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Pat Flinn

This article was very interesting to us. We are a retired tandem bicycle, that is a bicycle built for two, riding couple living in a suburb of the, "Motor City", Detroit, Michigan, USA. We also volunteer for South Eastern Michigan's only free bicycle repair and recyling shop. It is called "Back Alley Bikes". It is located in a poor area in the heart of Detroit's inner city, where the need for such a program is the greatest. We focus on the neighborhood's youth. We involve them in creating a space which develops heathy lifestyles. The kids learn how to repair their own bikes, if they have one, or by rebuilding a donated older one. The lesson of how to rebuild something that is valuable and meaningfull to them from another's refuse is a powerful one. These are skills that will remain with them for life. We also help many adults who use the bicycle as their only means of personal transportation. this is entirely a volunteer, nonprofit orgaization.
Our biggest problem is not having enough adult volunteer mechanics to work with the numbers of both adults and young people who want our help. Currently, we are only open two afternoons and early evenings a week. Frequently, especially during the warm weather, we have to stop more kids from coming in and overwhelming the limited numbers of volunteers that we have. Our goal is to, "Change the Motor City, one bike at a time".
Good Riding, from the tandem team of Pat & Mary Margaret Flinn, who say, "A good ride with friends like you is a better ride!"

Ray Kinnane

Thanks for the great story! What a worthy thing to do with your time. Detroit should be really proud of you.

Unfortunately, Japanese people still do a lot of driving. Bicycle riding is mainly a schoolchildren and women thing. Men here drive there car more than neccesary, but some men do still ride a lot. But it is a lot better here, given the level of affluence, than one might expect. I come from Australia originally, and bicycles there are seen as 'the enemy' by most motorists. Sad really, because public transport is dreadful in Australia, and they would benefit a lot from more bicycle riding. I think most schoolchildren there think it is very 'uncool' to ride a bike. Thanks again.

Ray Kinnane

John Watson

Aloha Ray,
I am overjoyed finding your article.
Because I was given a Japanese city bike when my neighbor couldn't figure out how to remove the rear wheel, chain guard assembly etc. Although I have owned expensive, multigeared, cruiser, mountain, tandem, and racing bikes, this is my absolute favorite! It is green and almost identical to the one in your photo, "an elderly man relaxing in Kono Park, Saga."
Except, I have a rear basket also that converts to child seat like you described. I have searched the internet unsuccessfully looking for it by name, "Touch - Emplette" until I just typed "Japanese city bike" and very thankful to find your article.
I thought it was rare, and feared losing it. Now, even though I cherish it, I know it will always be available in Japan :) Also, I am a 250 lb. male riding this bike very comfortably! Thank you again Ray and if you know how I can get another bike and parts to California or Hawaii, please tell me.

Lucy O'Melia

What an excellent entry; having only lived in the country for two weeks, I too have been struck by how relatively primitive many of the bicycles in Japan seem. I was rather saddened by leaving my lovely Emelle mountain bike in the UK, and rather concerned by the seeminly disused, rusting assembly of wheels and metal that my new employer supplied me with. However, with just three gears she is actually magical and a treat to ride as a town-bike. While there may still be many motorists in Japan, it heartening to see how many there are in comparison to the UK.

Brad in Tokyo

I just read posted a short something about bicycling here on my blog. Your entry was such a great summation of everything I've been thinking about bicycles, but have yet to be able to put down in words. Thanks for sharing. I'll check back soon, and feel free to stop by ours.


If you visit any country/city (start with Holland or Denmark) with a thriving bicycle culture you will notice the same thing. Simple bikes require less maintenance which makes them purposeful for daily rides. Especially in paved areas with little differences in elevation (cities).

Jo Johnstone

Can you tell me the 'brand' name of the white bicycle abandoned (in picture 5)? I have found one exactly like the one in the picture and it too was abandoned in a paddock (NSW, Australia). I asked the owner if I could buy it and yes, was the answer, for $10!! I have never seen a bike like this before in Australia and could not find any information about it until I came across your site. Thanks!

Ray Kinnane

I can't tell you Jo, I'm sorry! These bikes are just so common in Japan, and they carry many, many brands. It is likely made in China, and branded to suit one of many bicycle shops, or retailers. You might find some info stamped into the frame, if you look all around it. Or you might find a small, resellers label attached.

Ray Kinnane

Cairns Hotels

I'm a bicycle collector, I love the bicycle of Japan. The old fashion look of its design and the materials used.

Martin Gillis

I kind of wondered about the high school kids and how come it seems nobody except foreigners and serious road cyclists likes having a saddle high enough to give any pedal power. It seems that the schools actually forbid mountain bikes, and require the saddle to be low enough that you can easily put your foot down while sitting on it. They call it "safety position".

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