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Old 02-09-08, 12:38 AM   #1
rukawa
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Rider from Japan

I am 26, born in Taiwan, lived in Canada, currently residing in Japan for grad school.

I ride about 10km round-trip to school everyday through 3 hills, 30minutes one way. The roads are quite bumpy and gets awfully dark at night. Despite the occasional rains there are now snows and hail thanks to the unusual weather pattern caused by global warming. (It almost never snowed in this city) I also use my bike to haul groceries back to my dorm.

The bike was purchased from Yahoo! Shopping online for 11000 yen (about 110usd) shipped. I consider the purchase to be a very good deal since its equipped with 6-speed shimano. I picked yellow not because I like yellow, but to make the bike more visible to find and to reduce the possibility of theft. Although yellow does look very appealing to me now. The front wheel has a Y brake and the back has a hub brake which occasionally make a high pitch resonance noise. I have since upgraded my basket to a gigantic one and added a foam holder to mount my flashlight in place of the weak incad light driven by the built-in Sanyo 6v 2.4watt bottle dynamo.

Despite how much I like this bike, I now wish that the tires could've been thicker for the bumpy ride and that the gear ratio could've been lower for the steep hills. I know very little about bikes, but I try to clean and tune my bike at least once a month to make sure everything is in top shape. The bike weights a whopping 23kg because of its steel frame.

In Japan, people usually call this type of a bike "City bike" or "Standard bike" but I think in North America we call it a "Lady's bike"

I am saving 1 dollar a day from Monday to Friday so I can get a really nice mountain bike in a year or two. OH and nice to meet you all!

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Old 02-09-08, 01:15 AM   #2
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yeah, i remember having like these when i was young. i still keep it for summer day biking days.
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Old 02-09-08, 01:20 AM   #3
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I usually never visit this part of bikeforums, but saw your post and dropped in. Welcome!
I used to live in Hong Kong and did business in Japan - aviation industry. Of course I couldn't leave or come back to Hong Kong without going through Narita. Where in Japan are you? What Master's program are you in?

Man that is a heavy bike! Wow, 23 kilo's!!!! I ride a touring bike with outfitted with racks and I'm probably at about 12-14 kilo's and thought that was heavy. It is compared to a lot of the people I see riding full carbon bikes weighing sub 17 pounds.

Your a bit young for the 50+ forum, but there a lot of nice people there. The Commuting thread is pretty good as well. You will enjoy bikeforums. Just don't take everything here as being totally correct and you are good to go.

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Old 02-09-08, 02:08 AM   #4
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Hello, I am currently in Tokyo Institute of Technology studying Dye-sensitized solar cell. My goal is to reduce the production cost by finding alternative industry-ready materials.

I used to take the electric trains everyday, but its not as reliable as I'd like it to be.. and takes just as long to get to school as biking. The bike might be 18kg.. its listed as.. net 18kg.. gross 23.6kg.. it might be with the packaging..... 23.6 does sound a bit too heavy...

Nice to meet you.
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Old 02-09-08, 08:12 AM   #5
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Welcome to the BF!
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Old 02-09-08, 08:15 AM   #6
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Welcome to the forums...looks like a nice bike, even though it is a bit on the heavy side.
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Old 02-09-08, 03:39 PM   #7
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Wow, cool looking bike! 23 k is ... heavy! But solid I guess - depending on what you pick up with it. I'm a commuter as well here in NY - there is a separate forum portion for us snobbish (and wet, cold, always sick and raving) people, hehe. Just kidding.

Curious though - you have a chainguard on the bike - is that a common thing there?
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Old 02-10-08, 12:40 AM   #8
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I will admit I actually like the bike, pants will never get caught up on the chain, this bike definitely lives up to the purpose of your every day endeavors. Working to make the industry more efficient and cleaner is an awesome goal. Welcome to BF. Despite the tires they may get wider but the trade off will be taking out your front and rear fenders.
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Old 02-10-08, 01:54 AM   #9
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Old 02-10-08, 03:59 AM   #10
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Hi,welcome to BF,I come from China,I think we could be friend sometime!
PS:I do road cycling,and I think mountain biking is very cool..
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Old 02-10-08, 07:16 AM   #11
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I will share a bit about what I have found out through my bike purchase research.

The style of my bike is standard for commuter bikes in Japan...with the exception of the 6 speed shift. Most commuter bikes have just 1 speed at the 100USD range and 3 speed at 150USD range. The chain guard is a standard for all commuter bikes. There are people riding bikes dressed in suits or dresses even. However for mountain bikes, I haven't seen a budget one thats equipped with a chain guard. Maybe that's why mtbs aren't as favorable as commuter bikes in this city. In school I see 80-90% commuter bikes and 10% mtbs.

The majority of the commuter bikes are made in China, including mine. The bikes are required to pass a QA test set by Japan before being sold here. All bikes need police registration, mandatory insurance and a few more registration with your affiliations. For me its my dorm, my school, and police. I have about 4-5 registration stickers on my bike.

By law all bicycles have to have some lighting device during the night so most commuter bikes have dynamos built-in. We ride on the sidewalks, even though the law is for us to ride on the shoulders of the roads. Cars are pretty courteous to bicycle riders but nobody really want to take a chance on the narrow roads as most of us don't wear a helmet while riding.

I've occasionally see one of two riders on racing bikes cruising down the main roads, but what really happens is that the cars behind the bike will automatically merge to avoid being in the same lane with the bike. I haven't seen any riders getting honked at. There is an understanding between the pedestrian and the riders that we have the right of way on the sidewalk. People will pause and let the bikes pass if the road is narrow. I guess they don't want to get hit by a bike. We then give a little head nod to thank them.

I will have to figure out some ways to add a huge mudguard and chain guard if I ever get a mountain bike.. or be prepared to have a change of cloth every morning I get to school..
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Old 02-10-08, 07:41 AM   #12
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Hi I'm Steve and I live in Kyoto. Welcome to Bike Forums The bike you have is a typical Mama Chari. I have a couple of them, both being single speed. I'm surprised you've noticed few MTB as commuters. In Kyoto there are a fair few of them, along with every other variation possible.

My Mama Charis:




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Old 02-10-08, 08:51 AM   #13
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Welcome to BF! I used to live in Tokyo, and really enjoyed it. It is a nice city, despite the lack of green space.

In case you haven't connected up with a good bike shop in Tokyo yet, here's a suggestion for a good one. They're located very centrally - really near the Tameike Sanno Station in Akasaka. The guy I got to know, Mr. Aoyama in the roadie section, doesn't appear to be there anymore, but the rest of the staff there are also really nice and helpful.

Here's a link. Good luck!

http://www.jitensya.co.jp/group/shops/academy/top.htm
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Old 02-10-08, 08:59 AM   #14
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Welcome to BF rukawa !!

Our regular greeter is away in Portland.

I like your bike and think that it must weigh less than you think...23 kg is the realm of old English 3 speeds.

It is always nice to hear about places where bicycles are so well used... the higher percentage of commuter type bikes vs mountain bikes does not surprise me at all.

gianatcgr1 - Those are some really good looking bikes you have there.
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Old 02-10-08, 11:42 AM   #15
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Hi Steve,

Feels like home seeing these bikes. In Japan, everybody young or old have ridden a mama-chari at least once in their lifetime. When I was a child my family had a bike just like that but I was too short to sit on the saddle, so I rode it standing up. Seeing this kind of bike in Japan once again really brings back the memories.

I heard Kyoto is a very cultural city. Next week I will go on a school "study" trip to Kyoto and Nara. Hopefully it'll be as beautiful as I had imagined.

Speaking of MTB, the first time I saw one on the road was on the first time I rode my bike to school. I was completely exhausted by the end of 40 minutes. Then someone rang the bell from behind me. I instinctively thought it was my hub brake making weird noises again, I slowed and turned my head to see the back wheel. Then there was this short girl on a 26" mtb cruising right past me... I got all fired up and tailed right behind her until we hit the school gate, then I split to go to the post office.

I am impressed with the friendliness of this forum. I will be spending time here learning about bicycles. I bought the piggybank today too. It can only be opened by cutting it open. It will be exciting when I can finally afford my first mtb.
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Old 02-10-08, 11:58 AM   #16
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...bought the piggybank today too. It can only be opened by cutting it open. It will be exciting when I can finally afford my first mtb.
You are off!

What kind of MTB are you looking at to purchase?

I have enjoyed your introduction very much .

Welcome to BF!

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Old 02-11-08, 01:28 AM   #17
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Its quite an experience riding the streets near where I live.. its a very lively place near the station. I will try to post some videos once I have figured out how to mount my camera.

Right now for the future MTB.. I am just thinking of something 18+ speed. 26" wheel, front-suspension, frame integrated suspension, mud guard, chain guard (if possible), doesn't look too fancy, nice cushioned saddle. I will add a bell, my own home-made LED light, maybe a hub dynamo, and definitely another giant basket, but maybe at the rear. It'll be years away....
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Old 02-11-08, 09:42 AM   #18
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It'll be years away....
That will give you plenty of time to dream... .

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