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  1. #1
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    Tokyo and Singapore folding bike report

    I am in Tokyo on a business trip, but found time to stop in at Joker Cycles in Shinjuku and Mr. Charley in Ikebukuro. The former has Birdy, KHS, and Dahon, among others. The latter has Moulton, Birdy, Brompton, Dahon, and a few local, heavy, high end brands. I was surprised at the number on Moultons on display at Mr. Charley, including one with the truss frame made completely of stainless steel. The cables you would need to lock that bike would weigh more than the bike. A beautiful piece of engineering.

    As usual, the larger folders (26" wheels) were special order only, even though nearly every "youth bike" on the street is a full suspension, 26" mountain bike. There were also no 24"-wheeled bikes sizes.
    The Tokyo shops tend to be very complete. Twelve of the largest shops are owned by one company, www.jitenshaya.co.jp which translates as www.bikeshop....

    As to be expected .... all prices were MSRP. No discounts, except for 2005 Dahon Speed P8s marked down 40% for the coming week at Joker, making them about USD 390. That is by far the biggest discount I've ever seen on anything new in Tokyo.

    Next week... Singapore

  2. #2
    too many bikes
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    Part Two. Singapore. Given the population density, heavy reliance on mass transit, the strong UK influence, and number of bicycles on the street, I was surprised that the folder population density in SG is about like the US, essentially nil in a great sea of non-folding bikes. This absence in SG piqued my interest, so I investigated. To quote a sales lady at Treknology on Orchard Rd., "We stopped selling folders because they were unreliable." I asked her if she had heard of the top UK, German, US, and Taiwan brands. Nope. Similar story at three other dealers. I tried to find the Dahon dealer, Speedmatrix, but no bus drivers or taxi drivers had heard of the street it was on, directory service had no number for it, no yellow page listing, and when I found the web site it was too late, they were closed.

    Ruminations

    In Japan, on the street, I saw one Birdy cable-locked to a bike rack in Shinjuku, all the other folders were $100 cheapies, e.g., Chevrolet, Jeep (probably TM infringing), and many different badges on essentially the same very heavy, Chinese made, steel folder. In 20 years of doing business in Japan, I have never seen a folder on a train or bus. I've asked many sarariman why they don't use folders. The usual reply is, "no place to store it at work" or "the trains are too crowded at rush hour". I think the real reason is they don't want to be different, to be the only guy on the train with a bike in a bag. When I've traveled in Japan on trains with a full size touring bike in a bike bag AND a BOB trailer, I did attract alot of attention and lots of photographs of the BOB trailer when I assembled the rig in front of a train station. I've even had people in cars stop to watch and small crowds. So being different does attract attention.

  3. #3
    J3L 2404 gbcb's Avatar
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    It's a shame you didn't get to go to Speedmatrix in Singapore. It's on a small side street, but taxi drivers didn't seem to have a hard time getting there when I went. The people there are very enthusiastic and helpful. As I've mentioned in another post, I took my Boardwalk to Singapore in February to visit my parents. They were in need of new bikes, and impressed enough by the Boardwalk that they bought two Speed D7s, their first folders. The manager at Speedmatrix, Alan, is almost evangelical about the bikes. He doesn't usually sell all the Dahon models, just the ones he has ridden and particuarly likes. He also organises folding bike community rides around the island. Another good idea: "Dahon Demo Days" in parks and along bikepaths (e.g. East Coast Parkway), where passersby can try out the latest models. Not affiliated with them, just very impressed.

    Website here: http://www.speedmatrix.com.sg/

  4. #4
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    @ gbcb Perhaps by giving a taxi driver a map from the website I might have been able to visit, but no taxi drivers in Bugis, where I stayed, or in Clementi, where I went by SMRT in an effort to visit, had ever heard of Jalan Mas Puteh.

    Singapore has only 3 (THREE!) official off-road bike paths. The East Coast path, one near Tampines, and one in Bukit Temah NP.

  5. #5
    Tokyo Commuter
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    [QUOTE=maunakea]I am in Tokyo on a business trip, but found time to stop in at Joker Cycles in Shinjuku and Mr. Charley in Ikebukuro.

    I live in Tokyo and would like to find the Joker Cycles shop in Shinjuku. Web search turns up nothing, same for Jitenshaya. There is a Jitenshaya shop but not in Tokyo. Do either of the shops have a functioning web site for their Tokyo shops? If so, could you post the link?

  6. #6
    J3L 2404 gbcb's Avatar
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    @cdhuben: I think maunakea got the website wrong -- it's not "Jitenshaya", but "Jitensya". Try this out: http://www.jitensya.co.jp/y/shop.html

    The address for Joker:
    B1/F, BYGS Building
    2-19-1 Shinjuku
    Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
    Phone/Fax: 03-3350-1288

    Hope this helps.

  7. #7
    too many bikes
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    @ qbcb, thanks. jitensya is a nonstandard transliteration of bicycke,

    @ cdhuben, The street address off the web may be old. Joker is now in Kabukicho, in the Ad Hoc Building "behind" (north of) Kinokuniya Bookstore in Shinjuku. Kinokuniya is in the center of the block, and Joker is across the "alley" in back of Kihnokuniya at the Shinujuku eki end of the block. 3F

    Jitensya has 12 shops in Tokyo. I recommend aslo going to Bike Charley in Ikebukuro ... lots more folders and a little "shrine" to Moulton Bikes and the UK folder mentality, with a signed photograph by Sir Alex. Joker can give you a business card with all 12 shops on it.

  8. #8
    Tokyo Commuter
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    great...thanks.... I'll check it out. Should be easy to find. I just don't get over on that side of Shinjuku very much.

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