Tokyo is such a marvelous city to explore, which is why it is a shame that we spend so much time on trains and subways being ferried from one place to another, never really getting to understand the lay of the land. The best way to really understand the city is by bicycle, but so many people who choose to tend to clog up the sidewalks with their ‘mamachari’ bicycles. According to the Japanese National Police Agency, there were 71.551 million bicycles in Japan in 2013 but most people tend to ride what even my dear old mother would call ‘old lady bikes’.
But if you know where to look, you can find some great bike shops around the city that sell all sorts of specialized cycles, including road bikes, mountain bikes, commuters or even BMXs. So, what are you waiting for? Get off the sidewalks and start really enjoying this wonderful city and its beautiful surroundings!
Y’s Road is perhaps the biggest chain for bikes in Japan, with 19 stores in the Kanto area alone. It stocks all sorts of bikes, including mountain bikes, road bikes, triathlon and folding bikes. Expect to find all the top brands as well as an extensive selection of apparel.
Founded by friends Toshi and Wakako with a shared love of Japanese track bikes, Blue Lug is a great little store that is a bit more for an aficionado than Y’s Road. With production bicycle frames, custom frame building, custom painting, bag-making, a café and more, there are two branches in the city, Shinjuku and Setagaya. Precision and artistry combined.
While longevity isn’t necessarily a guarantee of excellence, as Friend Syokai has been around since 1933, you imagine that they must do something right. As it happens, it seems like they are, as they are well known as a high quality bike shop stocking a wide range of stock bike of road, mountain, cross, and folding bikes.
If BMXing or fixies is your thing then you should check out W-BASE. Manager Yohei worked in San Francisco as a messenger before opening this little store with a selection curated towards independent and specialized manufacturers for a crowd who know their stuff.
Punch Cycle is another haven for the fixed gear bike lover. The steel framed bikes are generally built by hand to tightly regulated specifications and are highly sought after worldwide. This one gets fixie lovers seriously raving, and as it is open only in the evenings, they gather there as the sun goes down to pump owner Naoki Kitajima with questions.
If you want some seriously nice, hand crafted, custom built bikes then you should head over to Level. Pro-racers, road racers, city bikes (and even the odd mamachari), Shikou-san makes them all. Beautiful bikes that won’t exactly break the bank
If you are keen on getting out on your bike, there are a couple of cycling groups in the area. Check out Tokyo Cycling Club, Half Fast Cycling, or Tokyo Running Swimming Cycling Club, amongst many others.