Updated 1.16.2011

The Sekai company itself was a small family owned importer of Japanese goods and Sekai bikes and frames. It grew out of a store called Velocipede which still exists and is owned by the same family. The Sekai name was co-owned by Shinwa trading company, who did all the exporting from Japan for Sekai. At one time, they owned four stores plus Sekai, and they did a mail order business through the Velocipede catalog.

Bob Freeman models Sekai jersey

Sekai Bicycle Company was started in Seattle in the late 60s by a local family with Japanese roots and connections. They had started as Velocipede bike shop and were importing bikes and parts from Europe and Asia. They developed a small mail order business, and grew quickly in the bike boom years, practically selling bikes right out of the truck at times. They partnered with Shin-wa trading company of Osaka to contract Sekai bikes to be built by several Japanese factories. The top of the line Sekai 4000 road and track frames, and superlight 5000 frames were made by a small custom frame shop called Miki. They had several distribution partners for the bikes including Merry Sales of San Francisco, Yellow Jersey of Madison, Freewheel Bike Co-op of Minneapolis, and Turin Denver. In 1977 Sekai was forced by Shinwa and its Japanese suppliers to divorce their retail and mail order operation from the wholesale, and start over as Sekai Bicycle Company. Sekai was undercapitalized and fell victim to rapidly increasing exchange rates in the late 70s, and eventually was taken over by another Shin-wa customer, Norco of Canada. They discontinued the Sekai name in favor of the Norco brand in the early 90s, but finally pulled out of the US market in the mid 90s. The family still owns the Velo Bike Shop in Seattle.”

“The owners were former racers and always wanted to have a high profile presence in Seattle so started a racing team also called Velocipede of Seattle. They got some sponsorship from Sugino and also chipped some in through their Sekai brand name. They spawned such racers as Mark Pringle (later to be a National Team member and ride in Europe), Rebecca Twigg (later to be World Champion), Kay Henshaw (World Masters Champion), Graham Garcia, Jane Robinson (National Road Champion), Linda Peters, and Dennis Palmer. The team pretty much folded when Norco took over the company in 1979.”

Robert D Freeman

Sekai 4000 Professional track bike, popular at the
Marymoor Velodrome in the late 1970s and early 80s.