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need some advice on buying a cross (?) bike in Tokyo, or online in Japan


Oct 10, 2010
I live in Kawasaki (near Tokyo) and have been in Japan for a couple of years. I want to buy a bicycle and have a pretty precise idea of what kind of bicycle I want, but I can not find such a bike in a physical shop; I sometimes see such a bike in online shops but am unable to determine the right size (I don't know which size I need in the first place, and have difficulties interpreting the size descriptions on the websites as well, as there seem to be a lot of different ways of describing the size). If someone could point me to a physical shop in Tokyo/Kawasaki/Yokohama where I can find such a bike, or online shop and explain how to make sure the bike size fits me, I would be very thankful.

The kind of bike I want: first, I need to say that I am not familiar with bicycle terminology especially in english; the general type of bicycle I'm searching for has a diamond frame and straight handles, and gears; it looks somewhat like a cross between a racing bike and a mountain bike. I believe the current term for this type is "cross" or "hybrid" but I might be wrong. I want to use it for commuting to work (3 km door-to-door), and on weekends for longer tours around Tokyo. I like to ride fast. The weight of the bike must not be above 13 kg, better is below 10 kg. It is also important that the frame does not have "thick" tubes and also not "sloping" tubes, i.e. I don't like it if they make the bicycle more lightweight by achieving stability through structure (in the sense of making the tubes hollow but very thick). For the frame any material is OK.

Regarding the frame geometry etc, this one comes quite close to what I mean, a "Doppelganger 402 Sanctum": http://www.doppelganger-sports.jp/bike/product/402/1_1.html

Where can I find such a type of bike? (obviously at this site but I mean other bikes like this). I went to several physical shops in Tokyo/Kawasaki/Yokohama; those seem to have only a) mama chali, b) very heavy mountainbikes (24 kg and up) and c) weird stuff like carbon fiber bikes equipped with two shopping baskets and an umbrella holder - all not what I'm looking for. If someone has a recommendation for a shop in said area which has sane bicycles I'd really like to know.

So I thought I better order online. I invested a fair amount of research but the only bike I found to my liking is this "Doppelganger 402 Sanctum" linked above. In principle I also like Tokyo Bike as they are lightweight and come in three framesizes (http://www.tokyobike.com/), but the problem with Tokyo Bike is that the wheels are very small and narrow, so I don't want on of those.

About the 402 Sanctum, this actually looks quite close to what I'm searching for, it's only 12.2. kg, but I can not figure out if the size fits me; they write about the size : 1700 mm / tire : 700 × 28c, but I do not know how to interpret this. (I am 1,73 cm, wheight 70kg, male). Also it makes me wary that the Sanctum bike goes for 24,000 Yen according to kakaku.com - I wonder if a bicycle this cheap can be any good?

Sorry for this long post and not asking one clear question. Basically I'd really like to know if the 402 Sanctum might be good for me and am especially worried about frame size and quality of the bike; or, how I can find a good bike as described.

size 52 or 54 should be about right..... I'm the same height and have both a 52 and 54 the shop always suggest a 54 for me but I have no problems on a 52 either.

Just keep looking around till you get more of an idea.

Giant often have some good cross bikes. Quite often some good bargains on cross bikes in Sports Authority.

That bike you have shown looks quite good...but have never seen that brand in a shop in Japan myself.
If someone could point me to a physical shop in Tokyo/Kawasaki/Yokohama
There's a new Giant store by Futagotamagawa station. Pretty cool.

Otherwise I suggest you visit Y's either in Shinjuku or Akasaka/Tameike. You'll get a better idea of the range of bikes out there, and they should be able to give you some advice with sizing. The perfect size is less critical on a cross/hybrid bike than with road bikes.

It is also important that the frame does not have "thick" tubes and also not "sloping" tubes, i.e. I don't like it if they make the bicycle more lightweight by achieving stability through structure (in the sense of making the tubes hollow but very thick). For the frame any material is OK
Sounds to me like you want a steel frame. I can't say I've ever shopped for a hybrid in steel, but I'm sure they exist. Tim!?!

--HF Mike--
Hi, thanks for these answers so far! I'll definitely check out Giants and Y's in the next few days.

Doppelganger was completely unknown to me as well, I just saw a very cool bike (a model not produced anymore though) a few days ago parked somewhere and googled for them, that's how I found them.

About the size, thanks for the tip but I think I still don't understand. For example if it says "size : 1700 mm / tire : 700 × 28c" on that website, how can I convert that so that I know wether its 52 or 54?
I've designed and have coming a new bike somewhat 'cross' in tech and practice. It's titanium in construction , custom sized to your body (no compromise) , with S&S couplers so you can break it down easily and store or rinko with no hassles, 125mm rear spacing to fit either single speed or internal hub. ISCG tabs upfront to support Hammershmidt cranks if you want, integrated headset and mutliple fork options. Why? Cause all the bikes out there are either road , mtb, chari, 'fixie', or hybrid and just don't cut it for my style. I want agressive , classic geometry, minimal maintenance, perfect fit, suppleness and suitable for Japan-centric riding which includes trains, planes and buses as well as salty air conditions, lots of flats and lots of hills. Plus I can refactor it into a totally new build within minutes - say from a fixed gear, stripped down fighting machine , to a Nexus or SRAM 8/9speed internal randoneur. Or go crazy with with a HammerSchmidt SS setup to attack the typical 'out and back' scenario.
BTW - Tokyobike is not light, by any stretch of the imagination. They use pretty stock 4130 tubing and I'd say its at least 30% heavier than either Columbus SL or Reynolds DB tubing. I'm going with titanium cause I can get the weight and suppleness I want - plus resistance to corrosion and overall strength. Read - Ti rides a bit like steel, lighter than steel and more durable in 'non-standard' situations than carbon. Alu is fine - though a bit 'pingy' for my tastes. The resonance Q factor is very high - meaning what goes in, comes out very fast, so over long rides tends to be a bit jarring. But I love my alu frame for climbing! But I also love my steel frame for its suppleness. The only thing I really care about weight is just the lug factor. After riding all day and then bagging your bike and shlogging it to the train or bus or even back home, those extra 100gr start to add up quickly. With the S&S couplers you can rinko without taking any wheels off and shoulder your bike easily. I like that.
Blame it on the Suntory kaku or senility ... or both! I guess my point is that you CAN have pretty much what you want , at pretty reasonable price -- even sub-thousands! Actually the most expensive bit on the Ti bike is the coupler - outside of that, the frame is very much sub-thousand (dollar).

Quite frankly, I'm quite impressed by my W-Base Alu frameset - which is kinda CMX meets Track meets Cyclo. At around 8man complete - pretty darn decent bike! I got the bare frame on Yahoo auction for less than 3man and just refit the parts I had. This is a really rugged, versatile frameset. The only difference between it and the custom Ti we engineered is basically the BB height and small tweak in seatube angle. I'd go for this frameset or complete bike waaaaayyy before a Tokyobike. Check this out --- http://www.w-base.com/onlinestore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1524

If you're looking for low stand over, then you couldn't beat the treks or Giants especially. Great groups, price is reasonable for Japan and service is everywhere.
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