Study abroad

Sep 25, 2008
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TEXAS!
#1
Howdy,

I will be studying at TUJ in the Spring of 2009, and I was trying t figure out whether it was a good idea to bring my bike. I'm not in the position to replace if it disappeared, and i have no idea if my host family would go for a bike in the home. I was wondering what my options really are.

I have been talking with my buds and through their experiences abroad (none in japan) and they told me i had a few options, but i'm wondering what the feasibility of those options really are.

1.) Bring my bike....I'm not really too happy with this option.

2.) Long term loaner/rental....I'm 6'4" and the likelyhood of someone having a spare 62cm bike laying around is negligible.

3.) Spend the semester using a rental in a velodrome....I'd like to do this if it's cheap enough.

4.) Find an old beater and put your wheels on it and ride that round....And once again, I'm 6'4". 62cm beater frames are hard enough to find in the U.S.

5.) Take my fixie....Yeah, 30 miles a day on a 48/16 fixie....right.

6.) Whatever other options y'alls give me.

I'd really like some feedback, and would like everyone to remember that the things you assume people know are usually the answers that they're looking for.

thank you.
 

WhiteGiant

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Nov 4, 2006
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#2
Options

Howdy,

I will be studying at TUJ in the Spring of 2009, and I was trying t figure out whether it was a good idea to bring my bike. I'm not in the position to replace if it disappeared, and i have no idea if my host family would go for a bike in the home. I was wondering what my options really are.
Hello whitewolf,
First of all, welcome!
Just to allay your fears, a bike your size will NEVER be stolen in Japan - I'm 6'1", and only about 3% of the population would even be able to ride my bike (I got long legs). Not only that, as a huge compliment to the Japanese themselves, they just don't steal things.
On the host family front, if I were you I'd bring my bike, and let them know straight up that "this is what I do, and I need it". Even if they aren't happy with it at first, as long as you keep it clean & in your own room without it disrupting anything else in the house, they will eventually accept the idea (*Note: Corridors over here tend to be quite narrow, and a bike your size might prove difficult to negotiate around corners, etc.)

2.) Long term loaner/rental....I'm 6'4" and the likelyhood of someone having a spare 62cm bike laying around is negligible.
4.) Find an old beater and put your wheels on it and ride that round....And once again, I'm 6'4". 62cm beater frames are hard enough to find in the U.S.
There are very few bikes that size in Japan (Even the "Giant" frame I have now - L, 55cm - I had to import from America). You might find some custom steel frames, but they'd be rare & very expensive.

5.) Take my fixie....Yeah, 30 miles a day on a 48/16 fixie....right.
This is actually not a bad option! Provided you're used to riding through heavy traffic on a fixed-gear bike - I see a lot of bike-messengers on them.
15 miles (24km) through Tokyo can be a bit of a drag though. At first it's fun while you figure out the quickest way - exploring new roads, etc. - but after that, the same roads everyday can become boring.

3.) Spend the semester using a rental in a velodrome....I'd like to do this if it's cheap enough.
Not an option! Sorry, but there have been a few posts here recently stating how difficult it is to "get onto the track".

Here's my personal opinion (for what it's worth):
Just bring your usual road-bike here, let your host family get used to it, learn the roads you'll need to take, and then come out riding with us on the weekends! Yeah:D

Hope this helps.
Travis
 
Sep 25, 2008
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#3
well, the main reason that i don't want to take my normal bike along is that my parents (who are paying for my college education so i have to listen to them) aren't cool with it.

one other thing that i thought of, my fixie was once a late 70s ten speed. i still have the original parts, and could build it back into a ten speed.

do y'alls think that might be a decent option?
 

WhiteGiant

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Nov 4, 2006
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#4
"Normal"?

... to take my normal bike...
What is your "normal" bike?
By the sounds of it, I would guess its a $4,000+ carbon jobbie, decked out with Dura-Ace! If I were one of yer parents, I probably wouldn't let you take it either.

The "late 70's steel frame" converted back into a 10-speed would work well for your commute; but probably not much good on the weekends.

It's your call!
Still, you've got about 6 months to go until "Spring, 2009", which is more than enough time to whittle away at your parents' resolve, to have them allow you bring your bike over here (just let them know how much it means to you - by riding every chance you get!)

T
 
#5
My choice was bring it. I have a Bianchi Brava (dark blue, not the signature Bianchi color) and taped over the logos making it hard to identify and less likely to be stolen. I keep my bike outside because I live in a standard English teacher shoe box apartment but always lock it too something. I feel mostly ok when I occasionally leave it over night locked out side the shopping center I work in when I have my big heavy American lock and it's locked to something solid.

Then again, it's a five year old $600 something bike. Then again, I won't take it with me to Argentina when I go in January for the same reasons you are nervous about bringing yours to Japan. Then again, I might change my mind. I love my bike.

If possible contact your host family about it before hand. But phrase it like, I'm bringing my bike--what's the best place for me to keep it in the house?
 
Sep 25, 2008
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#6
No, my bike is a '06 specialized allez elite, i bought it three years ago for 1400USD, but i'm not in a position to replace it if it gets hurt or lost...

the only real part that i'm worried about is getting it there. When i took my mountain bike with me on the plane to alaska, i lost about three days of riding time trying to get it back into a rideable shape...and road bikes aren't nearly as abusable as mountain bikes.

SO the next question i have is what would be best way to pack a bike without buying a couple-of-hundred-dollar shipping crate/box thingie....

thanks,

-Wolfe
 
Jan 14, 2007
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japanichiban.com
#7
No, my bike is a '06 specialized allez elite, i bought it three years ago for 1400USD, but i'm not in a position to replace it if it gets hurt or lost...

the only real part that i'm worried about is getting it there. When i took my mountain bike with me on the plane to alaska, i lost about three days of riding time trying to get it back into a rideable shape...and road bikes aren't nearly as abusable as mountain bikes.

SO the next question i have is what would be best way to pack a bike without buying a couple-of-hundred-dollar shipping crate/box thingie....

thanks,

-Wolfe

Keep your parents happy and leave your bike at home. It will be safe there and not get stolen.
You can buy very cheap second hand (great condition) road bikes on Japan's Yahoo auctions. What your parents don't know won't hurt them. The money you spend on the bike will be recouped on train fares that your parents will need to pay for.
When you go home you have the option of selling it or taking it with you.
2nd hand stuff in Japan is usually very very cheap. Even new stuff that has been on the shelf more than a year can go for as much as 60% off.

IMHO.
 

AlanW

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Jan 30, 2007
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#9
Airline - Proof Packing

SO the next question i have is what would be best way to pack a bike without buying a couple-of-hundred-dollar shipping crate/box thingie....

thanks,

-Wolfe
The best way to protect your bike without using a dedicated bike-bag is to get a box from your local bike shop, the same boxes that bikes are shipped to the shop in. If you're on good terms with your bike shop, they'll proabably give you the box free. You need to give them some time because they don't always have the boxes on-hand; they need to be building up new bikes so they have the boxes spare. Try to get a box from the same size, or bigger, than your frame size.
Once you've got your box, you need to protect and partly disassemble your bike. The key is to remove any bits that stick out, so that they don't get bent or broken. You also need to protect the paintwork against scratches from the bits you've removed.
You'll need to take off the front wheel, handlebar and stem assembly, saddle and seatpost assembly, pedals and rear derailleur. Once the front wheel is off, the forks are vulnerable to crushing from the side so you need to put a bolt where the front axle normally sits, with nuts and washers to prevent the two fork tips from being squashed together. Screw the top cap of the stem back into the star-nut to prevent the fork falling out and/or the top cap going walkabout.
Lower the pressure in your tyres. Airlines insist on this (even though it's not required; holds are pressurised).
Bubble-wrap the whole frame and any bits that you don't want to get scratched. Tape the bubble wrap in place. Load the bike into the box. As the stem is off you will find the fork wants to fall out of the frame. Hold it in place.
The chain will also be loose and floppy as the derailleur is off but that is not a problem.
Take the QR skewer out of your front wheel, thread the nut back on and tape the skewer to a spoke. Take your front wheel and slide it down the left side of the frame. Make sure the rim and the hub axle is not going to scratch your frame; add more bubble wrap if you need to. Make sure the axle is not directly resting against your frame. You want is either above or below the down-tube, not resting against it. Strap the wheel in place.
Take the handlebar/stem and put it alongside the frame on the right side. Point the brake/shift levers downward. The drops of the bar should hook around your top tube. Make sure there's no metal-to-metal contact and the bubble wrap is in place, then strap the bars in place.
Strap the pedals to the saddle and stuff the saddle in next to the back tyre. There's plenty of space around this end of the box. Strap them to the bike.
That's it! Stuff your shoes, helment, water bottles into the box and tape it up securely with packing tape.
The airlines will charge you between $50 (Frontier) to $100 (Continental) for the privelige of carrying your box and you'll have to find some way of getting to the airport (won't go into a standard taxi). At the Japan end, you can use the train.
It sounds like a huge hassle but it's really not that bad and I have flown with bikes packed as I describe many times with no ill effects.

Good Luck,
AW.
 
Sep 25, 2008
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#10
Okay, i've more or less decided to take my bike with me.

My next question is more or less technical...

I am from the flat part of Texas, and when I say flat, I mean FLAT. Where I normally train there's no point in hauling around the extra weight of a triple chainring, and thus I currently have a double ring setup with 39/53 teeth, paired with a 12-25 rear cassette.

Japan, however, is substantially hilly and I was wondering if I should swap over to a triple setup instead. (one of my buds has an extra sitting around from his last bike.)

thanks,

wolfe
 

WhiteGiant

Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
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#11
Won't need a triple...

Okay, i've more or less decided to take my bike with me.
My next question is more or less technical...
I am from the flat part of Texas, and when I say flat, I mean FLAT. Where I normally train there's no point in hauling around the extra weight of a triple chainring, and thus I currently have a double ring setup with 39/53 teeth, paired with a 12-25 rear cassette.
Japan, however, is substantially hilly and I was wondering if I should swap over to a triple setup instead. (one of my buds has an extra sitting around from his last bike.)
thanks,
wolfe
Check out this thread! All you need to do for the hills is buy a 12-27 cassette!
https://tokyocycle.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=1008

About $60 for the Ultegra set.
T