Touring - Buying a touring bike in Japan!?!
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05-01-06, 01:04 AM
I'm going to do a 4 week tour in Japan this summer/fall. I currently have a full suspension mountain bike, that I use for trails and city commutes daily (with slick tires on). I had first thought to buy a BOB trailer to carry all of my camping gear, because I can't put a rear rack on my mtb. I know it'd be harder riding with a mtb, but it would save me the cost of buying a new touring bike. Problem is, I can't find a BOB trailer or dealer in Japan to save my life...so I could buy one when I return to Canada for a short trip before my Japan trip (sorry, I live in Japan by the way).
Recently though, I came across what seems to be a pretty decent touring bike, made by Giant, called Great Touring 2. http://www.cso.co.jp/bikeshop/giant05/greatjourney2.html I know the page is in Japanese, and from what I can find researching the net, is its only in Japan.
Here's my choices... I can buy this touring bike, its fully decked out with 4x20L bags front and rear racks, drop down handebars, fenders, lights etc... OR.....I can keep my MTB, put some mtb fenders on it, find a BOB trailer, reflectors, etc... Any thoughts on this folks??
If anyone has checked this bike out before, let me know please!
05-01-06, 01:48 AM
I met Okano on the mountain pass my home is off of, last year. He was from Japan doing his own self supported park-to-park tour and guess what bike he was on. He seemed really happy with it and it hadn't given him any trouble after covering half of his planned route. (Link following image shows what he had done and I drew a simple yellow line to give an idea of what he had left.)
I didn't study the bike that closely because I was too busy trying to understand Japanese. :)
I thought you might like to see the setup in use.
Okano's Route (http://www.pbase.com/image/59480460.jpg)
Looks like a good deal at what's about $710USD and even comes with a bell and a lock. :)
I live just south of you in Aomori
I bought a Giant Great Journey(mountainbike model) and like it
Most shops won't discount that much
The cheapest price I saw online was 65,000yen , I bought mine from a LBS and he gave me 10percent off.
You could also buy racks , bags and fenders
Then put together your own bike
But I found that it was cheaper to buy a Great Journey
The shop also recommended to wait and upgrade components as they break
I added some stuff to mine
-front bar bag
-Shimano N70 dynamo hub with Shimano light
-wider handle bars with a 2 inch rise and longer bar ends
-LED front and rear flashing lights
-Cateye Enduro 8 computer
-larger toe clips
I am planning on adding some more gear in the near future
-Lumotec front light
-front AA battery light(same maker as the Lumotec)
-MKS Touring pedals
05-01-06, 09:37 AM
It's still feeling pretty chilly here in Hokkaido...waiting on summer, how's your area? The bike I am looking at here is the Great Journey 2. Comparing the 1 to the 2, I noticed the handlebars was the biggest difference. The GJ1 had those stubby bar ends (i know why you upgraded to longer ones now), whereas the GJ2 has full drop down bars. Im going to take it for a spin and see how it goes. I'd like the front bag as well, and the Ill probably change my clipless pedals onto it rather than toe clips. I saw it for 90000yen in the shop, but online around 74000y. If you buy it online though, do they ship it to you and you have to put it together? Id rather trust that to the LBS myself...
If you buy from a discount shop you will have to put it together
I went to 3 local shops and I chose the smallest shop
He is crazy (otaku) about bikes and rides everyday
He gets a lot of customers that like highend bikes and Keirin
I bought my wifes Giant from him
And I had him redo my son's old Deore mountain , he transferred all the parts to a bigger frame
The only problem about small shops is that they have to special order parts but he doesnt charge alot for installation
There are 2 large shops here that stock alot of acessories but they always charge extra for installation and hardly ever offer discounts.
It's still a little cold and it's very windy
Was camping on Saturday and had to wear a wool cap
Will go tomorrow for 3 days of touring with my son
Was going to head up to Hokkaido but decided on something a little more local
05-05-06, 12:37 AM
I wonder if the bags are waterproof.. anyone? Do you usually buy rain covers for your gear bags?
I rode yesterday in the rain with my Giant bags
Everything inside was dry
I was soaked and cold but the insides of my bags were dry
Have to get a rainsuit because the bike poncho didnt work well
The rain was being blown by a strong wind
I dont think the Giant bags would handle many days of wet weather though
If you have a Alpen sports or a Sports Depot near you they sell a cheap waterproof nylon daypack cover that would work($10 x 4). But any mountain or outdoor shop should have covers for daypacks (but I think they are $20 x 4)
05-07-06, 06:54 PM
Thanks for the waterproof update RVL, I was wondering about that alot. I ended up telling the shop Id hold off on the GIANT for a bit, I dont want to rush it. I sent the spec's to some biking friends and a few things they noticed were a) its a little heavy at 16.6kg (36+lbs) b) 26" wheels wont be any advantage over my current MTB semi slicks of the same size. c) the components are very entry level.
Its still a great deal and a nice package because it all comes in one...but gotta be sure!
11-13-06, 01:14 PM
hey there, ran across this post and wanted to put in my 2 cents. ive been riding the GJ2 for a yr now. my only real complaint is it is a bit heavy and i have been having a difficult time tuning it in. apart from that its a really really nice bike. the bags are GREATand the racks are really nice. the back rack is rated for 35 kilograms. ive had it really loaded down and it handled very well for me. i also use it as a commuter to get to and from work on a daily basis. in between tours i take off the front rack and panniers to get the unnessesary wheight down. also about the bags staying dry....my first trip with it was 7 days of rain and they WOULD have stayed dry if i would have seam sealed one seam that runs horizontaly through the middle.
if your ever in okinawa drop me a line
I went to my LBS the other day for a touring bike and the guy there recommended the "Great Jounrey" as well.
From what i can see from the pictures it has front suspension (even on the drop handle one). Is this true? If so, do you really front suspension on a touring bike? Seems like one more thing that could break in the middle of nowhere.
03-21-07, 07:39 PM
I live just south of you in Aomori
Holy cr*p that place is cold in winter.. the japanese siberian peninsula!
03-21-07, 07:47 PM
Off topic, but..
Any of you fine people living in Japan ever try to do a tour during cherry blossom season? My understanding is that the wave of cherry blossoming starts on the southern tip and spreads northwards as the climate warms, and that it takes roughly a month to reach the north. Seems like this could be an excellent rate at which to follow the blossoms on a bike. Anyone tried this? Seems like a fantastic way to see & learn about Japan, given that the cherry blossom festivals have such a rich cultural tradition there...
03-29-07, 07:48 PM
I have had only four issues with the Great Journey; grips, spokes, panniers and size. Only the size factor would make me consider another bike. If only Giant made a gaijin-sized model... Otherwise it is a dependable, comfortable ride.
Grips - If you prefer the flat bars like I do you'll probably want to swap the bars for something that offers more in the way of riding positions, or at the very least change the handle grips. The grips weren't too comfortable on the long haul.
Spokes - I had those panniers fairly loaded up and after about 1,300 km the spokes started breaking. I only had about 7-10 kg of gear max in each rear pannier, so whether it's a problem of overloading or of the original wheels not being designed to take the strain who knows?
Panniers - I found that the original Giant panniers were not waterproof. Shower proof maybe, but not waterproof. I lined the panniers with big plastic rubbish bags but even then the water tended to pool in the bottom of them after riding in reasonably heavy rain all day. Apart from this however, they were good in that the outer pockets are the exact size for those 500 ml PET bottles, which allows you to carry a lot of water with no hassles.
Frame size - I am 180cm tall and found that the biggest size was still a bit too small. I find that after a few hours in the saddle I unconsciously shift my feet forward on the pedals so that basically only my heels are touching them. I think this is probably a sign that I probably need a longer frame.
Having complained about all these I still managed to go round Hokkaido on my Great Journey a couple of years ago. The bike didn't complain (at least not until the spokes went ping!) and Hokkaido is just the best place in Japan for touring. Have a great trip HokkaidoRider! Send me a private message if you want any specific info/suggestions on Hokkaido touring.
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