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2012年1月21日 (土)

Why the 1950's? (Part 1)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In this post I will begin addressing why I focus on Japanese bicycles from the 1950's.
(Click on photo below)
Img_0376_2

1. Availability
One obvious reason is availability.  In 1932 Japan's bicycle industry started a long downward trend as it shifted from a free enterprise to a state controlled enterprise.  Things became increasingly worse as Japan entered WWII with a decline in bicycle manufacturing as many plants were converted to munition plants to support the war effort.  Lack of resources escalated the situation, many a bicycle was donated to scrap drives to be melted down and used for munitions.  It is estimated that there were 10 million bicycles in Japan at the start of the war, by the end of the war that number was halved. 

After WWII there was a great demand for bicycles and many munition plants were converted to peacetime production, including bicycles.  But materials were rationed, and anything manufactured would sell on the black market regardless of quality.  Rubber for tires was so scarce that in some instances bicycles were sold without tires.  So the materials and quality of bicycles were questionable, but by the early 1950's things were gradually improving and there was a shift from a state controlled economy to free competition.

In the next English post we will continue our look at why the 1950's is so special in the Japanese bicycle industry.

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