Japan has always held a strong position in the world of cycling. It possesses one of the biggest bicycle enterprises, the bike giant Shimano, and is home to the massive gambling circus that is Keirin. Somewhere around 2005, young people added a new dimension to the existing bike culture, inspired by American developments. Too young to gamble, they focused on the bikes used in Keirin and imported them into their own context.
More than anywhere else in the world, commercial brands saw the fixed bike trend as a way of attracting new audiences. Shiseido used the bikes in makeup advertisements and North Face invited fixed gear riders to a shop opening. They definitely helped spreading the fixed bike trend among hipster high school girls and boys. And while the fixed bike has become an extension of the youth’s identity, the good old ‘omafiets’ (granny bike) has been launched as a symbol for the active elder.
Taka does not see this trend as a negative thing. On the contrary, he experiences the exchange between different fields as an exciting refreshment. New bikes are born, new clothing lines are developed, and new meanings are given to a simple vehicle. Taka hopes that Mediamatic can stimulate a similar energy in Dutch cycling culture.
The rest of the evening was spent geekwise, discussing which bikes should be displayed in our personal bike porn cabinet and exploring the idea of having cheap DIY bicycles for sale during the exhibition. One thing is certain: we have many eyes carefully watching over the quality of our enterprise, and many hands are itching to take part!