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Bert Lewis founded Northern Cycle Industries in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, in 1964, in a chicken coop. 1) 2) Norco designed and distributed bicycles built via Nishiki of Los Angeles to be sold in Canada, which were initially branded as Nishiki with a “designed by Norco” label. Nishiki themselves sent out the manufacturing to number of mostly Japanese suppliers. Norco didn't brand their own mountain bikes exclusively until 1984.
Bert Lewis on race day norco.com
1982 Nishiki Caribou
A dual branded mountain bike by Nishiki of Los Angeles and Norco of Canada. As the Nishiki brand is more prominent, it should really be listed solely on the Nishiki page - but Norco used this bike as a foundation for many decades of successful mountain bike designs.
1982 Nishiki Caribou mtbr
Triple branded with Nishiki, Kawamura & Norco. The pic to the right is from a 1983 Norco Catalog. The catalog states “Your authorized Nishiki dealer, Kawamura of Japan, imported and distributed by Norco Products Ltd.” and the bicycle has a big “Nishiki” across the downtube. A confused brand.
Looks like the Norco decals are missing… flickr
It's clearly not a Norco branded bike at this point. flickr
1983 Bushwacker flickr
Norco branded mountain bikes didn't hit the Canadian market until 1984, although Sekai branded bikes sold in the US and supplied by Norco were introduced in 1983. This Norco Sasquatch is identical to the 1984 Sekai Sasquatch. It also appears to be identical to the 1984 Nishiki Bushwacker.
1984 Sasquatch pinkbike
1985 Bigfoot flickr
SunTour XC Sport 6900 (1986 only), lugged frame. The cousin Nishiki Pinnacle was TIG welded & XT equipped. Sekai's Pinnacle occurred in the late 80's and had an elevated chainstay. Uses Norco's 1986 decal scheme.
1986 Pinnacle facebook
Elevated chainstay. Shimano Exage 400LX (1990-92).
1990 Pinnacle mountainbikemuseum.nl
Norco vs. Nishiki vs. Sekai
Were these all identical bicycles? Norco bought Sekai in 1983 at the point where Sekai first started to introduce mountain bikes. Norco also sourced almost all of its early mountain bikes from Nishiki, who then sourced their mountain bikes from Kuwahara, Kawamura, Giant, Miki, and Yamaguchi, according to recorded serial numbers. 3) Catalogs would help untangle this but are seemingly non-existent. A model comparison chart would be handy.
Norco had the exclusive Canadian license for Nishiki. It then resold the same Nishikis back into the US using the Sekai brand, thereby competing with its own supplier. Which makes no sense. The overall industry web of who built and sold which bike starts to get a bit byzantine starting in 1983 with the mass importation of mountain bikes. Dual branding in the early 80's was common. Some examples:
- Rocky Mountain/Ritchey - Ritchey decals on the head tube, Rocky Mountain on the seat tube. Fisher rebadged the bikes for the US.
- S&G/Muddy Fox/Araya - these bikes were triple branded for two years. Araya sold the same bikes in Asia w/o S&G or with bigger Araya decals.
- Apollo/Kuwahara - Apollo head badges, Kuwahara downtubes. Kuwahara resold the same bikes outside North America w/o Apollo badges.
All brands outsourced manufacturing eventually, but at least they kept their branding intact, usually. It's no wonder that only two Asian makers of bicycles sold in the US under their brand: Fuji and Maruishi. Asian sounding names, such as Sekai or Nishiki were Canadian and Californian, respectively. 4) Giant, of Taiwan, the world's largest bike manufacturer, didn't brand their own bikes until 1986.