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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.