Busy pavements (where most cyclists ride), moderate shopping sizes and favourable price difference make the traditional mamachari the ideal cargobike for Japanese streets, argues Byron Kidd.
Japanese families have been reliant on the domestically designed mamachari bicycle for decades for transporting children, groceries and goods. Over that time the the design of the mamachari has been adapted to suit the needs of Japanese families with today’s models sporting longer wheelbases, smaller wheels, a lower centre of gravity, child seats with seat belts and baskets that can be quickly converted into child seats for smaller passengers. They also feature wide stable kickstands, dynamo lights, mudguards, step through frames and convenient frame mounted locks, all small features but ones that make the mamachari exceptionally convenient. Not having to mess about with cable locks or attaching lights while struggling to control a toddler and loading groceries is a huge design feature.
Given the overall satisfaction with existing bicycle design and the expectation of certain standard features, I believe it will take considerable marketing effort to make Japanese citizens consider an alternative.