Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Adventures in the bike trade

Jon got a new job with a substantial pay raise, so he decided to buy a Nagasawa frame. Actually, last time I had been out there, Nagasawa-sensei said he had a frame kicking around that would fit Jon. He said he would finish it and sell it for 100,000. So, Jon, Maisei and I went out there to see if we could order the frame. Jon set up the appointment with Nagasawa-sensei, so I don't know what they talked about, but it confirmed my opinion that there's no point in just talking on the phone with him. When we got out to the shop, he took one look at the paper Jon had with him detailing the frame we had discussed and told us he had already sold it. It turned into an epic evening.

At first Nagasawa-sensei insisted that he would have to make an entirely new frame and that, in itself, was a bit more than Jon wanted to spend, and wasn't what we had talked about. Moreover, he was reluctant to let anyone else build up the bike, pointing out that since it would have his name on it, ultimately, he would be responsible. A brand new Nagasawa frame, after all, could only be build up with the best parts.

Jon tried to talk his way out of this, but since he wasn't exactly sure what he wanted, there was no way he could convince Nagasawa-sensei. I wasn't really willing to help him out here, because he really didn't know exactly what he wanted. At one point Nagasawa-sensei pointed out that since he was the bigger bike geek, the matter should be left in his hands. (The Japanese word he used was jitensha-baka, 自転車馬鹿, "bike fool.") I basically agreed with this sentiment and kept my mouth shut. Anyway, the Japanese was flying so fast, I couldn't follow everything.

So we were at an impasse. Nagasawa-sensei wasn't going to sell Jon a frame by itself, and Jon didn't want to pay the full price for a brand new bike, fully build up. Nagasawa-sensei spoke his mind, folded his arms over his chest and sat back looking at Jon, who shifted around uncomfortably. Eventually, Nagasawa-sensei suggested that we go down to the workshop.

In the lower shop, we just puttered around, looking at the machines, discussing frame building and looking at some of the projects on the go. Eventually, in this row of fames, I noticed some large unfinished frames wrapped in plastic. I asked Nagasawa-sensei about these and he pulled them down. The first had some rust, but the second was a clean, unfinished frame from the 80s in Jon's size. Nagasawa-sensei said he'd finish the frame and build up the bike for 160,000 and I told Jon he wasn't going to get a much better deal than that.

We spent about fifteen minutes discussing the paint job and then went back up to the main office, so they could discuss the components. Again, the fact that Jon didn't know exactly what he wanted complicated the entire process.

Eventually, Nagasawa-sensei's daughter came out and she and Maisei and I talked while the the other two hashed out the details of the bike. At one point I asked her when our last train was and she told us that we had missed it over an hour ago, but that she would drive us back to town. Maisei and I were a bit taken aback.

After they finished discussing the bike, Nagasawa-sensei broke out the Nihonshu and passed out drinks while he told us his story. It was now past 1:00 am and the Japanese was too involved for me to really follow.

At one point Jon asked Nagasawa-sensei if he ever drank in the shop and he said he only drank after the work was over, but when we finally said good by, around 1:45, he said he was going back to work and headed back to the lower workshop.

I got home around 2:30.


urchin@leslie.com said...

I'm looking at purchasing a used Nagasawa frame(I can't seem to order a new one frame the states) and would like to get it repainted, but I have no idea how to go about this. Since you seem to be in the know - any ideas on how to go about this? I really would like the repaint to be by the man himself - it really deserves it!

Cheri said...

This is great info to know.