Biwakoguma: Osaka to Tokyo

Lee Basford
6 min readDec 12, 2018

Riding a handmade bicycle is something special; riding a steel frame made with your own hands takes things to an entirely different level. Tsuyoshi Ishizu, Japanese frame builder, rode from Osaka to Tokyo with his 10-year-old son to test one of his latest creations.

When I first met Tsuyoshi Ishizu I knew very little about his handmade bike project, Biwakoguma. His introduction to steel frame building, I later discovered, was partially circumstantial due to skills he already possessed as an artist working with metal.

Four years ago he decided to return to cycling after a long absence, signing up to the Mount Hiei hill climb race before he even had a bike to begin training. While waiting for a bespoke frame to be made, he was told it wouldn’t be ready in time for the race, so it was suggested that he build the frame himself.

Igniting a new passion for cycling, this experience formed the beginnings of team Biwakoguma, which is made up of local cyclists who all ride frames built with their own hands at Tsuyoshi’s workshop. The bikes definitely have a classic appearance, which is down to Tsuyoshi’s personal taste. He also prefers down tube shifters for their connection to the physical mechanics of changing gear, especially for his son. It’s his belief that by beginning with this classic gearing method, young riders have a stronger connection to how things work, important at an early age when you could easily be bamboozled by the convenience of modern shifters.

Lee Basford

Designer, photographer, illustrator and artist. living in and around the overlap of art, design, photography and bikes |