in the front window!

Dave

Adam Alpern said...

Aha!

Now I realize that I saw this bike in person when it was in the stand at Jitensha.

I don't how anyone could complain about it. The photos most certainly do not do the bike justice.

Ian Dickson said...

Thanks for your response, Bob. Again, that's a gorgeous bike.

Anonymous said...

Dave and Adam,

Yep: this was ordered through Hiroshi at Jitensha Studio. Still to come: Maxi Car hubs laced to Super Champion 650B rims.

Justin said...

Add me in to the people who saw this at Jitensha! I love those guys.

Huang Lee said...

How much money ?

Charlie said...

It appears this has no price

Ian Dickson said...

If it cost more than a Surly, it was too much.

Seriously, I saw a price list once, and the frames were very reasonable. I can't remember the prices, but they had several models, each available with or without lugs, and I think they started around $1000. This was about a year ago. If you can afford a nice American-made bike, you can afford a Toei. The challenge is getting one.

Joel said...

"If it cost more than a Surly, it was too much."

Good one.

To the rest of your point, for those not living in the Bay Area, seems well nigh impossible to find one.

Of course, a few years Dutch Bikes were nowhere to be seen either. Now they are almost becoming common in some areas of Chicago.

Perhaps if the dollar strengthens a bit, Toei will look to set up a small network here in the US.

Oui Sury said...

I;m not sure if those Surly comments are sarcastic or not, But Surlies are by far the most popular frame for those of us that actually ride the things ( especially people in the business ( mechanics mostly) , not just coast around the park while sipping tea and feeling smug about how archaic we can make our bikes look.

Ian Dickson said...

My Surly comment refers to some nasty anonymous posts from a while back. Check the Pass Hunter thread.

I have a Cross Check, and I love it. It's tough, versatile, handles well, and the low cost means that I'm willing to subject it to all kinds of abuse--stuff that I would never do to this Toei, if it were mine.

That said, I'm always amused by "those-of-us-who-actually-ride" comments. We're on the internet. Nobody knows how much anybody else does or does not ride.

Joel said...

Oui Sury.

I have no Surly and no plans of getting one. I also have no car. I travel long distance on my restored Trek 728 and commute to work and local chores on my custom lugged steel bike.

And am more than a little tired of people criticizing hard work and craftsmanship because the bike that results 'costs more than my Surly'

Anonymous said...

Surly def. : bad-tempered and unfriendly : he left with a surly expression.

I own 2 and I am a bike mechanic and I think old style is fine but to glamorize it, and make it new is defeating the idea behind old bikes.

Besides most of the owner's of the type of people that own TOEI's think their bikes are soooooooo special and 'precious' that they expect me to share their enthusiasm. I don't, but I pretend to in order to get paid.

No offense very-gentle men

Gunnar Berg said...

I would like to challenge the last Anony 21:40 to a duel...say 172mm righthand cranks at, what, maybe 5 paces?

joel said...

Modern lugged bikes are not an effort to glamorize old style bikes.

I love my Trek 728, but really have to put a lot of effort getting it to be an optimal tourer, because the old dimensions are wack. Wheel clearance, narrow chain stays, almost no braze ons.

On the other hand, my Hilsen can take a 38 tire with fenders, uses nice heavy duty 135 rear hubs, and has braze ons everywhere.

Lugged is a good way to make bikes. Tig as well. The things with Surly is it is mass produced and shows it. A GM of bicycles. Works sure. But nothing special. VO's and Toeis are made by bike loving guys with jury rigged equipment and real skill. A mechanic should appreciate what they do over a factory worker who stands in one place doing one thing over and over again.

Anonymous said...

massed produced and Great!!!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecovelo/2630192180/in/pool-417924@N22/

Chris Kulczycki said...

Annon. Your link is to a Long Haul Trucker. That frame is mass produced and some do think it's great, but it is nothing like the Toei. The LTH is a heavy-duty loaded touring frame built to a price with conventional geometry. While the Toei is a light Rando frame with "French" geometry built with little regard to cost. The handling and the intended uses are completely different. The quality is also miles apart. Comparing a Surly to a Toei is frankly just plain silly.

Anonymous said...

Just plain silly ? ok . if you say so. Of course, those of us that don't own the means of production, we working men, think theTOEI is silly.

Chris Kulczycki said...

It's not the bike that's silly; the LHT is a nice enough frame. What's silly is comparing bikes built for two different purposes and at opposite ends of the price scale. A rando bike is simply not the same as a loaded touring bike.

Anonymous said...

understood.
that being said, the TOEI looks like it should be kept under glass. Are they over-the-top in terms of price ?

Ian Dickson said...

"Of course, those of us that don't own the means of production, we working men, think theTOEI is silly."

The first against the wall were the randonneurs...

"Are they over-the-top in terms of price ?"

The frames are reasonable for what they are, but the build would be expensive if you didn't already have the parts. A bike like this, built up, might cost as much as a used economy car in good condition. It will last forever, though, barring disaster or neglect, and the operating costs are low. The owner wrote a nice post on how he came to order the frame:

http://tinyurl.com/4kc2sx

As for the bike looking like it should be under glass, some people clean their bikes after every ride. I'm not one of those people, but I know a guy who rides 20-40 miles a day, and his 30-year-old Mercian looks like it just came out of the box. To each his or her own.

Joel said...

Hear hear, Ian.

I have a custom bike, a custom restoration of a mass produced bike from the days mass produced bikes were still lugged, and one semi-custom.

I am car free by choice, so all three get a good work out. Many have suggested I ought to have a beater bike for the rough stuff and keep my fancy bikes for show. They also cringe that I lock my bike (albeit with a rather heavy duty lock set up) at racks while I shop, eat at restaurants, go to the show, etc.

Seems to me if you go through the trouble of having a bike made, you may as well ride it. A well maintained bike will last a life time. I have nothing against people who want to put their bikes on a pedestal. For my money, unless the bike is a Herse or an old Masi, hoarding it does not make sense. A good custom should ride as well as it looks. So ride it.

As for the LHT - alright touring bikes for the money. Nevertheless my restored '82 Trek 728 (with wheels built around Pelissier 100 hubs - thank Chris) rides truer and more comfortably under load than the LHT a guy I took a camping trip with. With its long chain stays, cinelli bb, campy drop outs, and the quirky near french bend front fork it is a darn site better looking.

And as Chris points out, neither the LHT nor the Trek will ride anything similar to a well executed Rando, which is designed for carrying less weight and more speed.

Andrew said...

As another owner of a Toei built frame (this one: http://tinyurl.com/5chhpm), I'll give my opinion. This is simply the nicest riding bike I've ever had the pleasure of using. And it gets used. Ridden to work every day, occasional Audax rides, a couple of weeks touring in Japan. It's now dirty and accumulating scratches because I'm not into washing and polishing nor have the time for it, but it's simply the bike that I choose to ride over any other. And yes, it gets locked up outside cafes and restaurants. And two production Rivendells now sit neglected.

pierre said...

Andrew,

Now THAT is a very nice stem !!!

anonymous said...

http://thedailyrandonneur.wordpress.com/2008/05/15/goodbye-bleriot-hello-long-haul-trucker/

Joel said...

Yup.

Kind of what you get from mass production.

The minimum wage production worker didn't notice the seat tube was over reamed.

Make adjustments for the error, not a bad bike for the money. Still doesn't mean it rides like a true Rando. Look at the geometry. The LHT is designed for stable riding under heavy load. Not fast distance riding with light load.

Anonymous said...

how light ?

Joel said...

Depends on how heavy the rider is, now doesn't it?

The idea behind a Rando is to pack a couple of changes of clothes, a few tools, some inner tubes, and then high tail it from country inn to country inn. Figure around 20 to 25 lbs at most.

The dude with the LHT and I did a full self supported trip. Along with above mentioned gear, he carried a cook stove, pans, h2o, sleeping bag. I carried the tent and some extra tools and the food on my Trek. Figure we both were hauling around 50 to 60 lbs. each.

I know some ultra hardy souls who have maxed out camper total load (bike, rider, gear, food and h2o) above 300lbs.

Not at all what a rando is meant to do.

Chris has a camper coming if that is what you want. It will cost more than a Surly.