Help Bike/Route help

Miyamoto

Warming-Up
Oct 4, 2013
5
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#1
Hi everyone,
I live in Yokohama and am looking at commuting to Tokyo by bicycle (about 2-3 hrs one way). I am looking for advice on what sort of bicycle would be recommended and also any routes that are advised.

At the moment I am thinking of getting either a folding bike or a cross bike. I figure a folding bike would be handy if any problems occur (just fold up and hop on a train) but a cross bike might be better for the journey (not a fan of road bikes so much). Any recommendations?

Also, can anyone recommend any good routes from Yokohama to Tokyo? For my commute I need to head towards Kawasaki and Shinagawa.

Any advice appreciated.
Many thanks,
 

Musashi13

Maximum Pace
Aug 27, 2012
1,772
1,104
143
41
Ichikawa, Chiba
#2
Any bike, folded or not, needs to be bagged up to get on a train so you can stop that right there.

If that's a daily commute each way I'd either be moving house or thinking about the most comfortable and efficient way possible to do it.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,429
874
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#3
As a folding road bike rider, my advice would be, don't worry too much about folding or not for rides of this length, get something that is comfortable and that is up to the job. There is a huge range of folding bikes. Cheaper folding bikes are primarily meant for short rides. On a lengthy commute you want something that lets you keep up with traffic as much as possible. A road bike (or CX bike) would be good for that.

As @Musashi13 points out, either type of bike needs to be packed in a rinko bukuro. Either is acceptable on a train when packed and unacceptable when not. The only case a folding bike would make things easier is if you need to put one in the trunk of a taxi or some other car or possibly for storing it at work.

As for the length of your intended commute, I think one hour one way is tolerable, 1 1/2 hours is pushing it, but 2-3 hours not sustainable. You'll get tired of it. You're talking about 100 hours a month just for commuting!

Can you name some trains stations near the beginning and end of your planned commute?
 

GrantT

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2012
1,614
1,192
143
Setagaya
#4
I think it's a nice idea a couple of days a week when the weather is fine. Lovely way to get to work! Personally, I would want to be as speedy as possible to keep up with traffic, which would mean something light. With a bike that isn't a foldable bike though I would make sure to avoid rush hour on the trains if I could at all.
 

Miyamoto

Warming-Up
Oct 4, 2013
5
0
1
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#5
Many thanks for your replies. I have been thinking of a folding bike just in case something happens and I can't ride it back home. I have somewhere to park at work, so that isn't a concern. I am steering towards a cross bike at the moment though.

The route I have tried so far takes either Highway 1 or 15 from Yokohama station through Kawasaki, Shinagawa, and then past Shinbashi a little bit into Koto ward. Using the highway, it is about 32 kms which I think would take me about 2 hrs in total.

I am looking for more scenic/safe routes as I have not tried this during rush hour traffic which worries me a bit.
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,661
477
103
Japan
#6
personally I would get the big cross bike, (a) bigger wheels roll over crap and obstacles better (b) you are more visible to cars due to a higher position (c) the same position lets you better see potential trouble ahead. (IF) something happens you can just suck it up and be "that guy" :end car of the train will work with a Rinko Bukkuro in rush hour.
The Giant FCR flat bars are plenty fast enough. http://www.giant.co.jp/giant14/bike_datail.php?p_id=00000030
 
Apr 3, 2012
401
98
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Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#7
Mmm.. That's a tough commute route! I would route through Kawasaki Station - Gotanda or Meguro Station - Shinbashi. The reasoning is that Shinagawa is a big station and has a lot of vehicle traffic around it while around the Meguro Station, not so bad. You might want to take route 1 (Daini-Keihin). Vehicle traffic is fast but the roads are wide. This is from my experience during evening rides. http://www.strava.com/activities/86613988

You might want to try using a bicycle navigation software. I use Jitensha Navi from Navitime with good results. Google Maps (pedestrian mode) works well as well. Use a device holder: http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00962352I to make navigation easier and an external battery for all day routing.

For a while, we were considering moving to a place about 10km south of Zushi (Miura Peninsula) to make my commute a 50km one way. I think I would have rinko bagged part of the way. Mornings would have me take the public transportation until Kawasaki station and then switch to bicycle. Same for the commute home, cycle out of the metro area and hop on the train in the suburbs. Seeing how @joewein puts in so much mileage and fast pace in, I too would have gotten a high performance compact foldable.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,429
874
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#8
Having used both R15 and Rt1, I second @JackTheCommuter's preference for Rt1. The road is wide enough that you don't permanently have to fear being squashed to death by trucks as you do on Rt15. Both routes have a lot of traffic, but Rt15 is too narrow for cyclists when busy.

I've had my folding road bike for 2 years now, but really I don't fold it that often. Partly that is because I hate to waste opportunities for exercise and an indirect train connection is often not that much faster than a direct cycling route when I ride in the countryside, but the folding on my Bike Friday is also not that straightforward. After a ride with friends it usually actually takes me longer to rinko up my bike than it takes my friends with their 700C bikes to pack theirs. They just put their bike in a bag, I fold it and then put it in a bag, which takes longer. My bike is optimized for fast and long rides, not for quick or compact folding. For example, I need to strap my rear wheel to the frame to prevent it from unfolding in the bag. Other folders have strategically placed magnets for that. Compact and quick folding bikes like the Bike Friday tikit, the Brompton and various Dahon and other bikes often use 16" wheels. Some may only have 3 or 6 speeds. It's a trade off: do you want to be able to quickly get onto and off a train, or do you want to be able to ride far and faster?

As for taking a bike on a train during the morning rush hour, I would avoid that with any bike, unless really, really necessary. There seems no limit to how jam packed Japanese morning commuter trains can become. The evenings are somewhat better, as return traffic is more spread out than the morning rush to the office.

On a regular commute I'd be less concerned about technical problems, punctures, etc. than about the weather. We get a lot of nasty weather, especially during the typhoon season. You may have to keep spare dry clothes at the office. Rain gear only helps so much. Whenever I ride in serious rain I wish my bike had disk brakes. I think that would be one thing I would seek on a commuter bike.
 
Likes: kiwisimon

Miyamoto

Warming-Up
Oct 4, 2013
5
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#9
Thanks for your replies. I think taking Route 1 in the morning will be ok but I am not sure about the evening - about 5pm 5:30pmish normally. Are there any quieter roads suitable in the evening that are recommended? I don't mind if it adds a little time/distance.

I have been using google maps so far with the pedestrian mode. Will check out the Jitensha navi too. Cheers for that.

I guess if I don't take the train very often, taking the wheels of a cross bike and using a rinko bag would beok in an emergency.
 

GrantT

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2012
1,614
1,192
143
Setagaya
#10
Looking at Google Maps, Route 2 looks like a fairly direct alternative for much of the way. When you get up and riding you can probably test out various routes to see what works best for you.
 
Apr 3, 2012
401
98
48
Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#11
It's going to add about 10km but getting in and out of the metro area via either Komazawa doori or Meguro doori (east / west) is pretty good. Komazawa doori only offers one lane each way but traffic speeds are lower. Meguro doori has faster traffic but with multiple wide lanes, is quite comfortable as well. Use the Tamagawa psyclepath for the north / south transit. If you need to bail, Musashimizonuchi station should offer train route back to the Kawasaki station area.

But... if you could handle Meguro doori, route 1 (Daini keihin), is just little bit more intense.

FYI - I've been using a road bicycle with 23mm and 25mm slicks with minimal puncture protection. The past year: I've had one puncture when a piece of sharp gravel got through, but I was going on hard packed dirt at speed. Another when I bunny hopped a curb and flubbed the landing, bursting the inner tube.
 

Sibreen

Maximum Pace
Jul 23, 2010
558
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Hanno, Saitama
#13
it is about 32 kms which I think would take me about 2 hrs in total.
If you get a good bike and do this route regularly, you'll soon become fit and fast enough that it won't take you much more than an hour.

Also, perhaps consider an entry level road bike with supplementary brake levers - you can use it like a flat-bar bike or a road bike.
 

TokyoTurtle

Speeding Up
Jun 6, 2013
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#14
"But... if you could handle Meguro doori, route 1 (Daini keihin), is just little bit more intense."

Exactly. I doubt you'd tell the difference between the two. Frankly if you're concerned about traffic on routes like these two, which are fast, smooth, and wide wide wide, then I would reconsider the idea of commuting by bicycle. Roads will less traffic will most likely A. take you so far out of your way and add so much time as to make bicycle commuting unviable, B. introduce you to hazards far greater than cars like slow-moving mama charis swerving around unpredictably.
 

Miyamoto

Warming-Up
Oct 4, 2013
5
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#15
Thanks everyone, this is very useful. I tried the commute yesterday taking Route 1 and 15. In the morning it was quite a pleasant cycle but not so in the evening - I took Route 15 much of the way but it seemed much too dangerous to be worth it. Lots of parked cars, cyclists on the wrong side of the road with no lights etc. Also the pollution was quite bad. 15 was ok from Kawasaki though.

Including a few stops to check my map and waiting for lights, it took 2 hrs in the morning and 2 1/2 hrs coming back. I used a road bike but definitely think a cross bike with wider tyres is best. I had to go on the pavement quite a bit when the traffic got too intense.

I will try again and stick to Route 1 this time.
 

TokyoTurtle

Speeding Up
Jun 6, 2013
119
18
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#16
I took Route 15 much of the way but it seemed much too dangerous to be worth it. Lots of parked cars, cyclists on the wrong side of the road with no lights etc. Also the pollution was quite bad. 15 was ok from Kawasaki though.
Skip the 15 and stay on 1 - at least until the Tamagawa, you'll never look back.