I’ve mentioned mamachari (pronounced “Mama chah ree”) bicycles on these pages before. They’re the ubiquitious Japanese city bikes used by commuters and shoppers.
Shuichi in Japan has been scheming for a way to sell mamachari in the United States for a couple of years now, and he’d like to gauge your interest. I don’t know what model he has in mind, but this Bridgestone “Beaute” is fairly typical.
Features like heavy duty tubing, step through frame, racks, skirt guard, fenders, chainguard, lights, center stand and basket are all pretty typical of this type of bike. I don’t know if Shuichi plans to offer this as an option, but Japanese mamachari are also known for the huge, handlebar-mounted child seats, like you can see on this Bridgestone “Angelino.”
These Bridgestone bicycles retail for $500 (for a base Beaute) to $900 (for a fully equipped Angelino). These run toward the high end of what’s available among mamachari; at the low end they can be as cheap as $150, and they’re regarded as almost disposable.
Shuichi is talking about shipping 100 bikes, which could probably fit into a 20 foot shipping container. It’s roughly $1500 to get a single shipping container from China to California, which works out to $15 per bike. I don’t know what customs and other associated paperwork might cost, and then once the container gets to Oakland or Los Angeles, he needs an agent to handle everything on this side of the ocean, and then you still need to get the box to the end customer, assuming US Customs doesn’t just seize the shipment because it lacks US CPSC approvals and labeling.
I suggest Kickstarter for Shuichi. If 100 people pre-order bikes, he’s in the game. If not, he’s not out that much cash.
Would you buy a mamachari bike? Let Shuichi know through his survey what you think.