15 September, 2006

The Prettiest Bike

I was amused by David NJ and Neil Bergs good natured comments to the Rinko post as to the most beautiful bike they'd ever seen. The two bikes in question were a Toei Rinko Randonneur and a Toei "Demontable".

One of my favorites is the Toei 50th anniversary bike on the left (more photos here). So why is it that Toei makes so many beautiful bikes? First off they have a lot of experience , having been founded in 1955. Like many Japanese bike companies they are obviously influenced by the best French bikes. And there is a certain restraint shown in the details and finish. They may be superbly done, but they are not over-done.

I thought it would be fun to share some links to a few bikes I consider especially attractive and to urge anyone who cares to, to add a link to their choices in the comments. Who knows, we may get some ideas for the Velo Orange frames. By the way, I left off the bikes I've posted previously.

Among my favorites are:

This Toei camping bike. In fact every bike on this page is a candidate.

Here are two more nice Toei bikes.

Wanatabe is another fine Japanese builder.

This Herse is very pretty.

I always liked Grand Boise cycles.

The racks on the Daudon give it special style.

This 1966 Rene Herse racer is stunning.

Okay, your turn. Please share a link to the prettiest bike you've seen on the web.


C said...

One of my faves is this Vanilla: http://tinyurl.com/lj5ce

Or this Vanilla: http://tinyurl.com/lhb6g

Just love the little details such as the polished metal bits to protect the finish of the racks.

Anonymous said...

I like the detail of the seatstay braze forward the seat tube on the top tube.

Notice the Toeis have pretty simple paintwork: no two-tones or fancy panels. Basic but cleanly done.

david_nj said...

I like many of these Japanese bikes, but the Toeis seems to have a restraint and a tightness of line -- an austere quality, not an overdone yuppie toy -- that the others can't quite get to.

I have, however, read (I think it may have been in a blurb written by the redoubtable Richard Sachs) that the Japanese repros tend not to be as burly as the French originals.

It's an obvious choice, but one of my picks would have to be Mariposas. I especially like the porteur cycle Mike Barry made for his son, the pro racer, at http://www.mariposabicycles.com/michaels-porteur-bike.html. I like it that much more because everything just seems so right about that family. Mike the elder is one of the kindliest and most knowledgable people you could ever know. I don't know Mike the younger, but he is one hell of a rider, and writes a good diary column in velonews, and is married to the seemingly delightful Dede Mamet, recently of Team Telekom fame.

david_nj said...

Oh. I have a question that has been puzzling me for years. Why do the Toeis, like the Herses, have the generator aligned to run on the rim? I've tried that and it simply dudn't work, even with a rubber hat.

Anonymous said...


Nice stuff. We all should take a look at Tom's 650b Toei at


Really sweet. Ron

Neil M. Berg said...

I suspect one of the reasons the Japanese bicycles have that "tight" look is they are beautifully proportioned for short legged riders. Bicycles that fit me tend to have a vaguely long, ungainly look. Not unlike myself.
Neil M. "rider of yuppie toys" Berg

Andy said...

One of my favorites, Joel Metz's Jack Taylor #7603, doesn't feel too precious, but... just right.


Neil M Berg said...

I was just checking the Toei Demontable and the Toei Rinko, just to make certain I wasn't wrong in my initial outburst of enthusiasm. I noticed the Demontable generator appears to run on the rim, so apparently at least one owner agrees with David. I also had a sacrilegious thought. The Japanese have a tradition of taking an idea or design and refining and perfecting it. These guys may be better than Singer or Herse.

jesse stoddard said...


although in retrospect it seems kind of silly- the toei randonneuse featured in the above link moved me nearly to tears the first time i happened upon it. it's only a bicycle, after all...


Neil M Berg said...

I've noticed you have a preference for front racks that mount to the front dropouts, top of fenders and the top the fork. Does all of this triangulation negate springiness of the low trail thin stays?

C said...

Front racks are typically mounted to the top of the fender and the dropout or the crown (by a thin strip of metal) and the dropout. Neither is really stiff enough to negate the springiness of the fork.

Of course if you're running 27+mm tires the odds that you're going to be able to notice such flex are very, very slim. High volume tires beat frame material when it comes to providing a smooth ride. A Cannondale with 30mm tires will ride smoother than a 531 frame with 23mm tires (I've tried it)

Tom said...

I'll nominate my buddy Bryan's bike, not bad for a garage build :-)


I think Herse and Singer would have approved of the fork crown, it is truly a work of art.

aaron said...

This has to be my fave.


I know she's not conventionally "pretty", but she's pretty hot to me. Looks "experienced." I have the tendency to dig the look of long time use. Patina. If I had a "nice" bike, it would end up all ugly like my bike is now.


Chris, thanks for the Noodles, bar tape and shellac. She looks better than when I first met her.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Tom, Thanks for that link to Brian's frame. That's a really amazing series of photos. (click on the photo to go to the next one).

Aaron, That Longoni is cool not only because of the patina. There are some neat details on that bike. I want to make a rear rack like that.

Neil, I also think the best Japanese builders are better craftsmen than most of the French constructeurs. But innovation is another matter.

david_nj said...

Tom, your friend's bike is just absolutely killer. Wow.

Neil, I was saying, I *don't* get why they place the generator to run on the rim. That simply does not work. In fact, I've found that in order to be dependable you really do need a "generator track" on the tire sidewall. Not all that many tires have them and it makes a big difference when the going gets at all moist.