Bicycle Industry

11.3.11 | Chris King’s Cielo for Japan tsunami relief

Last year’s March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan abruptly ended the lives of thousands and profoundly impacted the lives of millions. Almost one year later, recovery efforts continue. A collaboration between Chris King and Japanese distributor SimWorks gives cyclists the opportunity to help.

This article assumes that readers will know the name Chris King – a person, and a brand, synonymous with exquisite bicycle headsets. Perhaps less well known is King’s background as a frame builder, under the marquee ‘Cielo’. From the Cielo website:

“Starting in 1978, Chris began fabricating steel road racing and touring frames from his small shop in Santa Barbara, CA. While many Cielo frames were sold to individual clients and bore the Cielo marque, the majority of Chris’ work was done for racing teams. Many Cielo frames were raced in the United States under the names of several prominent manufacturers and pedaled by some of the day’s most notable racers” 

In summary, the labour-intensive process of frame building proved a burdensome opportunity cost as Chris King’s headset business accelerated. Almost three decades passed before the auspicious appearance of a Cielo branded frame at the 2008 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS). King’s eponymous business no longer revolved around his personal manual output, so Cielo became properly operational again soon thereafter.

In the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2011, King was offered a project brief by Shinya Tanaka of SimWorks; the Japanese distributor for Chris King components and Cielo. Shinya promoted the concept of a limited edition Cielo frameset to help sustain earthquake and tsunami advocacy efforts. The project called for a small batch of ’11.3.11’ CX Racer frames to be produced in time for the late November Nobeyama Cyclocross race, with all profits being channeled into selected disaster relief funds.

In December 2011, Cycling iQ contacted Shinya by email to get some background on the collaboration with Cielo and a sales update. [Truthfully, I was also besotted with the 11.3.11 concept and wanted to know if Shinya would sell one to me in Australia – regrettably the ‘XS’ small size had since sold out]. As an owner of two very busy companies, it wasn’t until Wednesday this week that Shinya had a moment to elaborate. A small portion of Shinya’s email follows:

“When I was a middle-school boy, I found an abandoned bicycle at the station and repaired by my own hands…. this was a start of my bicycle life. Years later, I got so into MTB culture when I studied abroad in the U.S. and perfectly fell in love with it like a crazy bike geek. After all, I thought myself that I needed to become a bike shop owner and started “Circles” [refer to ‘more information’ below] 5 years ago. I have been dealed with my customers who want to ride “SURLY” and others for real. I also started importing some bike products and hand made frames [through his import company SimWorks] which are made by the people who know what “LIFE” is all about….

The 11.3.11 project is an answer through the idea of what me and Cielo team are able to do for the people who are suffering right now in Touhoku (North East Japan) area. We are planning to launch this idea to public fashion magazines, bike magazines, and culture magazines in March and April to let the people know what we are doing. We are still working on it.

Cielo’s team leader, Jay Sycip, designed the artwork and only five frames were produced. We still have four (Small x 2, Medium x 2) frames left and we would love to sell all of them and donate the money to the people who suffer now. 

The 11.3.11 edition CX Racer frame is being sold with an ENVE fork, and is priced at ¥270,000 (AUD3,250). The beneficial part of this sale will be donated through a specific charity (but “who” not decided yet).”

Basically, Shinya would be delighted to sell these frames internationally and is also able to provide estimates on freight to different regions. Payment is possible by wire transfer or by Circles’ Paypal account*. As mentioned, four framesets remain. The frameset is based on standard Cielo Cross Racer geometry, which can be viewed on the related product page.

NOTE: the Cielo ‘11.3.11’ CX Racer is clearly not within everyone’s budget. However, we can still help – the Japanese Red Cross Society has an earthquake and tsunami relief page through which international donations can be made HERE.

It is well beyond the scope of Cycling iQ to provide a distilled comprehension of how the people of Japan are still coping with the aftermath of an unimaginably cruel series of intertwined disasters. However, I’d encourage anyone with a spare 15 minutes to read the ‘Road to Recovery’ (December 2011, PDF) document on the official Prime Ministerial ‘Great East Japan Earthquake’ website.

More information and contact details

SimWorks: Email | Website
Circles: Email | Website
Chris King website
Cielo website

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