Table of Contents
Kōnosuke Matsushita (1894-1989) started Matsushita Electric Industrial Company in 1917 in Osaka, Japan. The youngest of eight children, when his father lost all of his money Kōnosuke was forced to leave home and apprentice to a bicycle shop for seven years. At aged 16 he moved to an electronics shop, and soon struck out on his own manufacturing simple electronics under the Matsushita brand. Matsushita began producing bicycles in 1951 and the Panasonic brand was created in 1955. Panasonic started exporting bicycles to the US by 1971 in addition to supplying bicycles to Schwinn and Raleigh (US). Exports to the US ended in 1989 after Mr. Matsushita's death, while exports to Europe and Australasia continue today. Panasonic remains the world's largest consumer electronic company, with revenue in excess of $80 billion. Panaracer tires, long favorites for MTBs, continue to be exported to the US.
A day's work at Godai Bicycle Shop
My job as apprentice was to scrub the shop each morning, clean up every evening, and dust the bicycles and other items on display. I also learned how to do repairs. In those days, repair was not a matter of simply replacing parts; often we had to manufacture new parts right there in the shop, and we had lathes and drilling machines for that purpose, all of which I learned how to use. I enjoyed this work and never tired of it. The days went quickly. Konosuke Matsushita panasonic
Billionaire on a bike. chinadaily
1983 National/Panasonic Cobra
European Panasonic import, rebranded as simply “Mountain Bike”. The “National” brand was often used outside of the US and wasn't retired until 20091). Sturmey Archer dynohub front, SunTour MounTech 4900 rear with a 1983 date code.
1983 National/Panasonic Cobra
1984 All-Terrain Bike
15 speed, Shimano AL-11, electric blue, lugged frame.
Dating Panasonics is very easy, as full catalogs exist and each year (and region) had a unique color scheme.
1984 All-Terrain Bike ebay
18s, Shimano Deore XT (v1), TIG welded, metallic graphite, slingshot stem.
1985 Pro-ATB ksl
1986 Pro ATB
SunTour XC, TIG welded, chrome yellow.
1986 Pro ATB retrobike
1987 Mountain Cat 7500
1987 Mountain Cat 7500 18s, Deore XT v2, TIG welded, Tange tubing, Lemon Lime/Lime Green.
1987 Mountain Cat 7500 panasonicbikemuseum
Shimano Deore XT v2, Tange lugged frame
1988 MC-7500 panasonicbikemuseum
1989 PICS Team MC 800 Custom
Panasonic exited the US market on a high note, allowing for custom paint choices, executed at the factory. Shimano Deore MT62.
1989 PICS Team MC 800 Custom panasonicbikemuseum
European spec. Shimano Deore XT. It should have come with a Tange Switch Blade fork, but no Panasonic Switch Blade examples in the wild have been found.
1990 MC-8500 mtb-news.de
1991 MC Comp
Deore DX, elevated chainstay, Tange TIG welded.
1991 MC Comp mtb-news.de
1992 MC Team
Full Shimano XTR M900. Tange Prestige lugged frame.
1992 MC Team panasonicbikemuseum
1993 MC Pro DH
Full Shimano Deore XT, Tange Shock Blades, Panaracer Smoke/Dart tires, unnamed rear suspension. A downhill specific machine.
1993 MC Pro DH facebook