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Azuki Mixte: Bonzai!

Submitted by on July 23, 2010 – 3:59 pm7 Comments

This bike was yet another lucky find in response to a screwball CL ad. The seller described the bike as an “Izuki Unisex Bike”. She posted no photos, and she refused to respond to email. The only way to communicate with her was by emailing her a telephone number because “she wasn’t going to deal with SCAMMERS”. Scammers?

Criminy!

So, out of both curiousity, and bike obsession, I sent her my telephone number. She called me a few days later. Her description of the bike piqued my curiousity, and I was off on a mission to Cedar Hill, TX. The woman that I met was the original owner and she said that she had purchased the bike in 1978 in Denver, CO……….

She told me that she had only ridden the bike for a few years, then moved to Texas and hung it in her garage for the next thirty years. When I saw it, I believed her. The bike looked nice, and I looooooove the color orange.

The bicycles’ decals are always kind of the watermark of a bike’s true condition. A vintage bike that is in good shape but that has decals that are peeling or disintegrating is not very appealing to me. These decals were not only in amazingly nice shape, but they were unusual and an interesting design element to the bike that reflected its’ Japanese heritage:

Downtube:

Look at the lovely headbadge and lugged frame. The circular flower-like motif (I suppose that it could be a representation of the sun) is an image that repeats itself throughout the bike.  See the little paper sticker that says “Japan” beneath the head-badge? How cute is that?

“Mark of Excellence”, indeed:

And, again, same image on a paper sticker, still intact on both sides of the upper fork:

I would say that this bike was DEFINITELY not “rode hard and put up wet”, as we say here in Texas. Now back to those forks:

I love chrome forks……and I loved this bike when I saw it. I tried to convince myself that it would fit me, but I already knew in my heart that it probably wouldn’t…..and yet I hemmed and hawed. OK, I’m 5’10”, but I have short legs for my size………and the flip side of all of my ruminations? There ain’t no way I’m driving to BFE Texas and leaving this gem in the hinterlands. I had already decided that I was going to bring this bike back to Big D and ride it myself, or offer it to some real bike person here in the big city that would ride and cherish this bike: more on that later!

The Azuki had it’s original rear rack, reflectors and seat.

I’m a huge fan of Brooks saddles on all my riders, but I would be hard pressed to take this lovely seat out of service (unless it made my butt sore….an uncomfortable seat is no seat at all):

The bottom line: lovely, rare bike.

Some nice components:

A little Suntour action:

Et cetera:

As I stated, I wanted the bike to fit me, but when I got it home and rode it around the block a few times, I just knew that it wouldn’t work. I forgot to mention that the original tires looked brand new, held air for weeks and had no cracking at all.

The standover on this bike was ok, but the frame was too short lengthwise. But I still felt good about bringing this beauty back to Big D: so on to CL it went. I knew that this bike was perfect for somebody. And so it was. I meet the nicest people in the Dallas bicycling community, whether it is on group rides, selling bikes on CL, buying them, whatever. More and more, too, I see people that I have already met. A very nice couple showed up to look at this Azuki, and I recognized both of them. I had met Darren, a local photographer, on a recent group ride. His friend, Lisa, was the one that was interested in the bike. It turns out that I had purchased a bicycle messenger bag that was hand-made by Lisa. I had seen it on Bike Friendly Oak Cliff’s site:

It’s a great little bag, and I keep it at my office hanging on my current office bike, the 1965 Coppertone Schwinn Traveler with the Bendix kick-back hub. You can visit Lisa’s  website here and get an idea of what her artistry is all about. When it came right down to it, we all knew some of the same people around Dallas, underscoring something that I always say about this city: it’s one of the smallest large towns in America.

It was a nice experience, and I look forward to seeing what Lisa will do with the Azuki mixte. With a little bit of work, that bike will be a show-stopper. And as Darren and I both told her: you won’t be running into anyone with the same frame any time soon!

-Hubbard

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Michael W. Hubbard

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