A ride with soul and an expressive aesthetic that sums up tokyobike
A ride with soul and an expressive aesthetic: that sums up tokyobike.
The independent bicycle company, founded in the quiet Tokyo suburb of Yanaka, has made the concept of Tokyo Slow a daily need since 2002. Their bikes make their Japanese roots radiate with clean lines, beautifully crafted details & sustainable choices.
Their humanistic approach gets even clearer when their hands are involved in collabs with big names like Ace Hotel, Cleon Peterson, Girard Studio, New Balance, UNIQLO, Miansai & Brooks England. That's when unique leather saddle and grips enter their bike game — not to mention the effortless way they put eternally classic Brooks seats into tokyobike's modern designs to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London brand.
This mix up between their urban-DNA with collabs filled with limited edition leathercraft results in premium bikes that — and we're not exaggerating — look like pieces of art you could hang on your fave wall. Such well-crafted pieces are the type that last for generations to come, passing down the heritage of fearless leathers & eco-conscious lifestyle.
So, if you're looking for a gem to keep indoors as the sleekest decor there is, or to explore city corners for years to come, tokyobike might become your forever partner.
To understand their care up close, we had an exclusive chat with the brand Director in the Americas, Juliana Di Simone. So slow down and enjoy the wind in your face 🌬.
In what way do minimalist style & practical design represent tokyobike’s essence?
While we don’t adhere to strict rules of minimalism, we do feel that tokyobike represents the essentials when it comes to cycling. We have designed our bicycles around simplicity without compromising quality and pride ourselves in color being our most expressive design characteristic—something that does not interfere with the purpose of our bicycles, but does provide soul.
How important is it for tokyobike to evoke freedom thru design-conscious collabs in often strict urban lifestyles?
Evoking freedom is likely the goal for all bicycle brands and we are very happy to contribute in any way toward that goal. Being design-conscious has always been more about responsibility than luxury for us, as we feel it's important to put fewer, better, and smarter things into the world. We hope that our brand is finding like-minded riders in this respect and that a tokyobike can be an extension to or expression of similar considerations.
Given that the city is such a dense context, our designs focus on little things that make a huge difference for customers — our slightly smaller wheels, our more compact frame size — all contributing to a more agile ride, quicker acceleration, and easier storage. That said, people do write us all the time and share how good their tokyobike looks inside their homes and apartments, so we are happy they enjoy the aesthetic as well (as do we!).
On what level do you think this new world we are facing will call for a global slowdown movement? And what will tokyobike’s role be when that time comes?
We feel we are already seeing this call on the daily—and we often joke that ‘we were Slow before it was cool’! We are collectively experiencing so much unprecedented hardship and change and want to be sensitive to that, but we're finding a new appreciation for the things that have been with us through this — our friends, our family, our freedoms, and the cities we love and call home.
If we can play even a small, supportive role in helping people to see their cities in deeper, more intimate ways, we would find that to be an incredible success.
Part of our ethos is centered around the idea of Tokyo Slow to express and capture this sentiment. While it started in Tokyo, we feel that it extends and maps to all of our cities and have developed a series of visual essays with our customers and communities to show what Tokyo Slow looks like to them, in their own community. We have been overwhelmed with what has been produced and humbled by how positively the idea has resonated with people, and we have learned so much in the process. We’ve extended that program to mixtapes as well, as we know Tokyo Slow can come in all formats as it is more about an attitude and approach than anything else.
In what way do you relate the growing search for bikes with society's growing need to be a part of a healthier & more sustainable community?
For us, it is a pretty direct correlation. The stay-at-home orders across the US (and world) have certainly pushed for people to return to their roots and try cycling again—whether as a form of exercise, transportation, or simply an escape. Now that things are beginning to open up, we are seeing an even stronger lean into cycling as a viable means of commuting in cities and for riders that otherwise would have chosen automobiles or public transportation. We attribute this to many things, but we do believe health and sustainability are key factors in these decisions based on conversations we are having with our customers.
That reminds us of your rental projects, why is it important for tokyobike to uplift this growing community by making your designs more attainable?
tokyobike Rentals is a program only available in Tokyo and, for us, it is a way to share with everyone what our hometown looks, feels, and smells like, in addition to all it has to offer. While on a bicycle, you are a lot more connected with your surroundings and can cover much more ground, making it the perfect way to explore a city like Tokyo. We offer neighborhood guides with some of our favorite restaurants, shops, coffee shops, and more, so the lifestyle and concept of Tokyo Slow can be truly experienced.
How do leather’s aesthetics & adaptability help you create, even with other brands, functional & comfortable bikes that are also beautiful enough for people to hang them in their living rooms?
Leather accessories are our number one upgrade items. Our relationship with leather saddles and grips certainly go beyond the refined look they give a bicycle, but after much use, the story they start to tell. A big part of our customers swap their tokyobike saddle with a leather saddle they've owned for years, which usually comes with numerous stories of how many countries or rides that one saddle has been through.
When it comes to collabs, what part of the tokyobike DNA speaks loudest in the choosing of a partnership? Tell us which collab achieved that aspect the most for you.
When looking for the perfect partnership, the idea of ‘purpose’ is at the forefront of our thinking. We want to make sure that what we do with a brand that we respect and admire is not simply for the association, but rather that together we are synergistically creating something that we could not accomplish separately. Our collaboration with the Ace Hotel may be one of the strongest examples of this. Their brand was so focused on the unique identity of the neighborhoods they call home, as are we, and what better way to embrace those areas than to explore them together and best understand what makes them unique. It is for this reason that the Ace Hotel x tokyobike collaboration felt so natural, and then easily extended into hosted tours and always-ready guest bicycles to further reinforce our collective ideas about community and neighborhood.
If you could pick any place in the world to embark on a journey with your tokyobike RN, where would you go?
As a Brazilian who lives in the US and adores all things Japanese, that's easy: Tokyo.
New adding to the bucket list: check 📝.
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