I have visited hundreds of bike shops around the country. No matter where my travels take me, the smells and sounds inherent to bike shops bring me a sense of home and comfort. I aim to visit shops that are doing something unique, something different than the others. Often, these shops are focused on an aspect of the cycling world that is dear to them, something driven by their passion. One such shop is Jitensha Studio, located in Berkeley, California. (Jitensha is bicycle in Japanese.) This past May, I made a point to visit this gem of a shop.
Jitensha is centered around the mantra that the bicycle and the products that surround it need be merely simple and functional. Jitensha offers custom steel, lugged frames designed specifically for a rider's needs, and have purposeful names such as the All Around and the All Purpose Bike. Owner Hiroshi Iimura designs each bike for a specific function or rider and relies on a highly selective list of frame builders to produce his frames.
Hiroshi has been designing bicycle frames for over thirty years and his style is one of simplicity and beauty. His designs are displayed throughout the shop and they invariably capture the essence of the bicycle, that is, each machine has clean lines, beautifully sculpted lugs, and is painted in crisp colors. The finished product is a purification─a reduction of the superfluous─and leaves only that which is neccessary for the task at hand. Hiroshi feels the lugs reflect the artistic nature of a bicycle frame and shuns the mass produciton of tig-welded frames.
My emotions are always stirred by this approach to the bicycle. In a world of over-engineered, over-hyped crap, Hiroshi's approach is warm and welcoming, a reminder of why the bicycle crosses cultures and needs no explanation or translation. I realize Hiroshi's creations are a world away from the high-tech machines ridden in the PRO Tour. however, I don't see these as two ends of the continuum, rather I look to both "worlds" often to find balance. Jitensha's approach is similar to that of Grant Peterson and rightfully so, Jitensha was Grant's local shop before and during the days of Bridgestone. Thus, it seems natural and safe to assume that Hiroshi's influence made its way to the bikes produced by Bridgestone.
In addition to offering frames and complete bikes, Jitensha also provides hand-selected components, such as Honjo-hammered fenders and a beautiful selection of Nitto products. Probably the most exciting element found in Jitensha is the departure from the standard bike shop. Hiroshi knows his products, understands his place in the bike world, and does it better than anyone else.
2250 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
Tues - Sat: 11:00 - 5:00
Jitensha was originally posted on 12-21-06.