Hello friends, let me introduce you to my new bicycle!
Here s/he is! (haven't decided on a gender yet)
It's an Osso7007 EX (to sound fancy), from an Osaka brand, and rides really nicely. It's a 7 speed, the frame is great and for the price was a steal. (I found it marked down to 39,800 yen at Top One, a very cool bike/green living shop in Osaka)
I was considering a folding bike in true Japanese fashion.(after the heavy mamachari, it's the most commonly seen) But I was faced with huge quality issues. It seems that anyone and everyone makes folding bikes here. Ive seen Hummer bikes, Panasonic, Chevrolet, US Postal Service (!?!) and a bunch of others. From my browsing I found pretty cheap components on a frame that by definition met the requirements of being a folding bike, but wasn't elegant or well designed. These bikes are the most common and run under 20,000 yen, so if you're looking for a cheap buy to get you off your feet quickly while abroad, not bad, but I'd look at is as a very short term investment. There are of course great folding bikes you can buy. I browsed mostly Dahon Brand, but Bianchi and many others have bikes ranging from mini non fold-able bikes to really compact creative ones. These often cost upwards of 130,000 yen. A bit out of my price range. (Dahon has some very affordable models as well tho, coming in at around 400 US$. (cheaper on some discount websites)
Frustrated with the lack of affordable quality bikes, when I saw Osso, I was quickly sold. Classy and affordable, these bikes were simple enough for me, yet functional (7 speed, rack bolt holes, etc) and the fact that I would be riding a Japanese bike that wasn't Fuji or Nishiki made me pretty happy as well. I went with a slightly smaller frame (520mm) which suits me better, and also means I can box it up smaller and bring it home in pieces in December (another really important selling point) By the way, Delta is on the less forgiving end of airlines when it comes to fees and size/weight restrictions it seems to me. The only downside to the bike so far is that I find its breaks to be a bit cheap. The traction of the pads on the rims is a bit poorer than I'd like. This is a pretty easy fix though if I ever do decide to replace the breaks (or the whole system) in the future. I will also probably switch the bars to some drop bars and tape it. I like the different grip options of a full taped bar, especially for longer rides.The Osso was christened in heroic fashion with a ride to Osaka Castle (amazing. See photos here) and then a kind of reckless ride from Osaka all the way to Takatsuki in the dark. (22.6km according to google, but I definitely got lost enough to make it 30) I arrived home very sweaty and tired, but feeling great to be on a bike again after almost a month without one.
I'll post more later on my experiences with Japanese biking.
Enjoy riding this week!