Buying a Bicycle in Japan

Despite being the mega city to end all mega cities Tokyo is surprisingly accessible by bicycle and is the primary mode of transport for many people. This is mainly due to the high cost of car ownership, the lack of parking space and overcrowding on commuter trains.

Dahon Folding Bicycle

I’ve wanted to get a bike for some years but it wasn’t until now that I lived somewhere safe or realistic to do it. Last week I took the plunge and brought a shiny new Dahon Route 20 from Amazon Japan (which can conveniently be used in English if you don’t speak Japanese).

Dahon Route 20 Folded

Dahon makes really nice folding bikes – they are a bit more expensive than some other brands but are far better built and use high-quality components.

Dahon Route 20 Folded

I wanted a folding bicycle mainly for the convenience of being able to store it in my apartment since there isn’t any parking outside.

Dahon Route 20 Unfolding

It takes about 30 seconds to fold/unfold and is very straightforward to adjust to the correct position. It’s also pretty light to carry around when necessary.


After buying a bike in Japan you should register it so that if you are stopped by the police (likely for foreigners) or it gets stolen you have proof of ownership. This can be done at any bike shop and costs 500 yen – you’ll need your ID, proof of purchase and the bike itself. You’ll be given a small yellow sticker with a registration number on it.

Dahon Route 20 Bicycle

Theft is rare in Japan and most people just use a simple wheel lock to deter people from riding off with their bike. I still like to chain my bike to an immovable piece of street furniture where possible though.

Dahon Route 20

I’ve been riding around Tokyo all week on it and so far have no complaints – it’s sturdy, comfortable and easy to manoeuvre around traffic/pedestrians. Gear changes are effortless with the Shimano 6-speed thumb shifter.

Dahon Route 20

Riding on the pavement/sidewalk in Tokyo is normal and won’t get you in trouble as long as you’re careful and use common sense. You don’t see many people wearing helmets but obviously, that’s up to you.

Bicycle in Ueno Park

For more information about owning and riding a bicycle in Tokyo Tofugu and Tokyo By Bike has some good advice. CNN Travel also has an article about good bike shops here.

David avatar

5 responses

  1. Lucky lucky lucky….

    I’ve been living in Middle Eastern countries for the last four years… and Turkey for the last two and I have to say that you’re fortunate to live in a place that at least acknowledges bicycles.

    In the M.E there is no infrastructure for bikes, and to ride them is dangerous and to invite ridicule, aggressiveness and even assault – saw this happen with my own eyes – from motorists.

    Bicycling exists for two types of people – children and the rich who can afford to buy souped up performance bikes or mountain bikes – that they strap to their cars.

    Mind you that many a Turkish province is flat and would be perfect for bicycles…. but Turks love their cars more than their own bodies and would scoff at the idea of building bike infrastructure or respecting cyclists in Turkey’s congested narrow streets.

    The above goes for Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Israel – to a certain extent but especially outside Tel-Aviv, Most of the USA (grew up in the burbs of America where everything is too spread out to bicycle)…

    Why? I have no F-ing idea….

    But ride on my cyclist friend! Ride on…

    1. Thanks Logan – I had the same problem in Hong Kong where it’s very dangerous to ride on the roads. Tokyo is a breath of fresh air in that respect!

  2. Adrian Glamorgan avatar
    Adrian Glamorgan

    Nice photos, and thanks for the tip about registering. Any suggestions for good bike shops?

  3. Judith Ann Ventocilla avatar
    Judith Ann Ventocilla

    What’s the year of this model?

    1. I bought it in 2013 so presumably sometime before then.


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