Which kinds of bicycles are popular in Japan?The most common two-wheeler category among Japanese cyclists was the so called mamachari, a general utility bicycle, often equipped with a basket and up to two child seats. As of 2019, e-bikes were the third most popular bicycle type, with around 10 percent of bicycle buyers in Japan opting for pedal electric assist cycles (pedelecs).
Pedelecs attract many elderly consumers, who benefit from having to use less physical strength to navigate their daily life on a bicycle. Sales figures for e-bikes in Japan have kept growing over the past years, reflecting an ongoing demand not only among elderly consumers, but a more general target group.
While Japan’s overall production volume of bicycles displayed a downward trend in recent years, bicycle imports have offset this decline: With the increase in bikes for domestic use since 2019, it seems that cycling has re-gained popularity among Japanese consumers.
Another factor contributing to a rising demand in bicycles can be traced back to the emerging transportation sharing market in Japan. In recent years, a growing number of Japanese cities have started to offer bicycle sharing services, making alternative and budget friendly mobility options more accessible to a wide audience.
Safety is a major concernWith an increased availability of bicycle riding options, safety has become a vital issue. More than 60 percent of Japanese cyclists claimed to have experienced near misses while riding a bike. The majority of bicycle accidents in Japan were caused by road users being negligent towards the traffic situation. However, the overall number of accidents involving bicycles decreased from more than 144 thousand in 2011 to approximately 68 thousand cases in 2020.
While the use of helmets is optional in Japan, the country does have a nationwide mandatory registration process for bicycles in place, with local governments progressively enforcing compulsory liability insurances for cyclists.