E-Bikes in Japan - just a little article

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Timpo

Well-Known Member
I checked the Bridgestone website and their ebike marketing is pretty similar to Yamaha.

2019 Bridgestone Bicycle Catalogue: https://www.bscycle.co.jp/digitalcatalog/sogo/HTML5/pc.html#/page/1







 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
LOVE Yamaha Japan's marketing photos. I have a middle schooler who ebikes to her activities, and it's clear that Yamaha Japan also has that market in mind! Now, pretty please, bring these bikes to the US??

I agree that Pedego should improve their marketing. They do have marketing materials that show commuters--for example, there's a video about a physician who commutes 10+miles each day to work, and another by another woman who commutes and has a long hillclimb as part of her commute. I don't remember what she does as a job, though .... Pedego also sells Pedego-branded baskets and panniers, and their shops sell other commuter-friendly accessories also. And, they have a cargo bike that has seating for children, and recommend child seats for it.

Pedego ebikes bikes are great commuters, as are those from other companies who you mentioned who also should improve their marketing. They are durable, long-lasting, easy to maintain bicycles that are great for hard use. My local dealer recently saw a cargo bike with 20,000 miles on it that had everything on it still original (except tires and brake pads).

It would be great if they would improve their marketing to show the wide range of possibilities for ebikes, and to better target those who might commute on their ebikes or who are looking for a car replacement, or a way to carry kids and grandkids around. I have 2600+ commuting, errand and recreation miles, and counting. I don't like their new ad campaign that focuses on William Shatner (colonoscopy joke, chased by a cop joke ... I found them very un-funny, and there are more coming in this vein, I'm afraid). I think their "Hello, fun" campaign was much better, and "hello, fun" also describes my 25 mile round-trip commute quite nicely. :)
A colonscopy joke isn't even funny to their primary buyer over 60. Shatner was good for Priceline, but that's now very old news, and there would be many other more pertinent celebs who would be more relevant to a lot more age groups.

I thought you guys were joking about colonoscopy... so I went on Pedego YouTube channel and found out that it was true. lol
You're right, it wasn't even funny. I found it to be a bit disturbing and not wanting to buy Pedego.. it was a fail.
Too bad because judging by the reviews, Pedego actually have decent bikes and they really value customer service.

Here are some Yamaha eBike commercials that I found on YouTube.

 

tegnamo

Member
This thread is super cool. I am very interested in Japan eBike stuff. Here's a few current magazine excerpts from over yonder.
 

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Alex M

Well-Known Member
The American / Canadian version of step thru ebikes are fundamentally different.

For example, Pedego may have step thru bikes, but if you compare them with Japanese ebikes, Pedegos really are not commuters, they're weekend cruisers.
The only reason Pedego bikes offer step thru is because customers wanted it for comfort, not so that they could use Pedego as a daily tool like Japanese people (picking up kids, getting groceries, going to work, school, and all that stuff)

Look at Pedego website, they're NOT marketing their ebikes for everyday use.
If you look at Pedego pictures, every single picture is something do with enjoying the weekend ride with friends, wife or husband.
Cruising down the beach, scenic ride in the city...
It's mentality and resulting marketing approach that is different, not US/Canadian version of bikes :).
Most of those Japanese commuters on the photos look like cruisers, only with added baskets or child seats.

If Japanese don't use them much for leisure, doesn't mean these bikes aren't proper tools for leisure.
Japanese culture is centered around work, work, work, work - and family. Not around leisure time.

Pedego knows their customers. It would take several economic crises, significant changes in urban and suburban structure and deep changes in demography and population density for Americans and Canadians to stop viewing cars as the primary means of commuting and shopping.

Regardless of utility vs leisure, there could be an anatomical reason for popularity of step-through bikes in Asia - lower average height of local population. I am "average" and still like step-through. They are comfortable frames, there is no denying this.
 
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Timpo

Well-Known Member
It's mentality and resulting marketing approach that is different, not US/Canadian version of bikes :).
Most of those Japanese commuters on the photos look like cruisers, only with added baskets or child seats.

If Japanese don't use them much for leisure, doesn't mean these bikes aren't proper tools for leisure.
Japanese culture is centered around work, work, work, work - and family. Not around leisure time.

Pedego knows their customers. It would take several economic crises, significant changes in urban and suburban structure and deep changes in demography and population density for Americans and Canadians to stop viewing cars as the primary means of commuting and shopping.

Regardless of utility vs leisure, there could be an anatomical reason for popularity of step-through bikes in Asia - lower average height of local population. I am "average" and still like step-through. They are comfortable frames, there is no denying this.
I was actually wondering if there's any US companies that's promoting their ebikes more for utility.
Looks like Rad Power Bikes is doing exactly that.

The Radwagon seems very practical.. only $1599 as well.

 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
I would say that RAD is like Walmart. They sell everything, and nothing particularly fancy. One fatty, one cargo, 2 folders and one cruiser/commuter City.

They do call City a "commuter" and City Step Through a "cruiser", though I don't see marketing being much different for either one. The suggested idea seems to be that this is the same bike, available in two different frame types. Confirms what I've come to believe lately - there isn't really much difference.

RAD priced their bikes more in utility category, for sure. USA is such a tiny market. There is barely anything similar to compare in this price range, from some other more-less stable company that have been in business for some years and offer some kind of support.
 

ebikemom

Well-Known Member
I think that Rad is right on track with their marketing approach. I would like other ebike makers to be thinking UTILITY--beyond cargo, to commuter and errands--and be marketing bikes that way, to draw attention to new and exciting ways of living and being in the world beyond the automobile and with more freedom/flexibility than public transport. I understand the appeal of making road and mountain type bikes and working to market to that demographic, or making "cruiser" style bikes and marketing to retirees, but I really want to see a monumental shift in how people get around. I would like ebike sellers to think bigger... to think how they can change transportation in this country. It won't be "bike share" that does that. It'll be folks having ebikes in their garages or on their apartment balconies or decorating their living rooms, ready to go on their next adventure, with "adventure" meaning their commutes, trips to the store, medical appointments, rides to school, etc., not just their recreation. With an ebike, every day, every ride, is a new adventure. :)
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
I think that Rad is right on track with their marketing approach. I would like other ebike makers to be thinking UTILITY--beyond cargo, to commuter and errands--and be marketing bikes that way, to draw attention to new and exciting ways of living and being in the world beyond the automobile and with more freedom/flexibility than public transport. I understand the appeal of making road and mountain type bikes and working to market to that demographic, or making "cruiser" style bikes and marketing to retirees, but I really want to see a monumental shift in how people get around. I would like ebike sellers to think bigger... to think how they can change transportation in this country. It won't be "bike share" that does that. It'll be folks having ebikes in their garages or on their apartment balconies or decorating their living rooms, ready to go on their next adventure, with "adventure" meaning their commutes, trips to the store, medical appointments, rides to school, etc., not just their recreation. With an ebike, every day, every ride, is a new adventure. :)
I agree, in the USA / Canada we're addicted to cars.
We spend 7% of our income just on gas. (Not including insurance, maintenance, depreciation on vehicle, parking fees, etc.)
https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/vide...end-7percent-of-income-on-gasoline/vp-AAyCnXk

There's no secret that sitting for a long time can be a deadly, combines with lack of exercise, the obesity rate is skyrocketing.
People are spending multi billion $ on health care every year.

Look at Asian countries or even Europe, particularly Netherlands.
Just by looking at people on the street, the obesity is rate is pretty close to ZERO.

If you look hard, yes you can find people that are a little chubby, but virtually nobody is obese.

 
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Timpo

Well-Known Member
I would say that RAD is like Walmart. They sell everything, and nothing particularly fancy. One fatty, one cargo, 2 folders and one cruiser/commuter City.

They do call City a "commuter" and City Step Through a "cruiser", though I don't see marketing being much different for either one. The suggested idea seems to be that this is the same bike, available in two different frame types. Confirms what I've come to believe lately - there isn't really much difference.

RAD priced their bikes more in utility category, for sure. USA is such a tiny market. There is barely anything similar to compare in this price range, from some other more-less stable company that have been in business for some years and offer some kind of support.
But I kind of feel like Rad provides good customer service and decent quality though.

Typically walmart bikes are disposal. They're cheap but you don't really expect them to last long or anything.
 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
But I kind of feel like Rad provides good customer service and decent quality though.
Yes. And, where they lack quality, they make it up to you in responsive exchange-returns service. Reasonable prices for entry-level bikes. I would not rate it a disposable.

Walmart sell anything from bikes to furniture, aiming at wide customers base at the lower end of prices. Products ranging from average to disposable. Generous return policy :)
 

shiruba

Member
I don't know about the range, but I'm sure they were NiCd powered back in 1970s.
Also they didn't have brushless motor back then, so I'm sure the brush had to be maintained or changed.

1979 Panasonic EC2


1976 Panasonic Electro Boy Z
(It was sold under the division of Panasonic, the "National" brand.)
Just FYI, while I would love to have one of the Electroboy bikes, they are not eBikes in that they don't have any motor. They have lots of gaudy lights instead.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Wow, what a fantastic thread, and agree with the posts here.

I think the most likely path for US adoption of ebikes for *utility* purposes is through exposure - either through buying an ebike for recreational purposes, and then they slowly find it useful for non-recreational purposes too. Or, they use ebikeshare (like JUMP) intermittently, and decide they want to use something like that daily. (Like ebikemom, I don't see ebikeshare outdoing ownership in ride volume, esp. since the cost per ride over time will be much higher, and the lack of customization and proximity.)

Speed sells in the US, so I think speed pedelecs will play a bigger role here than in Europe or Japan. (Eg the popularity of Juiced.)
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
There's a NYC importer of Yamaha Mama-Chari bikes http://kaerubikes.com/home/products/ offering a 1-year motor/battery warranty but you would be reliant on the importer for parts. In a recent podcast interview Arleigh Greenwald asked the Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles US brand manager when will they introduce a step-through to their line up but he was evasive. This is a pity because their 3-year transferrable warranty helps used values.

Regarding Pedego, I guess the emphasis on family cycling differs between dealers, fwiw my local Pedego dealer in Alexandria VA has Yepp seats fitted to showroom step through models, always has the Stretch, and organizes friendly no-drop rides.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
There's a NYC importer of Yamaha Mama-Chari bikes http://kaerubikes.com/home/products/ offering a 1-year motor/battery warranty but you would be reliant on the importer for parts. In a recent podcast interview Arleigh Greenwald asked the Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles US brand manager when will they introduce a step-through to their line up but he was evasive. This is a pity because their 3-year transferrable warranty helps used values.

Regarding Pedego, I guess the emphasis on family cycling differs between dealers, fwiw my local Pedego dealer in Alexandria VA has Yepp seats fitted to showroom step through models, always has the Stretch, and organizes friendly no-drop rides.
Nice, I didn't know that..

Too bad that price pretty much doubles :confused: I know the business owner needs to eat and it's probably an inefficient business model (more middle person) but glad that someone is giving people an option to buy JDM ebikes.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Wow I just saw their promotion video.. Yamaha should give them a medal for promoting this bike in America!

Too bad it costs $2,300... in Japan the MSRP is 144,720 yen ($1,311) but according to kakaku.com retail stores are selling it for 114,500 yen ($1,037)
And we know that price is one of the factors why people in the US do not use ebike as a car replacement.

I don't know if this bike is an exception though.. even other brands like Pedego, Volt, Biktrix, Juiced, etc.. if you were to purchase them in China we know that they will be substantially cheaper.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
Wow I just saw their promotion video.. Yamaha should give them a medal for promoting this bike in America!

Too bad it costs $2,300... in Japan the MSRP is 144,720 yen ($1,311) but according to kakaku.com retail stores are selling it for 114,500 yen ($1,037)
And we know that price is one of the factors why people in the US do not use ebike as a car replacement.

I don't know if this bike is an exception though.. even other brands like Pedego, Volt, Biktrix, Juiced, etc.. if you were to purchase them in China we know that they will be substantially cheaper.

Kaerubikes price is on par with what Kyoto bike shop owner Shuichi Kobayashi was asking in 2012 to export Bridgestone and Angelino (now Bikke) brand electric mamacharis to the US, Source: http://mamabicycle.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-post.html. You'd be paying haz-mat shipping from Japan plus 11% import duty, $2300 is competitive with other compact cargo bikes with smaller wheels. Be cheaper still to import a mamachari pedal bike like a Maruishi Frackers (see pp.30-35), they're only $400 plus shipping (wouldn't need haz-mat shipping for a pedal bike) and could be converted here with a kit motor.

I've seen one or two around DC, almost always imported by Japanese expats or US diplomatic or military families who have relocated to the area.

There are some nice design features, my favorite is the locking headset connected to the wide sturdy rear wheel kickstand. Yamaha could sell these in the US and Canada maybe starting with specialist family/utility cycling retailers like G&O Family Cyclery, Bike Shop Girl, Bicycle Belle, J.C. Lind, Urkai, etc.
 
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ebikemom

Well-Known Member
I agree. They might need to make the bike a little bit longer to accommodate taller Americans, but I do hope it is only a matter of time before they bring the mamachari ("mom bike") to the US!
 

Sloth

New Member
I agree. They might need to make the bike a little bit longer to accommodate taller Americans, but I do hope it is only a matter of time before they bring the mamachari ("mom bike") to the US!
Anyone tried to ask them about this possibility?
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
Kaerubikes price is on par with what Kyoto bike shop owner Shuichi Kobayashi was asking in 2012 to export Bridgestone and Angelino (now Bikke) brand electric mamacharis to the US, Source: http://mamabicycle.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-post.html. You'd be paying haz-mat shipping from Japan plus 11% import duty, $2300 is competitive with other compact cargo bikes with smaller wheels. Be cheaper still to import a mamachari pedal bike like a Maruishi Frackers (see pp.30-35), they're only $400 plus shipping (wouldn't need haz-mat shipping for a pedal bike) and could be converted here with a kit motor.

I've seen one or two around DC, almost always imported by Japanese expats or US diplomatic or military families who have relocated to the area.

There are some nice design features, my favorite is the locking headset connected to the wide sturdy rear wheel kickstand. Yamaha could sell these in the US and Canada maybe starting with specialist family/utility cycling retailers like G&O Family Cyclery, Bike Shop Girl, Bicycle Belle, J.C. Lind, Urkai, etc.
There's no reason mamacharis should cost twice as much in the US if it was officially brought by Yamaha, Bridgestone, Panasonic, whoever.

First of all, shipping from Japan is CHEAP when you have a financial power to ship them in bulk.

I have never tried it, but I heard it's only something like $1,000 a container crate to ship it from Japan, and yes, since it's a lot smaller than motorcycle, you can just squeeze loads of ebikes in a container crate.

If you just try to bring one or two ebikes from China (AliExpress?) or privately import from somewhere in Japan? yeah, it will cost you $500+ at least to ship it, but if you ship hundreds or thousands of ebikes all at once, it doesn't cost you as much.

You will notice how the MSRP of Japanese cars and motorcycles aren't much cheaper in Japan for the exact same model.
If you compare the MSRP, you might be able to buy a $80,000 Lexus in Japan for $77,000 or $20,000 Civic for $17,999 in Japan.
Even motorcycles, if you look for a Honda CBR that will cost you $13,000 in the USA, they're typically something like $12,000 in Japan.

To prove the point, I did some research and compared the prices between the US and Japanese market.
Yamaha bikes are cheaper in Japan, but only by slightly, and for some reason Cross Core is cheaper in the USA.
I've seen something like this for Honda motorcycles too, where Japan's MSRP was slightly higher than the USA.

Yamaha YDX Torc (YPJ-XC)
MSRP in Japan: 378,000 yen ($3,392 @ today's rate)
MSRP in USA: $3,499

Yamaha Urban Rush (YPJ-ER)
MSRP in Japan: 345,600 yen ($3,102 @ today's rate)
MSRP in USA: $3,299

Yamaha Cross Connect (YPJ-TC)
MSRP in Japan: 324,000 yen ($2,908 @ today's rate)
MSRP in USA: $2,999

Yamaha Cross Core (YP-EC)
MSRP in Japan: 280,800 yen ($2,520 @ today's rate)
MSRP in USA: $2,399

Anyways, my point if, if Yamaha could bring the mamacharis, they will for sure be cheaper.
They will probably be around $1,000-$1,500 range.
It will also be a good thing for ebike community since expensive price of ebikes are always one of the reasons why people do not get into ebikes.

Yes, companies like Pedego offers something similar to mamachari, but not everyone have $4,000-$5,000 to burn on Pedego.
I do like RadWagon's $1,599 price though.

I found that mamacharis are generally affordable but reliable. I guess similar to Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic.