In Japan, 85 percent of the population own bicycles. Cheap, tough bicycles. Mamachari bicycles. Now London has some...

Japanese city bikes arrive in London

Thinking of going Dutch? Turn Japanese instead. That’s the hope of Noah Fisher. He has opened Mamachari Bicycles in Dalston, London. Mamachari city bikes are cheap, tough bicycles, often with childseats attached, and used mostly by mums, ferrying children to and fro. How cheap? The entry level singlespeed costs £100, the top of the range model with childseat costs £300.

Mamachari bicycles come equipped with lights, chain guards, mud guards, stands, racks and locks and can be customised with one, sometimes two child seats.

Fisher is selling imported Japanese bicycles. Mamachari is a Japanese mash up of the words mama, meaning mother, and chari, a less polite word for bicycle.

According to blog Tokyobybike, the mamachari is a cultural icon: "It’s the family workhorse used on shopping runs, for riding to the local station, taking the kids to school or picking them up from sports practice. Without it families around the country would be in a right pickle.

"The defining features include, a top tube bent low that is easy to step over, a shopping basket on the front, a luggage rack on the back, mudguards, chain guards, dynamo lights, an integrated lock, a bell and a hefty rear stand that keeps the bike stable and upright when parked.

"Mamachari are essentially considered disposable items. They’re regularly left exposed to the elements for long periods of time, and for the most part are poorly maintained, even putting air in the tyres seems a chore. Most people would throw a mamachari away or abandon it after years of neglect rather than undertaking simple preventative maintenance to extend the bikes useful life."

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