Cycling in Tokyo

I went out for a cycle today, on what is presumably a fairly typical Japanese city bike. It was interesting.

Here’s the bike:


Yes, it has a basket on the front, and it’s not what I am used to riding. But just bear with me – it has some interesting features.

The enlarged hub in the front wheel obviously contains some kind of dynamo, which is wired to the light. So as soon as you start peddling in the shady garage, the light starts flashing. It’s a nice feature. I’m not sure if the light continued to flash when we were outside in the sun or not. But it’s still nice.

This is the back wheel. Again, there is an enlarged hub. Again, there’s something clever going on inside there, as the bike has three gears, but there is only one drive cog, and only one cog here at the back wheel too. So there’s some kind of clever linkage inside the hub between the cog you can see and the wheel. But I have no idea how it works.

And this is the built in lock. Just slide the blue lever to lock and unlock, as long as the key is in. Admittedly, you can’t lock the bike to anything, but the back wheel sure won’t turn. I also discovered there’s a link between this lock and the front wheel, which locks the steering to straight-ahead, or turned, which is pretty clever.

The downside to all this trickery (well, apart from the basket, which is a major downer), is that the bike is really heavy. Heavy as if it were made from depleted uranium. But at least it’s got some interesting gadgets.

Very Japanese!

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2 Responses to “Cycling in Tokyo”

  1. Niall Says:

    My bicycle maintenance book has a section on hub gearing. Apparently they get very sophisticated, and are used quite a bit for mountain biking because the cassette isn’t exposed, and therefore much less inclined to snag. Apparently.

  2. Andrew Gallagher Says:

    I remember bikes with hub gears when I was small. Haven’t seen one in a long time though.

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