The Bikes of NAG

Nagoya’s bicycle ecosystem is teeming with strange and interesting breeds. Mark Guthrie examines the species…

From Freddie Mercury to Lance Armstrong, everyone likes to ride their bike, and the Japanese are no different. There are two bicycles for every three people in Japan so the country is absolutely teeming with them. Like the stereotype of the Japanese themselves, there is much uniformity amongst bicycles, with the classic mamachari easily outnumbering all other forms of ride.

But like Nagoya itself, you can find an undercurrent of creativity and idiosyncrasy that is merely highlighted by the otherwise conformity of the rest of the population.  So without further ado… these are The Bikes of Nagoya…

The Mamachari

Whether ridden by sumo wrestlers or pensioners, laden with shopping or children, the aforementioned mamachari is the stock standard get around for Nagoya’s bicycle-riding population. Cheap, disposable and a danger to ride, if you live in Japan you either own one or have had one stolen from you.

Cooler Than Thou

So, you’ve started university. Gone is the school uniform, but in four years time you’ll be donning the black suited costume of the Salary Man. You have precious little time to express your originality before conformity comes a calling. What better way to show how different you are than by dying your hair, piercing your ears and riding a multi-coloured hipster bike? Yes, now you’re the height of individuality. Just like all your friends.

If Carlsberg Made Bicycles…

When riding your bike in Nagoya, it is important to let everyone know what sort of products you prefer. Many bikes are adorned with the logos of high-end, aspirational motor vehicles, such as Lamborghini and Hummer. This Nagoyan obviously has simpler, sweeter tastes in life.

Bikes Are Sexy

It’s not just product placement that your bike can be used for. Your ride can reflect your personality, your attributes. This cyclist wants to tell the world just how sexy and amorous he is. The look is somewhat tempered, however by the rusty basket. If your bike is rusty, your ‘moves’ probably are too.

Offensive Bumper Stickers Aren’t Just For Rednecks

As well as your more positive virtues, your bike can be customised to display any strong opinions you may have. It can be safely assumed that this Gaijin won’t be renewing his visa.
The Cosmopolitan

Your bicycle can be used to display just how cultural and multi-lingual you are, but be careful. If you don’t actually know the language, you may look a little foolish. La maison? Non, bicyclette!

Fun For The Whole Family

It’s not just grown-ups that can ride bicycles. No, in Japan kids have them too! While BMXs are the norm in most western countries, Japanese kids have to be a bit different. This bounce operated kiddie-ride is impractical, hard work and pretty much useless for going any distance, but look at it. How much fun does it look! Don’t lie, you know you want one…Two Wheels Not Enough For You?

Unicycles are dangerous. Here, yet another circus performer is snatched from the streets of Nagoya, vanishing without trace. Police are known to be looking for a man in a red coat with a top hat and curly mustache to help with their enquiries. Rumours that he was last seen fending off a lion with an upturned chair are as yet unconfirmed.

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