Thursday, August 23, 2007

The 3Rensho Specialized Allez

Earlier this year I was checking out the take off table at my LBS and I saw an old lugged red Specialized Allez frame and fork on sale for $65. I had been looking for a project bike so I picked it up. However the more I learned about this bike frame the more I think it was one of Allez frames of legend, made by the Cyclone company, aka 3Rensho . While most of the info on these frames is very anecdotal, I found this on a Google forum written by an importer/exporter.

"Specialized doesn't "build" anything. They, like Sears, look for vendors and lately it seems based mostly on price. Allez were originally built by I think Tano and Co., or at least a similar midsize bike company in Japan. The 1984~1988 models were designed and built by Yoshi Konno of Cyclone Ltd (3Rensho). At the time, the 3Rensho Athlete model was the same frame right down to the red paint except for the seatstay caps and a few other small details. Interestingly Allez was a house brand of the Holdsworthy Company, London, who did not pursue an American trademark so Specialized just took the name."

(I later received a comment from one of the founders of Specialized, Bryant Bainbridge, part of that is posted below*. He straitened out the facts, including, The notion that Specialized didn't design anything is pure crap!)

Also posted is another suspected 3Rensho frame.

The only info I have to add to the previous thread is from one of my mechanics. He says that the 3Rensho-built bikes have a slight slope to the fork crown (mine does) while the rest of the Allez line has a flat fork crown.

*portion of comment by Bryant Bainbridge
 The very first Allez's indeed came from Yoshi Kono and can be identified by the offset fork crown and long, super thin point lugs. Yoshi made these bikes for just a short period which I think ended in 1983. He made road, track and just a very small handful of funny bikes (less than 10). 
The notion that Specialized didn't design anything is pure crap. From the beginning some very fine framebuilders were employed to design bikes. Tim Neenan was first (Lighthouse frames), Jim Merz second and later Mark Dinucci joined our team. Mark is the man behind the thousands of frames made under the Strawberry label in the Pacific Northwest and later under his own brand. Among framebuilders his work is highly respected and folks like Sacha White at Vanilla speak of him with reverence. The details were sweated and that was what made these frame successful in the early days. At that time there was no middle ground, you either bought custom or settled for marginal fit and geometry.
 

http://www.wooljersey.com/gallery/v/Randy+Dugan/allez/

Based on my bike and other posts, I have identified the following traits that would indicate an Allez was made by 3Rensho. The basics are it came from the factory as a steel lugged frame and fork painted red. There is a slope to the fork crown. The bike has chromed Campy dropouts front and back. The frame is built with a Medalist bottom bracket shell and has no serial number. The only number on the shell is the frame size in centimeters (mine is a 56).


An interesting note on my frame was the bike came with a Suntour front derailleur, a Campy bottom bracket, and a Shimano 600 headset. When I removed the headset I found that the bottom of the head tube had not been faced. There was a bit of brazing material plugging up the head tube, but that did not stop someone from pounding the cup into the head tube anyway. Fortunately it did no harm to the frame and Paul @ Rocklobster Cycles was able mill and face the head tube. Since the frame was set up for JIS, Paul machined the head tube and fork to accept the Campy headset I was going to install.

The main problem with the 3Rensho frame is I have yet to find anyone you will stand up and say this is a confirmed 3Rensho frame and this is what it looks like. I’ll add more to this post as I learn more.

I received a post that this bike was not a 3Rensho because the fork was not offset. I'm not sure how he could tell with the tiny picture I posted, so I posted another showing the fork is obviously offset.


8 comments:

Dawes-man said...

Hello. My girlfriend has just bought a Specialized Alley which obviously comes from the same factory as yours, if you still have it... it has everything yours has. I was wondering, have you made any progress in identifying your Allez?

FWIW, one of my students works for Specialized Japan (I'm in Tokyo) and I asked him about the 3Rensho connection. He in turn asked one of the old hands at the company who reckons it's unlikely. He reckons the Allezs were built either by Miyata, Touyou or Shin Nomura.

randy.dugan said...

hi,

thanks for linking to my wool jersey page. great post! i do think you have the dates for th 3rensho allez wrong tho, it seems to be more like 1981-1984.

i also have to disagree with dawes-man; i have had personal correspondence with bryant bainbridge, former VP of sales at specialized at the time, and he confims that 3rensho built these bikes. i have had 2 of these bikes, and a few 3renshos, and the fork crown and lug work are unmistakable matches.

you can check the archives of the classic rendezvous mail list at www.bikelist.org for more info on these bikes.

cheers,
randy dugan

spokesniffer said...

Folks,

I just stumbled across this blog only because my name was imbedded in it. I think I can shed some light here. I am the 'Bryant Bainbridge' mentioned here, but was never the VP of sales, rather the Director of R&D at Specialized when most of these bikes were made.

The very first Allez's indeed came from Yoshi Kono and can be identified by the offset fork crown and long, super thin point lugs. Yoshi made these bikes for just a short period which I think ended in 1983. He made road, track and just a very small handful of funny bikes (less than 10).

The notion that Specialized didn't design anything is pure crap. From the beginning some very fine framebuilders were employed to design bikes. Tim Neenan was first (Lighthouse frames), Jim Merz second and later Mark Dinucci joined our team. Mark is the man behind the thousands of frames made under the Strawberry label in the Pacific Northwest and later under his own brand. Among framebuilders his work is highly respected and folks like Sacha White at Vanilla speak of him with reverence. The details were sweated and that was what made these frame successful in the early days. At that time there was no middle ground, you either bought custom or settled for marginal fit and geometry.

The production Allez's in 1984 were made at Miyata and later yet, a few additional small factories, but Shin Nomura and Toyo were not among them. Toyo did make some of the earliest stumpjumpers.

Its great to see continued interest in the work we did 20 years ago.

Thanks, Bryant Bainbridge

Jan said...

Not a 3Rensho. Sorry. It lacks the offset fork crown that was used on the 3Rensho-built Allez bikes.

Brad G said...

Jan,
Bisssst! Oh I'm sorry it does have an offset fork crown, but thanks for playing. Maybe we can find some parting gifts. Seriously, why would you make such a off hand observation with no evidence what so ever to base it on? Thanks for reading and posting, but you sound so sure of yourself and yet you were so wrong..

gsc said...

here's some photos of the differences between the 3rensho allez and others:

http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/2011/01/specialized-allez-3rensho-built.html

thanks for sharing such a pretty bike.

Sean Lozano said...

Sean here. does it have to have campy dropout? could they also be shimano?

John Moralee said...

Hi Toa lla i'm trying to track down the paint mix for a 1983 3rensho Allez and notice that Bryant Bainbridge had commented on here, does anyone know how to get int touch with Bryant or who could help with the original paint mix and stickers for the bike? my email is jbmgt4@gmail.com thanks heaps regards John Moralee