NAHBS 2013 Award Winner: Cherubim
By Josh Patterson | Thursday, February 28, 2013 12.00am
Cherubim was founded by Hitoshi Konno in 1965. Three years later Konno supplied the Japanese track team with frames for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. The torch has since passed to his son, Shin-Icho Konno, who is now a master builder in his own right.
Cherubim makes road, city, touring bikes and track bikes. It’s Cherubim’s track, and track-inspired, frames that garnered the most attention at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. This small Japanese frame building company has won President’s Choice and Best in Show at last year’s show for its stunning track-inspired creation.
This year Cherubim took home the award for Best City Bike. This year’s showstopper was the ‘Rambler,’ a stripped-down urban bicycle built around a two-speed Sturmey Archer S2C Duomatic kickback coaster brake hub.
Art on wheels versus practical creations
The judges' decision sparked a bit of controversy with some fellow builders. The bicycle’s craftsmanship is beyond reproach, though, like many of Cherubim’s show bikes, form trumps function—a point of contention for some, considering this is intended to be a city bike. There are no braze-ons for racks or fenders and tire clearance is minimal.
Like any concept piece, this bike may be best thought of as a collection of artfully executed ideas that could be incorporated into a more utilitarian city bike. “The whole bike is a sort of rack,” explained Shin-Icho Konno. The handlebar, top tube and rear rack can all be used in many different ways, depending on the needs of the rider.
Twin top tubes brazed onto either side of the head tube arc gracefully backward, forming the seat stays. The seat stays also form part of the frame’s integrated rack.
According to Konno, the twin top tubes allow a rider to place a U-lock between them
The bike’s most salient feature is the made-to-match handlebar. It’s a work of art that left us scratching our heads until Konno came over and demonstrated the many different ways it could be used, the many different hand positions, and the many different ways items could be secured to it.
Builder Shin-Icho Konno demonstrating one of many different hand positions this unique handlebar offers
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