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  1. #1
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    Mini-velos - buying from Japan via Rakuten; Any experience?

    Of late I've been doing a lot of looking (and lusting) over the sheer volume and quality of smaller-wheeled bikes available in asia, and more specifically Japan.

    Here in the UK, there are one or two places that will sell me a mini-velo of sorts, either a Cycroc Bike Polo bike (stripped down fixed-wheel) or distinctly feminine Bruno Ventura with balloon Cream tyres. Oh and the Dahon Sharks.


    Cycroc


    Bruno Ventura


    Bruno Mini 20

    This isn't a bad situation at all, but since there are so many more out there I'm really tempted to grasp the nettle and try and get one imported.

    In my internet travels I discovered a site called 'Rakuten Global Market' which seems to promise the world. As I understand it - the site leverages Google translate to westernise listings from the Rakuten.co.jp site (seems to be somewhere between ebay and amazon) so as to make the purchase of Japanese products directly possible; Reading the blurb, it seems they will even ask as some sort of intermediary in the transaction between you and a (most likely non-english speaking) merchant.

    The skinny here:
    http://global.rakuten.com/en/help/flow/

    Does anyone have any experience of buying from the site? I've looked around a bit and found evidence of people buying the odd thing with no trouble, but nothing as large as a bike so I thought I'd ask.

    Why would I go to all the trouble?
    Well - when you see these lovely bikes you too might be tempted?


    Billion Lionel - look at the CHROME!


    Osso 207ax


    Osso 207f


    Gios Mignon


    K2


    Doppelganger 222


    Unite Liv (Has sweet frame-based storage sack)
    Last edited by LittlePixel; 10-31-11 at 06:50 AM. Reason: added URL

  2. #2
    Vello Kombi, baby Poguemahone's Avatar
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    Lionel does look cool:



    No idea on the site, though.
    "It's always darkest right before it goes completely black"

    Waste your money! Buy my comic book!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    Rakuten is a well known japanese retail mall site. They contract with various distributors, manufacturers and retailers to display their wares in a virtual mall. While I've never had any personal dealings with them, I don't think I would have any problems ordering through them. The main concern is that the actual merchant selling you the item will not be able to communicate directly with you should a problem occur... as there could be language issue.

    As an aside, for those in the US market, Rakuten bought Buy.com a while back so if you've ordered from that site in the last couple of years, you've basically dealt with Rakuten without knowing it.

  4. #4
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    That K2 bike looks like a dahon smoothhound. Hmmm...

    Anyway, I remember someone here going to a retail establishment in a Chinatown area of a city that did this. I think they paid a lot for shipping, though. Almost the full price of the bike. But, when you're in love, money is no object, I guess.

    I agree with you there are some cool bikes there.

  5. #5
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    That's interesting to know - thanks.
    There's apparently also a service in collaboration with Tenso.com wherein you can get a temporary japanese shipping address, so even stores that won't ship internationally can send it there, and then Tenso can then send it to you. They'll even aggregate multiple orders.

    All in it doesn't seem too scary. The only thing that is really is the cost of shipping. But then the bikes aren't actually crazy expensive so maybe I can take it on the chin...

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I see the vintage X-Frame design is (almost) making a return, they were way up in the Raleigh range from 1901 thru to the early 30's.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    Keep us posted if you decide to take the plunge. Would love to get a review of one of these bikes.

  8. #8
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    @Lalato - Will do. If I do it's likely to be in the new-year; Part of me would love to import several to share the love but I'm not sure it'd be economic. Most people still think the proportions are a bit funny. They're obviously blind

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    The main buzz kill will be the shipping charges, and probable customs charges for a new product. These sites sometimes use an intermediary for shipping, who want their cut as well.

    There are also auction sites a well. One example - http://www.rinkya.com/new/en/Bicycle...category-26222. Some of the language can be confusing, i.e. - 'cars' are frame, and 'crack' usually means scratch.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    How about a Fuji Comet?



    or a Louis Garneau MV3S?


  11. #11
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    That auction site in interesting - thanks for the link! I found in my searches that not only is 'small car' a good term but also (and please don't think this is a slur on my part) but the words 'minibero', 'minibelo' and 'minivero' all seem to bear a lot of fruit. Must the Google translate algorthym.

    I do like that Fuji Comet a lot. They do some really nice intermediate sized 24" (iso 520) wheeled bikes too. (as do Osso)

  12. #12
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    There are a couple of mini velos in the states like the Mercier Nano and Big Shot http://www.bigshotbikes.com/polo-bikes.html
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/nano.htm

    I wonder what shipping would be to the UK for these? If you need help with shipping I would help you out to get it shipped to the UK.
    Dahon Jifo
    Dawes Kingpin 2speed

  13. #13
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    011.jpgThose are awesome looking mini's. This is my new (to me) Bianchi Mini Valo. A friend stationed in Italy brought this back home and sold it toSDC10524.jpg me. Columbus Thron tubing lugged frame. All I added was the Brooks saddle and the Continental Contact Tires. Quickly becoming my favorite ride.SDC10512.jpg

  14. #14
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    A sweet ride - thanks for the pix!

    @Dynocoaster - Thanks for the offer for help with US shipping. If I run into trouble I might take you up on it!

  15. #15
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    Mini Velos in Europe? I thought that was the new market?
    Dahon Jifo
    Dawes Kingpin 2speed

  16. #16
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    From what I understand this one came from Bianchi whereever in Italy that Bianchi is. Not sure how prevalent they are in Europe.

  17. #17
    in cog neato itsmoot's Avatar
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    Here's a recent blog post showing a few more mini velos. I really like the look of this Bianchi:

    Last edited by itsmoot; 11-04-11 at 10:19 PM.
    I have the heart of a young boy. I got it on eBay.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePixel View Post
    In my internet travels I discovered a site called 'Rakuten Global Market' which seems to promise the world. As I understand it - the site leverages Google translate to westernise listings from the Rakuten.co.jp site (seems to be somewhere between ebay and amazon) so as to make the purchase of Japanese products directly possible; Reading the blurb, it seems they will even ask as some sort of intermediary in the transaction between you and a (most likely non-english speaking) merchant.

    Does anyone have any experience of buying from the site? I've looked around a bit and found evidence of people buying the odd thing with no trouble, but nothing as large as a bike so I thought I'd ask.
    I placed 3 orders with them and only one was delivered. It appears that only certain merchants they represent ship abroad. All the correspondence on the orders, including info that my orders were canceled, was in Japanese. There was some uncertainty about shipping charges. They ended up being charged separately but reasonable. Remember that practical knowledge of English, amounting to putting together some sentence, is next to none in Japan (maybe 1-2 people/100 in a big city).

  19. #19
    idc
    idc is offline
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    Ahh, Japanese mini velos. I'd love to try this one. Titanium, SRAM Red.


    http://www.tyrellbike.com/products/pk1/
    Last edited by idc; 11-11-11 at 09:11 PM. Reason: sorry for the big pic

  20. #20
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    For UK/Europe folk, I think Play.com is owned by Rakuten. Doesn't say much (as Play can be sh it) but HTH.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
    I placed 3 orders with them and only one was delivered. It appears that only certain merchants they represent ship abroad. All the correspondence on the orders, including info that my orders were canceled, was in Japanese. There was some uncertainty about shipping charges. They ended up being charged separately but reasonable. Remember that practical knowledge of English, amounting to putting together some sentence, is next to none in Japan (maybe 1-2 people/100 in a big city).
    You need to get a Tenso.com account - most Japanese stores will only deliver to a domestic Japanese address. Tenso gives you a "virtual" Japanese address a Japanese shop will deliver to and then they will ship the good abroad. They give good service!

  22. #22
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    well, the thing about a lot of these japanese mini velos is that they are vanity branded generic bikes from china. if you are looking for something like that, might as well go for the bikesdirect.com mini or the more upscale, soma mini, which is a very nice bike (don't own one, but have ridden one). i think if i were to order a bike from japan i would want to get something a little more unique like this bike that i think about.. almost.. e'ryday:


    note the 68T chainring...







    then there is this machine i covet:

    designed and built in japan by a company that also designs space-age wheelchairs, this bike has front and rear suspension, schwalbe big apples come stock, and they offer an alfine 11 version..



  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    If you don't mind a single speed checkout www.respect cycles.com. or look for Rabasa mini Velo on eBay. Both are sold in the USA.
    Dahon Jifo
    Dawes Kingpin 2speed

  24. #24
    Senior Member smallwheeler's Avatar
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    also, you might be able to get a frameset from respect cycles.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynocoaster View Post
    If you don't mind a single speed checkout www.respect cycles.com. or look for Rabasa mini Velo on eBay. Both are sold in the USA.
    For $419.99 - this one is a steal - of course with upgrades it could set you back a grand.

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