Tokyo bike rental: Get around with freedom and style
By Darren Gore on 26 Jun 2017
Tokyo is known worldwide as a cycle-friendly city, and when visiting as a tourist we’d highly recommend doing as the locals do. Renting a bike to get around beats traffic jams, enables you to avoid packed trains as much as possible, and is good for the planet too. Here are six highly recommended Tokyo rent-a-cycle services, from hipster-friendly cruisers to hi-tech ‘dendo assist’ rides.
Docomo Cycle (Shinjuku and Tokyo-wide)
The most convenient bicycle rental option available in Tokyo, Docomo Cycle offers electrically-assisted bikes that can be picked up from, and returned to, a large number of ‘stations’ open 24 hours and located across the city: no need to return your bike to the same station you picked it up from. LoveInn Japan’s recommended station is easily found on the north side of Shinjuku’s famous Hanazono Jinja shrine, just a short walk from Kabukicho’s many love hotels. Single-trip rental costs ¥150 for the first 30 minutes, and then ¥100 per 30 mins. A credit card is needed for payment, with quick registration for the service (all in English) done via PC or smartphone.
5-18-21 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access: Shinjuku, Shinjuku-sanchome stations
Open: 24 hours
Tokyobike Rentals (Yanaka/Yanesen)
Tokyobike is a hip Japanese brand that has become a hit with style and eco-conscious riders as far away as New York, London and Sydney, where the company also has shops. This beautiful store is located in the peaceful and historic shitamachi (‘downtown’) of Yanesen, which is a perfect area to explore on these bikes which, though sporty-looking, are designed for leisurely soaking up the atmosphere around you rather than racing around at top speed. Here three different Tokyobike styles are available to hire, costing ¥2,500 for the day with any additional days charged at ¥1,500 per day. Helmets and storage lockers are also offered, each at ¥500 per day. And the Tokyobike rental shop is a must-see destination itself: the decades-old building was originally a sake merchants, and as well as bicycle rental offers a selection of charming lifestyle products produced by Japanese artisans, along with a counter serving coffee and sake (please enjoy the latter after your ride around town, not before!).
4-2-39 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Access: Nippori station, Sendagi station
Open: 10:00 - 19:00 (closed Tues & Weds)
Local bicycle maker Nois specialises in sturdy ‘cargo bikes’ designed to carry a large amount of luggage, and at this friendly shop offers two bikes for rental at just ¥500 per day. Kiyosumi-Shirakawa is another relaxing old shitamachi neighbourhood, where long-established rice sellers and sento baths are these days joined by independent galleries and cafes opened run by young creative types. Nearby attractions include the serene Kiyosumi Gardens, while the sumo wrestling capital of Ryogoku is just a short ride away: there you can refuel with a bowl of chanko nabe, a traditional stew which helps give sumo wrestlers their strength.
1-3-7 Hirano, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Access: Kiyosumi-Shirakawa station
Open: 11:00 - 19:00 (closed Tues & Weds)
WISM is a men’s boutique located on Harajuku’s famous Cat Street, a road which is essentially a 24-hour catwalk for Tokyo street style. Many of the ‘street snaps’ seen in Japanese fashion magazines are shot right here. Alongside some of the world’s hippest clothing labels, WISM offers a fleet of sleek and simple ‘cross bikes’ for hire (rates range from ¥500 for one hour, to ¥2,500 for a full day).
5-17-20 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: Harajuku, Meiji-jingumae stations
Open: 11:30 - 20:00 (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sun); 11:30 - 20:30 (Weds, Fri, Sat, holidays)
Niko and… (Harajuku)
On the bustling Meiji-dori avenue just a stone’s throw from Harajuku Cat Street, Niko and… is another fashion boutique offering cycle rental. Here the rides are electrically-powered ‘dendo-assist’ bikes that make for a very easy scoot around the city, with rental costing ¥1,000 per three hours. The store also has a great in-house coffee shop for refueling before and after your ride.
6-12-20 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: Harajuku, Meiji-jingumae stations
Open: 11:00 - 22:00, bike rental available 11:00 - 18:00
Pillar Cafe (Shibuya)
The folks at this hip Shibuya cafe are keen for people to explore Tokyo by bike: so keen in fact that they offer stylish and sporty cycles for hire, together with shower and locker facilities, completely free of charge! All they ask is that you spend a reasonable amount of money on food and drink, which shouldn’t be hard given the tempting treats on the menu (including chicken keema curry and incredibly tender steaks). The free rental system works as follows: spend ¥500 in the cafe for up to one hour’s rental; ¥1,000 for 1-3 hours; ¥2,000 for 3-5 hours; and ¥3,000 for five hours plus.
2-22-3 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: Shibuya station
Open: 12:00 - 24:00 (weekdays); 11:00 - 24:00 (Sat); 11:00 - 22:00 (Sun, holidays)
Darren came to Japan to study 11 years ago, and never made it back home to the UK. Since then he’s built up a detailed ‘mental map’ of Tokyo by intentionally getting himself lost, and loves taking visiting friends way off the well-beaten tourist track. In his free time Darren can usually be found in the backstreets of Koenji or Asagaya, with camera in one hand and a yakitori stick in the other.