31 August 2008

Bikes We Like: Meet the Frackers

Frackers - Japanese bikes
We're all for globalisation on many levels. The one frustrating thing about it, though, is that so many products and ideas remain hidden despite the vast transfer of knowledge on the internet. In a post over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic about Danish bike brands, you quickly realise that there are dozens of bike makes that are only available in Denmark or Northern Europe and that will never make it to other parts of the world.

A Swedish reader put us onto this Japanese bike brand Frackers from Maruishi Cycles and we're shaking our heads and wondering why the hell these aren't available on every street corner in Copenhagen. The website is in Japanese.

Japan is one of industrialised world's great bike cultures. We've blogged about how Japanese mothers are a political powerhouse and we're now traced our way to one of the brands that carry them effortlessly about, with their children. It's illegal to drop your kids off at daycare or school in cars in Japan, so having the right kind of bike and kids' seats is paramount.
Frackers Pa-pa
It's about the bikes, sure, which are cool and stylish and practical. But the Japanese are good at accessories, too. A lot of effort goes into getting the kids to sit comfortably. Splendid bike seats, fully adjustable in ways we may never understand, are standard issue. The bike above is the Frackers Pa-pa - for discerning dads.
Frackers Ma-ma
Here's the Frackers Ma-ma, ready to roll with a great seat for the kid up front. Note that chainguards, fenders and kickstands are standard gear, like in Europe. The kickstand, though, is a heavy duty, stabile stand on the back wheel for steadiness when putting the kids, groceries or both on board.

Frackers pet transport
It's not just kids who need to get around. Frackers does a whole line of pet transport options for carrying the mutt or the feline around.

Frackers Shopping Bike Trike
Frackers Shopping Bike
Then there is their Shopping trke. Three wheeled ease-of-use which leans into the curves.

On every trip I make to Japan I end up at the departure gate at Narita planning the next trip. Now I know that I have to figure out how to get one of these bikes home with me.

When travelling from Europe Japan is cheap because of the strength of the Euro and it's amazing to discover that these bikes cost the same as an average bike in a Copenhagen bike shop. Not a flash bike, just a basic granny bike. About 3300 kroner. Divide by five for those dollar thingys.

Cool Kids Bike Seat
At the very least, despite my frustration, I now know the origins of this strange contraption I photographed in Tokyo.

And here's a great article about the Frackers and about cycling in Japan.


Paul said...

Can someone dealing with bikes please start to import these bikes to at least some european country! I'll buy one at once.

Anonymous said...

These are nice looking Bikes,I wouldnt mind having one. Could you mention Euro Prices as well as Dollars in your Posts. What is KR 3,330 Kroner in Euro. The Population of Europe use Euro mostly.On your Apparel and Bike Bags and Badges Site Prices are in Dollars how about The € Euro and £ Pound for British People. It is just a thought. Norbert Malone Dublin Ireland.

Kim @ Socius: Daejeon Central said...

I saw some of these bikes for sale while in Sapporo this summer. They were HOT and I wanted to bring one home for every momma I know here in Korea. They were super-sweet and I would absolutely have one if I were in Japan and had kids. Almost (almost) made the idea of having kids appealing!

peteathome said...

Any idea how they keep this bike stable? Most bikes would handle very poorly with a kid or watermelon on the handlebars.

Zakkaliciousness said...

most bikes? two, three, four bags of heavy groceries hanging on the handlebars and a kid on the back is an everyday sight here in copenhagen. most bikes seem to manage just fine. just take it easy and ride slow.

Yokota Fritz said...

The Japanese are geniuses at product innovation. That results in a lot of weird stuff in Japan, but I really like this take on the popular 'mamachari' (mama's chariot) bicycle.

Zakkaliciousness said...

indeed they are. while i hunger for access to foriegn goods, i don't include japanese toilet seats on my wish list... :-9

Bluefish said...

Why is it illegal to drop kids off by car in Japan?

scejka said...

can't wait to go back and get me the best toilet seats in the world!...oh, and a bike.

Anonymous said...

Mine was a gift many years ago, the only one in Amsterdam, it seemed, now it is stolen and I can't find a dealer anywhere in the western world. Would anyone have suggestions? I miss my Frackers, really need a new one...

Laura said...

My husband and I live in Japan with our two young children and use only our mamacharis for transportation. They're so great! I blogged about it here: http://dustinandlaura.blogspot.jp/2011/11/way-we-roll.html.

For those wondering about stability, they handle absolutely fine. They are designed with wide low handle bars and the baby seat is built into this front space. The seat cannot be removed or added to a Frackers mamachari. The front wheel is also smaller than the back giving it even more balance. My child weighs 11 kilos and it handles almost the same whether he is in it or not. It does not handle the same way as putting a watermelon in your front basket, it is much better than that :)

Also, another great feature is that when the kickstand is put in place, it automatically locks as well as automatically locking the front wheel. This prevents the front tire of the bike from suddenly swinging around while you are putting your child in it and knocking the bike over.

I will be sad once our children out grow the things!