Bicycles for Humanity is a non-profit volunteer organization that salvages old bicycles, refurbishes them, as required, and then gives the bicycles to people who need them the most.  The Thunder Bay B4H chapter has already found, refurbished and sent nearly 3000+ bicycles to Africa.  Thunder Bay's B4H volunteers are welcome enter the "Earn A Bike Program" supported by the local chapter.  And, it was through volunteering my time, to this wonderful endeavour, that this early Sekine GS found its way into The Old Shed.

Though there are many avenues, through which a bicycle can reach Bicycles for Humanity, the most effective way to find good bicycles is to conduct a Bicycle Donation Drive.  Spanning only a few hours, each day, for four or five days, a single drive will produce about 500 donated bicycles, in the city of Thunder Bay, which has a population of approximately 120,000 people.  It was during such a bicycle drive that the GS found its way into a sea of bicycles, that were to be prepared for shipment to Africa.

By the end of Thanks Giving weekend 2008, there were over 1300 salvaged/donated bicycles, stored in the B4H - TB warehouse that had been kindly donated - temporarily - for the organization's use.  Suddenly, only four days after completing the Autumn 2008 Thanks Giving Bicycle Drive, the volunteers were informed that the facility, being used for bicycle storage, had been sold!  The bicycles had to be removed with-in three weeks.  Panic set in quickly.

What the heck does one do with 1300 bicycles and no where to put them?  We did not have enough money to purchase two shipping containers and send them to Africa, a cost that would exceed $30,000.00.  But something had to be done and done quickly!

Money was donated, mostly by a very few of the people who started the Bicycles for Humanity ball rolling in Thunder Bay.  That generous donation, covered the cost of purchasing and shipping one container.  That generous donation, coupled with what the organization had already raised, was enough to purchase a second shipping container, though there would not be enough money to ship container number two.  Both containers were purchased from separate sources and then the anxious wait for them to arrive began.  The three weeks and out mandate loomed.  Three weeks, and we would have been storing bikes in back yards, if the shipping containers did not arrive.  We would have to do, as much as we could to facilitate filling the container as we could in the mean-time.  One of the containers arrived with only three days to go.  The other never did make it to the loading dock, but that is another story.

I volunteer much of my time to the B4H movement, and was one of the people preparing the 1300 bicycles for shipment.  While waiting for the shipping containers to arrive, a few of us got busy sorting the bicycles for fast packing.  Our group can get about five hundred and thirty bikes into a single container, but it is a bit of a trick to do so.  It was during this hectic time that I stumbled across the GS.  At first, I paid the bicycle little heed, because I was so busy.  To that add that the bike had the gemstone head badge, which generally suggested entry level, at best.  But then I noticed that the bicycle had quick release high flange hubs, front and rear.  Unusual for such a bike.  I looked further.

How had I missed the fact that the fork blades and stays, were chrome plated?  Only the Canadian Sekine's second from top of the line steed had offered this feature.  I looked closer.  Forged rear drops and an integral derailleur hanger were next to catch the eye.  But, the drops were rough and not the polished smooth ones, that I am accustomed to when inspecting a Sekine.  To be honest, I even question whether or not the drops are forged.  Of course, closer inspection of the rear drops make it clear that the transmission was not what was normally issued on a Sekine.  The more common Shimano Titlist transmission had been replaced with a Suntour offering on the GS.  The  Suntour V rear derailleur handled the cog jumping chores, while a Suntour Sprit swapped chain line between the 52 tooth big ring, and 42 tooth, small one.  It should be noted that, in the day of the GS, Suntour derailleurs were the leading edge, so to speak.  Though the derailleurs were not considered exotic or high end, they did work as well, or even better, than their so called betters.  But, that is another story.

The GS sported one of my favourite down tube shifter sets, the Suntour Power Shifter.  The shift levers are ratchet assisted, which basically means they are easier to pull as you shift to a lower gear.  The levers are comfortable, reasonably attractive and a pleasure to use.  When all friction down tube shifters are compared, most riders would have agreed that Suntour's Power Shifter was among the best to use.  It should be noted that the same ratchet technology is used in the handlebar mounted Suntour Barcon shifter, which are also a pleasure to use on a vintage road bicycle.  The Suntour Barcon, incidentally, if my personal favourite friction shifter, edging out its Campy competition with ease when ease of use is the issue.

Looking further I noticed that the high flange quick release alloy hubs were not Shimano.  Almost every Sekine previously viewed was fitted with the high flange Shimano offering.  The GS, however, was fitted with Sunshin high flange hubs and very attractive ones at that.  These beautiful old hubs were laced to rather ordinary 27" chrome plated steel rims.  Interestingly enough, the "as found" wheels were pretty true and would need little more than a good cleaning, followed by an application of fresh grease to bring them back to near perfect condition.

The bicycle's control center is, once again, nothing unusual, for an Asian bicycle of the Sekine's day.  An embossed SR alloy steering stem supported SR drop bars, identical to those installed on most Canadian issue Sekine bicycles.

Dia Compe, dual position, brake levers replaced the Shimano issue, that would have been found on the Canadian bicycle.  The dual position brake lever, also referred to as Safety Levers, were very common in the Bike Boom days of the very early seventies.  And, these levers, when set up properly to a properly trued wheel set, worked just fine.  One of the biggest issues noticed with the dual position lever is that the second lever often falls off due to vibration.  I learned of this the hard way and now ensure that all Safety Levers are mounted with a fresh application of Loctite.

Overall, this early Sekine, "as found", was in good condition.  The paint is better, than one would expect, from a forty year old bicycle and even the art work is still, mostly, intact.  Though the chrome plating, on the frame and fork set, is still very good some of the componentry chrome has developed a patina of surface rust.  Surface rust is not really all that difficult to clean off and often times with really great results.  Unfortunately, some of the Sekine components have suffered from rust pitting, and there is no simple, or inexpensive, way to address that problem.  Fortunately, I have some spare parts in The Old Shed, that will be tough to find, but easy to install, should I ever decide to get down to Street Restoring this nice old Asian bicycle.