Bridestone Bicycles in Japan has a European-styled utility bike they call the “Wedgerock.” Retails for roughly $600.
Mamachari is a Japanese portmanteau for the ubiquitous utility bikes used by Japanese housewives. Gender roles and identity is still an important aspect of this most masculine society in the world, so you see a lot of this kind of overt “manly” marketing in various consumer products.
In the USA, we “shrink and pink” bikes for the female market. The Japanese started with the idea of the “mother’s” city bike, beefed it up, and made it available in masculine colors: Schutzstaffel Black and Iwo Jima Drab. Even the name — “WEDGEROCK” — sounds masculine, although my recumbent riding friends titter like little Japanese Harajuku girls when they hear it. The first thing I thought of was Sheldon Brown’s REAL MAN saddles.
The marketing involves mocking women’s bike as “nothing more than A-to-B transportation,” while the Wedgerock has a “wild image” and “cutting edge design” that encourages fun and exhilaration with “the strength and ruggedness of cross bikes and BMX bikes.”
Bridgestone’s ad copy fairly drips with testosterone and Bushido, and then Bridgestone runs full page magazine ads that look like this.
In Japan, that step-through frame is not considered a feminizing feature. Other very practical features include a rear center stand, sturdy front and rear racks, lights that automatically switch on after dark, hub gearing, chainguard, and fenders. I think it retails for something like $600.
My Japanese pal Shuichi blogs about Mama Chari in Japan and has been brainstorming about a way to ship a container of them here to the United States. I don’t know if many Americans would buy some of the more usual Japanese mamachari, but perhaps this masculine version might do well?