What to look out for when buying a mom bike in Tokyo

By on October 4, 2017

When it comes to Tokyo living, the most important purchase for most families is a bicycle.

Buying a bicycle requires knowing what to look out for says Liz, a 28-year old Tokyo mom who was disappointed when she got her first mom bike in Tokyo. “I bought my first bike on the internet without really giving the features much thought.”

“When the bike got delivered, I realized both my husband and I got too carried away by the design that we had overlooked the other features that really matter.”

“We also weren’t able to mount the child rear seat on it which means we had to spend money on another one,” rants Liz.

So If you are buying a mom bike for the first time, her advice is not to buy impulsively.

“Take the time to check the features that’s right for your needs and if you can’t read Japanese like us, you should not buy from a Japanese-only shopping site.” she advises.

Here are the basics of what you should be looking for and why they matter.

Handle and back

You want to make sure that these two are made of stainless steel. Stainless steel is rust proof, iron is not. Here’s how to tell the difference. At most Tokyo stores, iron ones are often coated in black paint to make it hard to rust but don’t fall for it.  The paint will come off easily in about a year.

Stainless steel usually comes in silver. However, recently, products painted silver but are actually made of aluminum, have hit the stores too.  Aluminum’s resistance to corrosion is fairly weak so the color will most likely change over time.  For a mamachari,  go for something with a handle bar that curves towards you. It gives more maneuverability and stability than the straight  type.

Robustness and durability.

You want to check that the bicycle meets the safety standards of the BAA (Bicycle Association Authorization). BAA-approved bikes has this mark.

Center of gravity
Even two bicycles of the same size can have different centers of gravity. The center of gravity (COG) is said to be low when the lowest part of the bicycle frame is closer to the ground and high when it is closer to the saddle. Bikes with a high COG are more stable on the road.


There are three main types of brake: band, the RollerBrake and Servo type. The band brake uses a cylindrical part that prevents wheel from rotating. It is weak compared to the RollerBrake. The RollerBrake is a modular cable-operated drum brake where surfaces are all metallic and grease-lubricated. Although it performs well on the road, it requires frequent greasing.

You want to check out Servo brakes, a type of brake used for the rear wheels of bicycles. In the two-wheel industry, the term “servo brake” in a broad sense, refers to a trademark which maintains compatibility while improving the defects of a conventional band brake. It is manufactured and sold in Japan by Karasawa Manufacturing Co., Ltd.



About Ted Tanaka

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