Bridgestone (7)

Not many of the groms out there associate “Bridgestone” with anything but car tires; however, Bridgestone bikes had been one of the premiere brands brought to the US out of Japan. They even produced one of, if not the lightest production mountain bike of its day with the steel 24.3 lb MB-∅ (also known as the MB Zip).  Two and a half decades later and that bike and many of the other early Bridgestone bikes are sought after collectibles.

Now in Taipei we got a look at a new range that is looking to bring Bridgestone back. For a start check out the carbon goodies they brought to the show, and a pretty cool steel specimen that purists will love…


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Walking into the Bridgestone booth, I immediately turned back into my 18 year-old self and had the urge to ask for some free schwag stickers (none were to be had, but I did get a cool catalog). Quick history: Back in the day preparing to buy my first real bike, I read magazine after magazine researching bikes and components, and though I found a couple of cool bikes, when I walked into a shop and saw the Bridgestone MB-3, time stopped. Ritchey Logic tubing, fork, cockpit & wheels, and Deore DX drivetrain… that was THE bike! Nostalgia aside, Bridgestone has a very long history with bicycles dating back to 1949 and has been continuously manufacturing frames based out of Japan ever since.

Up top is their carbon X9B Elite XC mountain bike with 27.5 wheels. It looks to cross off all of the marks with internal routing, rear thru-axle, etc. It only comes in small and medium sizes for now according to their catalog and is the only carbon model in the line-up. They do list an aluminum X6B with SLX that does come in S, M & L.

Bridgestone X9b

Bridgestone Bridgestone RXR Pieces Bridgestone RXR

On the asphalt side, Bridgestone is hitting the pavement pretty hard with their road line-up. Leading the pack… and not new (at least in Japan), they offer a full custom RXR Frame (above) which can be custom measured by the millimeter and be set up with one of seven levels of ride quality depending on what its intended purpose is.

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Bridgestone P1100306 Bridgestone (6)

Topping the off-the-shelf line of road bikes are the Dura Ace equipped R9R & Ultegra’ed R9R Elite road bikes. They share a high modulus carbon frame sporting a tapered headtube, and a sort of down/seattube yoke (bottom right) of sorts I assume to increase drivetrain stiffness under load. Racing has always been a part of Bridgestone’s heritage, and they currently sponsor the Bridgestone-Anchor UCI continental cycling team who pilot the R9R.

Bridgestone R9R

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They also offer carbon a couple of models down, including the R8R (cream white, title pic) and the R8L above which gets as small as the petite 39cm frame with a 49cm TT that is said to fit someone down to about 4′-8″ (142cm)!

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Speeding things up is the R9T time trial bike. Bridgestone made the fork, downtube, and asymmetric chainstays as stiff as possible to increase the bike’s stability at high speeds. The R9T’s frame is designed for Shimano Di2 ONLY (though I guess now SRAM’s eTap would fit right in), and even has a Di2 specific battery compartment in the lower seat tube area that is accessible from the BB. Bridgestone designed a unique aero-stem that follows the R9T’s lines and is integrated with the frame so that there is minimal air disturbance behind it.

Bridgestone R9T

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For the NASCAR velodrome fans, (c’mon, you chuckled), the high modulus carbon T9r “Short Track” frame is designed for the shorter sprint races, and they also have a T8R frame designed for longer track events, both of which have been ridden under some of Japan’s national team.

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Bridgestone (16) Bridgestone Neocot Pieces

Nothing at all new, but I couldn’t be happier than to see Bridgestone still making their “Neo-Cot” steel frames. They first debuted the this frame technology at 1991’s Interbike. The tubing is custom drawn and in a sense “hydro-formed” to bulge the tubing without heating, then shaped to create a “lugless” connection to the headtube, (since the formed ends of the tubes themselves ARE the lugs). Here is a cool video in Japanese that gives you a good idea how this process is done.

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Ironically this is a first in recent years decades, (as far as I know) for Bridgestone bike tires. Only road for now, (though there was a Bridgestone mountain bike tire on their X9B, they said it was only for display), they have an entry-level training tire that comes in 25c, their “race tires” are all 23c, as is a light-weight hill-climb tire.

Bridgestone’s “Sports Bicycle Business Department” is being run by former Bridgestone sponsored Olympic athlete Mitsuhiro Suzuki who placed 25th in the 1988 Seoul Olympic’s road race for Japan. At the show a former long-time employee (who was around in the earlier days and still helps out now and then) mentioned that the limited sizing run (for now) is due to Bridgestone primarily aiming to supply Japan and other parts of Asia, as well as some European countries whose riders aren’t as sizable (as us corn-fed ‘Mericans). So they’ve rarely had much demand for larger sized bikes. That said, they are completely open to US distribution with the right partner and will cross that line when they get to it. *fingers crossed*

BScycle.co.jp

30 comments

  1. Chris on

    My first MTB was a 1987 Bridgestone MB-1 which was unusual in that it came with dropbars which were rarely seen outside of Cunningham, Klein and Potts bikes. The Bridgestone we think of in the US with the MB-0, XO-1, etc. has almost nothing to do with the Bridgestone in Japan and almost everything to do with Grant Petersen. The Japanese Bridgestone never went away, they only left the US market (along with most Japanese bike brands such as Nishiki and Miyata) in the early 90s. I would love to see Bridgestone and Miyata make a return to the US at some point.

    Reply
  2. Ventruck on

    First I thought this was some half-assed attempt, but this article was way longer than expected. Definitely want to take a shot at the tires.

    Reply
  3. Heffe on

    WILL THEY HIRE GRANT PETERSEN to run the new Bridgestone? Ha ha! I loved my first mountain bike, a gray and white MB-1.

    Reply
  4. Gillis on

    The steel is gorgeous and stands out, while the carbon is just like everything else. It seems like they would do better focus on the former rather than compete in an already saturated carbon market.

    Reply
  5. anonymous on

    I take it these are ‘Anchor’ bikes, except branded as Bridgestone? I was really hoping for “What bike do you have?” “My bike is an anchor”.

    Also you can blame Grant Petersen for Bridgestone pulling out of the US market due to poor sales. Those ‘collectable’ designs weren’t big sellers. There’s a reason why Bridgestone-Japan didn’t keep Grant on as a bike designer when they pulled out of the US, and Grant made a much smaller niche company to make his designs.

    Reply
    • Chris on

      Actually it had very little to do with Grant. If you think that then you really don’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about. Starting in the late 80s the dollar began to lose value against the Yen. By the early 90s it had lost more than half it’s value making Japanese bikes too expensive. At the same time this was happening mass frame building was moving to Taiwan. This double whammy basically left most Japanese brands unable to compete in the US. It’s not exactly a coincidence that so many Japanese brands pulled out of the US market more or less at the same time as Bridgestone. Nishiki, Panasonic, Miyata, Kuwahara, Maruishi, Shogun and Takara all left the US around the same time.

      Reply
      • anonymous on

        Bridgestone had poor sales compared to those other brands. This is something even BOBs admit. They just claim the poor sales were because the designs were superior and misunderstood.

        Like I said, they didn’t keep Grant on to design their Japanese bikes for a reason.

        Reply
          • anonymous on

            Honestly, this is something Grant/BOBs will admit, they just like to put a spin on it. Grant’s designs, misunderstood or not, led to poor sales. You really can’t blame it on the marketing department either, because Grant was marketing director.

            Reply
  6. Tony Edwards on

    I had a 1991 MB-3 in purple and, later, a 1991 MB-0 (they sold them at a huge discount to shop employees when Bridgestone USA shut down in 1994). Great bikes, both. Kind of strange to see a Bridgestone-branded bike with carbon tubes and such different decals, but I guess progress marches on . . .

    Reply
  7. Veganpotter on

    That Di2 specific TT bike has the worst integration I could imagine. Why bother? Just say it’s E-Tap specific

    Reply
  8. QuickGeezer on

    Had an MB-3 for a few years; gave it to a friend; very sweet bike even around 30 years after it was made … hmm, maybe my friend isn’t riding it much…. Glad to see Bridgestone trying to get back into it, and sticking with some steel.

    Reply
    • Dan on

      Those MBs were absolutely work horses. Mine was stolen from my front porch. I would buy another one as a replacement in a minute. Do you know where to get them now? Or a similar sturdy make? I’d love to pick up an old XO as i don’t do as much trail riding.
      Thx.

      Reply
  9. JM Wintermute on

    I miss my first mountain bike, a yellow framed MB-3. It was stolen in college. I ever see it beware… It had some unique upgrades as I saved every penny in middle and high school summer jobs to upgrade it.

    Reply
  10. John on

    I worked at a Bridgestone dealer in the early 90’s. The lower end models sold well, the higher end models were (are) great bikes but often under appreciated at the time. Many consumers were drawn to other brands offering such new fangled features as aluminum and suspension. The XO’s were great but ahead of their time.

    Reply
  11. Dave on

    Just picked an MB-4 for $30 at an estate sale. It laid in a pile of other bikes with rotted tires, grips and rat chewed cables. I fully restored it without too much trouble or expense. Kept it as OEM as I could. It’s just a damned cute bike and a definite keeper. Nothing fancy, Two interesting features are the BB mounted rear cantilever brakes and oblong chain rings. Will be a fun ride in addition to my Marin 29’er.

    Reply

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