Archive | Rinko

How Small is a Rinko Bike?

When we introduced the idea of Rinko bikes to our readers and customers, there were some questions whether they could fit within the airline luggage requirements, or whether they’d have to pay oversize luggage fees. I’ve flown with Rinko bikes many times, and never paid a surcharge because the bag was too big.
The Ostrich OS-500 Airplane Bag in the photo looks big, because it is – it’s designed for all kinds of bikes, not just the Alps/Hirose system of Rinko that I use. It is far bigger than the Rinko bike inside, so I usually tape the excess to wrap around the bag. (The photo doesn’t show tape, because when the airline employees saw how much I could tape the bag, they simply said: “Don’t bother, it’s OK.”)
I did have to pay once, when Delta decided that because it was a bicycle, it had to pay the surcharge, no matter the size. But how big is a Rinko bike really?
To find out, I measured two Rinko bikes. One is very small, the other rather large. Here are the measurements:

  • My Mule (above) is a 650B randonneur bike with a 60 cm frame (c-t), full fenders, racks and lights. Packed into its Rinko bag, it measures 79 x 83 x 23 cm. The airline dimension comes to 186 cm, or 73 inches.


  • BQ contributor Natsuko Hirose’s C. S. Hirose has a 47 cm frame and 26″ wheels. It measures 77 x 81 x 22 cm, for a total of 180 cm, or 71 inches.

On the face of it, both bikes are larger than the airline size limit of 158 cm (62 inches). Yet both have flown multiple times without paying a surcharge. The reason is simple: The package is shaped like a parallelogram. If you place it between two vertical walls, you’ll get the measurements I took. But when you take a tape measure and measure along the top, it’s actually quite a bit shorter. The bottom also is shorter. Riders of Ritchey’s Breakaway system have reported the same: In theory, the bike is a bit larger than the luggage requirement, but in practice, it usually is fine.
That leads to the second question: How secure is your bike in the OS-500 Rinko bag? That depends on your airline. We’ve had good experiences with Japanese airlines, but other airlines aren’t as careful with your luggage.
Generally for flying, there are two approaches: Either make it very clear that the bag contains a bike that is fragile, so baggage handlers are careful. I once flew (on the airline’s advice) with another bike in a clear plastic bag, and it arrived just fine. The alternative is to protect the bike so much that it will survive almost any abuse – with a sturdy hardshell case. The in-between solutions, like cardboard boxes, are the worst – they hide the bike so that it’s not clear how fragile the package’s content really is, yet they offer next to no protection from it getting crushed. The OS-500 bag has some padding, but it says in multiple languages that a bicycle is inside.
Maybe we’ll offer a small hardshell case for Rinko bikes in the future. It would be relatively easy to carry, perhaps even as a backpack – especially when compared to the bulky hardshell cases that are available currently. If you are arriving and leaving at different airports, you could even ship it from the start point to the end point of your trip… But that is a future project. For now, we offer numerous parts that make building a travel bike much easier.
Click here for more information on our Rinko products.

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Golden Week Cycling

Golden Week is one of the biggest vacation times in Japan. It’s a combination of one-day holidays that result in a little over a week of time off. And it’s springtime, so virtually every cyclist takes to the road. This year, we went on a ride in the Japanese Alps with a group of friends.
Spring in Japan is a great time for cycling. It’s warm, but not yet hot. The skies are blue, and the fresh green of the forests looks especially vivid in the bright sunlight. The rice fields are being flooded. It’s the Japan you imagine in children’s picture books.
The best roads of Japan go through the mountains, and this pass was especially spectacular. The cliffs were so steep and loose that the road was built into the mountain, with avalanche galleries protecting it from falling rocks (and snow in the winter). At the top, we exited a tunnel to see a spectacular view of the Japanese Alps (top photo).
This area really deserves the name “Japanese Alps”, as the steep mountains and broad valleys look remarkably similar to Switzerland. So do the small fields, and even the ski slopes.
We cycled on tiny roads past bucolic lakes.
The roads rarely were flat, which made the cycling more interesting.
The pace was unhurried, with plenty of time for exploring…
… visiting local shrines…
…and even a farm where wasabi (Japanese horseradish) is grown in the shade of a little valley.
We avoided large roads as much as possible, preferring little byways and even dirt paths.
Our ride ended in Matsumoto with its magnificent castle.
After some more sightseeing, we Rinko’d our bikes and returned to Tokyo. Thank you to our friends for organizing this great trip!
Photo credit: Natsuko Hirose (top photo).

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Weekend Rides on Film: Gravel Racing and Rinko

Spring is coming to many places, and this weekend was filled with wonderful rides. Two of them were captured on video, and they inspire me as I plan upcoming outings on my bike. One is from the Rasputitsa Gravel Road Race in Vermont, the other from the Flèche Northwest. Both rides are challenges, but in very different ways. The Rasputitsa is all about speed, whereas the Flèche is about endurance. Both favor teamwork and put friendship above competition.

In the Rasputitsa Gravel Road RaceBicycle Quarterly reader Matt Surch was in a breakaway of four riders. In the video, you see them working smoothly on the gravel as they race to the finish. The top photo shows Ansel Dickey (left) as he made his winning attack. Matt Surch came second in this race, riding his Compass Bon Jon Pass 700C x 35 mm tires.
Matt’s teammate Iain Radford came seventh. Iain reported: “The Bon Jon’s allowed me to roll faster with less effort compared to everyone else in the chase group. I was able to let gaps go on the climbs to save effort and easily get back on the group using the descents.” (And unlike sponsored pros, these guys say this even though they paid for their Compass tires with their own money.)

Before departing for the Flèche, Hahn Rossman packed his bike for Rinko. The team started their ride in Olympia, but there weren’t enough bike spots for the entire team on the Talgo train. Hahn was glad that he could just carry on his bike after putting it into its Rinko bag. Theo took the time-lapse video. Even in real time, the entire process took less than 10 minutes.
The team had a great ride, enjoying a challenging course over the gravel roads of the Willapa Hills. And the sunrise after riding through the night was gorgeous!
Enjoy the videos!
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Rinko Parts – Useful not only for Train Travel

Since our first visit to Japan last year, we’ve been fascinated by Rinko, the Japanese system of packing bikes for train travel. The Rinko system developed by the builders Alps and Hirose is especially elegant and results in the smallest possible package for the bike.
It still amazes me that a fully equipped randonneur bike, with a 60 cm frame, fenders, racks and generator-powered lights, can be disassembled in 12 minutes into a package that is no larger than the frame. Drape a bag over it, and you can carry it on trains, buses, and subways, or load it into even the smallest economy car. Put it in a padded bag, and you can travel on many airlines without paying extra fees. Best of all, there are no couplers or other parts that add significant cost, complication and weight.
After building my own Rinko bike, the “Mule” (above), I realized that every bike could benefit from being Rinko-compatible, even if only to remove the rear section of the rear fender when you transport a the bike inside a car…
The Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly includes a photo feature showing the details that make a bike Rinko-compatible. Small things make it easy to disassemble your bike. For example, slotted cable stops that allow you to remove the handlebars with the brake cables attached. There are only a few special parts needed to make a Rinko bike, and Compass Bicycles now offers them.
A key part is the “Rinko nut” (visible at the top of the fender). The rear fender is cut in half, a piece of fender is inserted into the rear portion, and the Rinko nut allows you to secure the two halves after you have slid them together.
A constructeur will cut the tongue that joins the two fenders from a third fender (since they can use that fender to make tongues for multiple bikes), but you can also shorten the bike’s rear fender by a few inches to get the material you need. Preparing a hammered fender so its halves slide together smoothly isn’t easy, so most Japanese builders use smooth fenders on their Rinko bikes.
FendCmRinko_3419The Rinko nut is threaded on the outside, so you can attach it to the fender with the supplied (thin) hex nut. It also is threaded on the inside. This is where the bolt goes that holds the two fender halves together. It’s a simple part, but if you have to machine it yourself, you’ll spend some time. So we had a batch made to save you the trouble.
A part that is useful not just for Rinko are the Ostrich tube covers. These pads wrap around your frame’s tubes to protect them during travel. The pads are thin, so they can be carried in a handlebar bag when not in use. They close around the frame with Velcro.
The “long” version (above) measures 450 mm, while the “short” version is 240 mm long. The pads fit around standard and slightly oversize frames, but they are not large enough for extremely oversize tubes.
Rinko pedals aren’t required for travel, but they make disassembling your bike much easier. The stub remains on the cranks, and the pedal can be removed without tools. Available as clipless (above) and platform versions (below). The models we sell have MKS’ super-smooth bearings that are nicer than any other currently-made pedal I have tried.
These pedals are useful not only for Rinko, but also for bikes with S&S couplers, or if you want to switch between platform and clipless pedals on the same bike. (If you just want super-nice pedals with great bearings, these pedals also are available in standard, non-Rinko versions.)
The Compass Rinko brake is functionally the same as the standard Compass centerpull brake, but one arm has a different shape, so that the straddle cable unhooks on both sides. That way, you can remove the handlebars and brake cables as a unit. (With the standard centerpull brakes, one end of the straddle cable attaches to the brake.)
The special straddle cable has two barrels that hook onto the brake arms. The cable comes with a second end that gets silver-brazed onto the wire (arrow). That way, builders can set the straddle cable height as they like, for example, to clear a taillight. A minor disadvantage of the Rinko model: After wheel changes, you have to hook both ends of the straddle cable back onto the brake (rather than just one end).
The Rinko Headset Tool is shown here on the headset locknut. It looks like a cat, is made from lightweight aluminum, and weighs just 14 g. You can tighten your headset by hand, or use an 8 mm Allen wrench for extra leverage (above). The other socket measures 10 mm. This tool also is useful if you want to take a headset tool on a ride or tour, where the 8 and 10 mm sockets also can come in handy.
Rinko bags are used to cover the Rinko bike package during travel. The carrying strap attaches to the bike frame, so the bag doesn’t have to carry the weight of the bike (see photo at the top of the post).
The Ostrich L-100 (above) is designed for the Alps/Hirose system of Rinko. Made from sturdy materials, it weighs 310 g, yet when not in use it fits into a pouch that is the size of a small water bottle.
The Ostrich SL-100 has the same dimensions as the L-100, but it’s made from ultralight SilNylon. It weighs just 200 g and packs very small. The SL-100 is not as strong as the standard L-100 bag, so it is not recommended for “Rinko beginners” who may try to stuff their bike into the bag, rather than just pull the bag over the Rinko’ed bike package.
Both Rinko bags come with three straps for packing the bike, a shoulder strap and a pouch to carry the Rinko bag on your bike. (SL-100 shown above.)
The Ostrich OS-500 Airplane Bag is padded for air travel. It is designed to work with many Rinko systems, so it is significantly larger than the L-100 and SL-100 bags. The Rinko’ed Mule fits into the OS-500 bag with room to spare. Taping the bag to reduce its volume allowed it to meet the luggage requirements for All-Nippon Airways (ANA) without requiring a surcharge.
Now that I have enjoyed travel with a Rinko bike, I don’t want to be without one. Considering how little it takes to make a custom bike Rinko-compatible, I know that from now, all my new bikes will be ready for Rinko. Being able to take my bike almost anywhere opens great possibilities.
Click here for more information about Rinko parts from Compass Bicycles Ltd.
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