During the process of doing my vintage Panasonic build and restorations I have had to hunt for vintage parts in order to bring certain bicycles back to spec.  As it turns out, the three most difficult bits to find (for me) ALL belong to the uber-cool AR-6000 Aero model bicycle.

The almost “unobtainium” bits found on the Panasonic AR-6000 Aero:

  1. Shimano Dura Ace AX Aero brake hood covers in bluish gray.  If you want your AR-6000 restoration to be perfect “catalog spec” then I wish you well in finding these uber rare replacement brake hoods.  In the past four years I do not believe I have ever seen them available individually.  To acquire some, be prepared to buy the entire brake lever assembly on eBay at considerable expense… and THAT is if you can even find them.
  2. The aero water bottle pictured on the AR-6000 in the catalogs.  Hint:  It isn’t a Dura Ace AX water bottle!  Logic would imply that since the bike was equipped with the Dura Ace AX part group that Panasonic would have also taken the easy route and selected the AX series water bottle.  No such luck!  As it turns out, the catalog spec’d water bottle is an O.G.K. Aero model water bottle which, as you might imagine, is rather difficult to find.  I spent 8 months looking for one and eventually found a pair of them still new in their original boxes in a southern California bike shop.  They cost me $140 for the pair back in 2008 and I’m not sure I have seen any since.  The easy route is to spent $70+ on Dura Ace AX bottles which turn up more often on eBay but it won’t be exactly catalog spec.
  3. The Ariake Aero Nu-Buck saddle.  I seriously think Panasonic had them custom made just for the AR-6000 and then made only as many saddles as they did AR-6000 bikes.  In 5 1/2 years I have not once seen one for sale that wasn’t already attached to the bicycle.  I have pretty much given up home of ever finding an original Panasonic branded Ariake Aero saddle.  My AR-6000 restoration will likely end up using a Kashimax Aero saddle or San Marco Concor.

Honorable mentions:

  1. The orange colored Selle Italia Flite Titanium (non-Gel) saddle for my PR-6000 build took more than 2 years to locate.  In the end, it was my “wanted” ad here on the PBVM web site that led me to a nice NOS example within months of my placing the ad.  Let that be a lesson to those of you hunting tirelessly for an odd part etc.  Use our FREE classified ad system to post a wanted ad.
  2. New old stock Shimano Sante components for my 1989 PICS Team Custom.  When you have a perfect new old stock frame you tend to want your components to be equally nice.  When you are mental enough to attempt a new old stock Shimano Sante build you tend to make your life a bit more challenging that it really needs to be.  Sante was release as a part group between Shimano 600 and Dura Ace, and at the time it was sort of looked upon as the fashionistas choice or perhaps even a bit poseur-ish.  The ironic thing is that most of the used Sante components I would come across via eBay or online classifieds shows signs of HEAVY use.  I almost never see near mint Sante components like I do with other component groups.  Maybe the cycling press was wrong about Sante?  At any rate, it has taken over a year to come up with my new old stock Sante components for the PICS Team Custom build and the most difficult bits to find were the cranks, bottom bracket and headset.  Finding a very nice used headset or in my case, new old stock, was the biggest challenge.
  3. The 1985 Panasonic Team Europe I.  Yes, the whole darn bicycle!  I have wanted one forever and did see one for sale a few years back and even had the chance to buy it at the time but I hesitated since I tend to be OCD about my bikes and wasn’t sure it was worth the asking price.  I still kick myself mentally on an almost daily basis for that.  Live and learn!
  4. Araya Aero 4 rims no longer grow on trees (just in case you were wondering).
  5. Red Mavic Open Pro SUP 32 hole rims for the ’89 PICS Team Custom build.  Finding them in blue for my PR-6000 was also a challenge but not nearly as hard as red for some reason.
  6. New old stock PICS frames still in the box.  They are about as common as flying unicorns that sing old Van Halen tunes… as in, you almost never see them.
  7. Titanium framed Panasonics.  Enough said.