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First cycling tour in Japan

Marine

Warming-Up
Apr 30, 2015
12
5
1. That is a decent mission. I reckon you are going to want the fastest bike you can get. Dragging a heavy touring bike all that way is going to be nasty.
2. Great, so you can focus on a road bike then.

Will you be camping, or will you arrange hotels to stay in each night / have places to stay with friends or whatever?



So your boyfriend does not have a bike either? Well, I think he should follow exactly the same advice as yourself.

There is a vibe with some people that doing a bike tour (or even just going on a single ride) requires huge amounts of baggage, stuff with heavy clothes. This might be true if you are completely away from all civilisation, but with a bit of planning you can cut this right down to nearly nothing in Japan. You don't need to take all the clothes you will wear for the whole time, as you can buy them easily on the way, cheaply, then throw them away as you go. There are convenience stores that sell tshirt, pants, socks etc, the whole way. The same is true about tools, and bike spares.

With this in mind, I think you should focus on getting as light and fast a bike as you can, and travelling with the minimum amount of stuff. You can buy most of it along the way, if you plan carefully. This will make your ride a LOT more enjoyable and free feeling. Flying down mountains on fast bike and being able to ride efficiently and quickly every day is much much better than dragging a heavy slow bike around with you.


1. Yes it can be really difficult in long term, you're right the lighter will be the better. I will choose the balanced one between technical and budget.

We will be camping as much as we can then take hostels when we'll have to. We don't know anybody in Japan for the moment. I saw that there is a site of cycler's contacting to spend time with them or even a night sometimes. It will be nice, especially to meet japanese people.

No he don't, I'm searching advices for both of us.

We have planed to take the minimum of clothes and stuff with us and as you said buy it if we are in needs. I prefer wash my clothes 2 times a week and have enough place to take bike's tools. I didn't thought that it could be easy to find bike's tools on the way.
That's right ^^ I'm already enjoy to do this, Japan seems to be so amazing :) I already go there once but as a real tourist in doing tourist stuff arrounded by tourist, that's why I'm planning this tour !
 

Marine

Warming-Up
Apr 30, 2015
12
5
Haha, well you definitely can't swap bikes with your boyfriend then.

Will be difficult in fact ! May be funny but not too long, he will be as a frog on a box of matches and me as a Arrietty on the same box ^^
 
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TCC

Tokyo Cycling Club
Jun 30, 2013
2,360
1,294
Will be difficult in fact ! May be funny but not too long, he will be as a frog on a box of matches and me as a Arrietty on the same box ^^

Haha. Nice.

Yeah, the more you plan it up the less stuff you will have to take. Travelling light and fast is always better than heavy or slow, especially over a long period of time.

About buying stuff as you travel; you can easily get / do the following from convenience stores;

1. Food
2. Basic clothes; gloves, socks, neck warmer, t-shirt
3. Toothbrush, shower gel, soap, towel etc.
4. Wash your clothes in the sink in the bathroom / use the toilet.
5. Wet tissues; amazing for cleaning your bike and body
6. ATM

Convenience stores are all over Japan, and are mostly open 24 hours a day, so if you plan your route carefully to follow these, you will be able to use them and reduce a lot of the stuff you take.

Tools; with a decent bike, you don't need to carry that many, and again, with planning, you can go past a lot of bike shops on the way, just in case something happens that needs access to more serious tools.
 

Marine

Warming-Up
Apr 30, 2015
12
5
Ok I see, you meen konbini ?
Yes, that will be nice to not have to carry to much thing.
 

TCC

Tokyo Cycling Club
Jun 30, 2013
2,360
1,294
Yeah, konbinis.

They are great. Vending machines too, for drinks.
 

leicaman

Maximum Pace
Sep 20, 2012
2,875
2,689
I agree with @hat and beard . You need to get as much stuff on the bike. If you are touring from Novemeber and going north to Aomori, you are going to encounter a lot of snow. You will need a really good sleeping bag if you are camping and convenience store clothes is laughable if you plan to ride up there. In the summer, yeah, no worries, but in Aomori in December? I wouldn't want to be wearing cotton T-shirts from 7-11 in those conditions.
The bike @hat and beard linked to looks spot on. It is way over your budget but I guess you could easily sell it for at least 50% what you paid for it when you leave Japan.
 

hat and beard

Maximum Pace
Apr 3, 2012
384
413
I agree riding racing bikes full gas is loads of fun, but riding fully loaded touring bikes in an upright position while slowly taking in the scenery is fun too, albiet in a slightly different way. I enjoy both, but if I had to choose one kind of bike to ride for the rest of my life it would be of the slow and steady variety.
I find the comfort of bringing a nice sleeping bag, tent and comfortable clothes way "outweighs" the burden of extra weight. It all depends on how you like to ride and how you like to travel. It could definitely be done on a race bike, but I for one would really rather not.

1. That is a decent mission. I reckon you are going to want the fastest bike you can get. Dragging a heavy touring bike all that way is going to be nasty.
2. Great, so you can focus on a road bike then.

Will you be camping, or will you arrange hotels to stay in each night / have places to stay with friends or whatever?



So your boyfriend does not have a bike either? Well, I think he should follow exactly the same advice as yourself.

There is a vibe with some people that doing a bike tour (or even just going on a single ride) requires huge amounts of baggage, stuff with heavy clothes. This might be true if you are completely away from all civilisation, but with a bit of planning you can cut this right down to nearly nothing in Japan. You don't need to take all the clothes you will wear for the whole time, as you can buy them easily on the way, cheaply, then throw them away as you go. There are convenience stores that sell tshirt, pants, socks etc, the whole way. The same is true about tools, and bike spares.

With this in mind, I think you should focus on getting as light and fast a bike as you can, and travelling with the minimum amount of stuff. You can buy most of it along the way, if you plan carefully. This will make your ride a LOT more enjoyable and free feeling. Flying down mountains on fast bike and being able to ride efficiently and quickly every day is much much better than dragging a heavy slow bike around with you.
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
1,040
470
I reckon you are going to want the fastest bike you can get. Dragging a heavy touring bike all that way is going to be nasty.

Weight of "heavy touring bike" minus weight of "the fastest bike you can get" will be very, very much less than, say, weight of 180 cm boyfriend minus weight of self.

There is a vibe with some people that doing a bike tour (or even just going on a single ride) requires huge amounts of baggage, stuff with heavy clothes. This might be true if you are completely away from all civilisation, but with a bit of planning you can cut this right down to nearly nothing in Japan.

In July and August, yes; in November, I don't think so. But of course you wouldn't need huge amounts of baggage either. @hat and beard 's recommended bike would run fine with its bags only half full. Actually, yes, that bike does seem a bit extreme. But most of the sporty alternatives are extreme in the other direction. The Araya "DIA" and "FED" models look like sensible compromises; they're certainly cheap, but you'll have to add the (not so high) price of bags and attachments. One of the two sizes might be OK for you but the bigger one would be too small for your boyfriend.

Flying down mountains on fast bike and being able to ride efficiently and quickly every day is much much better than dragging a heavy slow bike around with you.

If the weight of me plus the bike plus my luggage were high, or even if it weren't, I'd use a low gear going uphill and my freewheel and the brakes going downhill. Of course efficiency is a plus; but efficiency includes the avoidance of excessive (i) vibration of my innards and (ii) reliance on konbini.
 

timefleas

Maximum Pace
Nov 30, 2013
107
45
I don't get the "konbini" as the answer to long distance travelling--none in my area offer any kind of cheap clothes, and not even places like Uniqlo offer much for folks in the neighborhood of 180cm--I would pack light of course, but enough for the whole trip, and use the coin laundries or a hotel laundry facility at least every once in awhile along the way--for three months on the winter roads, a touring bike or a citified MTB would be what I would choose--flat bar, sturdy, and comfortable--certainly doesn't have to be new.
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
1,040
470
We will be camping as much as we can. . . .

Somehow I overlooked that. @hat and beard 's recommendation looks better and better.

. . . not even places like Uniqlo offer much for folks in the neighborhood of 180cm. . . ..

That's what I would have said a couple of years ago. But the closest branch of Uniqlo is so close and so large that recently I thought I should take a second look. I'm a bit over 180 cm tall and guess I could now buy almost everything there. (This doesn't mean it would always fit as well as I'd hope. Or that it would be much good -- e.g. the "down" items have precious little down in them. And this is an unusually large branch.)
 

timefleas

Maximum Pace
Nov 30, 2013
107
45
Somehow I overlooked that. @hat and beard 's recommendation looks better and better.



That's what I would have said a couple of years ago. But the closest branch of Uniqlo is so close and so large that recently I thought I should take a second look. I'm a bit over 180 cm tall and guess I could now buy almost everything there. (This doesn't mean it would always fit as well as I'd hope. Or that it would be much good -- e.g. the "down" items have precious little down in them. And this is an unusually large branch.)
What I was trying to suggest, including the reference to the convenient stores, is that once away from the big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, not all outlets are geared towards the needs of ((large) foreign) travelers looking for cheap clothes, so for example, in my area, no konbinis offer any kind of clothes that I could wear, and the closest Uniqlo might have a sweatsuit or two, and maybe one of two t-shirts in my size, but not enough to bank on.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,924
2,107
I would second @hat and beard's choice.

A "full on racing bike" is not specifically designed for carrying sufficient luggage. It may work OK for a fully supported tour where a van carries all your luggage from hotel to hotel, but for a self-supported tour something with racks and bags to carry your clothes (and perhaps tent, mat, cooking gear etc.) will work better.
 

TCC

Tokyo Cycling Club
Jun 30, 2013
2,360
1,294
What I was trying to suggest, including the reference to the convenient stores, is that once away from the big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, not all outlets are geared towards the needs of ((large) foreign) travelers looking for cheap clothes, so for example, in my area, no konbinis offer any kind of clothes that I could wear, and the closest Uniqlo might have a sweatsuit or two, and maybe one of two t-shirts in my size, but not enough to bank on.

LOL, these are two young French dancers we are talking about here; slim style cats for sure. He is 180cm and she is 164cm. Uniqlo will be spot on for them.
 

leicaman

Maximum Pace
Sep 20, 2012
2,875
2,689
Please disregard anything @TCC says in this thread. He has his "let's blast it down the river as fast as we can until we lose our vision and start throwing up" hat on at the moment.

He needs to put his "let's go touring for 3 months around Japan and enjoy the sights at a leisurely pace" hat on. I don't think he owns that kind of hat though :)
 

Conrad

Maximum Pace
Dec 8, 2014
407
230
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joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
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Bruno BQ

Maximum Pace
Mar 9, 2015
149
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If I might jump in, where how she plain to buy the bike might be quite important, as hotel delivery of a bike seem eerie to me. And in store selection will differ widely and without much Japanese (not sure her or her boyfriend level) can be quite hard.

Despite that, the rakutens items might be quite small for a 1 80cm guy, a 50 cm is way to small for me and I am 1 80.

Uniqlo does carry stuff for 1 80, I have some from them I all fit quite nice. Still the winter cloth would be best to be bought in my opinion, as you are sure how warm you are.
 

Conrad

Maximum Pace
Dec 8, 2014
407
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the rakutens items might be quite small for a 1 80cm guy
That's true. Has anybody mentioned the option of building the bike before arriving in Japan? Getting the bikes exactly how you want them, working out all the bugs and then partially dismantling them and bringing them to Japan with you might be a safer option. It would also mean that you would already know how the bikes were put together and you would be able to fix them in the event of a breakdown.
 
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