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Bike Bag (rinkō-bukuro, 輪行袋) Top Tips

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
Posted this on Facebook earlier, and it's been received well. So what do you guys think? Not everyone likes travelling with their bike on the train, Japan-style. What are the merits and demerits? What bag(s) do you use? Ever had problems?

Let's rinkōjutsu...

Half-Fast Mike's Top Tips if you're new to using or considering getting a bike bag for taking your bike on the train

1. The MontBell Quick Carry bag is the best cost-performance one I've found. Currently ¥5,050 in-store. [Links to online store and B&M store list.]

2. You loosen your QR to remove the front wheel. Make sure to tighten the QR up again before stowing the wheel in the bag. Lost nuts = bad day. (If you're have a thruxle, no problemo.)

3. Practice getting your bike in and out of the bag two or three times at home. Don't leave it until you need to catch a train! It's easy, but each bike is a little different and there's a knack to strapping everything together so it doesn't rattle about.

4. The rolled-up bag can be stored in a jersey pocket, bottle cage, seat pack, or strapped to handlebars. (Or left in the locker at the train station if you're coming back the same way and really really can't manage the extra weight.)

5. Next time you're at a bike shop - probably not a MontBell store, though - ask for a plastic fork spacer. They just throw them away. It's a light and useful accessory to guard your fork against accidental scratching or squishing.

6. Positioning on the train. Most trains have a bulkhead wall at the very front or back. Ideal to lean bike against. Many trains have a wheelchair space in the end or second-to-end car - also ideal. Sometimes we don't have this luxury.

7. We're *technically* supposed to cover the entire bike, including the saddle. The MontBell bag doesn't do this, and it's a stupid rule, so just gaijin-smash your way through it if you get any hassle. Sometimes Odakyu can get uppity. And JR Shikoku are really quite annoying. Plastic bag from the store over the saddle makes them quiet down.

Wonderful post!
I use a Tioga Cocoon bought second-hand from @jdd
I've used it a couple of times on the train and in taxis, never having to worry about the seat.
On the plane, I needed to remove the seat and both wheels to fit it in and cover the entire bike as the airline required.
The bag is also equipped with a shoulder strap, which makes it easy for carrying.
what happened to that Boso Bicycle Friendly Train.....!
Still running. Still gouging people.


Actually for some of their destinations, compared to regular trains, it's quite handy - saves changing two or three times between local lines. But the 50% markup on the regular fare puts me off. I'd have to get to and from Ryogoku anyway.
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Whaat?! That's expensive.. and inconvenient and a little pointless. Thanks JR.
Whaat?! That's expensive.. and inconvenient and a little pointless. Thanks JR.
You're welcome to send your feedback, by Fax, to (03)5334-1297.

When I get finally round to Boso, I'll probably throw some camping gear in the car, take the Aqualine, and make a long weekend of it.
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The things you find at Recycle Shops....
Got this used Tioga Rinko for 1100 yen (Pictured on left, details here: https://global.rakuten.com/en/store/theusasurf/item/tioga001/) , without straps. On right is the rinko I currently use (probably won't use from now on). It's heavy and I hate it.

Thanks for the tips @Half-Fast Mike . I shall not shy away from rinko-ing from now on....


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I  agree, the rinko bag can get heavy. Mine sure is.
I  agree, the rinko bag can get heavy. Mine sure is.
Items 1 and 6 of the original post seem to assume that you're in an average sort of suburban Tokyo train.

Item 1. This MontBell bag is very similar in design to Giant's 輪行バッグ SUPER LIGHT BIKE BAG XL 631300008, which (the last time I looked) was available from Giant stores for 3800 yen plus tax. Though the bikes Giant sells in Japan don't seem to come in any size justifying the company name, this bike bag of theirs very easily accommodates my bike (60 cm seat tube). I'd guess a 64 cm bike would fit. (Perhaps this is also true for the the MontBell cover; I haven't tried.)

The MontBell bag may come with good straps; again I don't know. The Giant one comes (or mine came) with no fewer than eight straps for attaching the front wheel and stabilizing the handlebar. Either I misunderstood something about them or they're poorly designed: a tug on them, and the strap lengthens. So I went to Ishii Sports (purveyor of mountain climbing and other goods to the carriage trade) and bought three well-designed straps, for a total of perhaps 500 yen.

Item 2. This mystified me, until I remembered that lots of forks these days have "lawyer lips". My newer frame was (presumably together with its fork) built in 2011 and wasn't designed for export to nations with rapacious lawyers and so doesn't have them. So I don't have to go through this (admittedly minor) irritation. If you're lucky, you won't either.

Item 6. Even in the Tokyo area, Keiō trains don't have a handrail at the bulkhead to which you can tie your enshrouded bike. The trains running west from Takao (to Ōtsuki, etc) don't even have a bulkhead. When you do have a handrail-equipped bulkhead, be careful about stacking more than three bikes to it and tying the one that's farthest: their tyres can all slip across the floor and the pile of them can collapse into anyone standing close by. An amusing notion in the abstract, a lot less funny if it actually happens, and the bikes strike infants, the elderly, or the litigious.

And what about Shinkansen and other "limited express" trains?

This isn't just a rhetorical question. I really don't know. Because of this, I use such trains as seldom as possible. When I do have to use them, I manage to find somewhere for my bike within 100 metres of where I'm sitting (sometimes with a mandatory reservation). This more or less inconveniences the rail staff and other passengers. Even if I blame myopic/arrogant train misdesign for the inconvenience, this is no consolation to these other people. Simply, I feel like a jerk, because I am one.

This is where "both wheels off" bike bags are clearly superior. Unfortunately I don't have a recommendation among these. In my limited knowledge they seem designed for smaller bikes than mine or are otherwise poorly designed or both.

Even taking both wheels off is a halfhearted gesture towards doing it right, which involves removing not just both wheels but the fork and thereby compacting considerably. The bike illustrated in Jan Heine's article has some design tweaks to make this particularly easy (and it's a particularly small bike to start with); but a cycling chum who's almost as ancient as I am says that BITD ('80s) he'd routinely remove/reinstall the fork of his bike, though his was a regular road bike with regular caliper brakes and no special provision for easy fork removal/reattachment. A bit more challenging if you have brifters, I suppose. (Incidentally, I think the inconvenience of downtube shifters is hugely exaggerated.)

Item 7. Recently I've taken to stuffing a large rejibukuro [Does English have a word?] into my saddlebag. Of course it weighs next to nothing and takes very little space. The only reasons why I don't use it until asked are that I've only once been asked to use it (and the rail employee didn't seem much interested; I think he was dutifully asking about a rule that made little more sense to him than it did to me) and that it slightly complicates the business of tying my enshrouded bike to a handrail.

And if we're paying attention to regulations, I believe that a wrapped-up road bike that's intact other than for its front wheel simply exceeds the size limit for baggage. However, I've never been challenged about this, and I haven't heard stories of others being challenged.
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Thanks for the tips ! And that kind of rules are really beyond my understanding....
Good! I found that I was unable to link this PDF behind text (as I'm doing here for an unrelated web page); however, I'm sure that either (a) I made some stupid mistake, or (b) this is a bug that has already been discussed elsewhere.
A friend I was riding with the day before yesterday had a bag that when rolled up was remarkably small. Unusually for a product in today's consumer wonderland, it wasn't emblazoned with a brand name. He told me that it was from Peko.

This appears to be a one-woman enterprise. She does a variety of patterns in a variety of materials, and does so in batches. The web page gives the dates for application for one of these batches -- dates in late 2019. Presumably some dates for 2020 will be posted some time soon.

Prices seem very reasonable. The bag I was looking at is of lightweight material, but not the lightest. It's rather susceptible to tearing, so its owner instead uses a more robust (and thus bulkier and heavier) Ostrich bag when he thinks the bag is likely to get scuffed.
That Peko bag seems remarkably good value considering the prices of other options. Looking at the website it seems that it requires both wheels to be taken off however. I have been using the more expensive Pandani bag (¥7500-8000) on an almost weekly basis for over 3 years now with no issues at all. Not cheap but has performed faultlessly.
Ms Peko writes:

Uh, [expletive]. Next time I'll be quicker.

@dastott, I have a very robust "Tioga" bag that's in very good nick despite having been used about as much as your Pandani (and costing less); I no longer use it because using it is a bit of a pain and when rolled up it's particularly bulky. (NB I've seen other models of Tioga that looked flimsy.) I also have a "Giant" bag that's less bulky, cost me just 3800 yen, is a doddle to use and seems very robust (other than that its drawstring looks as if it might start fraying). The Tioga and the Giant share the problem that the enshrouded bike is ... giant (mostly because the rear wheel stays attached). The plan was and remains to get a Peko bag not for humdrum use (for which I'd use the Giant) but instead only for occasional use in the shinkansen and similar. (What do you do in a shinkansen?)
Have never taken my bike on the shinkansen but instead use normal trains and limited express trains (JR Kyushu). Many of the limited express trains down here have a deck area between carriages which is the perfect size for a road bike with the rear wheel still attached. I take it then the shinkansen doesn't have this? My first 2 rinko rides were with a rinko bag made by my wife which was a copy of an Ostrich one. I bought the Ostrich rear wheel adapter thing but the whole thing was too bulky to carry and I damaged my rear mech the 2nd time. Never again...
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