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Buying a Bicycle in Japan - My First Mamachari

Buying a bicycle in Japan - Mamachari


Imagine riding a bike in Japan with your groceries in the front basket and your child at the rear bike seat.  Oh, wait... that was my imagination when we came here in November of 2018. Not knowing yet at that time that we will, in fact, be living here.

In this article:

1. Down my bike lane memories
2. What is a Mamachari?
3. What makes a Mamachari different?
4. Where to buy bikes in Japan - brand new and second-hand?

After 1 year of living here in Japan, we finally bought our first-ever adult bicycle! Isn't it exciting? There is something about riding a bicycle that is both memorable and exciting.

I remember renting a $9 per hour bike in Vancouver, Canada, only to experience a priceless bike ride with my friends Ian and Lhen. I remember biking around CCP Complex in College. My panic when Ate Rosie got dizzy and collapsed, almost dramatically, while riding a rented bike. I remember riding Kuya Onin's white mountain bike. It was too high for me, I fell down within eyesight of my high school crush!  I remember riding a unicycle here in Japan when I was 9 years old. I remember Alex  Bang (a famous crazy guy from my hometown), pinched my butt cheeks while I was on a bike near our elementary school.

I remember a lot more but on to my new Mamachari story!

Mamachari in Japan
Powered by Yamaha. The wheels are Bridgetone as they partnered for e-bikes.

Mamachari literally means mother's bike. It is Japan's family station wagon.

An essential possession for families who do not own a car here in Japan. You can carry a 10kg rice while riding it. With a child sitting on the rear bike seat. Sometimes, a mother can even take 3 children. One in front, an older one at the back, and a baby in a baby carrier. All these while driving downhill or uphill in Tokyo's urban landscape.

How is it possible?

MAIN FEATURES

1. A mamachari is an electric bike. Its main feature is that you can gear up when driving uphill. There are 3 gears. Number 3 is uphill.

This is currently at gear 1 and I think it was already fast enough (without Lucas).

2. The battery in the one I bought can last up to a distance of 53km. Once the battery is depleted, you can still pedal your way bike home, much harder I suppose. There is a screen that tells how much battery is left.

This monitor also controls the front light and set at Eco mode or power up for uphill.


3. Strong winds? You can adjust the handles so it won't be too wobbly. It was windy today, I'm not sure if it was working as the handles are easy to control.

It's that knob there


4. A station wagon. Yes, I mentioned that. It can carry a child up to 22kg at the rear. Another child or groceries up to 15kg at the front!

5. These bikes are heavy! Almost like a scooter. The bike stand that comes with a lock is strong enough for you to leave it properly standing while you get your children one at a time. I still need to practice. I wasn't successful when Lucas was sitting. It was too heavy!

6. The batteries which cost around 50,000 yen itself are waterproof so you can leave it outside in the rain. We were told to charge it once the level is at 20 km or once a week.

WHERE TO BUY

For myself and Lucas, we bought a Yamaha model in Asahi Cycle Base - Meguro. We were lucky there was a Korean staff who speaks good English.

My husband bought a sleek and manual model because he wanted biking to be a workout as well.

Initially, we were thinking about buying second-hand bikes. After a year of living here, our Japanese skills not yet at a conversational level, we thought we would need a hassle-free experience from purchase to maintenance.

We can add air pressure on the wheels for free in Asahi Cycle Base and they can install additional accessories even if we purchase it elsewhere.

Asahi Cycle Base in Meguro

For brand new, people usually go to Aeon bikes (where we bought the rear child seat), Don Quijote, or BIC Camera. We did a quick canvass and found that Asahi Cycle Base is stocked up and is 10,000 yen cheaper than Aeon. Both of which have branches near our home.

If you want a second-hand bike, you can check online in Gaijinpot, Craigslist, or Tokyo Sayonara FB groups. Or there are a lot of second-hand shops too. I suggest you bring a Japanese speaking friend along though.

If you are looking for more information about bicycles here in Tokyo, check out this website by Byron Kidd. He is a funny bike enthusiast here in Japan. - http://www.tokyobybike.com

Yay! That's it! I'm still so excited I want to bike around Tokyo now and create more happy memories with Lucas!

What is your most memorable experience in riding a bike?

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