It was 5 years ago that I walked into my friend’s little bike shop and saw a Kuwahara Cascade sitting there looking like it had never been ridden anywhere and told Rob that I had been looking for one of these to which he replied, “you can have it for what I paid for it.”
My friend had a Kuwahara Shasta and having ridden this bike knew that if I came across another that I would have to pick it up… the Cascade is a model level up from the Shasta and I also own one of these.
When I asked how much that was he said, “Twenty five dollars” and then explained that he had stopped by another bike shop and that the bike had come in as a trade and they sold it to him for this princely sum of money which I happily paid him.
During the fall of 2007 I converted the Cascade to a fixed gear and for several years used it as my primary winter bike and also used it extensively in the summer as a fixed gear touring bike.
Last spring I decided to restore the gearing on the Kuwahara and make it a geared touring bike as these legs just can’t handle that kind of riding on one speed anymore.
A note on many 1980’s mountain bikes… many were nothing more than touring frames fitted with 26 inch wheels so it was pretty logical to turn the Cascade into a fully equipped touring bike.
I located a full set of Blackburn racks for the bike… the trifecta so to speak.
Last night and this morning I made a few more changes… switched the wheels from the Shasta back to the Cascade after re-building the old 6 speed Uniglide with new cogs and changed up the crank to a 48/52 half step with a 28 tooth granny gear.
After 5 years and at least 40,000 kilometres of riding the bike is looking better then ever and is really quite priceless.
Kuwahara is one of Japan’s oldest bicycle manufacturers and it was not until the 80’s they started branding their bicycles with their own name, Elliot’s BMX bicycle in E.T. was a Kuwahara. They built bicycles for many other companies and believe Schwinn contracted them to make their Sierra line of mountain bikes which are very similar to Kuwahara mountain bikes of the same period.
During the seventies they branded their bicycles as “Apollo” and in the early eighties added “Built by Kuwahara”, and think by 1986 they eliminated the Apollo badging as the Kuwahara name was well known and well regarded.
I consider that this company built some of the nicest bicycles in the 1980’s with their higher end all terrain bicycles like the Shasta and Cascade being hand built in Japan to a very high standard. Many of their other mountain bikes, road, touring, and tandem bicycles were also first rate in every respect.