The Kuwahara brand will always hold a special place in my heart which is why I chose one to use for my first custom ladies build. My oldest brother Mark never raced BMX but the rest of us did and we all started out on Kuwahara’s. Between the 4 of us we had a Kuwahara Lazer Lite, KZ-2, Mini and Apollo 16″.
Given my racing background I understand power to weight ratios. A person smaller in size is at a performance disadvantage lugging around the extra weight of a common bicycle. The average bicycle you buy from the local bike shop uses stock grade metal which keeps the cost down but they are heavier in weight.
Adversely bike companies who cater to racers use high quality metals in their products which are lighter in weight and also provide better strength. Higher cost is the only downside. The attention to detail on these products add a beautiful aesthetic too.
By using high end components built for competition I was able to rebuild this bicycle lighter, faster and stronger than when it was offered new. So ladies here is a bike for you that takes less effort to pedal due to its lighter weight and is easier lift up and maneuver around. I also made it a 2 speed giving you a low gear option to help with pedalling up hills. This 30 year old frame will last another 30 years or more!
A Calette Customs upcycle, modern performance wrapped in vintage style.
Frame: Kuwahara Mixte
Bars: Ahearne Map Pope Bars
Stem: Nitto Pearl, 80mm
Grip tape: Brooks
Brakes: Paul’s center pull
Brake cable hanger: Paul’s Funky Monkey
Brake Lever: DiaCompe 135
Brake Cables: Box One
Cranks: Sugino Maxy Cross 170mm
Sprocket: Pro Neck 38t
Chainring bolts: Shimano knurled
Bottom bracket: Shimano UN 15
Chain: Sedisport 3/32
Hubs: White Industries ENO 28H
Rims: H Plus Son tb14, 28H
Spokes: Sapim Leader 2.0mm
Spoke Nipples: Sapim Aluminium
Tires: Schwalbe Durano 25c
Freewheel: White Industies 16/18t
Pedals: MKS Touring
Derailleur: Suntour Cyclone
Shifter: Suntour Cyclone
Seat: San Marco Rolls
Decals: Kuwahara LazerLite
3 out of every 4 cyclists are men and the industry caters to them accordingly. Not here at Calette Customs. Fitting perfectly with my own ethos I think women have a better sense of style than men and have a greater attention to detail.
From England supple leather Brooks handlebar tape is used to steer you in the right direction. Exquisite performance and elegant in style. I ditched the original drop handlebars for these which have a more comfortable and safer riding position. Drop bars are designed for an aerodynamic posture to reduce wind drag. I find that stance hurts my lower back and definitely decreases my ability to maneuver a bike where I want to steer it. An upright riding position also naturally directs your line of vision forward without straining your neck which is safer and a more enjoyable riding experience.
Flat handlebar levers have better performance than drop bar levers. Your hands and wrists are positioned better ergonomically on the bars which makes for a quicker reaction time when applying the brakes. I sourced these Dia Compe DC 135 brake levers from Track Supermarket out of Japan. A shop specializing in bicycles for Keirin (Velodrome) track riders.
Nitto (Pronounced “neat-o”) from Japan was founded in 1923. In the 1980’s you could find their stuff on lot’s of BMX bicycles, especially Kuwahara’s. They were even better known for their road bike components. Still manufacturing high end parts today I chose their beautiful Pearl 8 stem for this build. I applied the custom gold lettering by hand.
More BMX nostalgia for you here. Sugino Maxy Cross cranks were highly sought after back in the day. I’ll spare you the details but these took a tremendous amount effort to refurbish but the time and effort was well worth it. Anodized black and detailed gold by hand like the rest of the bike. Knurled stainless steel chainring bolts by Shimano and a refurbished Tuff Neck sprocket from the 1980’s. Finished off with a vintage gold Sedisport chain.
High quality special edition all black MKS pedals from Japan.
NOS (New Old Stock) parts are holy grail finds for collectors. I often marvel how something so precious has been sitting unused for so many years. Brand new in the box I found this Suntour Cyclone derailleur from the 1980’s. Suntour is another high quality Japanese company. From America I sourced the White Industries ENO hubset and freewheel. Their two speed thread on freewheel is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Founded 1918 in Belgium, Sapim have been manufacturing some of the best spokes you can buy. I chose to use their gold double butted Lasers for this build.
I had Kermode cycles weld in a new brake bridge to accommodate the Paul Component brakes. Brakes technology has definitely pushed the performance well past older models like the ones that came on this bike. It’s safe to say being able to stop is a high priority when riding. The brakes are positioned so the cables are routed underneath the top tube as to avoid contact with a riders clothing. The high quality Schwalbe Durano tires keep the bike rolling mounted on H Plus Son TB14 rims. 28 spoke hole drilling for lighter weight.
Prior to the new paint job the old sticker on this seat tube denoted Tange double butted was used to build this frame. This means the tubing is thinner in the middle which saves weight. The tubing is thicker where it is welded together where strength is needed. In business for over 90 years Tange from Japan has been producing high quality tubing for bicycles. One of the big 3 along with Reynolds from England and Columbus from Italy.
In 1935 Luigi Girardi founded Selle San Marco. In the 1980’s they rolled out the Rolls saddle, an icon was born. Hand made in Italy from natural leather and premium materials. Style for miles.
From Italy founded in 1933 Campagnolo components are the gold standard in the cycling world. Craftsmanship and performance personified. This NOS Gran Sport seatpost might even date back to the 1970’s. I had it anodized black and painted the gold into it. Probably the only one in the world looking this way.
I rode this bike for weeks working out the kinks and absolutely loved every minute of it. I let my photographer enjoy it for awhile too while I was building her a bike. The sale price I set reflects this light usage.
Decked out in my late brother Rodney’s Kuwahara cap and a vintage jersey.
In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where we I grew up you got Kuwahara’s from Recycles which was run by the Lenz brothers (later Glen Lenz opened Sprocket’s bike shop). Walking into Recycles in 1981 I remember feeling like I had arrived in heaven, so many cool bikes and colour combos back then. Right beside it was Walter’s Cycle and across the street was Joe’s Cycle. Utopia in a single city block. In 1997 the UCI BMX World Championships were held in Saskatoon in the exact location where participated in my first race. Talk about surreal. I was having a chat with Glen Lenz at his vendors booth about my fondness for the good ol’ days of Recycles and was also geeking out over a Kuwahara jersey he had on display. I was pleasantly surprised and honoured when he gifted me the jersey afterwards.
Hot doggin’ across the finish line, 9 years old. 1st place in my first race on my Kuwahara KZ-2, 1982.