tuesday night Kenji from love bikes (the Japanese company who distributes Charge) came to pick me up from the hostel with my brand new on load Charge Grinder (cream colour – v sexy). He then drove me down to Fig Bike shop in Harajuku where he insisted on doing my bike up for me in a rad baby blue colour scheme – matching knog lights and all. It's pretty cute and definitely the girliest thing I've ever ridden.
The staff at Fig were a super nice bunch of people so we all went out for dinner at a local sushi restaurant… drank beer and ate fish till 3am. No one could really speak English and I suck at Japanese so the night was pretty funny – they all seemed to find everything I said and did hysterically funny – including my wonky chop stick techniques.
Anyway, Kenji and the Fig crew were some of the most retardedly hospitable people in the world, after tricking out my bike, feeding and watering me, we went to on a mission to a book shop at 4am (only in Tokyo) to buy me a street map so I could find my way around the huge maze of the city (Tokyo is no New York – no street signs and constant fly overs and underpasses make the place amazing to get lost in).
At this point I get a phone call from my flatmate Tiger who's found some 'bike geek bar' randomly and is hanging out drinking cocktails under a rack of vintage frames… Kenji refusing to let me out onto the streets on my own drives us back through Tokyo to the hidden bar which turns out to be the epic 'Kinfolk Lounge'.
Kinfolk is a collective of 4 guys in Tokyo and the USA who have started their own bike brand 'Kinfolk' building custom track frames hand crafted by ninjas in Japan. Jon (the Japan wing of the partnership) also runs a super mellow bar under the same name – which is where we ended up that night until 7am. Ouch.
So yeah – you should all check out Kinfolk's site as they offer a pretty sweet service at reasonable prices and it's wicked to see a small company working to such high standards. The bar rocks too – if you're ever in Tokyo check it out.
(Jon's bike and another Kinfolk model- check out the site to make your own…)
Anyway, Jon was a dude so the next morning he took me on a tour of Tokyo and we got to check out all the bike shops and local spots. The second I got on my bike I was grinning from ear to ear, the massive wide handle bars were actually super fun to ride with and the big solid wheels make for a super super fun ride. Tempted to get a Grinder when I get back – felt much more BMX-y then my skinny wheeled Plug at home.
We rode around Tokyo checked out a load of stores – fixed bikes are MASSIVE here right now – almost bigger then London I reckon. You can buy parts and rainbow accessories in the main department stores,, mini fixed toys that you can trick out to match your bike, and even 'how to' dvd's that teach you how to track stand and skid. As ever in Japan – the enthusiasts are MEGA enthusiasts… and there are super nice bikes sitting all over the place (mostly unlocked which is mental).
So there's a bike guide to Tokyo for anyone needing. After the ride I got lost some more, got rained on, went out for more ace food with some more amazingly friendly Japanese friends, then ended up back at Kinfolk Lounge till the early hours. Chased Jon back through Tokyo at 3am… riding through the backstreets at a million miles an hour finally feeling at home in this crazy, noisy day glo city.