(Let's hope this is actually in Japanese)
Kon’nichiwa (こんにちは) Bike Commuters! All around the world, it seems there are micro-cultures and macro-cultures of bike commuters and their preferred two-wheeled breeds of choice. Dutch city bikes, single speeds and fixies, fendered beach cruisers, ghetto-rigged MTBs, folding bikes, electric-assist, road bikes and the like… Going along with my love for all things cute and AZN (that’s my college sorority – Alpha Zeta Nu, we luv yoooo!) I have developed an internet stalker crush after Japanese MAMACHARI bikes! Oh Mamachari, where have you been all my life and why have I never found you until now in my Google search results? Apparently, there are all kinds of blogs out there for the originally women-specific bike, tailored to child/dog/grocery-toting around Japan. Let’s take a looksy:
In Treehugger’s blog post “Introducing: The Mamachari Bicycle” their author admits to owning and riding a mamachari (as if it were a guilty pleasure). When asked for the textbook definition of a mamachari, the author defined it as:
“…a really simple bicycle that you see all over Japan. Usually mothers use them for quick trips to the grocery store or to bring the kids to kindergarden. Thus the name, a combination of “mama” and “chariot”. Nope, the mamachari is not particularly sexy, but it is easy to ride and always comes with a basket up front. Plus a baby seat. Or sometimes two babyseats: one up front and one in the back.”
Fenders, baskets, chainguards, skirtguards (what IS that!?), three-speeds, child seats, racks galore, bells, dynamo lights, and kickstands. Sounds like a commuter bike to me, whether you’re towing Costco groceries, kids, or other bikes! These things are the all-in-one package, with more appendages, accessories, and equipment than the actual bike. I’m surprised there’s not a dog-walking leash attached or something.
This photo is totally internet ganked... but it is Ultimate Utility Bike COOL!
And this post from Tokyo by Bike has a nifty table summing up the benefits of riding a Mamachoo-choo (I can’t get enough of these mash-up Japinglish words) over a good ol’ mountain bike for commuting and utility cycling:
||The frame mounted lock can be unlocked by simply pushing in the key.
||A wire lock has to be untangled from around the wheel, frame and whatever the bike is locked to, potentially dirtying everything in the process.
||They’re attached to the bike, difficult to steal and don’t require batteries.
||Have to remember to bring them downstairs and attach them to the bike. Also have to remember to remove them when I arrive at the supermarket lest they get stolen, reattach them after I’ve finished shopping and remove them again once arriving home. Thats a lot of work.
||Keeps everything nice and clean.
||Have to remember to bring a velcro strap downstairs to keep clothing from rubbing on the chain.
||Gets pedestrians out of your way.
||Saying “Excuse me”, “Coming through”, “On your right”, or “Ding! Ding!” just doesn’t work
||Pull in. Kick down the stand. Push a lever to lock the bike. Go shopping.
||Look for something to lock the bike to, not always easy. Remove the wirelock from handlebars, lock the rear wheel and frame to a solid object. Careful, you might get dirty.
||I can take someone for company, or to push the supermarket trolley for me
||Holds any amount of groceries I’m likely to buy in one go.
||Squash groceries into a backpack or hang them from the handlebars which not only interferes with the bikes balance, but is also frowned upon by the law. 5kg of rice? Impossible.
And from the mama bicycle blog (written by a Japanese dad who likes his Mamachari bike and practicing his English) I delved further into the land of cheap, heavy-as-a-bloated-ox utility bikes, and found the Maruishi Cycles Frackers bike!
Mama-Frackers in every color!
Anyway, I’d like to take a jaunt around my hood with a mamachari! The best part is, you don’t have to be a Mama to ride one either! Anyone seen these types of bike popping up in the USA at your local bike shops?
Image taken from Hello Sandwich. This is less "mama"-specific.