Handbuilt Bicycle News

Frame Builders


Paul Skilbeck

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Why Cherubim makes show-special bikes

The pursuit of learning and product development never ends, not even for a master frame builder

Why Cherubim makes show-special bikes
Cherubim 2019 experimental bike. Photos courtesy NAHBS/Brad Quartuccio

NAHBS-goers have come to look forward to the surprising and delightful experimental bike designs found in the Cherubim booth. Yet not everybody understands the motives of Cherubim's owner, Shin-ichi Konno, in making these bikes. So at the 2019 show we decided to ask him directly why he does it. His response is given in writing here, not in the video (we ran out of memory cards).

Konno interview
Click image to play video

HBG (Ely): What is the purpose of building the unique show bikes that you have become renowned for?

Konno: "There are several reasons we continue to make experimental bikes. One reason is that we always enjoy challenging the standard design of the triangular bicycle frame. In doing so we remind ourselves how and why the normal triangular bicycle frame is perfect and simple, and we can know the reasons through our own experience, not by someone else’s knowledge or text. This process gives us greater understanding and insight to the bicycle design."

cherubim 2019

Konno: "Another reason is the pursuit of innovation and development. We are always testing new designs and technologies we have never used. We cannot experiment with a customer's bike, so we do with show bikes. This time, we designed a new dropout for thru-axle and flat mount that doesn't make the chain stay too stiff.  Also this time we made our own external butted tube by filing the outside of a 46mm diameter, 1mm thick, tube to become 0.8,0.5,0.8 (mm) butted tube."

Cherubim 2019 experimental

Konno: "In addition, we wanted to see what happens when we combine a very strong top tube with a very soft down tube. We will evaluate riding feel back in Japan. From this bike we have already learned that the new dropout and external butted tubes are ready to use for regular custom bikes."

Finally and probably the best reason for projects like this one is that all of our staff now gain better skills because of the difficult of process making this bike, and it is good for our relationships with partners like painters and material companies."

We at HBG are just glad that Konno continues to see a benefit in building the Cherubim show bikes and keeps it up. He probably has enough by now to comprise a collection in a museum of industrial design.