I first became aware of the Panasonic PR-6000 back in the early nineties after seeing one in a magazine photograph of a Panasonic Sportlife team rider. It wasn't the most detailed photo in the world but having spent my entire road bike riding life (to that point) on Panasonic bicycles I knew it looked amazing and I knew I wanted one. Unfortunately for me, Panasonic had ceased the importation and sales of their bicycles here in America after the 1989 model year. That made acquiring an actual PR-6000 little more than a pipe dream for me since it would require the importation of the bike from Europe or Japan.
The creation of the Panasonic Bicycles Virtual Museum web site and my quest for more and more Panasonic related literature eventually had me crossing paths with a fellow
enthusiast and collector in the Netherlands named Melvin. Melvin is a moderator over at Retrobike.co.uk and he had been kind enough to provide me with a few of his European market Panasonic catalogs for the site as well as a few pictures of his own Panasonics. During our discussions, I mentioned how I had always loved the PR-6000 and would still love to own one someday if I could somehow find one and get it here without blowing my life savings. Be careful what you wish for...
I logged on one morning to find a message from Melvin along with a link to a classified ad listing site in the Netherlands. Wouldn't you know it, Melvin had located a lightly used PR-6000 frame and fork for sale and he was now dangling the bait before my very eyes. It also turned out that Melvin worked for a shipping company there in the Netherlands and as a result was able to pack and ship the frame and fork to me here in America at a very reasonable rate. I jumped at the chance and bought it and Melvin went above and beyond my expectations and has proven that he really is a true gentleman as well as superhero collector of bicycles.
So how do you go about building your dream PR-6000? Do you stick to the basics and go for the 100% stock appearance or do you change things up a bit? I'm normally a stickler for stock originality but for some reason this PR-6000 just seemed to beg for a slightly over the top build. I decided to go for the period correct Dura Ace 7402 part group as that was pretty much a requirement on virtually any PR-6000. Rounding up the vintage Dura Ace components in suitable condition for the build took quite a bit of patience, time and of course money.
Growing up I always had a fascination with the over-the-top Italian race bikes with their pantographed stems, cranks and other bits. Back then, you would make a bike your own by changing out bits to save weight, improve quality or simply to make it look cool. I decided that my PR-6000 build would be built with a little added element of "pop" by
emphasizing the orange color within the color scheme.
I really wanted to find a set of blue colored Mavic Open Pro rims that could be laced to my Dura Ace hubs and finished off with orange Michelin Pro Race tires. Persistent browsing and bidding on eBay finally landed a set on my doorstep. I had a local friend (and Panasonic lover) custom build the wheels using DT Swiss spokes and the dream became a reality.
By far the most difficult component to find in the entire build (aside from the frame and fork) was the new-old-stock orange Selle Italia Flite Titanium saddle. I hunted for over 2 years before having one land in my lap. I can assure you, they don't grow on trees! Aside from that the other orange accents were easy enough to find. The cables are from Jagwire, the bar wrap is Cinelli cork and the orange bottle cage is made by Bontrager. Simple.
* I should note that the pictures of the bike do not show the completed bike. I had not yet adjusted the saddle, trimmed the RD cable or installed any shift cables yet.