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Sekine Bicycle History


The Sekine is one of the best mass produced Japanese bicycles from the 1970s (even though it was made in Canada for several years). They were known for carrying better components than similar bikes in the competition’s line-up. They were a great first bike. Still are. Sekine manufactured a full line from the department store level SHA to the surprisingly nice SHX.

Middle of the line Sekines featured all alloy components except possibly the rims. Shimano 500 derailleurs drooped from the dropouts and the Titlist shifted the chain back and forth across the chainrings. Both were powered by downtube shifters. Shimano “Tourney” center pull calipers with quick release allowed for easy maintenance.

Sekine began its life in Japan, but located a major manufacturing operation in Canada in 1973 to avoid the 25% tariffs (geocities.com/randyjawa/SekineCyclesHistoryArticle.html) imposed on imported cycles by the Canadian government (reduced to 15% in 1975 (http://www.geocities.com/randyjawa/SekineCyclesHistoryArticle.html)). CCM and Raleigh Canada just couldn’t compete with the quality arriving from overseas. In this environment, Sekine did well, benefiting from the protection of the tariffs until they were removed in the early 80s.

In 1972 the Canadian Forces Air Base near Rivers, Manitoba was renamed Oo-za-we-Kwun (Yellow Quill) and converted to a training center for native peoples. Several manufacturers located to the old air base. Sekine began producing as many as 400 double-butted, silver soldered, chrome-moly frames per day in June of 1973, at the peak of the 70s bike boom. Sekine’s electrostatically applied frame paint made the bikes stand out against the competition.

Rumor has it, bike shop peons loved Sekine, relative to the competition, because Sekines came with levers on taped bars. The factory completed much of the work of assembly which meant shop mechanics could spend almost half as much time as was typical putting one together for the sales floor. (geocities.com/randyjawa/SekineCyclesHistoryArticle.html)

Eventually a few other bicycle manufacturers followed the Japanese company’s lead and brought their own manufacturing to Canada and Sekine’s reign ebbed. The Canadian plant may have closed as early as 1983 when the 10 year program for Natives expired, but Sekine branded bikes seem to have been sold into the 1990s.

Fun Fact: Richard DeBernardis, founder of El Tour de Tucson, traveled the circumference of the US on a Sekine in the 1970s.

Dating your Sekine
Canadian production began in 1973, but this did not mark the end of Japanese production.
1972 and earlier – If your Sekine proudly touts itself as “World Finest Bicycle” (no apostrophe ‘s’ on World) on the downtube, then you probably have yourself a pre 1973 Japanese import. The diamond headbadge with the ridiculous gemstone in the center and the letters CS is another hint that you’re riding an early 1970s Sekine.
1974 – ’74 Sekines carried Shimano components. The brand name was displayed on the downtube.
Late 1970s – The headbadge on these is a little more ornate and lacks a huge gaudy jewel. These should have the words “Sekine Cycle Medialle” emblazoned upon them.
Late 1980s-early 1990s – A measly decal for a headbadge with the Sekine ‘S’ proudly displayed.

The famous rhinestone headbadge may have been present only on the lower end models.

GTO – 1970s, made in Japan. Inspired by the US muscle car era, but built strictly for the Japanese market, the GTO featured brake lights, sequential blinkers, a radio, racks, and a rear mounted kickstand.
SHA – At the bottom of Sekine’s line. Steel, cottered crankset; Cherry steel, center-pull brakes and safety levers; steel handlebars; steel small flange hubs laced to 27” steel rims; Shimano Lark or Eagle rear derailleur and Thunderbird front derailleur with stem shifters; stamped dropouts.
SHB – Second from the bottom in the lightweight line. Made in Japan. SR swaged alloy crankset, Shimano Tourney center-pull brakes, Shimano Tourney large flange hubs with wing nuts (later models featured quick release), Shimano Lark or Eagle derailleurs, chrome tipped fork, stamped dropouts.
SHC – Same as the SHB, but made in Canada. Combined, the SHC and SHB were Sekine’s top selling model.
One man’s SHC:
“It is a Sekine 5-sp road bike. I purchased it new somewhere around the mid 70's. From comments that have been posted, it appears as if it is a SHC Canadian built Sekine.
The Serial No. is 778460. Deep Red in color. It has an oval 2-3/8" high head badge that has "CS" "Medialle" on it. It has an SR Stem and crank with a 50 tooth ring gear, SunTour stem mounted lever shifter, Shimano Tourney brake calipers, Lark rear derailleur, and 5 speed freewheel. The handlebars are aluminum flat curved (not drop). The wheels are chrome with 27x1-1/4 tires. This bike came stock with several brand name stickers/decals on the tubes. Both sides of the down tube have the letters "S E K I N E" and the seat tube has a large 9-3/4" wrap around decal that has a large "CS" crest with lettering under it that says "Made by Sekine Canada Ltd." A smaller sticker on the seat tube, by the B/B says "Sekine Canada" Since I bought this bike new, I know that everything on it is stock.”
SHL – Women’s frame. Similar to the SHC and SHB.
SHS – Chrome tipped front fork. The right crankarm that is swaged to the large chainring, SR World Champion aluminum handlebars.
SHT – One model up from the SHS and second from the top. SR Royal forged alloy crankset, Shimano Dura-Ace center-pull brakes, Shimano Titlist or 600 derailleurs, Shimano Tourney large flange hubs with quick release, chrome tipped fork and stay ends, Shimano forged and machined dropouts with axel position screws, SR World Champion aluminum handlebars.
SHX – Top of the line. These retailed for $439.95 Canadian in 1976 (http://www.geocities.com/randyjawa/SekineCyclesHistoryArticle.html). This carried the Dura Ace groupo when Dura Ace first came on line (when Dura-Ace was called Crane) or Campagnolo Nouvo Record derailleurs, chrome forged dropouts.
Unknown model – “I have a very interesting ladies frame Sekine in pastel blue with a very rare 2 speed Shimano rear hub. The hub looks like the Sturmey Archer 2 speed hub of the 30's but this is a 70/80's hub. The bike is a roadster style and not the racer style you see here.”

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