4 best Tokyo bike shops
Tokyo by foot, metro and taxi is one thing, but there's another Tokyo only accessible by bike. And besides the expanded mobility, bicycles can also help you relax, save money and stay healthy.
When deciding on a bike, don't just settle for the inevitable mamachari (a.k.a "Mother's Chariot") -- the bicycle of choice for groggy salarymen and urban mothers (who accessorize with children). Make sure to check the huge array of specialist stores Tokyo has to offer before buying the cheapest bike at your local supermarket.
Here are the four best Tokyo bike shops to get things rolling.
Y’s Road Akasaka: Velocipede superstore
Speciality: With its cramped six floors of bikes and accessories, this is as close as Tokyo comes to a bicycle megastore. The first floor has a large selection of Cannondale bikes, with a unique set of oversized bikes in the basement. The other floors house folding bikes, bike bags, handlebars of all shapes, wheels, cleaning chemicals and lights. This is the best place to get your basics. Y's Road Akasaka also has a decent workshop area and can almost build you up a whole bike from scratch.
Clientele: Mountain bikers and moneyed salarymen shopping on their lunch-breaks (the same salarymen who don lycra set-ups and ride ¥1,000,000 track bikes on the weekends).
WBASE Harajuku: Fixed-gear wonderland
Speciality: This small shop for BMX and fixed-gear cyclists can bring on bouts of claustrophobia -- or hallucinations provoked by all the shiny bike accessories on offer. Managed by Yohei, who worked in San Francisco as a messenger, the selection is well curated towards independent and specialized manufacturers for a crowd who know a good sprocket, crank set and toe clip when they see one. They can also send your frame off to get repainted or point you in the right directions for any other needs.
Clientele: The world's coolest BMX and fixed-gear bike fetishists. If you haven’t thought about whether your handlebars match your shoes, get ready to feel underdressed. This is the bike shop that all the visiting overseas messengers and fixed-gear celebrities end up at.
F.I.G Daikanyama: Biking as high-design
Speciality: Fitting seamlessly into the neighborhood, this shop offers a refined selection of design oriented bikes and clothing. F.I.G. is one of the few places you can get brands like Salsa, Orbea, Raleigh and Schwinn. This shop also has a distinct bent towards minimal lines and strange shapes when it comes to bike frames. They are also stock cycling couture such as local label PEdAL.E.D. and bike tools that look they they belong in New York's MOMA.
Clientele: A wide range of design minded cyclists, with a refined taste tending towards the minimal or the eccentric. This is Daikanyama after all.
Punch Cycle Asakusa: Historical framing
Speciality: Run by friendly Kitajima-san, this ramshackle shop is overcrowded with cultural treasures from Japan's bicycle history. Punch Cycle Asakusa is especially famous for second-hand bike frames certified by the Nihon Jitensha Shinkōkai (NJS) for professional Keirin sprint racing. Built to tightly regulated specifications, these steel frames are generally built by hand and highly sought after worldwide. Frames on sale include Kalavinka, Nagasawa, 3Rensho and Panasonic.
Clientele: This shop is well known among track bike aficionados and Japanese bicycle connoisseurs. Expect the type of people willing to be put on a long waiting list in the hope of getting a good condition track bike second-hand from a professional rider or collector.
Punch Cycle Asakusa: Kaminarimon 1-5-10, Taito-ku, tel 03 3841 5080, Tue-Fri 6-11pm and Sat-Sun 1-9pm, closest station: Tawaracho or Asakusa