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Tag Archive: bicycle

!!Mamachari!! – Undeniably Cool Utility Bikes in Japan

(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:

Mamachari Mountain Bike
Unlocking 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.
Lights 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.
Chainguard Keeps everything nice and clean. Have to remember to bring a velcro strap downstairs to keep clothing from rubbing on the chain.
Bell Gets pedestrians out of your way. Saying “Excuse me”, “Coming through”, “On your right”, or “Ding! Ding!” just doesn’t work
Mudguards Dry bum Wet bum
Parking 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.
Child seat I can take someone for company, or to push the supermarket trolley for me No chance.
Basket 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.

Friday Musings – Tiny awesome things about Bike Commuting

Happy Aloha Friday everybody!  Sometimes I make tiny mental lists of the tiny awesome things about bike commuting that I love including tips, hidden moments on the commute, commuter-specific nuances, and ultimate randomness.  Let’s get all loosey-goosey and see what we can come up with.  P.S. – some of these things are shared from others, so be sure to comment and fill in yours too.  Let’s roll out the red carpet for the little things we love about Bike Commuting:

It's Friday, and it's time to NERD OUT over Bike Commuting!

  • Front light/Front flip: One out of three of my commuter stallions has had the problem of anorexic handlebars!  What this means is that in ideal spot to mount my front light, the tube diameter is too small for thesmallest grippy-diameter of my Planet Bike Blaze front mount (even with piling up those rubber fillers).  The front light would tip forward after every big bump in the road, resulting in half my commute flashing a front-light strobe party pointing straight down on the ground!  So much for being seen!… Instinctively, each time Bumblebee and I rode over a lumpy-hump, I would reach for the front light and prop it back up.  It wasn’t until this past year that my co-worker spotted a neat trick on someone else’s ride: flip the light upside down so gravity is on your side!  Now my front light hangs underneath the bars, and I never have to readjust after humps and bumps!  Yay! No more front light push-up like pointdexter adjusting my glasses.

    The Front Light Front Flip!

  • Smell factor: This can be something good or something bad depending on where you are in your commute!  Two awesome smells I’ve been recording on my brain are ripe mangoes at Hotel and Maunakea St. and cinnamon rolls baking at the enormous warehouse-style bakery a block from my office!  I love the smell of my bike commute, better than the smell of the inside of the bus on a rainy day, or that weird Crayola smell in Volkswagen Jettas.  I’ll take “fresh” bike air any day…
  • Helmet Basket:  No shame in this, a quick trip to the grocery store to grab the makings for a FlufferNutter – why grab a plastic shopping basket when you can use your helmet upside down! I do this all the time at the grocery!  I also use this trick while locking up: I clip the helmet so it hangs from my top tube, and toss the flat bar with key of my U-lock into the helmet as I thread the cable through my wheels and line everything up for the final lock down.  I love dual purpose of helmets: stores my brains and knowledge, or Fluff and U-locks!  Elizabeth has her own trick for carrying groceries home.

Ok, I don't think it works well the other way around, buckethead!

  • Nightride Karaoke Solo: Whenever I work late and am riding alone on the streets, I love to sing really embarrassing pop songs like Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” out loud for no one to hear!  The streets are mine, and no one is around to give me the stink eye, so I enjoy it!

I want one that says Cycle Ladies like Bike Nerds.

  • Left-Turn Signal Habit: I know I’ve posted this before to the BikeCommuters.com facebook, but to any new readers who didn’t catch it; you know you are a bike commuter when you left turn signal while walking back from lunch to your office.  NERD ALERT!  Another good one I heard from a reader is when you try to do a mirror check while walking in the hallway at the office.

Anyway guys, enjoy your Aloha Friday, Bike Commuters! Don’t be ashamed of nerding out, enjoy those tiny moments on your ride home this weekend.  What other awesome randomness do you enjoy on your commute!? Share it in the comments box puh-leeze!

End of Year Rabbity Wrap Up, the Top 11 for 2011!

Ok, okaaaaaaay.  So Ghost Rider the Whip has tasked me with the year-end update to all ye mighty Bike Commuters!!! For all you non-daily readers (myself included, no excuses, just the truth yo) consider this the ultimate BikeCommuters.com Cliff Notes of 2011.  Be sure to click the extra links, so many goodies embedded in this one.  And since I love LISTS as much as tweens love Ryan Gosling and puppies, here is the Top 11 Bike Commuters Highlights (and then some) from the Year of the Rabbit …  Let the countdown begin.

My expression of my love for LISTS can only be captured with this moment!

11.  Helmet on a Diet: Among many products, including the O2 Rainwear’s Calhoun Jacket, Levis 511 Commuter Jeans, and others from Chrome, Planet Bike, Velo Orange, and Ergon, we reviewed this half-weight BMX/skater style melon protector – the Pryme V2 Lite! Removable pads allow for easy cleaning, adjustment, and with 13 vents will keep you less than sweaty. RL even said this Pryme helmet on a diet was so light he forgot he was wearing it!

10. How To’s and Ghetto-rigging: Several articles this year featured DIY and easy commuter tips like how to apply Stealthy 3M Reflective Tape to your bike frame!  Check out the before and after shots in this follow up article.  We wrote about how to make a Bike Train, last minute tips for carrying groceries home, and a friendly reminder on lubing your chain!

9.  Winterize-Me! 2011, the year of the rabbit is also the year of the snow-bunny.  All-year and all-weather rider Elizabeth has cranked out some popular tips and posts on layering, waterproofing your getup, and winterizing your manos for the harshest winter climate commutes.  Two-wheeled transporting readers like yourselves named this article a top fave in our 2000th post giveaway contest!  Check out Layering as Easy as 1 2 or 3! Elizabeth makes us warm-weather writers look like sissy lalas, she’s a BAMF commuter no doubt.

8. Hear Ye, Hear Ye: From you the readers, we had a handful of commuter profiles in the Year of the Rabbit including my posts from Hawaii, Arizona, California, and Illinois.  Thanks to Willy Campbell, Karen Voyer-Caravona, Hermes Pagulayan, and Robert Guico for keeping it real.  We love to hear from the readers themselves about their best rides, funny stories, tips, and setups…

Bike Commuter Profiles Rabbit Round-up, 2011 photocrap edition!!!

7. Travels & Adventuretimes: Jetsetting, touring, and leap-frogging through time and space, the BikeCommuters staff writers adventured far and wide including visits to Bike Shares in France, Interbike 2011 in Vegas, vacation commuting in Chicago, and historical Bike Museums in Ohio!  I guess we could say we’re bunny-hopping through time and space.  We hope to have more Bike Commuters staff travels and adventures next year; maybe we can meet up with you local readers for events or rides!

6. Five-O, Five-O! RL roped his friend, “Officer Ben” into chatting about the DOs and DON’Ts of bikes in the city.  For more bike list-lust and Five-O insight, try this article titled “My Conversation witha  Cop about Bike Traffic and Safety Tips.”  As always with officers, remember your attitude makes a difference!

5. Commuter All-in-One Review –We Reviewed some non-commuter specific bikes this year (like the Xootr Swift and the Redline Urbis) but Jack pulled the lucky straw and got his heine on this Breezer Uptown 8 back in Spring (full-on Wabbit Season)!  The Uptown 8 came fully-loaded with all kinds of commuter goodies: rear rack, chaincase, dyno-powered lights, full fenders, internal shifting, bell, high spoke count wheels, water bottle cage, and a kickstand!  And all for $999.00 MSRP, a low maintenance sturdy steed for city riding requires only one stop at the LBS.  Jack gave this all in one commuter a HIGH FIVE of awesomeness.

4.  Planet Bike Superflashy-flash TURBO! Hoo-hoo, you caught me!  My soft spot for all things blinky lights and hi-viz leads me to this post by Vince.  The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo has 1-Watt a licious power of red LEDs and a attention-grabbing flashy pattern that earned an “A” from Bike Commuters!  Read the full article here.

3.  Nice Paint Job, oh and Nice Bike Too – RL reviewed some single speed and fixed gear rides this year like the Torker KB2 and the 2011 Redline 925.  The KB2 is a fixie with a 2-speed kick back hub and a pearly green paint job.  The Redline 925 is a single speed city slammer, excellent stopping power in the breaks, a smooth ride, clean lines, and commuter staples like fenders, chain guard, toe clips, and rack mounts!  For those of you in the market for a single speed or fixie ride, put these mamas on your bike lust list and ride these velos non-stop like bunnies in springtime.  Now for some bike p0rn with the Redline 925 in “Pearl Dark Brown”:
and in the KB2 Torker in “sparkly green”!

2. Ok, So Interbike is Kinda a Big Deal –  So we can’t pass up the year of the rabbit without highlights from Interbike 2011!! RL was all over this event sorting through the good, ze germans, and the goofy to make us feel like we were all there too!  He even bumped into some other traveling bike bloggers!  There’s a lil som’n som’n for everyone at Interbike…What about Urbana Bikes commuter with belt drive?  And for us nighttime commuters LED by Light’s got light kits with turn signals?  How ’bout you been broke phi broke all year and wanna haul a lotta stuff with an affordable Dutch Cargo bike?  Sign us up!
1. 2000th Post Giveaway! The countdown ends with a big-timey milestone, the 2000th post hit us in December 2011.  Thanks to all our staff writers this year and in years past that made it possible!  We celebrated with a giveaway of awesome stuff as readers posted their favorite articles on facebook and in the comments. It was really cool to dig up older articles and see feedback from readers who don’t usually post (without enticement of free bike goodies).  Hopefully, our winnder John Leddy from Burlington, VT is enjoying his Banjo Brothers backpack, Planet Bike lights and accessories, a Bikecommuters.com tshirt and sticker pack and a Chainspirations zipper pull.
Special thanks go to Banjo Brothers and Planet Bike for helping sponsor our prize giveaway.  So here’s the part where we say goodbye to the Rabbit and hello to the dragon!  Thanks for sticking with us Bike Commuters readers, Ride ALOHA!

Photocredit to Papajka on Flickr! Take that you toasty rabbit!

Book Review: “Cyclopedia” by William Fotheringham

A couple of months ago, the publicity manager for the Independent Publishers Group offered to send a review copy of William Fotheringham’s new book Cyclopedia: It’s All About the Bike (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011). Funny how that title keeps popping up..since Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike, a number of cycling authors have used a variation on that title. Why, it was only a few short weeks ago that I reviewed ANOTHER book with a similar title!

Author William Fotheringham gained wide acclaim for his biography of legendary British racer Tom Simpson in Put Me Back on My Bike, and has quite the list of cycle-related “palmares”: cycling correspondent at the Guardian, launch editor of Cycle Sport, founder of procycling magazine, writer at Rouler Magazine. The man lives and breathes cycling history…so I was eager to read Cyclopedia.

Cyclopedia

I was NOT disappointed…this book is a treasure trove of cycling/bicycle racing facts and anecdotes — including many things I had not heard of. From Uzbek sensation Djamolidin Abduzhaparov to “The Flying Yankee” Arthur Zimmerman, the book simply blew me away. As Fotheringham is a UK-based writer, the content leans a bit heavily toward British racing legends, but rest assured, there is something for everyone here. But, it’s not an exhaustive encyclopedia — it focuses on the highlights (and some lowlights), as a true encyclopedia of bike racing would take several volumes. Throughout the book, there are diagrams, maps, timelines and tables to help illustrate some of the subject matter. My favorite? French drug slang…a colorful glimpse into the sordid past of professional racing.

I consider myself a fairly well-read amateur bike historian, and I welcomed learning new tidbits along the way. Best of all, Cyclopedia got me interested in tracking down additional bike history books to read further on some of the subjects Fotheringham touched on. For anyone interested in learning more bicycle and racing history, this is a great jumping-off point. Cyclopedia deserves a place on any bike fan’s bookshelf.

I also got a copy of Fotheringham’s Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi for Christmas, and so far I am enthralled. Stay tuned for a review on that and some other bikey book goodness in the coming weeks.

Reflective DIY “Get Visible” – Photoshoot

3M Scotchlite tape - what a stealthy reflective cheap trick!

Okay Midnight Riders… it is wintery and darker than usual at the end of our work days this time of year.  In the spirit of digging up things in our past like you all have been posting for our Bike Commuters 2000th post Giveaway, here’s the follow-up to our article on Reflective DIY Tape! So: for Raiyn & his stealth reflector bling power and all the other Bike Commuters out there, I finally got ahold of a photomaker and snapped some photos!  I also got ahold of a magic wand. Check out the the effectiveness of the easy bibbity-bobbity-boo Scotchlite 3M reflective tape Makeover:

Version 1: No flash, living room lights on.

Dayman.

Version 2: With flash, living room lights off, awesome magic sparkle power ON.

Fighter of the Nightman! aAAAaaaa!

ShaBAM:  bright at night, but the 3M reflective tape blends in during the day too!  For more archive digging, check out my favorite BikeCommuters.com gateway articles, Moe’s Rear Blinky Comparo or Jack “Ghost Rider” Sweeney’s Planet Bike 1W Blaze Review. Stay bright, night commuters!

Hasbro... maybe they will make a "Lite-Brite" movie since they already made "Transformers"