If you're after an affordable used bicycle in Tokyo, the retired volunteers at Suginami's Silver Jinzai Center offer an array of refurbished bicycles for sale. On 3 specified days each month, the gates to the Green Cycle compound open from 11am to the public but you are well advised to queue up from 9:30am on the first morning to guarantee you ride away with something to your liking. Competition can be fierce among the secondhand dealers and locals alike, so it's not uncommon for all stock to be exhausted by lunchtime on the very first day.
This particular visit I arrived at 11:30am to find all but two lower grade 'mamachari' bikes remaining in stock. I reluctantly went with the cheaper ¥6,700 unbranded single speed option as I was too stubborn to leave empty handed and desperately needed an additional 26" bike for my Tokyo West-Side Cycling and Food Experience. All bikes are priced between ¥6,700 and ¥15,500 and if you arrive early enough there's every chance you can snag a reasonably nice Trek, Specialized or Cannondale road bike for a miserly ¥15,500.
The compulsory Japanese bicycle registration is included in the purchase price. Not having to visit a bike store or police station to process this paperwork is a huge time saving bonus.
The bicycle impound is a fascinating place for anyone to visit. If you have the slightest interest in Japanese bicycles or bike restoration in general, the sheer volume of components scattered throughout the workshop will leave you itching to get stuck into a new project.
After the paperwork is complete, one of the helpful volunteers will issue you with a set of keys and affix the registration sticker to your re-salvaged bike. It's strongly advised to retain all paperwork as proof of ownership should you be questioned by police when cycling around Tokyo.
As the center's primary purpose is an impound for illegally parked bicycles it's not uncommon to see locals turning up to reclaim their bikes. The fine for having your bike illegally parked and seized is ¥5,000. When you can buy a new low grade bicycle for roughly ¥12,000 it's understandable why many people abandon their bikes and opt to buy new ones at a more convenient location closer to home.
The remaining dates for the Suginami Silver Jinzai Green Cycle Center for 2017 and 2018 are-
August 2017: 21st - 23rd.
September 2017: 19th - 21st.
October 2017: 16th - 18th.
November 2017: 20th - 22nd.
December 2017: 18th - 20th.
January 2018: 22nd - 24th
February 2018: 19th - 21st
March 2018: 19th, 20th, 22nd
Remember, arrive early on the first open day of the month and be sure to leave any success stories or pieces of helpful advice in the comments below for others.
Suginami Silver Jinzai Center, Green Cycle Program (杉並区シルバー人材センター / すぎなみクリーンサイクル)
Address- 2-1-11 Eifuku, Suginami-ku, Tokyo.
Access- Eifukucho Station (Keio Inokashira Line) or Shimo-Takaido (Tokyu Setagaya Line).