Nishiki Landau

My oldest friend

landau-640
click to enlarge (detail pix below)

My Nishiki Landau frame came to me third-hand, in 1978, through two of my fellow employees at Nippon Cycle/The Great Escape, in Vancouver, B.C., situated right at the entrance to Stanley Park.

The competitively-priced Shields Nishikis were one of our best sellers and I was happy to promote them. The Landau was top of the line, with the International also a popular choice. It’s second owner had committed the kind of desecration common among “fixie” devotees today; he had sawn off the derailleur hanger.

It was one of the finely-crafted frames made in the Kawamura factory, in Kobé, Japan. The original owner had cast aside the Landau after taking possession of a custom Roberts frame. The head badge and decals, but for the “made by Kawamura” transfer on the left chainstay and the “chrome molybdenum double butted” sticker on the seat tube, had also been removed. The serial number—CG15514—indicates that it was the 15,514th frame built for the Canadian market, in 1977. I was happy to hand over $35 to save it from further indignities.

Fresh from a retreat in the wilds of the Kootenays, I lived in a little West End garret, on Robson Street, above a greasy spoon. Ah, those were the days, before the branded boutiques moved in. The street was known as “Robsonstrasse,” an enclave of German culture, lined with delicatessens and other family-owned businesses.

I rode the minimalist machine for a while as a single-speed commuter on Vancouver streets and the trails of Stanley Park, until I decided to elevate it to my main ride. I had collected some parts, including a set of wheels made up of exotic first-generation Phil Wood sealed-bearing hubs and Weinmann concave rims, Campagnolo Nuovo Record cranks, and Shimano’s first knock-off of Campag brakes — Dura Ace.

Most of these goodies came from a deal with Gerry Pareja, who was modifying his bike for the 1979 edition of Paris-Brest-Paris. He was a member of the 4-man contingent who were first Canadians to enter the prestigious event. I thought they were crazy, but was happy to benefit from Gerry’s gear swap.

In the interim, I’d moved to another shop (Carlton Cycle & Recreation) and had the head frame builder braze on a new derailleur hanger.

In various configurations over the next 15 years I raced this bike, rode it on excellent touring adventures; it served as my main transportation and was my first rando bike.

Due to its mongrel mix of components, it can’t be considered a true vintage Landau, but its storied history makes this my most pedigreed ride.

Detail Photos (click for full view)
roger August 10, 2010 at 6:31 am

i own one of these magnificient bikes, all original, i want to tune it up, new chain, tires,etc…

Raymond Parker August 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm

That’s great, roger! Please share some photos with us when the project is complete.