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Kuwahara Bicycles was founded in 1918 in Osaka Japan by Sentarō Kuwahara and became famous in the west for its BMX bicycles, which they continue to make today: kuwahara-bike.com. Their strong fan base today is partially due to a boy named Elliot flying away with ET on a Kuwahara special built for E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
Most early (1983-1985) Kuwahara mountain bikes sold in North America were dual branded: Kuwahara on the down tube with an Apollo headbadge. Apollo was an Australian brand 2)3)
imported into North America by Fred Deeley of Vancouver, BC. All early North American Kuwahara/Apollo mountain bikes will likely have a Deeley sticker on the seat tube. All Kuwaharas from 1986 on wards have a Kuwahara logo on the head tube.
So… are these Apollos or Kuwaharas? This is why it's hard to research Asian bike makers: they're often the hidden maker behind many “brand name” bicycles and these facts are hidden in a difficult to translate language which isn't likely recorded on the internet. Thus far, credit had been given to the designer, builder or simply the branding. In the case of Apollo vs. Kuwahara, it's likely Kuwahara should get the credit as:
- Many Kuwaharas from this era do not have Apollo badging.
- The mispelling on “Siera Grande” seems to imply the bikes were painted in Japan.
- Many Kuwaharas in Australia do not have an Apollo badge. For example: mtbr
Apollo of Australia has its own timeline entry: Apollo.
Despite Kuwahara's popularity, no 1983-1985 catalogs containing Kuwahara mountain bikes have been found.
E.T. Forever Kuwahara
The date is uncertain and the model name is unknown. It lacks the classic bullmoose handlebars but does have a Suntour Mountech front derailleur which is period correct. Presumably, all Kuwahara mountain 1984-1986 bikes have lugged frames with bullmoose handle bars. In the absence of catalog verification, the following Kuwahara (welded 4)) bullmoose mt. bikes models have been found:
- blazer: 1986+?
- lion: 1983?
- shasta: 1984+
- siera/sierra: 1984+
- cascade: 1984+
- aries: 1984+
- mondia cascade cross: 1986 (switched to a Nitto v-stem in 1987)
1983 Apollo/Kuwahara bikeforums
SunTour Mountech GTL 1982-83. Seems to be an indentical frame to the Apollo/Deeley and also the 1983 Apollo Mountaineer. Yet it uses the traditional Kuwahara paint job and stickers. And this has no other stickers than a simple shop sticker written in English. It's possible, but unlikely, that this is a 1982.
1983 Kuwahara ebay
Many of the mountain bikes pictured on this page are Apollos with Deeley stickers.
1984 Aries flickr
1983-4 Suntour parts, a Kuwahara head badge and no Apollo/Deeley stickers. It doesn't appear to be a Japanese market bicycle, so it's likely that Fred Deeley's deal was for Canada only, which he exported to the PNW.
Kuwahara Head Badge ebay
1984? Kuwahara ebay
1985 Siera Grande bikeforums
By 1986 the Apollo connection with North America is done and pure Kuwaharas are being exported throughout the world. SunTour XC Sport RD-6900 (1986)
1986 Puma ebay
SunTour alpaha-5000 (1987)
1987 Lynx offerup
1988 Mondia Cascade Road
SunTour XC 9000 front & back, Ishiwata triple butted & lugged frame,
1988 Mondia Cascade Road mountainbikemuseum.nl
Deore MT62 (1989)
1989 Impulse ebay
Deore DX MT650 (1990-93)
1990 Cascade flickr
An early carbon mtb. Specialized was first, in 1988. Were there any others from 1989-1991?
Carbon stem/bar combo, tubes. Tange Switchblade forks, Shimano Deore XT.
1991 Carbo-Titan facebook
Their 2nd cheapest MTB of 1992, whose model lineup included: Weasel, Lynx, C-Pacer, A-Pacer, X-Pacer, Hi-Pacer, U-Pacer & Pacer. From the 1992 Kuwahara catalog. Deore LX.
1992 Pacer, from 1992 Kuwahara catalog, page 20