25 January, 2007


Our 7-year old has discovered YouTube and what he likes to watch is Keirin racing. I must admit that I can't help but be fascinated with Keirin racing as well. Watch a couple of these and you'll be hooked.

Here is a description of Keirin racing from Wikipedia:

The keirin is a mass start Track cycling event in which 6 to 9 sprinters compete at one time in a race with a paced-start. Riders draw lots to determine starting positions and start as the pacer (which could be a motorcycle, a derny, or a tandem bicycle, for example) approaches. The riders are required to remain behind the pacer, which starts at the deliberately slow speed of about 25 km/h, gradually increasing in speed and leaves the track approximately 600-700 meters before the end, at a speed of about 50 km/h. The first cyclist to finish the race is the winner (sometimes finishing at 70 km/h). Keirin races are about 2 kilometers in length (8 laps on a 250m track, 6 laps on a 333m track, and 5 laps on a 400m track).

In competitions, this event is often conducted in several rounds in order to reduce the number of competitors to one "final" round of 6-9 riders. Eliminated cyclists may get the opportunity try again in the repechages.

Keirin began in 1948 in Japan, and has become very popular there as a betting sport. In 1957, the Japanese Keirin Association was founded to establish a uniform system of standards for the sport in Japan. Japanese cyclists do not usually feature in the medal contenders for this event at international championships, largely due to the fact that the Japanese keirin circuit is more lucrative and prestigious for the Japanese than are competitions such as the world championships and the Olympic Games. Koichi Nakano was one of the first Japanese keirin riders to compete outside Japan.

Aspiring professional keirin riders in Japan compete for entrance into the Japan Keirin School. The 10 per cent of applicants who are accepted then undergo a strict, 15-hours per day, training regime. Those who pass the graduation exams, and are approved by the Nihon Jitensha Shinkokai become eligible for professional keirin races in Japan.

Keirin racing became an event at the 2000 Summer Olympics in 2000 at Sydney, Australia.

The rest of this article is linked here.

Here are a couple of good races on YouTube:

The 1990 international Championship called by Phil Liggett on You Tube

The 59th Japanese championship is exciting.

You can find more here.

And some links:

The official Japanese Keirin site

A short history of keirin from the Keirin Cafe in Berlin

An article from Road Cycling UK about a visit to the Keirin school

Another Japanese keirin site

And another

One more

I'll put up a post about Keirin bikes and NJS components soon.


Anonymous said...

Do those guys with heads looking back ever bump into guy ahead and wipe out a pack? Front tire hitting rear tire on bikes or motorcycles are flip city and meat wagon time. Its got to happen it seems. Ouch!

Chris Kulczycki said...

They crash all the time. That's why they wear shoulder and arm pads. Watch the second video I linked. Ouch indeed!

One of the videos on YouTube shows a race were only one guy doesn't crash, but most get up and keep going.

Anonymous said...

ughhh I'm so sick of kirin bikes and njs parts...

please go back to talking about french bikes and stronglight parts.

chuck schmidt said...

I just can't get enough of keirin bikes and NJS parts.

I'm with your 7 year old, Chris... give us more links to keirin bikes. I guess I'm a 62 year old going on 7!

e-RICHIE said...

chuckie is right. post more keirin.
here are sasha e's cool links atmo:


neil m berg said...

As another 62 year old, I like the keirin bikes, too. They're bicycles stripped down to their very essence. It's taken me awhile to learn to appreciate them, but I like the Japanese handbuilts in general. At the high end of handbuilt bicycles we, as Americans, seem to have more in common with the Japanese than with the current European builders.

Joel said...


I agree with the apparent US/Japanese synergy. The more I look at hand builts from the two countries, the more alike they appear.

Europe, on the other hand, is going into all sorts of different directions, all far from what we see in either Japan or the US.

To get real socio-political-philosophical for a second, it is always interesting to see how superficially Euro-centric we remain in the US when Japan is our closest ally, strongest trade partner, and in many ways our design sensibilities.

nv said...

In general, I agree with the comments regarding the US & Japanese builders.
That said, one of my favorite current builders is working out of England - Robin Mather. His framesets are understated with gorgeous, minimal lugs filed thin and tastefully carved. His prices are fair as well. My only dislike with his work are his downtube decals - but from the looks of it, he builds many frames minus the decals.
This is a nice example of his work:


Anonymous said...


I hear Lumotec are fine lamps for $17. Are those made only for 10W generators only, or would they work with your 3W wheel generators as well? Lamp output pictures would help of all lamps and other lamps for comparison, but it would be hard to get exact comparisons moving at 15km maybe.

Thank You!

Anonymous said...

mmm I agree about Robin Mather. What lovely work from a younger guy with a full-fledged aesthetic. With his work, Sacha White etc. it seems framebuilding is incredibly healthy right now. It's almost like 17th C. Dutch painting, when there were so many great painters it was only the quantity of work being produced that kept prices down.

The Keirin components are the cat's meow, coolest of the cool. It doesn't apply to me, but I like to look.

michael white

david_nj said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
david_nj said...

The whole concept of keirin is over-the-top cool. Manky old fat dudes chomping cigars and spitting, watching the sublime elegance of track racing but with zero regard for the foofy stuff - they just wanna win some yen!

Everyone should have a chance, at least once in his/her life, to do a mass start track race. I can't think of a single time I Feared the Reaper half as much.

A keirin bike is the same as a traditional track machine, correct?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I bet the crowd chatter would be entertaining in itself. I'm sure everyone is betting in stands, so when there's a pileup, it would be pretty funny hearing all the exclamatory chatter and fist shaking. A digital camera would be required. If I ever go to Japan, would have to see one of those races, lol.