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  • Eijiro KashimaPHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF EIJIRO KASHIMA
  • PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF EIJIRO KASHIMA

Eijiro Kashima: World Class Saddles

, 2009/12/10

Keirin Bicycling has captured the attention of both the bicycle and street scenes over the past several years. Many enthusiasts know of the legendary Keirin bicycle frame make, Nagasawa Racing and just as many know of the humanly impossible feats of 10 time World Track Bike Champion Nakano Koichi. What perhaps no one in the western hemisphere has yet to discover is that Kashima Tetsuo, the second heir to Kashima Saddle Manufacturing has quietly been part of this history all along. He was busy talking and listening to Nagasawa San and Nakano San in order to create what is widely considered the ultimate Keirin seat- the Five Gold racing saddle. The seat is light & thin in order to allow racers to reach their maximum pedaling power. At present, Kashimax Saddle is the sole supplier of racing seats to professional Keirin racers both in Japan and Korea while remaining the sole saddle maker still manufacturing it’s product in Japan.

The company was started in 1936 by Kashima Kingo who was producing leather bicycle saddles before WWII both for Japan and the world. The company really took off when Tetsuo, Kashima’s son came up with a new seat design for BMX bikes, the legendary Aero BMX. The current president and grandson of Kingo, Eijiro Kashima explains, “The company was shipping full airplanes- loaded with the Aero BMX seats, like 3 times a week,” they were a phenomena. But as times changed, competition increased and BMX’s popularity dwindled from a hyped trend to a hobby and sub-culture. The next hit for the company needed to be found or the innovative saddle maker would be bound to the same fate of extinction like past Japanese saddle makers Fujita and Ariake.

“I came up with the KASHIMAX,” says a shy Eijiro. It’s success is based on a few simple factors- its got a bit of cushion on the seat frame- but still keeps the great design of the Aero, it’s hand made and the seat comes in 81 colors.” It’s Eijiro’s ambition to once again bring Kashimax Saddle Manufacturing back to the forefront of the bicycle world. He recently collaborated with fashion designer and bicycle lover Paul Smith and joined forces with an exclusive seat to be sold at Chari & Co., NYC.

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