Our Friends - Blug Lug Japan

1.Tell me about your lives in cycling. Where’d you start, what type of riding inspired you, where has it taken you and how has it changed for you?

The first big thing that got me into cycing was MASH SF and the track bike culture. I watched a full length video of them uploaded by someone on YouTube in 2013. 

I never had ridden any "sports bikes" in the 20 years of my life, so that video gave me a huge impact. Mash and the track bike culture made me learn about many other bikes, Mike Martin is forever my hero and I will never forget I sat right behind him at their Japan premiere in 2015.

After being mind blown by Mash, I decided to get a Keirin frame. I always loved doing research for things I like, so I soon started to look up the relationship of each frame builders and the details of their work. I think that is how I became so much into handmade bike builders.

Some older dudes who I used to work with in my previous job (non-bike related) inspired me to get the Surly Pacer, a road bike frame they had back then, which changed my life. (I sold the bike, but it was such a great bike) 

By the time I got the Pacer, I really didn't know "how to ride". I only cruised around Tokyo and that was it. The bike was just like a" fashion item" to me back then. One day I somehow came up with the idea to ride my bike back to my hometown, which is about 300km away from Tokyo. This was my first long ride I tried. Two days of riding in the summer was brutal. I remember getting super sunburnt and had a difficult time taking a bath.

Riding a long distance solo is tough, but you can't deny the beautiful view you see during the ride, the sense of accomplishment you can get when reaching your destination and the excitement you feel when planning your trip. These three things kept me motivated to ride more.

I also had a phase where I got hooked on getting adrenaline rush by skidding all over the place with fixed gear, I have tried ridding in the blizzard in my hometown where it snows a lot and I tried riding 200km everyday. I simply love riding a bike, but long rides became my main thing when it comes to cycling.

After quitting my previous job, I had some time for myself, so I decieded to travel around Japan by bike. I was super into reading blog posts of people who traveled around the world or Japan by bicycles, so I got inspired by them, I suppose.

I then moved to Nagoya from Tokyo and worked half of a year at a Toyota factory which was located near Circles Bike Shop, who we are friends with, to make some money for the trip. (I was buying too much bike parts from Circles and couldn't save up that much) I started the trip from 2016. The trip took 6 months. I can't explain how much of a great experience I had during the trip.

2.What led you to open a shop? What were the motives, or goals or background? (Issue is not the founder so he explained his motive)

Blue Lug taught me how beautiful bicycles are. Tani the manager of Blue Lug Kamiuma is the person who built the bike for the big trip and now I work for him at the same store I bought the bike. He is my goal as a bike mehcanic. I try to bring more people into cycling like I did back then. I am truly honored that I can be working for Blue Lug, a bike shop full of unique individuals. I am super surprised how fast 6 years had past working here.

3.Describe your approach or philosophy as a shop. 

To compose with things you have. Don't buy stuff unless you need it. Don't be so picky for the smallest difference in performance.

4.Who are some of your primary influences?

My co-worker Tani and Shige from Circles. I grew up looking at the bike that these two were building.
Also the older guys that I worked with who were roadies.

5.What makes Blue Lug different than any other shop?
The rediculous amount of stuff in stock! Unique staffs! And a weird analog company culture.

1.A favorite bike I’ve had is…

- The Surly Disc Trucker I rode to travel around Japan. I don't take the bike to many rides anymore but I like cruising with it when I have the time and it always reminds me of that trip so I love it. I recently installed a Crust Bikes Clydesdale cargo fork on it.

If I want to go on a "legit ride", I ride my Black Mountain Cycles Mod. Zero. I like how it can fit wide tires but still rides pretty fast. I think the bike is perfect for riding the Japanese roads. I like riding a long asphalt path to dirt trails and back to long asphalt path. I also like the small details of the bike, such as the segmental fork.

2.My favorite project we’ve launched to date is…

There's a ton of things going on throughout the year here, so it's hard to choose one, but I think the Vans collab we launched at CMWC Yokohama definitely stands out to me. I couldn't believe we got to work with such a big company like Vans.

I also had the opportunity to be in the Built By Blue Lug video, a video project we have on our YouTube channel. It's a series where Sub the YouTube editor takes his creativity to the max, so it's always fun to watch and I always get to learn some skills as a bike mechanic. I like going back watching the previous Built By Blue Lug videos every now and then.

3.If I could only ride on bike the rest of my life it would be…

I'd say the Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross. I would need a bike to be capable for all sorts of different set ups so I think that's the one.

I simply like how it rides. I think I can ride this one for the rest of my life.

4.Good bike shops are about…

Having a sense of humor and sympathy. Saying no to things you cannot do with responsibility and pride.

5.Riding bikes is about…

Having fun and being focused in having fun.

6.The best bike rides start with…

Making coffee.

7.The best bike rides end with…

- A hot bath after a long day of riding and a cold beer after the bath!

8.We’ll keep doing this as long as…

I feel the excitement for bikes.

9.Three of my core values are…

1. Bicycles are tools. They will get worn out and will eventually break.
2.Decide if you like or dislike after you try it.
3. To have love for bicycles and the things around it