I recently needed to build a wheelset for a bike with 122mm rear spacing. That meant that I could re-use its original Sunshine Pro Am hubs (spaced at 120mm on the rear), taken off the original tubular rims, or select a NOS hub set of similar quality and from the same era (mid-1970’s). This might expand my hub choice options, because I could probably more easily locate a 126mm rear axle set, which the rear dropouts can easily accept without having to spread the rear triangle.
I ended up locating a 1980 NOS Ofmega Gran Premio 6200 hubset, with low flanges and 32 holes front and rear. I had previously restored a few bikes that featured Ofmega components, so was familiar with Ofmega’s quality.
Both sets were similar in weight, with the Ofmega set being only slightly heavier, probably due to the longer rear axle and fewer holes in the flanges. To verify my initial impression of the quality of Ofmega components, I researched the history of the company and discovered that its beginnings are murky at best.
According to VeloBase, the Italian component maker was founded by Mario and Dino Perotti sometime in the 1960’s, when they obtained patents for various bottom bracket designs. It is posited by the disraeligears site that Ofmega had a relationship to the OMG Company, which in turn may have included the Gnutti brand in its portfolio. By 2006, Ofmega appears to have finally shut down, although the exact date and cause of its demise is unknown. For better or for worse, Ofmega is best known for its colorful and strangely shaped rear derailleurs, which evoke derision or amusement, depending on your perspective.
Sunshine/Sansin’s history is similarly opaque. I had believed that Sunshine was somehow part of Maeda and SunTour, but I wasn’t sure. After a number of failed English language Google searches, I tried searching on Yahoo’s Japanese search engine, and came across a Wikipedia post (in Japanese) that I used Google translate to read, then took a picture of the brief entry, shown above. This confirmed that Sunshine was indeed a division of Maeda industries, a company with a very long history going back to 1912. This lead me to focus on what Maeda was doing in the 1970’s when my Sunshine Pro Am hubs were made.
From there I discovered that Howie Cohen of West Coast Cycles (and creator of the NIshiki brand in cooperation with Kawamura of Japan), was instrumental in encouraging Japanese component makers to bring high quality bicycles and components to the US market. Howie has passed away, but a website dedicated to his work lives on. Howie had personal relationships and went cycling with many of the leaders of Japan’s cycling industry, and successfully convinced them that Americans were sick and tired of riding our heavy one speed balloon tired clunkers. He turned out to be right.
I ended up deciding to re-use the bike’s original Sunshine Pro Am hubs, which I built using Velo Orange 650b rims. I had a set of Grand Bois 32mm tires that I had originally planned to use for another project which never materialized. The tires were relatively easy to mount, although it did take a few inflation/deflation attempts to seat the tires correctly on the rims. As you can see from the above photos, the highly polished V-O rims look quite fine.
I’m glad I went with the Sunshine hubs – this is my new (old) 1975 Centurion Pro Tour, converted to 650b. I will share more about the conversion in an upcoming post, but let’s just say for now that I am having a blast riding this well-handling and beautiful old machine.