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U.S. visiting cyclists - where/how to get bicycle liability insurance?


Sep 22, 2022
Greetings fellow cyclists,
Husband age 73 and I age 70 planning an April 2023 trip to cycle the Shimanami Kaido.
Experienced cyclists, coming on our own with our Santana Tandem e-bike.
Any suggestions where/how to obtain bicycle liability insurance?
Our own insurer in Oregon says they can't insure us; I've contacted a number of Japanese bike insurance companies who say they can't, either due to our age, our non-resident status or something else. No luck so far.

Any suggestions appreciated!


Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
Howdy and sorry I don't have an answer as I live here and my insurance is via my phone contract.

But I would do a little research on one thing that might seem odd to you.... ensure Tandems are legal in the prefecture where you intend to ride.
There seems to be some grey area in interpretations of how some laws are written and it can be quite confusing at times. 2up cycling for adults is illegal in many places. Some interpret that to be preventing someone from sitting on the rack of a mamachari, others interpret that as tandems. I know of one incident where a company would not deliver a new tandem due to it being illegal in japan. That was the company's interpretation of the law.
I don't have a tandem, so I have never really researched it deeply, but I would hate to see an expensive trip ruined because of it.


Sep 22, 2022
Thanks for writing. Oh dear, I don't ride separately and we are bringing our electric assist tandem because at our age, we do need it. I will research it and welcome any advice from anyone else who knows about this. Just now, I came across a 2009 blog post that said that while a tandem is technically illegal, it is very unlikely to be enforced. Does anyone know if that is still true?


Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
Hokkaido ○ Aomori ○ Miyagi ○ Yamagata ○ Fukushima ○ Ibaraki ○ Tochigi ○ Gunma ○ Saitama ○ Chiba ○ Niigata ○ Toyama ○ Ishikawa ○ Fukui ○ Yamanashi ○ Nagano ○ Gifu ○ Shizuoka ○ Aichi ○ Mie ○ Shiga ○ Kyoto ○ Osaka ○ Hyogo ○ Nara ○ Wakayama ○ Shimane ○ Okayama ○ Hiroshima ○ Yamaguchi ○ Tokushima ○ Ehime ○ Kagawa ○ Kochi ○ Fukuoka ○ Saga ○ Nagasaki × Kumamoto ○ Oita ○ Miyazaki ○ Kagoshima ○ Okinawa ○

Akita ×
Iwate ×
Tokyo ×
Kanagawa ×
Tottori ×

If there s a circle O after the prefecture tandems are generally okay.
the X is no.  
this is from a blogger that contacted all 47 police departments.

you will be fine with the police and traffic with a tandem.


Maximum Pace
Apr 26, 2010
Just my opinion, but I really don't think police would hassle an elderly foreign couple riding a bicycle that is clearly meant for two people. You'd have to have terrible luck to run into the wrong kind of stickler, on the wrong day in which he or she got up on the wrong side of the bed, trying to follow the rules to the letter with some higher ups there to observe their performance on that day. Bombing around the streets of Tokyo in heavy traffic on a tandem? You might have an issue. Leisurely and respectfully enjoying the shimanami kaido? You'll be fine I think.


Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
Hey Cheryl. What kind of insurance are you looking for?
I am presuming your health insurance will cover your own injuries and sickness? Or does it not out of the US?

You want accident third party insurance do you?

The two most accessible will require you to be in Japan to apply.
7/11 Bicycle Insurance (Mitsui Sumitomo) BUT 7-11 has an upper limit of 70yrs.
apply at 7-11 convenience store through the (touch panel services portal) <<-- my word.

AU Sonpo Bicycle Insurance
You can sign up for this online.
www.au-sonpo.co.jp/pc/byclebest/index.html Sonpo has an upper limit of 74yrs

this is done from a computer in japan and paid for with credit card or people on certain phone plans add it to the bill. You will need a friendly Japanese literate person to help you with this I suspect.

hope this helps.
Maybe try asking at crazyguyonabike if anyone has suggestions.

good luck, really hope you can get over to enjoy that marvelous piece of cycling pleasure



Maximum Pace
Jan 29, 2014
Interesting. Over 10 years back, I was thinking to buy a tandem so my wife could easily cycle with me. At that time, if I am not wrong,only three prefectures allowed tandems on public roads. Chiba was not included.
Nice to see things have changed since !
Just to update with @kiwisimon's info. The blogger's info seems to be dated November 2019. According the Wikipedia page ( shorturl.at/XYZ14 ) and a tandem association page , only Kanagawa ( allowed on designated cycling roads) and Tokyo prefectures do not allow tandems on public roads.
By the way, I have never seen any tandem here in Chiba.


Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
Is it even possible to rent a battery in Japan, or to buy one in Japan for a palatable price?

Also, I wonder whether this tandem satisfies Japan's strict regulations for electrically assisted bikes. For a regular (one-rider) bike, I think that the law dictates that electricity can only assist, and that this assistance must gradually decrease to zero as you approach 24 km/h. (You're free to travel at 30 km/h, but doing so would have to be powered by thighs, gravity, and/or tail wind.) There might also be a power limit, though I may here be confusing Japan with the EU.

Worse, it's imaginable that even an e-bike that you're sure complies with Japanese law would be held up in customs because the officials demanded homologation.

Perhaps it would be better to rent an (unassisted) tandem in Japan. I believe the area is fairly flat (though I could be wrong). But if you're thinking of renting, consider sizing....


Maximum Pace
Feb 3, 2014
There are bits in Shimanami that you have to go up and down to the bridges but not particularly steep.

Worst case just walk it. It is a casual cycle focused tourism place.
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