wannabe bike builders

dgl2

Maximum Pace
Nov 3, 2007
284
48
48
Tokyo - Minato-ku
#2
I did it -- a 2 week framebuilding course at UBI in Portland last year. www.bikeschool.com . Highly recommended.

2 years at Tokyo Cycle Design school? Maybe not. ... the link seems broken ... but I am guessing it is showing Konno-san, who is in the promotional literature this school handed out at Cycle Mode (as is Nagai-san of Positivo). They seem to have recruited some top prospects for the faculty. But I do not think taking 2 or 3 years of tuition money from a large group of prospective framebuilders really makes sense, given the difficult economics of the profession and relatively long odds at success. I guess if the students end up working in shops, as mechanics, fitters, etc. they will be very knowledgeable at what they do.. But I think much, much less school and then apprenticeship, would make sense.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#3
I'm surprised they don't have many classes in composites. Though the basic fundamentals look pretty good - and if they run this like a real vocational school it will give the students a good basis. (Fluid dynamics, modeling, design, CAD, investment casting, etc). I did notice they demand potential mechanic students to purchase one of several bikes. WTF is that!??
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
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#4
LOL. Is frame-building not something you learn by finding an old BMX frame, and adding bits to it, when you are a teenager, then slowly progressing up to joining, lathing, designing, etc?

Call me old fashioned...
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#5
LOL. Is frame-building not something you learn by finding an old BMX frame, and adding bits to it, when you are a teenager, then slowly progressing up to joining, lathing, designing, etc?

Call me old fashioned...
In part - but I think 'old fashioned' is being sent to the machine shop when you're 10yo on the weekends and after school to help your Dad or Granddad. Sweeping the floor, cleaning the equipment and if you're really lucky, they might let you deburr some parts or wind some magnetos. Torchwork is something that requires alot of practice, though, and it's not something that comes easily (or at all) to many people. But there are many other parts of the craft that are important along with the basic skills of math, drafting, physics, etc - and equally important these days, CAD / CAM and Composites.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#7
Yeah, probably, huh? I guess some of us were lucky to have those opportunities around -- but these voc schools are good for the people that don't have that kind of access. And especially in the city - it's really hard to setup a bench grinder, band saw and torch in most Japanese apartments. I'll never forget why Seattle had a Garage music scene ... because nearly every house had an attached, garage that hardly anyone used for cars, but always used for a practice space.

My Grandfather had a logging company with full fabrication shop and my dad was a test pilot / engineer with his own fabrication facility. So, as a kid I had plenty of access to 'toys'. My Grandmother taught me to braze aluminum mainly cause I'd drive her crazy when she was sitting for us. She still had a torch set she used on the B-17 lines in the 40's. I used the same torchset to make many a frame and Go Carts for my friends. Yeah , romantic times indeed.

Your example is literally a romanticised version of what I wrote :)
 
Likes: ikedawilliams

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,859
1,446
129
...
#8
I did notice they demand potential mechanic students to purchase one of several bikes. WTF is that!??
Sounds like pretty standard practice in Japan. Like my local LBS who said
1) I can't ride with/join their team
2) I can't get any maintenance done.
3) they won't order a power meter for me
Unless I bought a bike from them. Its kind of a running joke now. I keep asking and they keep telling me I need to buy abike from them.
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,002
176
83
Tokyo
#9
Sounds like pretty standard practice in Japan. Like my local LBS who said
1) I can't ride with/join their team
2) I can't get any maintenance done.
3) they won't order a power meter for me
Unless I bought a bike from them. Its kind of a running joke now. I keep asking and they keep telling me I need to buy abike from them.
LBS: laughable business scheme?
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#10
Because this course is all about financial gain of the people running it and not to maintain the heritage of Japanese bike building which sorry, compared to Europe is shite. I've had a good look at these famous bike builders and nothing has ever jumped out at me - it's the same old or something that they got from Eurobike.
The whole apprentice thing here in Japan is dead - head to Europe and the US if you really want to learn how to build a bike and get the real secrets, hell I might even be able to set you up with a stint with Mr. Milani, one of the only famous Italian brands not to shift fabrication to Asia.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#12
Interestingly some of the top Japanese frame builders cannot find apprentices willing to learn the trade anymore. While, this craft is actually growing or holding steady in other countries. The decline of Keirin has reduced the number of domestic framebuilders and the local consumers would rather focus their purchasing attention on the almighty 'burando' , thus it's a deathknell for the industry here. The result is that any students graduating from corporate sponsored schools here in Japan will likely get shuffled off to Buffalo (Saitema) and work in designing and feeding the 'papa-chari' market for Bridgestone.

BTW - one of the best selling bikes in Japan right now is the Raleigh Carlton. It's kicking the a$$ out of every domestic designed brand. One look and you'll know why - it has the timeless elegance of a 'good bike done right'. The domestic bikes always tend towards gimmicky frills and overstated lines. In short - they continue to look 'outward' in their design, rather than 'inward' in refinement and simplicity.

Anyway - I might interview some of the students and get a deeper gist out of what they are producing in the way of HR.