January 24, 2015

As someone who cycles home in the dark every single workday of the year I'm always on the lookout for a good bicycle light, but bicycle lights can be boring and sometimes I want more than simple functionality, sometimes I want to add some fun to my rides.  Lucky for me MonkeyLetric make such a fun light and they were kind enough to send me their latest light the enticingly named "M204 Bike Wheel Light" for review. With a name like that how could I refuse!

For those of you not "in the know" Monkey Lights are multicoloured led lights mounted to your spokes that produce colourful patterns and even pictures by rapidly switching on and off as your wheel spins.

I've had my eye on the top of the range, 32 LED, M232 MonkeyLight for a long time now but some things have always put me off purchasing one. The first concern I had was how well it would stand up to the elements as my bicycle spends a lot of time parked outside in the weather. I'd hate to buy one only to have it die after a shower of rain.  My second concern was the lights sheer size as I often leave my commuter bicycle in public parking where people tend to be less than careful about knocking over or damaging other peoples bicycles. I could see my lovely new spoke light being destroyed within a few days of use.

Based on these concerns I've always looked upon MonkeyLights from afar with yearning. But all that changed with the release of the M204. Its a full colour, 40 Lumen 4 led spoke light with 5 pre-programmed themes. Much smaller than its cousin the M232, this light mounts between two spokes close to your rim, while he battery pack mounts around your hub.

The installation instructions were easy to follow with clear diagrams and text in 1000 different languages. But even better than the written instructions is an instructional video on YouTube in which a lady with well manicured nails wearing a black dress demonstrates just how easy the Monkey Light is to install. So After viewing the video and doing my nails I slipped into a black dress of my own and set about the task of installing the light. It was hardly a task worthy of getting all dressed up for as it was extremely straightforward and took less than 10 minutes.

The entire contraption is held on the wheel by zip ties. I admittedly had doubts about this, but after almost three months of riding with the MonkeyLight I've not once been the least concerned about the light or battery pack coming loose.

As for performance, its really hard to see the patterns your lights are making as you pedal at speed leaning over your handlebars staring down at your front wheel. (Don't try this at home!) Yet the pointing, comments and shouts from the people I pass by indicate that I've certainly garnered some positive attention. While you may believe that this light improves side visibility only, the 40 lumen LED's are insanely bright, so much so that they project light down to the road 360 degrees around your wheel, not to mention that they are also capable of lighting up the general area around you.  This makes the MonkeyLight M204 more than just a light for showboating fools like myself, but one that is also perfect for the safety conscious showboating fools as well.

In general I've been very pleased with the light over the months I've been using it. It certainly gets plenty of attention and when your aim is to be seen that's exactly what you want. I've been parking in the elements and the wilds of Japanese public bicycle parking and have not had a single problem with the light and to be honest I held off writing this review until I had a chance to the M204 through months of real world cycling.

I give the M204 MonkeyLight many thumbs up an would recommend it to anyone who wants to add some fun to their rides.

January 21, 2015

Under a legal revision to take effect in Japan on June 1 (2015) cyclists who violate the Road Traffic Act or cause accidents may have to undergo retraining. The Cabinet decided on Tuesday to approve the amendment to the road traffic act after an apparent rise in accidents involving cyclists resulting in serious injury and death.

Lawmakers believe the amendment will make roads and sidewalks safer by handing out harsher penalties including on the spot fines and the unusual practise of forcing cyclists charged with two traffic violations within a period of three years to attend a three hour retraining course, the contents of which has yet to be announced.

The National Police Agency say their figures indicate that hundreds of cyclists would meet this criteria each year. They indicate that under the new amendment police officers who witness a traffic violation may stop and deliver a warning to cyclists and if the individual fails to obey a ticket will be issued.

The NPA said that of 10,434 bicycle related accidents in 2003 61 were fatal. In 2013 there was a significant drop in incidents which stood at 8,141 but deaths rose to 93 and it is this that prompted the changes they announced on Tuesday.

Move along nothing to see here. Cycle on as usual, absolutely nothing is about to change.

These announcements are made again and again to no effect other than an initial short lived  burst in police enthusiasm.

Police officers in Japan have always been reluctant to uniformly enforce cycling laws, choosing to do so only after an accident has occurred, or in cases where a cyclist is clearly being an extremely dangerous menace.  Tuesdays announcement made that clear when an NPA official said that cyclists will be penalised for causing an accident while talking on a mobile phone.  The key words in that phrase are "causing an accident". Cycle while looking a your mobile as much as you like, just put it away when an officer goes out of his way to "warn" you and don't cause an accident. In effect its the status quo, very little, if anything changes with this legal amendment.

Besides this obvious fact I have a number of issues with the statement issued on Tuesday, not the least of which is the official belief that harsher penalties will make roads safer. The only thing that will make Japan's roads safer is well planned cycling infrastructure, removing cyclists from the sidewalks and separating them physically from motor vehicles. Harsher penalties will simply reduce cyclist numbers resulting in a larger inactive section of the public developing health problems and putting an even larger strain on the public health system, there I said it.

Speaking of harsher penalties, two offences in 3 years and a cyclist is forced to attend a there hour retraining course? Two motoring offences in three years and the worst you face is a fine. I find it hard to believe police claims that "hundreds of cyclists would meet this criteria each year" and unless police get serious about enforcing cycling laws there will not be enough demand to keep the retraining courses open. Alternatively if police did actually begin penalising every single offence there would be an 18 month waiting list to attend retraining!

Semantically speaking its impossible to send cyclists to retraining courses anyway as they've never been trained in the first place and by not enforcing cycling laws for decades police have handed responsibility for public safety to the public who have developed their own unwritten code around cycling which accepts sidewalk cycling and riding while holding an umbrella.

But please ignore my my concerns, just as these amendments to the Road Traffic Act will be ignored in a mere couple of days time.

Move along, nothing to see here.

January 12, 2015

As a cycling advocate in the city of Tokyo I feel a sense of pride and happiness every time I notice elderly people getting around by bicycle. I love the fact that cycling is such an integral part of peoples lifestyles and that the bicycle plays such an important role in making life easier for everyone, most of all the elderly.
A spritely young lady out doing some shopping by bicycle.

Elderly Japanese who have relied on the bicycle as one of the main forms of transport in their daily lives are reaping a host of rewards some well documented and well known, others more obscure and less tangible.

Physical Health Benefits

By cycling every day, to do the shopping, visit friends, or to the station to venture even further a field, elderly Japanese cyclists are adding years to their lives without even trying because cycling brings with it innumerable health benefits. Cycling is known to increase cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, flexibility, it reduces body fat, strengthens bones, improves joint mobility and prevents disease.

More specific to the elderly, cycling improves strength, balance and coordination, which helps in preventing falls and fractures. Cycling maintains healthy levels of blood pressure, and being low impact it is the perfect form of exercise for those suffering from osteoarthritis.

Recent studies have shown that regular cycling keeps you younger with researchers from King’s College London and the University of Birmingham discovering that cyclists over the age of 55 "had levels of physiological function that would place them at a much younger age compared to the general population."

Mental Health Benefits

Elderly people who cycle also reap great mental health benefits. Cycling reduces depression, stress and anxiety, not only due to the effects of the exercise, but also from the simple pleasure riding a bicycle can bring.

A recent study by Professor Art Kramer, director of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, concluded that walking or cycling regularly for between six months to a year can improve memory and problem solving skills in the elderly by between 15 and 20 per cent.  The simple act of walking or cycling for up to 45 minutes each day has been shown to increase cognitive function in children and the elderly while regular exercise is seen as essential to combat memory loss in old age.

Japanese bicycle manufacturer Bridgestone make a range of bicycles for the senior market.

Social Benefits

Closely tied to maintaining the mental health of elderly Japanese cyclists are the numerous social benefits that utilitarian cycling bring. Elderly people who cycle are much less likely to be housebound than their non-cycling counterparts, being less dependant on caregivers for transport gives the elderly their independence, the ability to go where they like whenever they like.

Tokyo's small self contained neighbourhoods ensure everything an elderly resident needs for daily life is just a short walk or ride away allowing them to maintain control over their lives, the powerful positive mental benefit of which should not be overlooked. Being able to escape the confines of their homes and travel afar by bicycle presents the elderly with numerous opportunities for social interaction they would otherwise not be exposed to, all of which keep the mind healthy.

Communities in which large numbers of people walk or cycle present even more benefits to the elderly. Pedestrians and cyclists are more likely to assist an elderly person who is in trouble than motorists who choose to simply pass on by detached from their surroundings. Something as simple as a smile, or greeting from a stranger on the street can have an unmeasurable positive effect on a persons well being. Also communities with high levels of street life tend to look out for other members of their community providing the elderly with an extra level of unobtrusive care.

Japan's Yakult, maker of pro biotic drinks, employ over 41,000 women to deliver their products to homes and offices by bicycle each day. As a large percentage of their customers are the elderly living alone, the Yakult ladies perform another important service for the community, that of looking in on the elderly on a regular basis, an important job no government department has been tasked with, nor wants responsibility for. The Yakult ladies on their bicycles know intimate details of the health and well being of their elderly customers, assist them with small tasks, advise them on day to day matters, and perform countless other (unpaid) services unrelated to the company's core business.

As Japan's population ages many municipalities have been tackling the problem of how to keep the elderly engaged with society, creating "Silver Centres" that work to keep the elderly contributing to their local communities in return giving them important social interactions which increase their quality of life. One such program is the Suginami Green Cycle initiative in which elderly residents gather regularly to repair bicycles that have been collected from around the city for resale. For many of Japan's elderly men who slaved unrelentingly through their work years this is the first opportunity they've had to establish real and lasting friendships.

Supporting Elderly Cyclists

It is unquestionable that cycling improves the health and quality of life of the elderly in Japan and this must be supported. Urban designers must work to ensure that the roads, paths and even sidewalks are safe for the elderly to cycle. They must also continue to plan communities in which all life's necessities including supermarkets, schools, community centres, hospitals and clinics are all within easy walking and cycling distance to encourage active modes of transport not only among the elderly, but for us all.
Bridgestone Tricycle for elderly shoppers.
Businesses must provide convenient parking within short walking distances of their stores. Designers of residences for the elderly must provide easily accessible, secure undercover parking with gentle slopes and handrails. Bicycle manufacturers must continue to innovate and develop bicycles targeted towards the elderly market, stable bicycles with low centres of gravity, tricycles with baskets capable of holding a days grocery shopping, and electric assist bicycles will go a long way to ensuring the elderly of Japan continue to cycle and as a result remain both physically and mentally healthy and remain engaged with their communities.

Economically active and healthy cycling seniors place less of a burden on the national health system and as a result the Government of Japan should be encouraging and supporting everyday cycling on the national level as they've been reaping its rewards for decades while contributing next to nothing to safe cycling infrastructure for cyclists both young and old.

In conclusion, elderly Japanese cyclists have enjoyed improved mental and physical health through a lifetime of everyday or utilitarian cycling and it is these health benefits that keep them cycling later into their lives, only to reap even greater health rewards. If you ask the people of Japan why they cycle every day very few would answer that it is for health, environmental, or economic benefits as most cycle because it is the most convenient form of transport available. Therefore we need to raise awareness of the ALL benefits of cycling among the people and policy makers of Japan so they realise cycling as a practise that generally goes unnoticed is providing HUGE benefits for all levels of society and that it must be supported and encouraged.

January 04, 2015

As a visitor to Tokyo renting a bicycle can be a difficult affair. Given the lack of a convenient city wide bicycle sharing system such as London's Barclays Cycle Hire or the extensive Velib network in Paris tourists are often left to on their own to locate bicycle rental services, and the lack of information in English and other languages makes this a daunting task.

Given that bicycle rental businesses in Tokyo appear and disappear at an astonishing rate I have attempted to list some of the longer running, and less likely to go out of business, bicycle rental services below.

Docomo Community Cycle

By far the most extensive bicycle sharing network in Tokyo is the Docomo Community Cycle Sharing network currently in operation in three wards around Tokyo (Koto-Ku, Chiyoda-ku, Minato-ku) but also in Yokohama and Sendai.

Visitors to the city can use the small wheeled electric bicycles by purchasing a one-day pass and bicycles can be returned on any of the numerous ports in each ward.

Docomo Community Cycle operates from three wards in Tokyo, Yokohama and Sendai.

Sharing stations in Koto-ku cover the Tokyo Bay waterfront area of Odaiba, a popular tourist destination with wide easy to cycle paths, and home to some of Tokyo's newest cycling infrastructure.

The Chiyoda-ku bicycle sharing stations are conveniently located around the beautiful Imperial Palace Gardens, near Tokyo Station, and the ever popular Akihabara shopping district while Minato-ku bike share stations cover Shinagawa, Roppongi and popular tourist destinatons such as Tokyo Tower, Roppongi Hill and Tokyp Midtown.


COGICOGI is a small but well established bicycle sharing system with numerous ports in the Shibuya and Harajuku districts. Recently the service has expanded to cover the Tokyo Skytree area. Membership is required and their small wheeled, electric assist bicycles can be picked up and dropped off at any of the networks bicycle sharing ports. The COGICOGI service operates from 10:00 to 19:00 daily with last rental at 18:00. Membership is required and can be arranged online.

Phone: 080-0170-5959

Extremo Mountain Bike Rentals

Located in Sumida-ku and offering a bicycle delivery and pick up service to hotels within the Yamanote Line Extremo Mountain Bike Rentals rent reliable brand name mountain bikes for ¥3000, per day, ¥1300 per extra day, and ¥9300 for an entire week. Reservations and ID required.

Phone: 03-5610-0638

Rin Project

Rin Project in Taito-ku is a friendly bicycle store that rents exceptionally well loved bicycles to locals and tourists alike, for ¥1080 pre day (plus a ¥540 accident insurance fee). With just 5 bicycles available for hire making a reservation is highly recommended. Opening hours are 11:00 to 18:00 with last rental at 17:00.

Homepage: Rin Project

Rin Project Rental Bicycle

GS Astuto Road Bike Rentals Tokyo

If you're in Tokyo looking to continue your road or triathlon training then look no further then look n further than GS Astuto Road Bike Rentals. GS Astuto have both carbon frame road bicycles and wheel sets for hire. After a recent move GS Astuto is now a 30 minute train ride from Shinjuku station, but this shouldn't phase anyone who doesn't want to interrupt their training while in Japan. Rates available upon request.

Tobu Pro Rental Cycle Asakusabashi

In Asakusabashi short ride from the popular Asakusa Temple District is Tobu Pro Rental Cycle whose friendly staff rent both small wheel and regular size mamachari for just ¥200 per day, plus a one time ¥500 registration fee. Opening hours 07:00 to 20:00.

Renting a bicycle here will put you within easy cycling distance of Asakusa, Ueno, the Sumo Stadium at Ryogoku and even the districts of Marunouchi and Ginza.

I've personally used Tobu Pro Rental Cycle Asakusabashi when organising Tokyo Cycling Infrastructure Tours and highly recommend them due to their flawless customer care and service.
Phone: 03-0866-1818

Katushika Shibamata Tora-san Museum Bicycle Rental

Located conveniently close to the Edogawa cycling road and numerous parks and gardens the Katushika Shibamata Tora-san Museum rents mamachari style bicycles for just ¥400 per day.

Phone: 03-3657-3455

Ward Offices

Tokyo is made up of 23 distinct council controlled regions most of which offer some form of bicycle rental via their City Hall. Information about these services is provided almost exclusively in Japanese via the City Office website, but as reservations are rarely required once you've located the pick up point renting a bicycle is rarely a difficult affair.

Taito-ku Rent-a-Cycle
Open daily from 6:00 until 20:00 at four convenient locations their mamachari style bicycles can b hired for just ¥300 per day.

Phone: 03-5246-1305

Setagaya City Rental Cycle
With 7 convenient port locations around Setagaya-ku, the largest of Tokyo's 23 wards, and a mix of electric assist and conventional bicycles and even bicycles with child seats Setagaya City Rental Cycle has something for everyone.

Phone: 03-3425-7195

Nerima Town Cycle
Nerima Town Cycle has 7 ports located close to major train stations around Nerima-ku and bicycles can be rented for as little as ¥200 per day. Unfortunately in addition to ID th service asks for proof of residence meaning the system is closed to those who do not live in Nerima Ward. I guess they're working on a different definition of bicycle "sharing" than the rest of us.

Phone: 03-5984-1032

Edogawa-ku Rental Cycle
The City owned Edogawa-ku Rental Cycle has mamachari style bicycles available for just ¥210 per day at 11 conveniently located sharing stations, including one close to the scenic Kasai Rinkai Koen and Arakawa River cycling course.

Phone: 03-5662-1997

December 16, 2014

Cycling enjoys a 14% modal share in Tokyo one of the worlds largest mega-cities. While other cities can boast higher figures the fact that, in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world, 14% of all trips made in a day are made by bicycle is really something Tokyo should be proud of.

Despite this high figure, bicycle commuter numbers are low primarily due to the cities fast, clean and efficient public transport system which allows commuters to cross the city more conveniently than other transport options. In the west daily cycling is often closely linked to bicycle commuter numbers, but this is not the case in Tokyo where employees are actively encouraged not to cycle to work and where the average trip distance by bicycle is less than 2km.

How is it then that cycling thrives in a city where the majority of citizens commute by train? Where are the daily cyclists and how can they possibly make up 14% of trips in the city? In short, Tokyo's cyclists are concentrated in the suburbs where they make many utilitarian trips by bicycle every day and  rarely venture much further than a few kilometres from their homes. Rather than using their bicycles to cycle into the city, a route already well serviced by public transport, citizens of Tokyo cycle almost entirely within the confines of their local neighbourhood. To understand why, you have to understand the structure of a typical suburban Japanese neighbourhood.

Tokyo's neighbourhoods resemble small, self contained, villages from a bygone age. At the centre of the village is the train station which is the focus of all village activity. As the majority of residents are reliant on rail transport anyone entering or leaving the village must pass through the station making it the heart of the suburb. Over 20% of Tokyo's 20 million daily rail passengers cycle from their homes to the local station and the provision of bicycle parking close to the station to keep up with cyclist numbers is a major challenge for local councils. Due to a lack of car parking facilities at suburban train stations the remaining 80% of passengers walk to the station.

With such high numbers of cyclist and pedestrian traffic converging on the station daily, merchants keen to ply their trade establish their businesses in a ring around the station and on roads leading radially out from the station secure in the knowledge that the high level of foot traffic will will bring in lucrative business. Within this commercial ring exist all the necessities for daily life including bakeries, vegetable stores, a butcher, fish monger, doctors, dentists, banks, restaurants, dry cleaners, hair salons and supermarkets.

The area within a 250m radius of Sengawa Station in Western Tokyo contains a multitude of supermarkets, restaurants, clinics, convenience stores, banks, post offices and small businesses. 
Local businesses and cycling share a symbiotic relationship in the suburbs of Tokyo. Due to the fact that small local businesses abound, and that sidewalk bicycle parking is tolerated, cycling thrives. Conversely, because so many people are willing to cycle from business to business on their shopping trips (trip chaining) small businesses flourish. This is a fact that other cities around the world are now just to realise with recent studies showing a direct relationship between higher cyclist numbers and stronger sales for small businesses.

Residential zones within 1 kilometre of Sengawa station overlap with neighbouring zones giving residents the opportunity to cycle easily to neighbouring "village centres".
Forming a larger ring around the commercial district is the village residential area. Primarily homes an apartments, the residential areas are also dotted with convenience stores, medical clinics, schools and kindergartens not to mention playgrounds and parks. Given the high density of train stations residents often have the option of cycling to two or more village centres for their shopping. Distances that would be a chore by foot evaporate under the wheels of a bicycle.

The convenience of cycling in Tokyo becomes apparent when the 1 kilometre zone around each village is plotted on a map of the 23 wards. Each neighbourhood is serviced by convenient public transport which is used for trips of more than a few kilometres. But as distances from homes to the local station, or neighbouring station all of which contain a multitude of local businesses nothing beats the bicycle for trips of just a few kilometres.

In conclusion everything a villager of Tokyo could possibly need for day to day living is within a short walk, or even shorter ride from their home close to their local station, or the next one along the line, and this is how suburban Japan promotes cycling use without even trying. The speed of cycling over walking, the convenience of cycling over automobiles, and the availability of almost everything within cycling distance makes the bicycle the most obvious form of transport in the suburbs of Japan.

December 11, 2014

Ho Ho Ho! festive cyclists! Its time to dust off your Santa outfit (or obtain one if you don't own one already, shame on you!) and decorate you bike with lights, tinsel, mistletoe and whatever else you can think of because the annual Night Pedal Cruising Christmas Ride Deluxe is taking plce in Tokyo on December 23rd and naughty or nice you're all invited to come along and join in the fun!

Jolly cyclists will gather on December 23rd at the Aoyama United Nations University Farmers Market from 17:00 and the ride scheduled to start at 17:30. The distance won't be that great, and cycling is at a low pace so you can drift up and down the pack and enjoy a leisurely chat. Its a social ride with emphasis firmly on "social". Cyclists if all creeds, and bicycle of all style most very welcome.

There is no obligation to get dressed up to attend the ride, but hey, its only Christmas once a year so why not?! Santa Clause costumes can be had at your local Daiso or other ¥100 shop for ¥400, but feel free to come as a reindeer, elf, snowman or whatever! Got an Easter Bunny costume instead? We don't care! Hell, in the summer we rode (almost) NUDE! Just get it on and join the fun!

Suggested Ride Items:

  • A costume. Santa Clause preferred but its up to you.
  • Lights, lots of lights, the more flashy and annoyingly Christmasy the better!
  • Decorated bike. Tinsel, mistletoe, Christmas decorations, lights, inflatable reindeer, anything goes. The more outrageous the better. 
  • A beverage or two, remember you have to ride home, but we ARE celebrating.
  • A sound system. This will not be a "Silent Night".
  • A means of making it snow, failing that, a means to blow bubbles!
  • Christmas cheer, and lots of it!

I will be attending and would like to invite all Tokyo By Bike readers to come along and join in the fun. I've not met nearly enough of you!

If you do plan to participate let me know, or shoot me a message on Twitter so I can look out for you. You may think it easy to spot a man in a Santa suit, but its not when EVERYONE is dressed as Santa!

Still not sure of you want to join? Check out this ride report from last years event. I hope to see you there.

What : Night Pedal Cruising Christmas Ride Deluxe 2014

When : December 23rd, 17:00 for a 17:30 start.

Where : Aoyama United Nations University Farmers Market

Details : Night Pedal Cruising Christmas Ride Deluxe Event Page

December 06, 2014

Tokyo's Inokashira Park has always been a popular cycling destination for families but it seems authorities are hell bent on putting an end to that.

Over the summer months my family and I would often cycle along the Kanda River to its source, the lake in the middle of Inokashira park. We'd park our bikes among hundreds of others in what appeared to be the designated bicycle parking area and enjoy an afternoon viewing the weekend market, watching the kids play in the playgrounds and even enjoy a boat ride on the lake itself.

Imagine my surprise in September when we cycled up to the parking area to find it roped off, devoid of bicycles and being watched over by 2 security guards. What the hell? One of the guards began walking towards us waving us away, but rather than politely walk away I confronted him. What the hell? Where are we supposed to park?

He unfolded a map that he had in his pocket indicating the location of paid bicycle parking lots, not one of which was in convenient distance from the park and a number of which were already full when we arrived.

I was fuming. For as long as I can remember people have always parked their bikes in that spot without authorities giving two hoots. Why now? What the hell? Where would we park on future visits? Would the inconvenience of not having bicycle parking force us to take the train to the park instead? Having a coffee while my daughters rode a swan boat I was getting angrier by the minute.

It was then I remembered something about Japan, this was a campaign, just like thousands of others held around the country each year, and that all campaigns come to an end. There is no way authorities would keep security guards on site for any longer than a couple of weeks and once the barriers and security guards disappeared the otherwise law aiding Japanese public would simply go back to parking in exactly the same spot and things would return to normal.

So imagine my smugness when we returned to Inokashira Park weeks later to find that bicycles were slowly returning to the park. Barriers are still up, and signs abound warning visitors not to park in the park grounds, and there are maps everywhere showing the location of inconvenient, over capacity and expensive parking lots, but these are being largely ignored and bicycles are returning.

Authorities must learn that the bicycle is an incredibly efficient and important form of transport for millions of people around Japan and accelerate the development of cycling infrastructure rather than impose insane parking bans without providing suitable alternatives.  Whenever they step in and make cycling more inconvenient, they're really inconveniencing everyone that cycles, and in Japan that is just about everyone.

Non cyclists may never understand, but I love the lawlessness that exists around cycling in Japan. More power to the pedal pushers!

December 04, 2014

So it rained in Tokyo last Saturday which gave me a chance to fit a new set of Tioga Factory FS100 tyres to my Giant STP. Of course when the job was done I couldn't resist the opportunity to try them out in the wet conditions.

While out and about I stopped by the Omiya Hachimangu Shrine in Suginami-ku where I had hoped to photograph some of the beautiful autumn colors, but given the nature of weather that was not to be. Instead I got a couple of great shots of my bike in the temple grounds.

The Giant STP is my play bike. In my younger years I spent a lot of time mountain biking in the mountains surrounding Tokyo, but now I have a family I can't justify spending all that time on myself. Luckily we live near a river that has parklands on each side, areas of which have been left rather wild that provide fun off road challenges so I can get out for short quick rides that don't take up the whole day.

In addition to this the urban landscape of Tokyo offers some pretty interesting challenges itself, especially the business districts if you tackle them at night when there is nobody around apart from skateboarders. This makes the Giant STP a great choice of bicycle for the city bound rider who still yearns for the hills.

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