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  1. #1
    Fixed in Oz.
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    Folding bikes in Japan

    Hi Readers,

    I am in Tokyo, Japan. As an avid cyclist I have been observing the locals to see what their preferences are. My bias is towards fixed gear bikes. I have seen exactly one. A typical messenger bike.

    On the other hand I have seen (in about one week) thousands of folders. Some have preposterous brand names. For example, I have seen 5 with the Chevrolet logo on them (spirit of america). BMW, and the other car manufacturers are also represented. There also are many other locally manufactured folding bikes. In contrast to the Japanese penchant for modernity most are primitive and seem to be from the 60"s or 70's. Same goes for their non-folding bike culture. Very old.

    Nevertheless it is refreshing to see ordinary people in regular garb riding bikes for utilitarian purposes.

    I will continue to observe.

    Regards,

    Tairaku

  2. #2
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    Hi, my name is Osamu, from Japan.
    Now I have two STRIDAs and Handybike.

    Generally, most of people choose cheep folders. Because of cost. Just the way to move and parking space.
    They don't care about the "bike".there is no philosophy.

    But also there are many enthusiasts in Japan. Recentry some folding bike shops are opening.

    On website, meny people talking about foldhing bikes everyday.
    Yes, we are not so many. But we are here. Please don't worry.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osamu
    Generally, most of people choose cheep folders. Because of cost. Just the way to move and parking space.
    They don't care about the "bike".there is no philosophy.
    How much is a cheap folder in Japan? Are they typically 16" or 20" based bikes? I'm in the US.

  4. #4
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    I would like to see that Chevy Badged folding bike. Can we see some pictures of the cheap folders ?I suspect the Bmw folders are rebadged major brands.I. e Montague possibly birdy.Most interesting to me would be the locally manufactured folders and Mama Chari bikes.

  5. #5
    Fixed in Oz.
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    Quote Originally Posted by james Haury
    I would like to see that Chevy Badged folding bike. Can we see some pictures of the cheap folders ?I suspect the Bmw folders are rebadged major brands.I. e Montague possibly birdy.Most interesting to me would be the locally manufactured folders and Mama Chari bikes.
    Sorry, I'm back in the states now and I didn't think of taking pics. However, I didn't see any Birdies, only two Bromptons, several Dahons and the rest were unknown to me. There seem to be literally hundreds of different folders being manufactured for the local market.

  6. #6
    Fixed in Oz.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasong
    How much is a cheap folder in Japan? Are they typically 16" or 20" based bikes? I'm in the US.
    Generally they are 16" or even 12" tires. I didn't see many 20". I went into bike stores and it is possible to pick up a folder for the equivalent of $130 US. Most things in their economy cost about twice as much as in the States, so you can see that bikes are relatively cheap there. So cheap that many are unlocked, or locked with the flimsiest things imaginable.

  7. #7
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    Hi, tairaku and everyone.
    This is Osamu.

    "hundreds of different folders being manufactured for the local market."
    Yes,most of them come from Taiwan and China.

    In my company, there is some foldingbikes owner. They have Brompton, Dahon,Birdy,Bianchi and Strida.
    I try to show you a photo of "Strida owners meeting"(Sorry, I'm not sure the sistem of this site, English is very difficult for me).
    Can you see that?

    Next time, I'll show you some folders and typical Mamachari bikes.

  8. #8
    Senior Member royalflash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osamu
    Hi, tairaku and everyone.
    This is Osamu.

    "hundreds of different folders being manufactured for the local market."
    Yes,most of them come from Taiwan and China.

    In my company, there is some foldingbikes owner. They have Brompton, Dahon,Birdy,Bianchi and Strida.
    I try to show you a photo of "Strida owners meeting"(Sorry, I'm not sure the sistem of this site, English is very difficult for me).
    Can you see that?

    Next time, I'll show you some folders and typical Mamachari bikes.
    your english is fine thanks for the interesting information and picture
    only the dead have seen the end of mass motorized stupidity

    Plato

    (well if he was alive today he would have written it)

  9. #9
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    Osamu, takusan no henna folders ga arimasu! Just like your beautifully strange cars that will never ride down Sunset Blvd. You have some wonderful stange folders. Sugoi.
    http://nagoya.cool.ne.jp/alform1/jfbl.html Why get a Dahon or even a Strida?

    I can see a big market for electric folders for commuters (in Nagoya or Osaka?) once Fuji or Honda creates a lightweight 36-volt system.

    Last edited by Leo C. Driscoll; 01-29-05 at 10:26 PM.
    lowenherz

  10. #10
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    The folding bike market in Japan is estimated to be about 1 million a year. The total bike market in Japan is about 8-9 million so that puts folding bikes at close to 10% of the market.

    These numbers make it a very mature market so you do see stratification - very low end and very high end. Like most mature markets, most of the numbers are at the low, low end.

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  12. #12
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    Domo Arigato .Osamu. I think that means thank you that is the meaning i wish to convey anyway.

  13. #13
    you said member zodiac's Avatar
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    I have seen several threads regarding the Montague folding bike in its various incarnations, especially the “Hummer” version which I see draws much derision. I actually owned 1 of these for a time, so for those interested I’ll pass along my 1st hand experience. First of all I will point out, that time I was a long-haul trucker, so actually had a good reason for choosing this particular bike, the version I had was the camouflaged “Paratrooper” and paid $600? (possibly $650).
    First the good: the primary task was to have it take up as little room as possible while driving and to be easily gotten to and setup when needed, in that respect it was quite good. It fit perfectly between the passenger seat and the dash on the floor, I could open the passenger door, grab it out, have it assembled in 1 or 2 minutes and be on my way. A few times when observed at a truck stop performing this operation I felt a little like James Bond. As for the bike itself, although Montague is based in Massachusetts the bike itself is of course like most things now, manufactured somewhere in Asia. The actual frame seemed to be well constructed aluminum with nice looking machine welding. The folding mechanism is ingenious and when locked in the “riding” position is totally secure and has a relatively stiff responsive feel, the overall weight was lighter than I had expected and made for enjoyable pedaling. This was my first experience with indexed shifters and wow what an improvement! These were Shimano something or other (I forget) shifters, with a thumb lever for downshifting and a longer lever you pulled with your index finger for upshifting, for me they worked flawlessly every time.
    The not so good: after receiving it UPS I went and did the “some assembly required” the front disk brake caliper attaches to the fork with a bolt and a sort of indexing type prong, well someone didn’t get the prong indexed correctly and went and tightened the bolt down this chewed up the caliper assembly somewhat but after realigning it and tightening it down everything seemed ok, in actually use however the front disk brake is a joke, the worst feeling brake I have ever used, and it had nothing to do with the initial alignment, it is obviously a el-cheapo component, ditto for the telescopic fork, there purely for looks alone. On to the other components, after 5 minutes in the rock-hard saddle I knew that would HAVE to go, a average quality saddle with some padding made all the difference, but tack another $50 on the price for that. The tires as well are bottom-grade specials and will soon need replacement… more $. The rims and hubs looked to be more of the same cheap stuff, but held for the 6 months I had the bike. One thing that really left me cold was the stamped chang-ring assembly…ultra el-cheapo.
    Conclusion: A shame better components couldn’t have been used as I think the general design and the frame itself is quite good and for the price the’re getting would be justified. But as it is, unless you absolutely need the folding function I’d have to say it’s simply not worth the money they want, I haven’t looked at any other folding bikes so have nothing to compare it with however. What happened to my bike? I had it chained in the back of my pickup and SOMEONE apparently thought it cool enough to saw the chain in half.
    This is the Zodiac speaking

  14. #14
    Foobie
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    Quote Originally Posted by james Haury
    I would like to see that Chevy Badged folding bike. Can we see some pictures of the cheap folders ?
    I know this thread is a little old now, but I took a lot of pictures of bikes while in Tokyo last year, and recently posted them to Flickr. I did find a folding Chevrolet bike:

    http://flickr.com/photos/kwarterlb/35757392/

    ...there were also *many* non-folding Chevy bikes around the city, such as this one:

    http://flickr.com/photos/kwarterlb/35756815/

  15. #15
    Senior Member Chop!'s Avatar
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    There are links to Chevy, BMW, Lamborgini etc. in my A to Z, the links will lead you to photos! ;o)
    A to Z of Folding Bikes, Designers, Sellers, Accessories, Forums, Meetings, Publications
    My bicycle site
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    Chop! The mad Welshman, lost in the urban jungle somewhere between LLanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and Vladivostock!

  16. #16
    Senior Member af895's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwarterlb
    I know this thread is a little old now, but I took a lot of pictures of bikes while in Tokyo last year, and recently posted them to Flickr. I did find a folding Chevrolet bike:

    http://flickr.com/photos/kwarterlb/35757392/

    ...there were also *many* non-folding Chevy bikes around the city, such as this one:

    http://flickr.com/photos/kwarterlb/35756815/
    Wonderful photos! Thanks for posting those.

    Louis Garneau is actually a Canadian company - I'm VERY surprised to see a small bike made by them. They make many products including clothing for skiing and biking, helmets and bikes. They make very good equipment.

    No worries about ressurecting old threads - I'm guilty of my share of it.

  17. #17
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    I've been checking out what's available in Japan on the web

    Check out big bike shops to see all the brands out there:

    http://www.rakuten.co.jp/joy-joy/
    http://www.cb-asahi.co.jp/html/top-bike-folding.html

    Or small folder specialists ... this these sites show photo's of customizations he's done

    http://www.2plus4.net/ ... click Moku Customize
    http://cycle.atnak.com/garage.html#p18

    Or some upmarket shops

    http://www.real-retail.com/via/b-for_mini/index.html
    http://www.loro.co.jp/lrs/lrs-index.html

    Anybody know any other good sites, please advise ... I'm hunting a 2006 Birdy.

  18. #18
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    Some impressive links there guys - many thanks. I would love to be able to import a Kuwahara Gaap or Beetrick Bob from Japan as there are no distributors anywhere in the UK or Europe that I can find (A huge shame).

    http://www.rintendo.com/Products/Smallwheel/gaap.htm
    http://www.rintendo.com/Products/Smallwheel/bob.htm

    I know they're expensive but I'm pretty serious: Anyone got any ideas on how I could do it?

  19. #19
    Senior Member af895's Avatar
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    Bankok: FANTASTIC links - thanks for those.
    LittlePixel: if I had the disposable income, I'd pursue a Kuwahara Gaap too - it's one of the most intriguing folders I've seen.

    On that note, you guys are both looking for bikes not available in your home country.

    I would suggest emailing or calling dealers that had the bike you want - even if it's on another continent - until you found one that was willing to ship to you.

    It would likely be somewhat expensive to ship, I'm betting $200USD+, but I'm confident you'd eventually find a shop willing to deal with you.

    It's capitalism: you have the money and want a product. The shop has the product. SOMEONE has to be willing to sell it to you!

    Come to think of it, maybe you guys could help each other. LittlePixel: isn't the Birdy available in your area? bankok: the Gaap is in your area, right? Why not track down local dealers for each other?

  20. #20
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bangkok
    http://www.2plus4.net/ ... click Moku Customize
    I wish I could read Japanese!
    The level of detail in the photos and the exacting nature of the modifications those guys are making is incredible...

    Why can't I get hold of such nice components here? HED wheels, etc etc etc.
    Amazing stuff - some of the non-folding ones make the new Dahon Hammerhead look very tame indeed!

  21. #21
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    A friend of mine brought home a 'Travis' brand folder from Japan, a quick web search I did yielded no information.

  22. #22
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    That Beetrick Bob looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss.

    I like the Kuwahara, though.

  23. #23
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    The Gaap is a beauty. The Kuwahara site lists Japan dealers

    http://www.kuwaharabike.co.jp/kuwahara/gaap.html

    You'll need someone to contact them in Japanese.

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  25. #25
    Senior Member Chop!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    A friend of mine brought home a 'Travis' brand folder from Japan, a quick web search I did yielded no information.
    Once again there is a link to Travis on my pages

    They have quite a variety of models
    A to Z of Folding Bikes, Designers, Sellers, Accessories, Forums, Meetings, Publications
    My bicycle site
    My Microcar & alternate energy vehicle site.
    Site for the Rock& Roll Tour Bus that I drive.
    Chop! The mad Welshman, lost in the urban jungle somewhere between LLanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and Vladivostock!

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