How the Nichibei Fuji Cycle Company
Became Fuji Bicycles
Fuji Bicycles is a US bicycle distributor for bicycles manufactured in Poland, China, and Taiwan. The company was established in 1899 as the Nichibei Fuji Cycle Company, Ltd by Nichibei Fuji. The company gained recognition for selling high quality bicycles at a low price point and became the bicycle that was most popular in Japan. The company participated in Japanese bicycling competition and during the 1930s founded a national race known as the Tour de Japan which continues to be an important Asian bicycle race today.
It wasn’t until the 1950s, though, that the bike was introduced to American buyers through the distributor Toshoki America, Inc. who sold the bikes under a private label name through retailers like Montgomery Ward's and Sears.
At the same time, Fuji partnered with companies who supplied Japanese bicycle parts and was able to expand their sales into other markets in Asia. The 1964 Tokyo Olympic Japanese racing team had their bicycles designed by the company’s chief engineer, Dr. Shoichiro Sugihara. He did the same for the Japanese racing team that participated in the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico, as well as the 1972 Olympics which took place in Germany.
By 1971, the company was selling bicycles in America under their own name and quickly gained market share because of their low price, high quality business model. They successfully developed both a 10speed and a 12speed model bike during the seventies and managed to earn an endorsement by Richard Ballantine who had authored the bestselling book, "Richard’s Bicycle Book of the 1970s".
Fuji Bicycles continued to make large strides in the bicycle market. They were ranked #1 by Consumer Reports in their 1974, 1976, and 1980 editions. They sponsored the first women’s national racing team in 1978. They were the first to manufacture bikes with titanium frames. However, since their product line consisted mostly of touring and road bike, they were not able to compete effectively in a marketplace that suddenly went wild over mountain bikes. The demand for this new type of bike drove down the sales of other types of bikes and the company began experiencing economic trouble like so many of their competitors.
With the fall of the Japanese Yen, Fuji Bicycles found it difficult to continue to maintain an inexpensive price point in the United States, which contributed to the continued decline in sales. Eventually, Toshuku Ltd and its parent company Nichibei Fuji Cycle Company, Ltd Declared bankruptcy. The distribution of the Fuji brand was acquired by Advanced Sports, Inc.
Eventually Jadeland Pacific purchased controlling ownership of the company in 1998. Today, Ideal Bike Corporation owns a 60% share of Advanced Sports International Asia, Ltd which sells the Fuji brand in the Asian and American marketplace.
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