The Blaze Laserlight Grants Biblical Powers

A light that projects the image of a bicycle onto the road ahead of you sounded like a bit of a gimmick to me. Really? Whats the point? Is it necessary? Isn't the beauty of cycling its simplicity? Why more gadgets? Please no more gadgets ...

OK, so I was sceptical as I like to keep my cycling simple. Call me a Luddite if you will but I have no GPS recording my route, no cycle computer measuring the kilometres I ride, because every ride that gets me to my destination is just long enough. It wasn't until I was able to try the Laserlight for myself that my opinion changed dramatically as it granted me biblical powers I could nt have dreamt of possessing. (But more on that later)

Whenever I receive a new gadget I like to ride with it for a quite some time before I write a review. I like to test it over weeks or months to gauge its durability and performance in different conditions, but most of all I like to wait until the "wow factor" has worn off so I can give a purely subjective review. I've been riding with the Blaze Laserlight for almost a year now and the wow factor still hasn't worn off.

The first things you notice as you unpack the Laserlight are its weight and build quality. The Laserlight has an aluminium casing and feels heavy in your hand immediately giving confidence in its durability and quality, no rattles and not a hint of flimsiness. The light mounts quickly to your handlebars requiring only a hex wrench and possibly one of the various width rubber spacer rings included.

The light itself has three modes flashing 100 lumens, solid 100 or solid 300 and, in a stroke of design genius, when not mounted to the bicycle cycling through modes skips flashing mode because really when have you ever wanted a flashing mode when using your bicycle light as a torch? The unit is 100% waterproof something made possible by an ingenious magnetic charger much like Apples MagSafe connector rather than a standard USB port.

But that's all great, what about the laser, you want to know about the laser right? Once mounted at the correct angle the Blaze Laserlight projects a bright green image of a bicycle onto the road ahead of you. The image is crisp and clear in dry conditions, but under bright city lights the image fades and in wet conditions the image all but disappears as the laser light is reflected off the road surface.

The Blaze Laserlight signals your presence ahead of time. The image of the bicycle enters any intersection or jumps out from a blind corner meters ahead of you, letting everyone around know that you're not far behind, but surprisingly in all but a few cases motorists rarely reacted to the laser image which is rather disappointing.

Where the Laserlight excelled beyond compare was when cycling amongst pedestrians, which in Tokyo is almost unavoidable. Unlike the ring of a bell, pedestrians react to the Laserlight immediately although their reactions can sometimes be unpredictable. Some stop dead trying to locate the source of the image which for some reason they believe must be above them as they peer into the sky. Others have almost been tripped by the beam of light as they skip, jump or hop out of range of the laser. Pets may be startled at the sight of the green bicycle mark, others will want to try and chase it as do small children so it pays to be well aware of the reactions you're likely to receive and cycle accordingly.

Wait, didn't you mention Biblical Powers? What are these Biblical Powers?

Somewhere in the Bible, closer to the front than the back, Noah led the Romans to safety from the pursuing Jewish tribes by parting the waves of the Red Sea using powers granted to him by the Tooth Fairy (or something like that). If you've ever cycled on he pavement in Japan you must know how difficult it can be to proceed any faster than walking pace, but when cycling amongst pedestrians with the Laserlight a path magically opens before you creating a safe corridor through which to cycle. It really is magic, you won't believe your eyes and I believe this is the greatest appeal of the product for me.

Also the "wow factor". I cycle with the Blaze Laserlight every single day, and not a day goes by where without someone commenting on the light. "Wow!", "Sugoi", "Kakkoii", "Cool", "What the f*ck" are all reactions I've had when cycling with the Laserlight. By its very unusual nature the light draws a LOT of attention and you'll be answering peoples questions whenever you're stopped at a traffic light. IN addition to this just seeing the light surprises people, makes them smile and laugh, and its great to be able to inject a little excitement and happiness into the lives of people as you pass.

In summary the Blaze Laserlight is a quality product, and one which I'd recommend to anyone that finds themselves cycling amongst pedestrians or on roads crowded with other cyclists. As a light it performs exceptionally well with 100 lumens being more than adequate for city cycling, and 300 lumens for when you find yourself on a dark country road or cycling through a poorly lit park will see you through. The laser has mixed results in traffic, where largely ignored my motorists at intersections. But when cycling among pedestrians or other cyclists the Laserlight signals your presence ahead of time and practically demands attention and action and this is where I find the most value in the product to the point where I now feel more unsafe cycling around pedestrians without the Blaze Laserlight.

For cycling in Tokyo and other Japanese cities the Blaze Laserlight is perfect!


20 Must Read Articles About Cycling in Japan

Over the years some great stories have appeared on Tokyo By Bike, but unfortunately they quickly get lost in amongst the sheer number of articles posted. Below are what I consider to be some of the stand out articles from Tokyo By Bike, the ones that remain popular despite their age, and the articles I point people to the most when they're seeking information. I believe these articles combined go a long way to giving an overview of what cycling is really like in Japan and what the Tokyo By Bike site is all about.


A lot of what makes everyday cycling work in Japan isn't infrastructure its Japanese society, people, their attitudes and the cities themselves. I've been observing cycling in Japan for almost 20 years and he articles below summarise many of my findings.

What makes Japan a great cycling nation?

Japan is ranked by Copenhagenize founder Mikael Colville-Andersen as the third great cycling nation behind The Netherlands and Denmark. At the time I read this, despite having lived in Japan over a decade, even I found that information surprising but looking around me I shouldn't have. Learning that someone like Mikael held Japan in such high regard changed my perspective on cycling in Japan and shifted my focus from recreational cycling to everyday cycling. I set out to find what makes cycling such a poplar form of transport for millions of Japanese people every day in this article and surprised even myself with what I discovered. Read article.

How Suburban Tokyo Promotes Cycling (Without even trying)

In the article above I discovered that the design of Tokyo's neighbourhoods plays a vital role in keeping cyclist numbers high despite the lack of infrastructure. This article explores that idea in more detail demonstrating that compact self contained neighbourhoods promote cycling as a viable form of transport and that there exists a symbiotic relationship between a healthy cycling culture and successful small businesses. Read article.

Why Suburban Japan is Teeming With Female Cyclists

Despite a lack of cycling infrastructure Japanese cities are teeming with female cyclists. Cities around the world are actively encouraging more women to cycle, maybe they could learn something from Japan? Unfortunately emulating Japan in this case may not be the most desirable course of action. Read on to find out why. Read article.

Japan's Cycling Seniors

Everyone in Japan cycles and that includes the elderly. Cycling keeps them health both physically and mentally, but more than this it keeps them connected with their community and helps them to remain socially active in a way that car centric communities can not. Everything should be done to accommodate elderly cyclists as the benefits for both them and society are enormous. Read article.

Japanese Cycling Laws

Cycling laws in Japan are poorly understood end even more poorly enforced. This is both good and bad as it gives cyclists great freedom in choosing where and how to ride without fear of copping a fine, but alternatively if we're not all reading from the same page accidents will occur.

Of Bicycle Laws in Japan and Other Mythical Beasts

This ever popular article from way back in 2009 gives a quick overview of Japanese cycling rules, and he penalties for not complying with them. But as few people actually follow the rules I suggest everyone follow just one rule "Exercise some common sense and ride safely". Read article.

Why Bicycle Laws in Japan Are Like Monopoly Rules

Cycling laws in Japan go largely untaught and unenforced which has resulted in the Japanese people evolving the laws over time into an unwritten yet generally understood set of rules most people abide by. (I get hammered for this opinion constantly, but it is one I stand by, and I think its wonderful that people have come up with their own set of rules rather than having them enforced upon them from above.) Read article.

Cycling Infrastructure

When city planners in Tokyo think of cycling infrastructure they consider noting more than providing enough parking lots, and the processes that need to be in place to deal with abandoned and illegally parked bicycles. Bicycle lanes are largely nonexistent in Tokyo but with the Olympics arriving in 2020 there is a new focus on cycling infrastructure in the city, but is it misguided?

The Various Designs of Tokyo's Bicycle Lanes

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government administers just a small percentage of the roads in Tokyo with the rest being controlled by the cities individual wards who are all using a different playbook when it comes to designing bicycle lanes which has resulted in a wide variety of different styles of bicycle lanes popping up all over the city. This article takes a look at a number of those designs from around the city. Read article.

Sidewalk Circus

Despite the controversy sidewalk cycling stirs up it works better than you'd expect in Tokyo and until the government can provide safe protected bicycle lanes I believe cyclists are better off on the sidewalk as long as they ride safely and respect the rights of pedestrians. Here is an article I wrote on the topic for Metropolis Magazine. Read article.

Bicycle Commuting

I've been a bicycle commuter for as long as I remember and as such there is quite a bit of commentary about bicycle commuting in the metropolis of Tokyo. Tokyo may not seem the easiest place in which to cycle to work but believe me, it is, and doing so will add so much more joy to your days.

Japan's National Bike To Work Ban

OK, I'll admit that this subject is pure click bait. There is no national ban on cycling to work in Japan, but that does not change the fact that many employers actively discourage their employees from cycling to work which in a country with so many utilitarian cyclists is just insane. Given the nature of Japanese employees not to fight the system employers have effectively bullied their employees from partaking in one of the healthiest modes of transport around. Read article.

How Many Japanese Cycle To Work

Given that employers threaten bicycle commuters with all kinds of punishments if they disobey company rules and cycle to work just how many people are cycling to work in Japan? This article pulls some figures together to paint a picture of just how people in Japan are travelling to work. Read article.

Employer Benefits Of Bicycle Commuting

Occasionally someone who works at a company that has asked them to stop bicycle commuting will contact me to explore their options. Of course I encourage them to stand up to their employers as they have no legal right to dictate an employees mode of transport to work. But I also try to get them to make their employer aware of all the benefits cycling employees bring their business. Read article.

Encouraging Employees to Cycle to Work

Despite this gloomy outlook for commuter cyclists in Japan some businesses are actively trying to encourage more employees to cycle to work so I furnish them with these tips to bring more people into the bicycle commuting fold. Read article.

Bicycle Commuting in Tokyo? Are You Insane?

Cycling to work in a city that boasts safe, clean and efficient public transport systems, and one whose morning rush hour roads are jam packed full of cars sounds like an insane activity, but I have my reasons or choosing to cycle to work. Read article.

How To Turn Any Mountain Bike Into A Commuter Bike

I've converted my old mountain bike into a sturdy commuter bicycle which I think is perfect for Tokyo. Fast and light, yet strong enough to take a few hits in the bicycle parking lot. If you're looking for the perfect commuter bike, maybe it already exists in your garage, you just haven't realised yet. Read article.


Japanese city bikes do not receive the love they deserve.

Introducing the Mamachari

The mamachari is the family station wagon of Japan. For the most part they're cheap, reliable and perfect for daily tasks such as ferrying one or more children to school doing the shopping and taking yourself to the station. They're under appreciated and I want to change that. Read article.

Why Cargo Bikes Face A Tough Market In Japan

I love cargo bikes, and wish I had one when my children were smaller and I had to carry all that play equipment to the part for weekend picnics, but given the cost and versatility of the Japanese mamachari bicycle I believe cargo bikes face a tough time entering the Japanese market. Read article.

How To

A collection of articles on how things are done in Japan to help you out.

Can I take my bicycle on the train in Japan?

Sure you can, but it has to be partially disassembled and packed neatly into a bicycle bag (or failing that some garbage bags from the nearest convenience store!) Read article.

How To Register Your Bicycle in Japan

All bicycles in Japan must be registered, and display a registration sticker. Although the sticker is easily removed the police rely on this system to return stolen bicycles to their owners. If you're caught riding a bicycle without a sticker the police can detain you under suspicion of being a bicycle thief and can even confiscate your bicycle. This article has links to all the forms require to register your bicycle and transfer ownership of a bicycle to another person. Read article.

Traveling from Narita Airport to Tokyo with a Bicycle

Tokyo's main international airport isn't even in Tokyo which makes transporting your bicycle from the airport to the city a bit of a challenge. This article explains some of the options available. Read article.

11 Tips For Cyclists New To Tokyo

You may be an experienced and confident urban cyclists, but each city is different. This article points our some common dangers and dangerous practices that may be unique to cycling in Japanese cities. Read article.

How To Cycle Japanese Style

On second thought, maybe you shouldn't follow these tips. Read article.

There are literally hundreds of articles about cycling in Japan on Tokyo By Bike. I've highlighted many of my favourites and most popular ones here, but often surprise even myself when I dig up a forgotten article from the past. Please do explore the site and do not hesitate to contact me if you can't find just the information you're looking for.


Cyclemode International 2015 Report and Photos

Last weekend Cyclemode International 2015, Japan's largest consumer bicycle trade show, was held in Makuhari, Chiba and for the first time in 3 years I made the long trek out from Tokyo leading a delegation from the Cycling Embassy of Japan to the event. Without any disrespect to the organisers, the reason I have not visited Cyclemode in 3 years was because the last time I visited in 2012 I was most underwhelmed by the event. Many big names such as Giant and Cannondale were not in attendance, and the event lacked any atmosphere, no loud music, no excitement, no charismatic salesmen putting on performances to sell their wares, it was essentially a lifeless and rather dull experience which is sad for such a bicycle lover as myself to have to say. Admittedly I did attend the business day in 2012 so this year I decided to visit on a public day assuming that there would be more excitement in the atmosphere.

Leaving home 7:40am the Cycling Embassy of Japan delegation arrived at Kaihin Makuhari station at 9:20am after a quick stop at a convenience store for a less than healthy breakfast snack. First event on the agenda was to catch up with Thomas Coulbeaut the founder DOUZE Cycles, a French company that produces a range of innovative cargo bicycles. Thomas was in town for Cyclemode and we arranged a hasty last minute meeting to discuss the cargo bicycle market here, which given our busy work and travel schedules took place near the Taxi rank at Kaihn Makuhari station in the 40 minute window between our arrival and his departure.

I've posted my opinion on why the Japanese market will be a hard one for cargo bicycle manufacturers to crack on this site in the past. I believe they have a place in business, but with the convenience and already considerable carrying capacity of Japanese mamachari bicycles, a large cargo bike is just not as practical in Tokyo as it would be in say Paris.  But but the DOUZE cargo bike that Thomas was sporting made me rethink some of my earlier predictions as it was the smallest bike in their lineup.

Not overly long the bicycle sported ample carrying capacity, easy handling, and the lightness and speed of a regular bicycle. I still wasn't convinced this bicycle could break into the everyday market in Japan until I made one observation, the width of the cargo area on the front of the bicycle was no wider than the width of the handlebars, and in Japan where narrow streets and sidewalk cycling are common this fact alone made me reconsider my earlier views on regular people using cargo bicycles in Japanese cities.  Also the ease of which the bicycle can be disassembled into two parts for transport or storage appealed to the space consciousness I've developed over my years of living in Japan. I believe there is a place for DOUZE in the Japanese market, wish them every success and will do what I can to support their efforts here.

After our brief but beneficial meeting at the taxi stand (its a glamorous life here at the Cycling Embassy of Japan) we increased our delegation size by one and headed into the show. Things looked promising as we joined a LONG line of attendees many of whom inexplicably were either carrying or wearing bicycle helmets despite wearing street clothing. It was not until later that we realised that anyone wanting to test ride a bicycle was required to wear a helmet, yes "required" in a country that has no compulsory helmet laws!

We entered the main hall in anticipation of large areas devoted to the big names in cycling such as Trek, Pinarello, Colnago, Bianchi, De Rosa, Giant, Cannondale, Cervelo and even Dahon and Tern. But at Cyclemode this wasn't the case. No Trek, no Cannondale, no Giant, Colnago, Bianchi, Cervelo, Dahon or Tern. Only De Rosa and Pinarello caught my eye as I entered the hall. The space you expect to be jam packed with complete bicycles from the major manufacturers was peppered with smaller booths for components, supplements, saddles and helmets, something was terribly wrong here. After a short walk around we discovered booths for Eddy Merckx, Look and Canyon but was this it? Really? Japan's largest bicycle show with but a handful of bicycle makers in attendance?

Surprised, yes. Disappointed, no because as you well know I love cycling, not bicycles per se so a lack of sports bicycles on display doesn't bother me. But still .. what to bicycle brands know about the market that we don't? Is it really not worth their time and effort to attend?

Anyway, next order of business was to visit Umi Miyhara, Business Development Manager for Zwift here in Japan and thank her kindly for gifting us with entry tickets for this years Cyclemode. Conveniently located in the main hall the Zwift booth had already attracted a large crowd in the mere minutes after the show had opened.

In case you're not familiar, Zwift takes indoor training to the next level by connecting your trainer to your PC and placing you on a virtual tropical island where you can ride or compete virtually with friends regardless of location which takes the drudgery out of indoor training by turning it into a game, a race, or a group ride. An surprising number of pro cyclists and and athletes have already integrated Zwift into their training programmes so don't be surprised if you're overtaken by the likes of Jens Voigt or Japanese Tour De France cyclist Fumi Beppu.

It was endlessly entertaining watching peoples reactions to the Zwift experience. The overall majority of people commented on the responsiveness of the system and the level of detail in the virtual world. The visual experience is absolutely amazing with smooth scrolling 3D graphics with no noticeable clipping in the distance or nasty situations where the camera ends up inside your character or other 3D objects.  The software also responds so quickly translating your actions into actions on the screen that you really do feel that is really you competing in the virtual world rather than you fighting for control of a bunch of pixels trying to drive them where you want to go.

While watching the beautiful graphics glide by as I cycled beside the sea I commented that in winter I'd go to work much happier in the morning if I had completed a couple of laps of this beautiful virtual island before leaving home.

Zwift works with almost an kind of cycling trainer, but with a good resistance trainer you'll feel it becoming harder to pedal as you begin to climb a hill, and a detail I found quite amazing was the fact that drafting another cyclist on the screen actually translated into less effort on the bicycle. With that level of attention to realistic details I do believe you have to try Zwift for yourself to really appreciate how much they've improved the virtual cycling experience.

With Zwift you'll not only be hooked, you'll actually cycle more.

With the surprisingly cycle free main hall of Cyclemode behind us we headed into hall number three where the booths began to grab and hold my attention. Makers of lights, clothing and accessories shared hall two with bicycle makers such as Louis Garneau and Kona (seriously, the only two exhibitors at the show with mountain bikes on display!). Big names from Japanese cycling including Shimano, Pearl Izumi and Cateye were all present in the second hall which also housed the main stage which despite some woeful entertainers did at least lift the mood of the event.

Being poor, I'm not looking for a new bicycle so the smaller booths showing much more affordable parts, accessories and clothing took my eye. Interestingly there were just two products at this years show that attracted my attention. The first was a piece of technology from the late 1800's, the solid rubber tire. As an everyday bicycle commuter punctures are a hazard I'm always acutely aware of. A single puncture could make me late for work, or even worse late for an important meeting. I believe when it comes time to change tires I will give solid rubber tires by Tannus a try.

The second product that really excited me was a range of children's bicycles on display by Rexard Japan.  What originally attracted my eye was the beautifully painted rear mudguard on a children's bicycle. While examining it an attendant handed me what appeared to be binoculars instructing me to look through at the bicycle and press the red button. When I did the entire bicycle lit up reflecting light from the binoculars right back into my eyes. I was stunned, finally a reflective coating for bicycles that was beautiful and eye capturing in the light. The booth attendants were so pleased by the fact that I instantly understood the all the benefits of a reflective coating that isn't as ugly as sin during the day. Not in the market for a child's bicycle I did purchase two reflective stickers designed by Miku Ohira who kindly gave me a 50% discount ( but if her boss asks, then I aid full price )

The further back we went into the hall the more interesting and obscure the booths became, but despite the odd booth displaying folding bicycles there was still a decidedly road biking and touring feel to the event. So I approached hall three in anticipation of a wider display of the different variety of bicycles that make cycling so great, the cargo bikes, mountain bikes, recumbents, three wheelers for the ages, and yes even the humble mamachari as I remember from my visit in 2012 that electric assist mamachari bicycles designed for carrying goods and children occupied quite some floorspace and attracted many interested patrons.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was no hall three!!

WTF Cyclemode!?!

Having commented on what took my eye at the show lets take a moment to talk about booth attendants, which we discovered fall into a number of distinct categories.

Visitors from overseas. These attendants are great fun to speak to as they welcome the chance to communicate information about their products to anyone who can understand English which is not the majority of Cyclemode visitors. Alternatively as long term residents of Japan we welcome the opportunity to speak english too! In particular it was a pleasure speaking with Island Triathlon and Bike, Boo Bikes, Cartel Bikes and cycling clothing manufacturer Arden from Korea.

Friendly Japanese types. A few attendants made an effort to speak English when we approached their booths and we really appreciate the effort they put into trying to accommodate foreign visitors. But once it becomes obvious that we all speak and understand Japanese these attendants loosen up and welcome the chance to spread word of their products and work to the English speaking community. Awards for his category go to Tannus (makers of sold rubber tires) and Rexard the maker of reflective coatings I spoke of earlier. The attendants at both these booths were completely unfazed by our foreignness and treated us in a manner we wish we were treated in all aspects of our daily life in Japan.

Deers in the headlights. OK lets not beat around the bush I'm talking about the Nutcase Helmets booth attendant here. While not overly fond of helmets ourselves we do in fact love Nutcase Helmets more than any other, they're fun, they're colourful and if I was to ever buy a helmet I think I'd go with with their watermelon design, or the Union Jack, they're all so cool I can't decide. We stood at the Nutcase booth photographing and animatedly discussing the products for the longest time asking each other which design they'd choose if they had to learning a lot about each other in the process. The whole time the booth attendant, a male in his 30's, stood meters away in silence simply watching us. You know when a street performer calls for a volunteer from the audience and you look at the ground chanting "don't pick me, don't pick me" silently in your mind? This attendant was obviously paralysed with fear and I imagine he was chanting "please don't ask me anything in English, please don't ask" over and over again in his head. His state of confusion was so obvious our conversation turned to that and we walked away me entertained that offended.

Anyway, to summarise Cyclemode 2015 was more about who wasn't there than who was. The lack of big brands at the show is baffling especially given the popularity of road cycling in Japan at the moment.  Despite the lack of exhibitors there was still a sizeable number of visitors keen to test ride the bicycles available and I find these mixed signals baffling. At the end of the day I enjoyed the show, but it could have been, should have been so much more and for visitors who paid the ¥1,500 entry fee I truly wonder if they got their money's worth.

Below is a selection of photographs taken at the event taken by Cycling Embassy of Japan Deputy Chief of Mission, Chad Feyen.



Knights in White Lycra Charity Garage Sale!

On Saturday November 14 the amateur charity cycling team, the Knights in White Lycra will be hosting a charity garage sale of cycling parts, accessories and clothing at Legends Sports bar in Roppongi between 14:00 and 18:00.

Here is how it works. You bring your quality unwanted cycling items to the event and donate them to the organisers who sell them on your behalf to raise money for a worthy cause. While at the event you can of course buy items donated by others helping to raise even more money, or if nothing takes your fancy (here's the good part) you can simply enjoy a beverage and for each beverage you enjoy Legends Sports Bar will donate ¥100 to the Knights .. whats not to like?!?

All proceeds will benefit KIWL’s chosen charity for 2016, Mirai No Mori, a Japan-based NPO which creates life-changing outdoor programmes for neglected and orphaned Japanese children.

The KIWL is an amateur cycling team consisting of expatriate and Japanese men and women who ride to raise funds and awareness for community-based projects in Japan. Formed in 2012 KIWL has to date raised over JPY15 Million for three Tohoku-based sustainable projects. It is important not to think of the Knights as a cycling team that raise money for charity, they're serious fund raisers who just happen to enjoy cycling (and the aforementioned beverages .. whats not to like?!?).

So its time to dig into that box of spare parts you have lying around, or to dig out that jersey has now 2 sizes too big for you so you can donate them to this great fund raising cause before settling down with a nice cold beverage.

If you're in the area, even if cycling isn't your bag, drop in enjoy a drink, learn more abut Mirai No Mori and the great work they're involved in. If you see me in the corner nursing a beer, step up and introduce yourself!

For more information about the Garage sale please click here, and for more infomation about the Knights in White Lycra visit or email