Shin-Ichi Konno is often called out for the apparent non-functionality of his show bikes, but the second generation frame builder is also known for his contemporary steel road racers and traditional tourers. The R2 is a culmination of eras: A modern speed machine constructed with artisanal polished and thinned lugged construction.
Japan’s Cherubim is the boutique arm of Konno Cycle Works, which were both founded by Shin-Ichi’s father in 1965. Cherubim is responsible for those incomprehensible concept bikes — such as the Silver Flyer track bike that Shin-Ichi built, which won the 2012 NAHBS Best In Show and the President’s Choice award.
While Shin-Ichi’s father founded Cherubim, his two brothers started 3Rensho and Miyuki. NJS certification runs in the family, then; all three frame foundries are accredited to be used by Japan’s keirin racers, although the regulating body these days is no longer the Nihon Jitensha Shinkōkai, but the JKA Foundation.
A Cherubim is still a rare but highly prized bird if you have a penchant for a handmade frame that will stand out from the bunch. Four base models are offered, from the aero Racer and the more de rigeur Sticky road bike to the Triple Crown keirin racer and lugged R2. All are made and painted to the customer’s geometry and specification.
Shin-Ichi primarily uses Kaisei steel tubing, but each frame is also available in stainless steel, and can be mirror-polished as an option. It is possible to order a Cherubim directly from the workshop, but there’s a couple of shops around the world — exclusive dealers, if you will — that can liaise with Shin-Ichi on your behalf.
Toronto’s Blacksmith Cycle is one such establishment, and they coordinated this build for Ali, a previous customer of the shop that already owned a sporty Italian, and was after something “lugged and very special.” Cherubim was suggested and, after an extensive fit session, an order was put placed with the workshop in Machida, Tokyo.
The frame is paired with a 1″ threaded custom Columbus MAX Aero fork and a pantographed Nitto ‘Cherubim’ edition stem and seatpost; Nitto also provided the handlebars — to which were mounted the ergonomic Campagnolo Super Record brake levers/shifters and Fizik Arione 00 saddle.
The wheelset is comprised of a 35mm pair of Campagnolo Bora One clinchers, shod in Continental rubber. It’s a stellar build, which Ali will proudly ride for many years to come. If you’re riding around Toronto, you might just catch a glimpse of it — and if you’d fancy a Cherubim of your own, get in touch with Blacksmith Cycle.
Big thanks to Jeremy North of Life Is A Beautiful Detail for the photos.