There are many parallels that can be drawn between cycling and the martial arts. Whether it is racing and sparring on the mat within the dojo, or the zen-like pleasure of an afternoon ride through the suburbs or boroughs when everything seems to fall in place. Like the opening of car door a few meters in front of you because you slowed to enjoy the scenery or a pretty sight, or the high speed pass between cabs on the main street because you rode without thinking and the gap was there…
Let us pause at the martial quality of bicycle racing. USA can claim BMX racing: hard, elbows out clashes that test the brute strength of a 4130 cro-moly frame. Japan has Keirin racing — calculated, decisive rounds which is where we can draw the similarities to a karate or akido match. Fought upon bikes constructed of ultra-thin tubes built by a select group of elders who are masters (senseis) in the handmade bicycle industry. Kusaka is one of those men. Resident of Akashi, and builder also for Vivalo, he has been contracted to assemble frames for The Kinfolk Bicycle Company, a subsidiary of the Ways & Means Institute for Advanced Living.
This is the latest frame built by Kusaka’s experienced hands — titled ‘Autumn’ because, well, it came about as the leaves began to fall. The frame has been painted by Tazroc, who finished the Kinfolk / Nike (Red) ‘Tied Together’ project. Campagnolo Omega rims laced to Mavic 500 hubs, Sugino Super Mighty cranks and ring, Brooks saddle and a Miche Supertype post, Nitto cockpit upholstered with vintage Fujita lace up grips, Continental tubulars and MKS Custom Neuvos with Toshi double straps.
This isn’t the latest, coolest offering from a fixed gear money-spinner, this is a weapon created for slicing bloodletting lines through heavy traffic, or breathing in the serenity of an afternoon meditation through the domain. Built by a sensei. More on the Kinfolk website. Special thanks to James Lisle for the photos, and John Buellen for the scoop.