I’ll never forget the first time I saw this bike. It stood out amongst all others down at DISC for Northcote CC’s club racing.
It had a goofy stem on it which pointed at the sky, disrupting it’s otherwise elegant and speedy stance. It LOOKED like a pursuit bike, but was a standard 700c design with an aggressively sloped top tube, sharp clearances and fast back seat design borrowed from Cino Cinelli.
Ridden by Mark Neiwand, brother of Gary, explained why it had the position altered as Mark had a few inches in height on his older brother.
I’d seen many 3Rensho’s on the internet, fewer in the flesh, and even fewer with a connection to the Japanese roots of which the NJS frames were made famous. I had to find out more.
Years later I had the opportunity to interview Gary Neiwand for a RIDE Magazine ‘Retro Review’ about his Columbus MAX Eurosport which he won both the Keirin / Sprint World Championships in 1993. Part of the yarn was some great tales from his time in Japan relating to the 3Rensho bike which was not appropriate for the story – but is here.
The International Keirin series was Japan’s invitation to the World’s best track sprinters to ride against the local talent. It was also an opportunity for these professional athletes to make good money in their off-season. The International riders were allowed to race in categories ranked below the top, which also restricted how much money they could earn.
Before the invited talent could race they had to attend and pass Keirin school each and every year. This was a series of hoops that Gary never enjoyed and had poor results through the training, but when there was a carrot to chase he was nearly untouchable – a trait which earned respect from his Sensei’s as they could appreciate that he raced serious when it WAS serious.
It is well known that the Internationals would form alliances, as would the Japanese riders. Gary won the International Series in his first year in Japan and Yoshi Konno of 3Rensho approached Gary, wanting to sponsor him with a frame for his next season. Measurements were sent to the builder and when it arrived Gary felt it was the wrong size but rode it anyway – to another International Series win no less.
As I would frequently do ‘back in the day’ I chanced upon a listing of a 3Rensho in the Trading Post, and after a making a call, Gary picked up the phone. He was selling the frame. It was too small for me but I relished the opportunity to build it up with all NJS components before selling it for him.
I rode it 100km – to Mordialloc and back, and to this day it remains one of the most painful rides due to the saddle which is like an unpadded fence rail.
Though Yoshi Konno is no longer with us his legacy lives on through his creations and this is one of the standouts.