Photo/IllutrationThe Mamachari Road bicycle (Provided by Koumei Co.)

  • Photo/Illustraion

HIMEJI, Hyogo Prefecture--An easier-to-use road bike was developed for elderly people hoping to get back in the saddle of cycling and women who are hesitant to buy the ubiquitous “mamachari” (mom’s bike).

The new bike produced by Koumei Co., which makes and sells bicycles here, eliminates the often troublesome and potentially painful top tube that connects the handlebars and the seat post.

The new model also features sports-type wheels and components so cyclists can enjoy speedy rides.

Named Mamachari Road, the road bike was designed in the image of a mamachari, the popular bicycle that features baskets for grocery shopping, seats for transporting small children and other practical parts.

According to Koumei, road bikes are growing in popularity among elderly individuals who are increasingly conscious of their health and weight.

But typical road bikes force cyclists to raise one leg over the top tube for mounting or dismounting. Many elderly people are reluctant to buy road bikes out of concerns about “collapsing and breaking bones,” a Koumei official said.

“The innovative bicycle will provide an opportunity for those who once gave up riding road bikes to enjoy the sports vehicles,” Hiroaki Arimoto, 53, president of Koumei, said. “I definitely want people to try it.”

Koumei began developing the new road bike half a year ago.

Removing the top tube made Mamachari Road weaker than ordinary road bikes. So the company used an aluminum pipe 1.5 times thicker than that of normal road bikes for part of its frame.

Knowing that lightness is vital for speed, the designers created the road bike with a weight of 13 kilograms, similar to other sports models made of similar materials.

“It was difficult to keep a balance between the weight and strength,” Arimoto said.

The prototype model completed in July uses the same drop handlebar, derailleur, brakes, wheels, pedals and saddle as standard road bikes designed for beginners.

When the company promoted Mamachari Road on the Internet in early August, 30 individuals came forward within 20 days to place orders.

“I have been waiting for such a bicycle to be released,” one individual posted online.

Another online user said, “I will enjoy cycling with this with my wife.”

But how does Mamachari Road perform on the road?

One person who test-rode the model expressed great admiration, describing it as “very comfortable to ride,” according to Koumei.

Sales of Mamachari Road are expected to start around December.

The aluminum-frame bicycle will be available in one size for both male and female cyclists. The height of the saddle can be easily changed and a rack can be added.

Mamachari Road is expected to carry a price tag of 55,000 yen ($509) including tax. The derailleur and other parts can be replaced with more expensive ones.