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Original Article:
Motorcycling in Tokyo

Please discuss the Motorcycle.com article Motorcycling in Tokyo in our Motorcycle Forums below. Use the reply button to let others know your comments or feedback on the article. Constructive criticism is always appreciated, along with your thoughts and personal opinions on the bikes and products we have tested.
 

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Some of the smaller bikes would be cool. Of course I have no illusions, they will never cross our border. "An ex-Zen convent monk..."? that's a little scary.
 

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If you think the article accurately and completely reflects Japanese motorcycling, check out this site with beautiful carbon fiber and other stuff: "http://www.moto-works.jp/". I bought a carbon fiber wallet from them, and they have great service - free fast shipping. The guy I e-mailed back and forth moved from New Zealand to Japan for the bike scene, so no problemas with English. Admittedly, they are not in Tokyo.
 

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Tokyo not representative of biking Japan

I have been living and riding in Japan for over 10 years (my current ride is a Triumph Daytona 1200, and before that I rode a Bimota Tesi 1D). Yes there are a lot of FUNKY scooters here... but there are also a lot of nice custom choppers, sport bikes, and everything in between. It is just that in a HUGE city like Tokyo a scooter actually makes sense and you customize what ya got. Space is limited, traffic is hell, and gas is over 6 bucks a gallon. Add to that the fact that scooters have great storage and fit into the 400cc category of the tiered licensing system, and you start to see why they are so popular.

But get out of the city and everything changes. As I live in the sticks, I usually ride with the sport bike crowd on beautiful twisty mountain roads. You are as likely to see repli-racers, ducati's etc as your are scooters. In fact I see WAY more Italian bikes here than I ever did in the States, including many models that never made it state side. It is not unusual to see a Gilera, Guzzi, Cagiva, or even Bimota when out on the mountain roads. Japan is tough on bikes with their tiered licensing nd taxing system though and low speed limits and exorbitant fines made the life of speed difficult at times, but somehow we manage. Luckily once you get away from the big cities there aren't many cars or cops, so it is easy to scrub in your tires. Bear in mind though that a single speeding ticket got me a 1200 dollar fine and 3 months of license revoked! DOH!

Also Japan is Harley's biggest market outside of the US and they actually RIDE there bikes to the meets! (Getting a trailer license is hell! Not to mention no one has room for a trailer!) They seem to especially love the AMC years, which is beyond me... but hey... someone has to ride em!

And yes they do make some real boring bikes to look at, but they generally perform well in the real world. Many of my riding buddies ride CB1300s and they can hustle them around mountain roads with the best of em. And perhaps my favorite aspect of riding in Japan is that many women ride. It is refreshing to see so many women riders! And not just on scooters either, but on big bikes too! So next time you are in Japan, get out of town and hit the mountain roads. Then you will see what riding in Japan can be like! Better yet drop me a line and I will show you a twisty line around the local volcano!
 

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"They seem to especially love the AMC years, which is beyond me... but hey... someone has to ride em!"\

You probably meant the AMF years, and the reason they ride those is because that is when the real Harley riders existed before all the middle and upper class dipshyts flooded the market. I have a demented affinity for the Shovelhead myself. Last of the real Harleys.
 

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Did you see that Japanese guys Panhead in the latest Back Street Choppers? looks pretty cool.

Tha "Last Real Harley" huh....I heard that about flatside Shovelheads too, cone motors aren't real Harleys blah blah, Sportsters are girls bikes yada yada... I know my Dyna's the best one I've owned but they did loose the feel of the older ones with the TC engines, I guess everything is a compromise one way or the other.
 

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Flathead/Knucklehead/Panhead/Shovelhead/Blockhead/Waterhead, yada yada yada.

If you don't need to shovel coal into it, it ain't worth havin!

:)

Actually, I heard a guy use the "if it ain't <old>..." argument the other day, and he was talking about Triumphs!
 

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Super Duper Mod Man
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All I know is when you met a guy that rode a Harley back in the 60's and 70's they could tell you everything about it and rebuild it in the parking lot. These days they can tell you how much they paid for it and how may 'accessories' the dealer put on for them.
 

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All I know is when you met a guy that rode a Harley back in the 60's and 70's they could tell you everything about it and rebuild it in the parking lot. These days they can tell you how much they paid for it and how may 'accessories' the dealer put on for them.
I can tell you the best places to go antiquing!
 

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Flathead/Knucklehead/Panhead/Shovelhead/Blockhead/Waterhead, yada yada yada.

If you don't need to shovel coal into it, it ain't worth havin!

:)

Actually, I heard a guy use the "if it ain't <old>..." argument the other day, and he was talking about Triumphs!
I heard that about my Trophy...whatever, some people aren't happy unless they're pissing in someones Cheerios
 

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The Toad
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Antiquing?

I can tell you the best places to go antiquing!
I've got a whole garage full of antiques. And not the motorcycles either. I'll let you have 'em cheap! After seeing the prices for the rusty old junk in an 'antique' store on PCH near my brother's house in Torrance I just know my crud would go for a fortune to the suckers in SoCal.
 

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Riding in Tokyo

Original Article:
Motorcycling in Tokyo

I lived in Tokyo during from 1992 until 1998 and used a 1992 ZZR 400 Kawasaki (like ZX-6E in USA with smaller bore/stroke) as a daily runner there for commuting to work and for travel outside Tokyo. The 250 cc and 400 cc sizes are related to levels of driving licenses and taxes. Travel in Tokyo by two wheels, whether by scooter or bike, is the by far fastest way to go from A to B. There is a space at the front for motorcycles at red lights. It is legal to split lanes and move to the front at a red light. As a result, bikes outrun cars by a great deal of time saved in a morning commute. The Ueno district is fun on a Saturday when all the shops are full of bikers. There are other areas as well with lots of bike shops.

Gasoline is very expensive there, as you might guess. It is over $5.00 a gallon now.

The 250 cc sport bikes are screamers. I had a 1989 250 cc ZXR 250 Kawasaki 4 cylinder water cooled four stroke that was fantastic to ride. It was light and had about 45 horsepower. What was the red line, you ask? 19,000 rpm. Yes, really. But peak output was 16,500 so going higher was a waste of time. The ZZR 400 was 14,000 for red line. I owned a Meriden TSS 8 valve Triumph, a BSA 441 Victor and Norton Mk III Commando bikes before I moved to Tokyo. I had to learn to rev the bike to allow for lower torque than the Brit bikes had. Once I became accustomed to that I had a blast riding in Tokyo traffic. Renting a bike is possible and I highly recommend it, if you have a valid international drivers license. In the USA you get these from AAA. Red Baron dealers rent used motorcycles and are all over Japan. A 400 cc bike is fast enough and has plenty of power to tour Japan. It is a small area, after all, and the whole of it is about the size of California. I was all over the eatern half of the main island, Honshu on the ZZR 400. I sometimes had a girlfriend as a passenger for this. The toll ways did not allow passengers, as you mention, but all the smaller highways allowed two up riding and the sights in Japan are fantastic to see from a bike. The back roads are frequently passing older small towns with traditional houses and farms. The roads are twisty and hilly and a blast to ride if you are careful.

Good memories, good article...
 

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I have been living and riding in Japan for over 10 years (my current ride is a Triumph Daytona 1200, and before that I rode a Bimota Tesi 1D). Yes there are a lot of FUNKY scooters here... but there are also a lot of nice custom choppers, sport bikes, and everything in between. It is just that in a HUGE city like Tokyo a scooter actually makes sense and you customize what ya got. Space is limited, traffic is hell, and gas is over 6 bucks a gallon. Add to that the fact that scooters have great storage and fit into the 400cc category of the tiered licensing system, and you start to see why they are so popular.
I was under the impression the Japanese were abolishing their tiered licensing system. Perhaps you could shed some light on the current state?
 

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I've seen a cool Honda Gorilla in Tokyo, as well as funky looking SuperMotos ridden by chicks with insanely long swingarms! Their feet could barely touch the ground (tiptoe) as they waited at the traffic lights. I must post that set of pics on my blog soon ... insane!
 

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Poor journalism at its worst

Original Article:
Motorcycling in Tokyo

Please discuss the Motorcycle.com article Motorcycling in Tokyo in our Motorcycle Forums below. Use the reply button to let others know your comments or feedback on the article. Constructive criticism is always appreciated, along with your thoughts and personal opinions on the bikes and products we have tested.
Looks like you got stuck in Ueno and never got out. I have been living in Tokyo for only 8yrs and i have not nothing but good riding experience. The roads are well managed and majority of the cagers have a high tolerence for bikers. Can't say that for countries like US, UK and Oz! I suggest you take another trip to Japan and have someone take you around. BTW This write up just made you look like a fool to those few million riders who have ridden in Japan.
 

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"They seem to especially love the AMC years, which is beyond me... but hey... someone has to ride em!"\

You probably meant the AMF years, and the reason they ride those is because that is when the real Harley riders existed before all the middle and upper class dipshyts flooded the market. I have a demented affinity for the Shovelhead myself. Last of the real Harleys.
You nailed on that one, LR. That's almost exactly what the guy who flew here from Japan told me when I asked him why he traveled so far, and paid 2x what an American would pay, for my 77 FXS. He said: "we like the bikes from before when the big fad started."
 
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