3Rensho was conceived and created by Yoshi Konno. A year after establishing Cherubim Cycle in Tokyo with his brother Hitoshi, Konno opened the CYCLONE shop in Chiba circa 1974.
The name ‘San Rensho’ (3 Victories) commemorates the feat of a keirin rider ranking first on 3 consecutive days of racing (qualifying heats, semi-finals and finals). It did not happen often in keirin racing.
Yoshi Konno learned his craft taking apart Cinelli frames built in the 60’s. He would go on to design his own proprietary fittings and run a busy factory with 6 apprentices, including Masahiko Makino and Koichi Yamaguchi.
The 3Rensho legacy was built on the prestige and big money of keirin track racing. Many of the finest examples were built by Konno, Yamaguchi and Makino. In later years with production ramped up and with 6 apprentices there were some frames with spotty quality, especially in the contract builds for other manufacturers.
Konno mostly acted as shop supervisor and promoter rather than building all the ‘stock’ models himself. His genius however did present itself in the variety of experimental frames and fittings he designed and built. This variety is why it is often challenging to identify a ‘model’ of 3Rensho.
Early Cyclone/3Rensho models were quite similar to the Cinelli frames Konno dismantled to teach himself how to build: fastback stays, flat fork crowns, simple lugs. Later he would begin designing and custom cutting lugs, BB shells, fork crowns and ends. My favourites were his Modeulo webbed lug series, as well as his Katana 3-point series with Superends & Ohtsuya “bent plate” BB shells:
But along with this creative genius came a dark side and tragedy. Konno was an alcoholic. Everyone who knew him told him repeatedly not to drink and drive but it was not enough. In 1995 he was paralyzed from the neck down in an automobile accident – his last of many. 5 people were killed in that accident, something he’s had almost 2 decades to think about while the legend of 3Rensho has grown.
Yamaguchi left 3Rensho in the 1980’s to build for the USA national team. Makino continued to run 3Rensho for a number of years until he opened a shop under his own marquee. The keirin racer most associated with the 3RENSHO name is ‘The Monster’ Masamitsu Takizawa who dethroned legendary champion Koichi Nakano and won bronze at the world championships. Cherubim Cycle continues under the guidance of Yoshi’s talented nephew, Shinichi Konno.
For more info, pictures and catalogs check out the following pages:
From Andrew Muzi of Yellow Jersey:
On Yoshi Konno, 3Rensho & Cyclone
From aficionado duraace1957:
3Rensho: A Photoblog
From Classic Rendezvous: