Dekochari: Art bikes of Japan

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by Dave R. on Dec 21, 2007 at 8:19 AM

Check out this awesome nighttime video of Dekochari – Japanese art bikes (Deko = decorated, chari = slang for bicycle). The bikes are ‘dressed up’ to resemble Dekotora, highly stylized trucks popular in Japan in the mid 1970s. Loaded down with flashing lights, boxes, mirrors, cup holders, hi-fi systems, everything – these bikes (and their bigger truckier cousins) are particularly impressive at night. There are several active dekochari fleets in Japan to this day.

This is another great example of bike culture evolving from established trends in the existing culture, promulgated by youth. (Yes, that’s a double word score if you’re keeping track).

As the great wiki explains:

Unable to drive the giant chrome-plated flashing trucks they coveted, children instead built plywood boxes around their bikes and attached chrome plating and lights. Almost all current Dekochari’s have elaborate light displays and many include hi-fi audio systems and cup-holders.

The Dekotora were popularized by the Torrakku Yaro (trucker) movies of Norifumi Suzuki starting in 1975. A great set of galleries from Japan here (most links are below “2006’N – explore a little, it’s worth it.). Night time galleries from Pink Tentacle are here. dekotora3.jpg

The Dekochari are often difficult to recognize (big gallery at that link) as bikes in photos due to the huge amount of decoration. I can only imagine that these beasties are mostly popular in the flatter regions of the island nation.

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All this raises difficult moral, ethical and logistical questions: Could I? Would I? Should I? Seeing that I live at the top of a hill, already have more personal bicycles than members of my family, and a job that expects occasional time away from aforementioned bicycles I think the answer is No. I’d love to see some of these art bikes showing up at next year’s Solstice parade , but I don’t think I’ll be doing the making.

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My Girlfriend’s Bike…continued

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by Mark V on Dec 19, 2007 at 10:14 PM

kappa%20tall.jpg So I just finished up with assembling the Kappa frame for my girlfriend. If she likes it, I’m gonna have the braze-ons for the sissy bar added to the stays and then have the frame re-powdercoated. Also, tomorrow the Redline straight seatpost will come in to replace the current layback post. Eventually, I’ll get a different banana seat and new wheels too.

How does it ride? AWESOME!!!!

This frame is a 20” BMX race frame with a 21.5” top tube. That’s about 2” longer than Old School race frames and at least 3” longer than an original Schwinn Stingray. The head tube angle is much steeper than the older bikes, which offsets the increased wheelbase a little. The fork and frame are in another league of stiffness compared to a Stingray. The net effect is that the bike tracks pretty wheel but is still pretty agile.

I’m pretty excited about the bike. I told her if she doesn’t like it, I’ll ride it. Keep in mind that I’m a road and track bike kind of rider, so a bike like this represents pure unadulterated fun.

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Bike Advocacy at Tangletown with Patrick McGrath and David Hiller

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by Dave R. on Dec 19, 2007 at 2:13 PM

Messrs. Hiller and McGrath (two of Cascade’s Bike Advocacy staff) will be at Tangletown pub Thursday Dec 20 starting a 7. They’ll be talking advocacy with you and anybody else who can make it. Please RSVP to Patrick if you’re planning on attending. I don’t think this’ll be your last chance, so if you’ve got another engagement (like the .83 Race of Champions ride/race) maybe you can catch them next time. Or, head down hill to Greenlake to watch the races!

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The One Bike you Need?

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by andrew_f_martin on Dec 19, 2007 at 7:39 AM

Kona Ute I stopped over at Byron’s place Sunday and got a chance to ogle his stable of bikes. Of course the one I went to see was the Kona Ute. I’ve long been interested in the longtail concept - mostly for a short-haul option and trips to the store. I live on pretty serious hill, so for me the idea of a 50lb bike is p”robably a little foolish, but there is a local grocery that I’d love to have a quality longtail for (today I schlep messenger bags or tow the trailer).

Anyway it was raining so I didn’t get an extended test ride, but the Ute was awesome. It’s far more sturdy than the Bettie which has a decent amount of whip to it. The Ute just makes more gradual turns than a regular mountain bike, but it doesn’t have that unstable feel that you get on some xtracycles. The deck and the footpegs (standard? not sure) looked great and added a nice 2nd-passenger option. One of the nice points on the trim was the Hayes mechanical discs. I’m a big disc fan, but I’m easily disappointed by manufacturers cutting corners to save money. In a lot of lower-range bikes they use the Tektro disc setup. I love Tektro parts just not their disc brakes. The rotors warp too easily and adjustable they are not good choice by Kona for taking the high road there. The rest of the drivetrain was predictably predictable Shimano. The Cork grips were a nice touch too.

What would I change? I’d go with a Brooks saddle for that nice up-right position. I’d probably go with a slightly wider mustache bar and add some campus pedals - having that upstroke can be a good thing when hauling a load. Other than that it’s built pretty nicely. When I can convince the wife that I need one more bike…this one might be it.

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Packed for Maui

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by Byron on Dec 18, 2007 at 9:15 AM

We’re packed and leaving for Maui on a day of pouring rain. At least, it’s not the windstorm from last year!

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Check the Timbuk2 bag snugly fit in the S&S case, next to the Modal. I designed that a couple of weeks ago with the BYOB feature and it matches the hugga colors. Like the Crumpler I took to London, but more compact to fit into the smaller S&S travel case. I’ll use that for errands and a few shorter rides. Inside of it are tools, pedals, HRM, etc. Also notice on the bottom left, the green Knog Frog light.

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1st day of cycling seaon in Sea-town: 01/01/08 (Greenlake, Noon)

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by Dave R. on Dec 18, 2007 at 12:15 AM

Get started on new years cycling resolutions right off the bat: noon on the 1st. Meet up at Greenlake, near the basketball courts. This’ll be a slow speed ride to Golden Gardens. Cargo bikes are bound to abound, but the invite is open to all. See you there!

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Seattle’s anti-dooring signage—Take SDOT’s survey

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by Dave R. on Dec 17, 2007 at 10:30 AM

lookoutforbikes_sign.gif Looks like Seattle’s taking the issue of cyclists getting doored seriously, or at least more seriously. There’s a new sign up on Dexter and SDOT would like to know what you think it means – Take the survey here. Maybe we’ll see more of these soon if the general public can figure out what they mean.

I’ve been the recipient of a door prize myself (I lived – I was headed up hill thankfully) and there’s not much I worry about more when riding my bike. How many huggers have had close encounters of the car door variety? What are your cities doing about it?

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Hugger Holiday Shipping

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by Byron on Dec 17, 2007 at 8:05 AM

We’ll stop directly shipping our Hugga comfort retail line (socks, shirts, jerseys) from December 18 until the new year. All of our goods are available on Amazon.com and shipping for Christmas Eve until the 22nd. See the deadlines at Amazon Gift Central.

Note that the socks sold out this week, but we’ve got new stock already en route. Clip-n-Seals are also shipping from Amazon.com.

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The Girlfriend’s Bike

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by Mark V on Dec 16, 2007 at 10:34 PM

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p> It happens all the time: boy meets girl, boy decides to get her a bicycle. This is especially true for hardcore bike geeks. These relationships don’t always work out. Scan eBay listings for road bikes smaller than 52cm and you’ll find a dozens of stories about bikes for girlfriends that just ended up collecting dust. Oh, and the girlfriends don’t always stick around either. Then that bike definitely is an eyesore.

So getting your girlfriend a bike is always a risky move. But it can be fun.

My girlfriend has declared that she isn’t into athletics, but she picked up my Redline BMX and decided that she would ride more if her bike weighed a lot less. So I pulled a spare BMX frame out of the back of the shop and started a project.

The modern BMX bike is a direct descendent of the Schwinn Stingray, a 20”-wheeled, banana seat classic. I hatched this idea to take a racing BMX frame and returning it to its roots. I’ve got a Kappa cromoly frame with 1-1/8” headset and a Euro BB, and I’m gonna put high-rise “ape-hanger” handlebars and a banana seat on it. I’ve got the project halfway done now. The bike has a early 90’s Campagnolo Chorus crankset and Redline fork. It’s gonna be AWESOME. If she ends up really liking it, I’ll have it repainted this spring.

So who else has gotten a cool bike for a significant other? And I mean a really cool bike, not some token hybrid. Did the girl keep riding, or did it end up on eBay?

I mean, the bike on eBay…

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p> kappa%20crank.jpg

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Next Ride Maui

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by Byron on Dec 16, 2007 at 9:29 AM

Hugger departs next week for our annual Maui ride. We’ll ride to Hana, upcountry Haleakala, and more for about 28 hours of ride time. If we’re feeling good, we may just ride around the whole island. I’ll have the Modal with me.

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Posts and podcasts to follow.

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