Kuwahara (bicycle company)

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Kuwahara Company
Native name Japanese: 桑原商会
Romanized name Kuwahara Shōkai
Industry Bicycle manufacturing
Founded 1918
Founders Sentaro Kuwahara
Headquarters Osaka, Japan
Area served
  • Japan
  • North America
  • Europe
  • Australia
A white Kuwahara brand BMX bike.

Kuwahara Company (桑原商会 Kuwahara Shōkai?) is a Japanese bicycle company manufacturing both bicycles and parts.

The company was started as a small family business in Osaka, Japan in 1918 by Sentarō Kuwahara (桑原仙太郎).[1] With his wife and eight children, he began a local bicycle parts wholesaler.[2] In 1925 Kuwahara began to export bicycles and parts to Russia, China and Southeast Asia, closing the business from 1940 to 1945 during World War II.[3] 1959 saw the first delivery of Kuwahara bikes to the USA. Sentaro Kuwahara died the following year, with his son Masao taking his place.

In 1962 Kuwahara sent its first shipment of Apollo brand sport bicycles to Canada and in 1968 began exporting private label bikes to the USA for other companies such as Schwinn, Takara, Puch, Azuki and others.

The first Kuwahara branded bikes for export came in 1972 when it began developing BMX bicycles for the North American, European and Australian markets.

Howie Cohen — who had previously operated West Coast Cycle, importer of Nishiki bikes — founded the company Everything Bicycles and worked with Kuwahara to build and import BMX bikes carrying the Kuwahara brand name, developing the first major BMX distributorship.[4]

To make the Kuwahara brand name a household word, Cohen ran a promotion giving free stickers to children who called a toll-free phone number and could correctly pronounce the brand name.[5] In 1989, Cohen sold the Kuwahara name back to the Japanese parent company.[6]

The Kuwahara brand gained international recognition and popularity when its BMX model was used in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Following the success of the film, Kuwahara began producing red and white "ET models" in three price and quality levels.[7] Kuwahara reissued the "ET model" in 2002 as part of ET's twentieth anniversary.

Takuo Kuwahara started Kuwahara International in 1988.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "History". Kuwahara Bikeworks Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  2. ^ History of Kuwahara Bikes, Feel BMX
  3. ^ Kuwahara BMX Company "About" page
  4. ^ "Early BMX Pioneers". American Bicycle Association BMX. 
  5. ^ "A lifetime in the Bicycle Industry, Howie Cohen". Bicycle Industry and Retailer News, Steve Frothingham, August 1, 1999. 
  6. ^ "Bicycles in his blood". Kickstand Magazine, James Burrus, August 15, 2009. 
  7. ^ ET Kuwahara

External links[edit]