Friday, December 28, 2012

1975 Takara (July 2011)

Make: Takara

Model: Unknown

Year:  1975ish

Obtained: May 2011

Found: Community Garage Sale

Paid: $25
Every year in late May West Seattle does a neighborhood garage sale, so on one Saturday you can hit a ton of sales in one go.  I had already scored a great Miyata 912 at a garage sale the month previous (more on that in another post) and was eager to find more hidden gems.

Well after looking for most of the morning I had found exactly zero 10 speeds and had decided to give up and drive home.  As I drove slowly down a side street my peripheral vision caught a bike shaped object in a garage and I braked, parked and went to investigate.  Sure enough it was dusty "all original" Takara 10 speed.  The owner indicated it was his college bike and based on the cobwebs in the spokes and the dust covering the bike he had hung up soon after graduation in, I am guessing, the early 80's.  He agreed to part ways with it for $25 and I had my 10 speed find for the day.
It was musty and dusty and dirty and had a funky handlebar bag attached, about what you would expect from a bike stored in a Garage since the first Reagan Administration. Mostly SunTour components with stem shifters and "safety brake levers all speak to this being an entry level steed, the perfect campus cruiser for a student in the late 70s.  The frame is made in Japan and in pretty much all phases this bike is a step up from the Schwinn Varisty and probably weighs 10 pounds less easy.

It was also to be my first, but not the last, experience with the cottered crank.   My suggestion to beginner road bike restorers- avoid cottered cranks, but more on that later when I talk about the 70s Raleigh Gran Prix.

One thing I absolutely love about older bikes is the head badges and the Takara's looked like it was inspired by English heraldry and when you are a company in Tulsa, OK importing Japanese bikes why not an English family crest for your head badge?
The rebuild was pretty standard for this bike, wash it, strip it down, wax it and reassemble with the usual new stuff; tires, tubes, cables, housing, bar tape, chain etc.  And of course lots of new grease in the main bearings.  I was fortunate, especially considering the cottered crank, not to run into any issues with this bike.  I liked it and could ride it but as a 25 inch (63 cm) frame it was a bit unwieldy for me as a 23 1/2 is just about perfect for my height.  I ended up selling it to a nice tall young lady who was looking to get a geared bike after riding fixie.   I really liked the blue after it got cleaned up and waxed.

And interestingly the first two bikes I sold in the summer of 2011 were to ladies and they weren't "step thru" ladies frames. Cool.

Ride. Smile. Repeat.


  1. Yeah, you stole my comment with that last sentence. Tall ladies indeed! I admit that i am surprised by these daily posts. Nice work!


  2. You did a great job giving that old ten speed a new life. I remember when that shade of blue was very popular, and it still looks great today. And I agree with TJ 100% very nice work!

  3. That English header on the Tokara's was because Raleigh was the backer of these bikes...Owner of a 1974 Red one, fast, real fast/fun

    1. Thanks Unknown good backstory and good to hear they are fun this one was a bit big for me to get a true feel for it.

  4. I just scored one of these today for 15 bucks at a chirch harage sale! Its a 26" and darker blue. This post actually helped me identify the year because of the front badge! You did a wonderfuljob on this one! What would you say this bike is worth?

    1. Nice score for $15 If your bike is like the one in this post its entry level, safety levers, stem shifters etc in Seattle cleaned up, rebuilt with new consumables (tires, tubes, cables & housing, chain, bearings & lube and bar tape etc.) it might fetch $150 maybe up to $200 on a really good day. It would be a good bike to practice rebuilding on

  5. Cool post. I just started getting into vintage bikes for the antique interest in transportation. And we recently found a vintage looking Tokara at Habitat resale store here in Bremerton WA. The bike is a ladies step through and has full fenders with a five speed thumb shift. I believe the bike to be maybe early 80s? Not as old as I like but has a old look and a little rust for patina. And a great price at $10.

  6. Nice score on the Mixte have fun bringing it back to life. My Grandparents lived in Bremerton and my dad grew up there, many fond memories of visiting there and driving by the Mighty Mo.