MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

CANADIAN SEKINE - INTRO

PRECANADIAN SEKINES

EARLY CANADIAN SEKINES

LATER CANADIAN SEKINES

POST CANADIAN SEKINES

SEKINE SERIAL NUMBERS

 

BICYCLES OF CANADA

 

  

THE CANADIAN SEKINE - INTRODUCTION

Sekine bicycles were first made in Japan, then Canada/Japan and finally, just Japan.  The Canadian made Sekine came into being around 1973, when the Canadian government stepped in to assist a local group.  That group of people were imbued with the task of starting a Canadian bicycle company and keeping it going for ten years, during which time the Canadian government would subsidize the operation.

In the late sixties and early seventies, imported bicycles had a 25% tariff attached to each bicycle imported and sold.  To avoid the tariff, bicycle could be imported as components and assembled domestically.  It was because of this Canadian policy that companies like Sekine Canada, and Raleigh Canada and Peugeot Canada got started, and remained in production for many years to come.

Something of interest to note, some thirty or so years since the last Canadian Sekine rolled out of the plant at Rivers, Manitoba, was the most prominent features that the bicycle was noted for.  And those features were purely cosmetically oriented.  The first feature was a piece of costume jewellery, glued into the Sekine headbadge, and the second, the wonderful ornate Sekine rear spoke protector.  Needless to say, these cosmetic add ons were pure marketing attempts.  And apparently pretty darn good ones that remain in the minds of people over a quarter of a century later.

The rhinestone headbadge was usually fitted to early Sekines, those manufactured prior to 1975, and that would be a pure guess.  After that, or some other very close to it date, the Medialle badge came into being.  Though not a memorable as the incredibly unique rhinestone model, the Medialle badge did, none the less, scream vintage, thanks to its ornate appearance and cut out windows.  Truly an item to help set the Canadian Sekine apart.

The Canadian Sekine company was, apparently, a joint effort between the Canadian government, the Japanese business machine and a First Nation business group.  The mandate was to start a Canadian made bicycle company and that company would operate, subsidized by the Canadian government, for ten years, after which the company would be on its own.

For nearly ten years, Canadian Sekine bicycles flowed from the factory in Rivers, Manitoba, the factory being an abandoned military air base, a couple of hundred kilometres west of Winnipeg, the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba.  At peak performance times, the company was producing fifty thousand bicycles per year.  Apparently, the Sekine Canadian distributor was hardware outlet,  Acklands Ltd of Winnipeg.

Canadian made Sekine bicycles were distributed throughout North America, reaching as far away as Hawaii and Alaska.  Needless to say, Sekines were readily available in most major centers across Canada.  Though European distribution was intended, there is little evidence to suggest how the endeavour went.

The Sekine bicycle was know as a quality product and this should come as no surprise.  In the early seventies, the Japanese business machine was focused on quality and quality assurance.  Excellent products were pouring out of the Land of the Rising Sun, and bicycles were one of those products.  It was under the supervision of Japanese quality engineers that Canadian Sekines were built.  And, thirty or forty years later, the quality built into the bicycles shows.

When Sekines started being built/assembled in Canada, it was under the supervision of Japanese engineers, all of whom were schooled in the Japanese quality mandate.  With this in mind, the Canadian Sekine was always a cut above its direct competitors.  It was not uncommon to hear local bicycle shop (LBS) owners comment positively on the quality of the bicycle and its presentation when they arrived at local bicycle shops.  Apparently, Sekine was the only company that offered road bicycle with the handlebars already wrapped with handlebar ribbon.  This was, believe it or not, a big deal at the LBS.

The Bike Boom that sponsored the interest in building Sekines in Canada tapered off, thanks to an unprecedented drop in bicycle demand.  With the Bike Boom (1971-1973) over, bicycle sales in Canada, and around the world, dropped, forcing companies to rethink their futures and production goals.  How Sekine Canada, a more or less fledgling company, responded to this is unknown, at the time of this writing.  To that challenge, a second set of issues surfaced.

Sadly, in the midst of mismanagement allegations and coupled with labour/cash flow difficulties, the company fell into receivership in the very early eighties.  By 1981 the doors of the Sekine plant were closed and the assets sold off the following year, to help offset outstanding debts.  Sekine Canada would never recover, although Sekines were still being manufactured in Japan.

As mentioned, Sekine was an Asian based company, home base Japan and in business since the early 1920's.  It was the Asian Sekine that got the Canadian Sekine started...

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