Zen cycles in Shoreditch – tokyobike

tokyobike windowOn the corner of Tabernacle St in Shoreditch, where it meets Old St, just down from what is now known as Silicon Roundabout, there is a cycle shop with a zen-like air of peace and tranquility called tokyobike. It’s easy to spot from the casually precise row of coloured bikes lined up outside.

tokyobike bikes

Tokyobike was founded in 2002 by Ichiro Kanai in Yanaka in Tokyo. He says his bikes are designed for Tokyo’s urban environment in the way that mountain bikes are designed for mountains. They’re light and practical with an emphasis on comfort over speed. ‘As much about the journey as the destination, we want you to forget about the bike and simply enjoy the ride,‘ says their website.

tokyobike bike in window

The frames are made from chromoly steel (lighter than carbon steel, harder than aluminium, cheaper than titanium, more flexible than carbon fibre) and weigh around 10 kilos (22 pounds). They have straight, compact handlebars which give more control -important in a city environment – and slightly smaller (650mm) and thinner wheels than standard road bikes, giving speedier acceleration and quicker changes of direction. And they’re seriously stylish, with a great range of colours.

tokyobike bikes

Tokyobike have shops in Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Berlin, Copenhagen, Eindhoven and now London. It’s an unusual kind of bike shop. Not only is it spotlessly clean and bright with rows of cycles arranged like works of art and carefully-chosen accessories for the cyclist, it also sells an eclectic range of ‘lifestyle products’. So you can buy cycling ponchos, helmets and carrier racks:

tokyobike ponchos

tokyobike helmets

tokyobike carrier

But also traditional Japanese brooms:

tokyobike brooms

And an interesting selection of pottery:

tokyobike pottery

tokyobike pottery

Including this tea roaster (hojiki) which can also be used for roasting nuts and seeds:

tokyobike tea roaster

Cherry bark tea caddies from Kakunodate made using traditional methods dating back to the eighteenth century:

tokyobike tea caddy and pot

And some pottery from my old favourite, Mashiko.

tokyobike Mashiko Pottery

tokyobike pottery

I liked the shop’s air of calm competence and Japanese-style emphasis on treating the customer as king. One customer was assured that trial rides of bikes were no problem; another was loaned a bicycle pump; they lend you a courtesy bike while your tokyobike is in for service or repair and they also offer regular maintenance classes. Oh, and there’s a coffee machine too.

Should you buy their bikes? I’m no expert, but reviews on the net (mainly from Australia where they’ve been open longer) seem pretty favourable.

If you want to take a look at the bikes for yourself, and perhaps pick up some pottery I recommend a trip to the shop. Just don’t go on a Sunday or Monday because they’re closed then. They have a very cool website with details of all the bikes.

tokyobike logo

10 thoughts on “Zen cycles in Shoreditch – tokyobike

  1. Pingback: Kintsugi lacquer repair – when broken is better than new | Sequins and Cherry Blossom

  2. Update. The shop is now open 7 days a week and they have a second London shop in Eastcastle Street in Fitzrovia (just north of Oxford Street). Not so much pottery these days but lots of Japanese designed things of interest to cyclists and non-cyclists. The mechanic in Fitztrovia is great and the Japanese manager (forgot his name) is very very knowledgeable about everything fixed gear. As well as their own brand city bikes which are great for casual riding by the way, if you are a track/fixie rider and a fan of Japanese NJS components then this is a great shop to know because they import some unique things.
    One thing that is noticeable is their willingness to just talk to you about bikes. I bought some beautiful limited edition Nitto handlebars recently and it was an absolute joy to chat with the manager for a ages about fixed gear stuff before buying. People passionately in love with what they do are the best. They also organise very enjoyable social rides in association with the ACE hotel for which you can borrow one of their bikes if you don’t have your own.


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