There’s a lot of planning and a bit of purchasing to do in preparation for lejog in June. The first big purchase took a bit more effort than expected, including a lot of help from Nana: an Evoc Bike Travel Bag Pro.
I already have a bike bag. I bought a nice padded bag for the Tour de Tohoku, and I used it again to ship Kuroko to and from Kyoto for the Kyoto – Nara – Osaka – Kyoto outing. The bag is adequate for domestic shipping (there was a bit of scuffing evident upon arrival in Tohoku, and the fork had been driven halfway out of the head tube) but I want more protection for international flying. Plus, for whatever reason, Kuroko just barely fits. It’s a struggle to get the zipper closed.
(I also have another bag from Ostrich, an unpadded model that rolls up like a sleeping bag for those times I’m carrying the bike with me on the train. I used it several years ago when I carried Ol’ Paint on the shinkansen for a circumnavigation of Lake Biwa.)
After reading a number of reviews, I decided on the Evoc Pro as the right balance between protection, portability and price. There was only one drawback: there were none to be had in Japan (unless I wanted to pay more than USD1,000 on Amazon for a grey-market import).
Enter Chain Reaction Cycles. They had a price that didn’t represent any jack-up over the exchange rate and shipping cost, and they have experience with the Japan market. So I placed my order and received confirmation of a 10-15 day delivery.
I wasn’t holding my breath or counting days, and so I was mildly surprised when Nana contacted me at the office on day to say I’d received a note from the customs bureau. “You owe some duty,” she said. When I got home and read the notification (at least the part that was in English) it said there was some information missing on the shipment. It didn’t say what information was missing, but noted that they’d send it back if they hadn’t heard from me within 30 days.
So I asked Nana if she could call the bureau for me and get the information while I was at the office the next day. She called them at 10 a.m. and soon contacted me: There was no invoice or receipt in the shipment. I needed to print out my receipt from Chain Reaction and fax it to the customs bureau. It took a couple of tries, but before long Nana messaged to me say they’d got the fax and everything was in order.
The bag arrived yesterday, again while I was at the office. Nana was on the phone with a headhunter when it arrived, and she had to pay the 10% import duty. (Apparently the customs officer hadn’t informed her on the phone what the duty would be. And yes, I paid her back.)
When we got home from dinner, there it was in the genkan. It’s big, even in its collapsed state. I unboxed it and we disposed of the box and wrapping. Too soon — I woke up this morning and realized we’d want to keep the bag on the balcony when I’m not using it, and we’d thrown away the vinyl bag it came packed in. But that’s not a big deal. I ordered a vinyl tarp from Amazon today for just over a dollar, and it will arrive on Sunday.
How is it? It takes some setting up, and I haven’t yet tried to fit Kuroko. I’ll need to practice a few times before the big event. Meanwhile, I’m glad to note that the manufacturer’s site shows it with some nice fat MTB tires, so there should be no problem with Kuroko’s 650B’s.