DISRAELI GEARS

Sanko

Sanko derailleur main image Sanko PA derailleur main image Sanko Procyon PV-III derailleur main image

In about 1986 I was at a European trade show, possibly Milan, and was mooching around the stand of one of the prestige Italian frame builders witnessing a new phenomenon - an Italian framebuilder showing identical frames kitted out in Campagnolo C-Record, Shimano Dura-Ace 7400 and SunTour Superbe Pro. An Italian frame builder displaying Japanese equipped bicycles would have been unthinkable just a couple of years before this - and here the Japanese equipped models were displayed in a way that implied that they were the equal of Campagnolo.

Also on the stand was a Japanese man, who I think was another exhibitor. He noticed that I was speaking english and asked me what I thought of this display of three models. I said that I thought it was evidence of a turning point - and that I thought Campagnolo would struggle because the Japanese brands not only held the technical high ground, but I also thought they held the aesthetic high ground with more composed and visually integrated designs, and they even held a kind of moral high ground in that they seemed to me to be actively striving to deliver ‘the best’, whatever it took, while Campagnolo seemed to be sitting on their very considerable laurels.

The Japanese man sighed and said that neither Shimano nor SunTour were really the ‘Japanese Campagnolo’. That title truly belonged to a company called Sanko which had unfortunately gone out of business in the 1960’s.

He explained that, in his view, Shimano and Suntour, at heart, were really mass manufacturers of mid range gears who designed a high-end offering to provide a halo effect for their range. In contrast Sanko had been truly and completely dedicated to making ‘the best’. In a better world Sanko would have survived and there would have been four bikes on that display - one equipped with whatever wonders Sanko would have been producing if they had survived.

This is a sentiment that I have come across in various forms on a few occasions since. Sanko derailleurs still appear to be highly regarded in Japan, and the Procyon models in particular are highly prized by collectors.

Sanko was founded by Mr. Kuno Nobutoshi, I think shortly after 1945. It was based in Tokyo. The first derailleur, produced in 1947, was a double cable type. I believe this was the first derailleur produced in Japan.

In 1951, I believe that Sanko produced a single cable pull-chain derailleur, derivative of a Simplex design, with two sprung pivots. A series of other designs followed throughout the 1950’s, including the F-1 and F-2, which appear to be derivative of Cyclo designs, with a sprung pivot and an unsprung pivot.

In 1963 Sanko produced their first parallelogram derailleur the PA, and true to form, it was a quality item and was used by the Japanese national cycling team at the Tokyo Olympics. They did also produce a budget derailleur, the PF, which was a ‘flat plate’ design a bit like a Huret Svelto or Shimano Pecker.

In 1965 Sanko launched the Procyon PV-I, an aluminium deraileur that was arguably the most advanced derailleur in the world at the time. The legend is that the cost of developing the Procyon derailleurs bankrupted the company and it disappeared shortly after producing the Procyon PV-III in 1966.

Some of the best information I have found is on this Japanese language web site.

Finally I should note that there is a Japanese brand of high quality bicycle frame tubing called ‘Sanko’ that is available to this day. I do not know whether this tubing is made by a company called ‘Sanko’, or whether it has any connection at all with Sanko derailleurs.


see also New Cycling 01/1963 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 01/1963 - Sanko ad

  • Publisher: New Cycling
  • Date: January 1963
  • Derailleur brands: Sanko
  • Derailleurs: Sanko H-1, Sanko H-2, Sanko S, Sanko F-1
New Cycling January 1963 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 03/1963 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 03/1963 - Sanko ad

New Cycling March 1963 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 09/1963 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 09/1963 - Sanko ad

New Cycling September 1963 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 04/1964 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 04/1964 - Sanko ad

New Cycling April 1964 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 12/1964 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 12/1964 - Sanko ad

New Cycling December 1964 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 04/1965 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 04/1965 - Sanko ad

New Cycling April 1965 - Sanko advert (1st style) thumbnail


see also New Cycling 04/1965 Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 04/1965 Sanko ad

New Cycling April 1965 - Sanko advert (2nd style) scan 1 thumbnail


see also New Cycling 07/1965 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 07/1965 - Sanko ad

New Cycling July 1965 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 08/1965 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 08/1965 - Sanko ad

New Cycling August 1965 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 11/1965 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 11/1965 - Sanko ad

New Cycling November 1965 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 01/1966 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 01/1966 - Sanko ad

New Cycling January 1966 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 02/1966 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 02/1966 - Sanko ad

New Cycling February 1966 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 03/1966 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 03/1966 - Sanko ad

New Cycling March 1966 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 08/1966 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 08/1966 - Sanko ad

New Cycling August 1966 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 09/1966 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 09/1966 - Sanko ad

New Cycling September 1966 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 10/1966 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 10/1966 - Sanko ad

  • Publisher: New Cycling
  • Date: October 1966
  • Derailleur brands: Sanko
  • Derailleurs: Sanko Procyon PV-II?
New Cycling October 1966 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 11/1966 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 11/1966 - Sanko ad

New Cycling November 1966 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 02/1967 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 02/1967 - Sanko ad

New Cycling February 1967 - Sanko advert thumbnail



see also New Cycling 07/1967 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 07/1967 - Sanko ad

New Cycling July 1967 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 09/1967 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 09/1967 - Sanko ad

New Cycling September 1967 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 11/1967 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 11/1967 - Sanko ad

New Cycling November 1967 - Sanko advert thumbnail


see also New Cycling 03/1968 - Sanko ad

see also New Cycling 03/1968 - Sanko ad

New Cycling March 1968 - Sanko advert thumbnail
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