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Inside Shimano's Sakai Bicycle Museum — gallery

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Sakai's Bicycle Museum houses 200 years of cycling innovation

Sakai's Bicycle Museum houses 200 years of cycling innovation
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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The Eddy Merckx that Lance Armstrong rode to his 1993 world championship victory hangs in the rafters

The Eddy Merckx that Lance Armstrong rode to his 1993 world championship victory hangs in the rafters
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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What do guns and knives have to do with cycling innovation? A shared history of craftsmen skilled in metal work

What do guns and knives have to do with cycling innovation? A shared history of craftsmen skilled in metal work
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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Origin of species: the drasine, designed by Karl von Drais, was more strider than bicycle

Origin of species: the drasine, designed by Karl von Drais, was more strider than bicycle
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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In 1861 Pierre Michaux invented a bicycle with cranks mounted to the front wheel

In 1861 Pierre Michaux invented a bicycle with cranks mounted to the front wheel
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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A metal spoon brake pressed against the rear wheel to bring it to a stop, or at least slow it down

A metal spoon brake pressed against the rear wheel to bring it to a stop, or at least slow it down
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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Since this early bicycle used cranks arms fixed to the front axle, riders placed their legs on these curved stirrups when speeds exceeded that which they could pedal

Since this early bicycle used cranks arms fixed to the front axle, riders placed their legs on these curved stirrups when speeds exceeded that which they could pedal
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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Not every part of a vintage bicycle ages with grace

Not every part of a vintage bicycle ages with grace
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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Invented in 1885, the "safety bicycle" replaced the penny farthing. These bicycles had chain-driven drivetrains and wheels that were close to each other in diameter

Invented in 1885, the "safety bicycle" replaced the penny farthing. These bicycles had chain-driven drivetrains and wheels that were close to each other in diameter
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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Braking still left something to be desired

Braking still left something to be desired
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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One more example of how nothing is new in cycling technology, early inventors were quick to experiment with suspension

One more example of how nothing is new in cycling technology, early inventors were quick to experiment with suspension
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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Not all the bikes in this museum look so primitive. This Breezer, one of the world's first mountain bikes, looks surprisingly modern, with its long top tube and relaxed head tube angle

Not all the bikes in this museum look so primitive. This Breezer, one of the world's first mountain bikes, looks surprisingly modern, with its long top tube and relaxed head tube angle
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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Meanwhile, some bikes that are just a few years old can look dated in terms of wheelsize and geometry, such as Gee Atherton's world cup winning downhill bike from 2010

Meanwhile, some bikes that are just a few years old can look dated in terms of wheelsize and geometry, such as Gee Atherton's world cup winning downhill bike from 2010
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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Starting in 1995, Tatsu Sakimoto road this Cannondale on an epic four-year, 55,000km journey around the globe

Starting in 1995, Tatsu Sakimoto road this Cannondale on an epic four-year, 55,000km journey around the globe
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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This museum is as much a history of bicycle components as frame technology. Case in point: Shimano's early attempt using compressed air to actuate shifting

This museum is as much a history of bicycle components as frame technology. Case in point: Shimano's early attempt using compressed air to actuate shifting
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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This Shimano Airlines-equipped downhill bike is clearly a favorite with school children who visit the museum

This Shimano Airlines-equipped downhill bike is clearly a favorite with school children who visit the museum
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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One of Andy Hampsten's 7-Eleven team bikes from his 1988 Giro d'Italia win lives at the museum

One of Andy Hampsten's 7-Eleven team bikes from his 1988 Giro d'Italia win lives at the museum
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)
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If it wasn't a museum, you would think someone had a very beautiful hoarding problem

If it wasn't a museum, you would think someone had a very beautiful hoarding problem
(Image credit: Josh Patterson / Immediate Media)

This article first appeared on BikeRadar.

As a company, Shimano has deep roots in Sakai, an industrial city with centuries of experience in metalworking.

This expertise made the region a center for the development of weapons such as swords and firearms. Later, these same skills were put to use to produce many of Japan’s first bicycles.

What do guns and knives have to do with cycling innovation? A shared history of craftsmen skilled in metal work

Sakai, part of the larger metropolis of Osaka, is the headquarters of Shimano and is also home to the Bicycle Museum Cycle Center.

Funded by Shimano, this museum holds 200 years of cycling innovation. From the examples of the first Drasines, to penny-farthings and onto modern bicycles, including some that have won world championships, grand tours and circumnavigated the globe.

One more example of how nothing is new in cycling technology, early inventors were quick to experiment with suspension

Take a tour of this gallery for a look at some of the most interesting bicycles from two centuries of innovation and experimentation.