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Old 11-11-08, 09:32 AM   #1
vladuz976
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new bike in tokyo

Hi,
I live in Tokyo and would like to buy a bicycle. Unfortunately I have no clue where to even start.
Since I am not a native Japanese speaker it's rather difficult to get advice from the store.
Could anyone possibly give a few beginner tips?
I would like to use the bike to commute to work (7km, 4.5miles),
to go shopping (10km, 6miles) or to the gym (17km, 10.5miles).
Tokyo is pretty flat but I would also like to take the bike on short tours on the weekend (20-30km, 12-18miles).
My budget is ~$600(USD) or 60000Yen(JPY).
I weigh 90kg(190lb) 184cm(6'1") tall.

How many gears should I look for?
What size frame and wheels?
Thick or thin tires?
Any brands to watch out for?
Any recommendations/ideas are very welcome.

Thank you,
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Old 11-11-08, 10:24 AM   #2
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If I were in the same situation, I'd rely on local knowledge.

I've never been to Japan, but cycling videos I've seen all show similar bikes. There must be a reason why they're all so similar, especially given the innovation the Japanese are famous for.

I know one person here who liked their Japanese shopping bike so much, they brought it back to the States with them--cost more for the shipping than it did for the bike. That bike is completely unlike anything you can get in the stores here.

Look around and pay attention to the bikes you see people using. Ask their owners instead of the shops. Maybe someone will want to practice their English with you.

Edit: The distances you're quoting don't require anything special. If it fits and moves when you pedal, it should be fine, no matter what else it has or doesn't have.

Last edited by tsl; 11-11-08 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 11-11-08, 10:35 AM   #3
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The only problem you'll most likely run into is proper frame size. Most shops do not stock sizes for 6 foot riders.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:00 AM   #4
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At bike forums, check out the different regions...Asia. Post there and you might get more results.

You'll find Japanese bike magazines, although in Japanese, you'll find the bike shops.
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Old 11-11-08, 11:09 AM   #5
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I havenít been to Japan in many years but when I was there I did see a lot of bikes. You donít need much if you want to blend in with the locals. Something that looks very much like an old English 3 speed with a very upright seating position. You will more than likely need a basket; they all seemed to have one, and a bell. Single speeds seem to be the most common and I donít remember seeing many locks or chains but I wasnít paying that much attention. What surprised me, was knowing how much the Japanese love uniforms, that they donít seem to care for bike cloths. No bike shorts or shoes that I remember seeing.

Last edited by Robert Foster; 11-11-08 at 11:10 AM. Reason: Text size
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Old 11-16-08, 01:20 PM   #6
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From what I've seen and heard from media, print, and a couple friends over there, bicycles in japan are so ubiquitous that most of them don't really care much about the specifics.
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Old 11-16-08, 06:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
What surprised me, was knowing how much the Japanese love uniforms, that they donít seem to care for bike cloths. No bike shorts or shoes that I remember seeing.
I'd guess thats because uniforms are about fitting-in. Which is kinda contrary to standing out by dressing as a spandex day-glow superhero with a funny hat...
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Old 11-17-08, 10:58 AM   #8
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Well, thanks a lot for all your replies. I did start paying attention to what people ride. Most people here seem to prefer the low-end (disposable) bike. The ones I see most on the street are no more than $100(USD) in the stores. Very few people have nice bikes. It might very well be the "fitting in" factor.
By the way the uniform thing is true. I started to notice that almost everyone here wears a black suit with a white shirt to work. Not much variation.
Good thing is, Tokyo is the safest city on earth, so I won't have to worry about getting my bike stolen.

Thanks again,
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Old 11-18-08, 03:45 AM   #9
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Just because the place is safe doesnt mean there's no bicycle theft.
Based on reading those foreigner-moving-to-japan blogs, bicycle theft is a major occurance; it just isnt a dangerous crime...
what happens mostly is casual theft, someone leaves the bar late at night and doesn't feel like walking, casually grabs one of the many unlocked bikes from the racks and rides home then dumps it by the roadside
so there's theft... it just doesnt involve violent individuals or chop shops or druggies looking for a quick $$...
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