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This Is the Very Best of Classic Japanese Steel Bicycle Design

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When it comes to bicycle collecting, some people prefer Italian cruisers or bespoke British jobs. But there's an entire strata of enthusiast for whom nothing but Japanese steel models will do, from the "great export years" that began with the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and lasted into the 1990s.

Even if you've never coveted one yourself, it's easy to geek out on the design details of these beautifully crafted machines as featured in William Bevington's book Japanese Steel: Classic Bicycle Design from Japan, which is published by Rizzoli and available to order on Amazon now

The first book to chronicle the "golden age" of Japanese bicycle design, with reverentially beautiful photographs and informative text, the book covers everything from famous manufacturers such as Bridgestone, Fuji, Miyata, and Panasonic, to artisanal builders like 3Rensho whose bikes are all but unobtainable these days.

Be it a collectible track racer or a classic road frame, all these machines form a beautiful "biomechanical alliance" when ridden, Bevington writes, whether used for "pragmatism or pleasure, for competition or companionship, to improve the self" through exercise or simply to minimize one's carbon footprint.

There are over 300 photographs in the book, of which we're giving you a sneak peek here, as well as original technical drawings, period art, and rare ephemera. Some of the bikes featured are extremely scarce, "yet most can be snatched up for the cost of an extravagant dinner," the author notes, though interest in them as modern design icons is growing rapidly. 

Though they can increasingly be found displayed like works of art, their inherent charm is their undeniable functionality. "Each is a testament to the wonders of a road bicycle," Bevington notes. "And all await the chance to prove, with every ride, the enduring properties of steel."