Thursday, December 1, 2016

Japan travel tips with Brompton

I believe that Japan is now one of the must go countries for travelers. There are a lot of attractive destinations like Mount Fuji, Hokkaido, Nikko, Hakone, Kyoto, dozens of hot springs, sushi, tempura, Akihabara, Ginza, Tsukiji fish market, old shrines and temples, etc. In addition, due to yen depreciation in recent years, prices are getting less and less expensive. Japan is the most affordable for foreign people who are interested in Japan.

If you have Brompton, I recommend you to travel with it in Japan. I believe that Japan is the best destination to leverage portability of Brompton. Japan has a perfect nantionwide network of public transportation. A combination of Brompton and subways, suburban railways, super express railway systems, buses enables you to visit anywhere in Japan easily. Thanks to commencement of Hokkaido Shinkansen on March 26, 2016, you can take a super express train instead of an air plain and easily and comfortably reach Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, with Brompton. 

I will share some knowledge and tips to use Brompton in the Japanese public transportation system and on street.

1. Free carry-on Brompton
In general you can bring Brompton with you for free to any railway but some buses and boats charge you for Brompton or a bike even it is folded and covered. (e.g. some buses in Shikoku and jetfoil to Oshima Island)

2. Cover Brompton for transportation
You should have your bike packed in a bag on any train, subway, and bus. Japan is different from London's circle line, rather fastidious. Naked Brompton in the railway is never allowed and you might be caught due to violation of the rule.

The foreign traveler in right is violating the rule. The left is OK.

Do not bring as naked. You need to cover all the time in a train and station.

3. Do not wheel the bike to the train
You need to fold and pack Brompton before passing through the ticket barrier. Inside the station, you need to carry Brompton in the bag or grab a saddle of Brompton packed in a cover. Before coming to Japan, you need to build up your arm muscle.

4. Stand in line before aboard
You have to stand in line with Brompton at the point where the door to your car will stop and open when the train is due to arrive.

5. Be quiet
Compared with other countries, people are calm in the public transportation system because it is tacit understanding to shut up a mouse in public space. Loud conversation and talking on the phone on the train will earn you dirty looks.

6. Use IC prepaid card for your convenience
The Suica or PASMO is a prepaid e-money card for moving around and shopping in Tokyo and vicinity. There is no more need to buy a ticket from a vending machine. Just touch your Suica or PASMO to the ticket gate and the fare is automatically deducted from your Suica. The Suica can be used not only for trains, but subways and buses as well. You can buy SUICA or PASMO at any station with a deposit of 500 yen. Please note that some buses do not accept.

7. Avoid rush hour of weekday
Please avoid morning (7:30 am - 9:00 am inbound) and evening (5:00 pm-8:00 pm outbound) of weekday to use train and bus in Tokyo because a big laggage like Brompton will be a trouble for other people in a train. Please do not disturb commuting people. In weekend, usually no problem because most of the passengers are travelling for leisure.

8. On board space for Brompton
Most trains have very little luggage space. If you take a commuter train, I recommend you to put Brompton in the small space at the side of each door.

When you get Shinkansen or Express trains, sometimes there is a small laggage space near the door. However there is one good bet - all the seats face the same way and there will always be a good luggage space - ideal for your Brompton etc - behind the rearmost seat in each car. You can put your Brompton in the space.

9. Storage at the station (and airport)
There are lockers with use of coins or SUICA in most of the stations. For SUICA available locker, your SUICA will be the key. Sizes and fees are as follows:
Small size: not to be used for Brompton storage
Middle size: height 550mm × width 340mm× depth 570mm  Fee: 400 yen or up
(you need to disassemble a saddle to put Brompton in this size of a locker)
Large size: height 840mm × width 340mm× depth 570mm Fee: 500 yen or up
Extra large size: height 1030mm × width 340mm× depth 570mm Fee: 600 yen or up

Please make sure that they are often full when busy time of the day.

Other than lockers, temporary storage of hand luggage is available in Tokyo Station. Take advantage of JR East baggage check-in services so you can take in the sights around the station.

Hours of operation: 7:30 to 20:30

10. Other things: Brompton shops/support
If you need some accessories or repair assistances when you travel in Japan, the following shops will help you and your Brompton. All are reliable and able to take care of Brompton.


Wada Cycle
address: 4-1-1, Momoi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
tel: 03-3399-3741
hour: 13:00~21:00 closed tuesday and wednesday
(JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, Chuo-line)

address: FLEG Daikanyama 1F, 1-31-12 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
tel: 03-4283-1117
hour: 10:30~19:30 closed thursday
(JR Ebisu Station, Yamanote-line)

Loro Slow Spot
address: 1-9-9 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
tel: 03-3231-5112
hour: AM 1030 - PM 0730, close thursday
(Subway Nihonbashi Station, Tozai-line, Ginza-line, Toei Asakusa-line)


address: 3-3-1 Shimo-Yamatedori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo-ken
tel: 078-321-0830
hour: 10:30~19:30 close Wednesday


Loro Kyoto
address: 7-9 Chudoji Kushige-cho, Shimokyo-ku, Kyoto-shi
tel: 075-811-7162
hour: 10:30~19:30 close Thursday


address: Hanabusa Bldg. 1F, 1-2-1 Otemon, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi
tel: 050-1365-6236
hour: 10:30~19:30 close Wednesday

Related articles:

Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (1) - Central Tokyo

Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (2) - Suburban Tokyo & Vicinity

Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (3) - Other special places to go

Thursday, November 17, 2016

KTC 15mm Pedal Wrench (MS3-15T)

KTC's light combination wrench is best fit for Brompton. 

KTC light combination wrench 15 mm MS3-15T

It is useful for removing and fixing Brompton pedals and wheels which are often too tight to be removed by other regular portable wrenches.

The wrench is artistic in its design as well as made extremely precise. Please see its grip engraved with lovely cherry blossoms flowing on the river surface. This is indeed a made-in-Japan tool which accommodates both art and quality.

KTC is an abbrebiation of Kyoto Tool Co., Ltd. in Japan's old town Kyoto with more than 1200-year history. A Kyoto company often shows elegance even in such industrial products.

-Kyoto tool co., Ltd.
-Double-nut tightening and loosening is convenient for working in narrow gap light wrench.
-Total length is longer than the standard type, easy to add power.
-Undergone a design through the petals of cherry blossoms in the Takase River in Kyoto City to the pattern of river.
-Prevents the concentration of stress in the diameter of the glasses wrenches side, bolt and nut power fit shape has been adopted. * Please note put too much power in so long in length, light type.
-Weight: 105 g

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Poralis Folding Bike Pod for Brompton

Do you know Poralis Folding Bike Pod? I suppose that it is a perfect bag for your airline travel with Brompton.

I used to travel abroad with my Brompton in the B-bag. The B-Bag is designed to carry Brompton when travelling abroad by plain. It is said that the B-Bag is well padded for protection while the strong straps and caster wheels enable to transport from point to point.

However, frankly speaking, B-bag is not the best solution. The bag is not so portable. Because of its two wheels only style, I always struggled to drag the bag and another suite case from the airport to train station, the  train station to hotel, and from the entrance of the hotel to the room. The bag is well padded but basically soft case. Sometimes a bike suffers a minor damage due to rough handling in a certain airport. In addition, I often experienced damage and tear of the bag itself due to its fragility in its straps.   

What is the option other than B-bag? There is a popular alternative of B&W hard shell case though only the case weighs 7.36 kg. Adding 12 kg of Brompton, approx.20 kg is too heavy, isn't it? We are anxious of possible extra charge for overweight. 

I recommend Polaris EVA Folding Bike Pod to you. It only weighs 4.6 kg. Light but durable enough and simple to store the bike inside.

The Eva Folding Bike Pod is a zip opening suite case with wheels and a built-in telescopic handle. EVA has high impact strength and ideal for bike luggage. The design has been moulded to fit a folding bike (Brompton) for maximum protection during air transportation and transit. The industrial strength zip entry is backed up with quick release buckles and straps. 

I will use the Bike Pod when I go to New Zealand South Island for adventure next month.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Jells Park, Chesterfield Farm, Scotchmans Creek Trail and Gardiners Creek Trail

It is quite a fine spring day. Why not going out for a ride?

Today Brompton and I visited Jells Park and Chesterfield Farm.

After then, we came back to CITY via Scotchmans Creek Trail and Gardiners Creek Trail which is joining to the Main Yarra Trail near Kooyong to follow the city center.

Distance 35.8km 
Max. Difference of elevation 149m
Average % of Slope total: -0.2% ascent: 3% descent: 2.4%
Acquired elevation ascent: 66m descent: 305m

A train from Flinders reached Glen Waverley Station. I unfolded my M6L-X to start for Jells Park.

There were a lot of groups of families and of friends in the park.

There were lots of runners and riders on the trail.

Chesterfield Farm. Let's experience country life in the city. The farm's concept is quite similar to Enomoto Farm which is near Tokyo. 

Good morning.

He is also a member of the farm animals. 

I asked a cup of milk and a piece of meat pie to fuel myself. The pie was most delicious ever!

Shall we go back to the city.

A great spring day. On the way back, I met a variety of colorful flowers in full bloom.

After an hour and half, we arraived in the city. It was a nice trip to suburb and good bike trails.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Brompton goes to Gippsland

Yesterday Brompton and I went out for a 70 km ride on the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail from Stratford to Traralgon. The trail was passing through farm lands all the way. The speed was limited to some extent due to unpaved road condition but the tail wind helped me and Brompton to complete the long ride on a mild day in spring. 

Route: Stratford Station to Traralgon Station
Distance: 68.8km
Average % of slope: total 0.1% ascent 1.8% descent 1.8%
Acquired elevation: ascent 160m descent 85m

Arriving at Stratford Station by V-line train, Brompton and I immediately started for the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail.

The rail trail started.

Because I was a bit concerned with time to reach Traralgon Station, I tried not to stop for the first 1 and half hours for 31.5 km. 

The trail continued straight ahead. I took a first break to relieve my thirst when I reached old Dawson Station.

There were some traces of the old rail tracks left on the way.

The rail trail was suddenly interrupted between after Dawson and before Cowwarr, diverted to the vehicle road for 5.5 km. It is only a section not to follow old rail tracks due to no rail trail bridge over the Thomson River.

The trail restarted from here.

Arriving at old Cowwar Station where was 40 km from Stratford Station.

Yellow flowers (probably rapeseed) bloomed all over the place.

Reaching old Glengarry Station. There was IGA in the town and I purchased bottles of water. 

Please note that there were no facilities of drinkable water and no vendors/restaurants on the trail after Heyfield and before Glengarry. This trail is, in terms of facilities, not well organized at all like the Lilydale Warburton Rail Trail. A rider cannot get food or drink without a certain diversion from the way. I recommend to bring enough water (and some food) for the ride during summer season. I brought 2 bottles of water but not enough for this hot day.

Passing the Eaglehawk Creek.

Finally we arrived at Traralgon Station where the VLocity train was waiting.

It was a wonderful long ride to train myself and to know Gippsland.

Other rail trail stories:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Trail to Port Fairy

Last weekend I went for a Brompton ride on the Port Fairy Rail Trail, starting from Warrnambool toward Port Fairy, a truly fairy town in the West Victoria, Australia.

[Ride Data]
Distance: 36.6km
Max. difference of elevation: 71m
Average % of slope: total 0% ascent 2.1% descent 1.9%
Acquired elevation: ascent 134m descent 113m

Sunday at 9 am Brompton and I were in Southern Cross Station, Melbourne, to become a part of the V-line passengers traveling to Warrnambool.

After 3 hours I arrived in Warrnambool. The station was a lovely, brick-built building.

I planned today's 40 km trail ride to Port Fairy one way only. I supposed to return to Warrnambool Station by V-line coach, leveraging the advantage of Brompton's portability. 

I started and went across the town. The building in the back is old Warrnambool Court House.

The trail continues about 37 km from Warrnambool to Port Fairy. Most part of the trail is unpaved and passes through extensive farm land.

Brompton and I ran for an hour and quarter, arriving at old Koroit Station. It was about the middle of the rail trail.

After a short break, I restarted a ride. Still long way ahead to go.

A head wind blew from the south. It was getting more and more windy. The ride could not help but being slowed down.  As I was thirsty and tired then, I took second break on the wooden bridge near old Moyne Station. I had an orange here to be recharged.

After an half hour ride from Moyne Station, I reached the high way crossing. Only 1.6 km was left to Port Fairy.

Finally I arrived in the fancy town. Port Fairy was quiet, historic town by the sea. The old buildings on the center street were well preserved.

The port looked like a pretty harbour for marine leisure.

Sea wind comfortably blew to cool me down. I took the rest by the sea until the V-line coach departed to Warrnambool.

Other Rail Trail Rides:
Spring has come to Australia
Brompton goes to the Great Victorian Rail Trail (the Goulburn Valley rail trail)
Brompton goes to Lilydale Warburton Rail Trail