Japan has come out with some pretty awesome ideas over the years. Pocket calculators, instant noodles, even CD players were all born here, and while they were developed in response to the needs of the local market, their popularity quickly spread far and wide around the globe.

Now Japan is set to revolutionise the way we travel with a new product called the Walking Bicycle Club. Touted as the first big breakthrough in 200 years of the cycling industry, the new vehicle is powered by stepping, rather than pedalling, and is designed to make walking more fun. But how does it feel to ride a bicycle that looks more like a mobile step machine? We dropped by the store to find out.

The WBC store is located in the back streets of Omotesando. Brightly lit, it stands out on a corner amongst the many cafes and restaurants in the area.



Inside, the full colour range is on display: brilliant red, light green, champagne gold and cherry blossom pink.


There are also two different basket varieties available: round or rectangular, both in a woven style that reflects the vehicle’s eco-friendly vibe.



All visitors to the store are free to test ride a model up and down the street. Although the vehicle was developed by Japanese auto parts maker Katayama Kogyo, it’s still classified as a bicycle, so it goes by the same traffic laws and can be used on roads and side-walks in Japan. No license needed.


Before hopping on, we took a good look at the vehicle. Although it weighs in at a hefty 36 kilograms (79 pounds), its compact size means it can fit into apartment elevators and if you need to wheel it, the pedals rise at the press of a button, allowing you to stand in the centre and push the bike, rather than walk alongside it.


The bike is equipped with a power-assist electric motor which comes in handy when going up hills. To use it, simply press a button on the left handlebar, and choose your level of power from low to high. The battery itself is located near the front wheel and can be removed for easy recharging with a regular wall outlet.


Like regular bikes, the bell and gear control, with five gears, is located on the right handlebar.


High-quality disc brakes are built into the front and back wheels.


Hopping on, the pedals felt sturdy and needed slight pressure to manoeuvre. It felt exactly the same as being on a fitness machine, only when the stepping started, the vehicle was propelled forward and we were moving! It was only strange for a moment and then felt incredibly natural.


The handlebars are perfectly designed to help you maintain the correct posture while riding without a saddle. Leaning forward and standing too straight felt a little awkward and uncomfortable, so the handlebars help keep your centre of gravity at a comfortable level.


The three-wheel design makes it easy to balance and the gentle pedalling motion means there’s less pressure on the joints compared to regular walking on city streets, making it perfect for people of any age. Plus, the unique design means women can use the walking bicycle while wearing a skirt or kimono.


When using the electric motor the walking bicycle can reach a top speed of up to 24km/h (15mph). Even without using the motor, it feels less strenuous than cycling, thanks to the fact that you’re essentially walking and assisted by wheels.


Going for a ride on one of these was definitely an awesome experience. It felt both odd and yet somehow more natural than cycling, given the fact it involves walking. The only thing stopping us from getting one is the retail price, which, at 313, 200 yen (US$2,905.42) is considerably more than your average 8,000 yen (US$74.20) Japanese bicycle!


Despite the high price, there were many interested customers from different countries on the day we visited. Hopefully we’ll be seeing the Walking Bicycle Club on streets around the world in the not too distant future and that, as the design becomes more popular, the price-tag will shrink down to a slightly more manageable size!

To see the walking bicycle in action, check out the video below:

Photos © RocketNews24
Video: ファミケア.jp